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      02-26-2012, 09:32 PM   #1
MDyDinanM
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2008 BMW M5  [3.44]
2 Day BMW M School FULL REPORT w/ Video & Pics

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As some of you may recall, I started a thread in January about booking the 2 Day ///M School at the BMW Performance Driving School here:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=631221

This is my story:

---------------------

I have wanted to go to M school for the longest time, and finally I did. This is my story.

If you don’t read anything else in this thread, know this:

M school was a First Class experience. One of the best times I’ve had, with professional instructors, first class facilities, and the use of their M cars. You truly get to drive these cars to their potential and truly see why they are called “M cars”. You want to see a bunch of grown men act like kids in a toy store? Go to M School.

A car is nothing without its driver

For more info on M School, session dates, etc go to www.bmwusa.com -> Experience -> Performance Driving Schools.

Video, Story, and Pics below:



------

Having saved enough vacation days and funds, I booked the 23-25 February 2012, 2 Day ///M school session at the BMW Performance Driving School in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The cost for the 2 day school was $3595, but being a BMW CCA member, I got 15% off so the total was $3055.75. The cost included the following:

-2 nights of lodging at the Marriot Hotel
-Transportation to and from the center and airport
-All Meals
-2 Days of M School with professional instructors with full use of their -Facilities and designated M cars
-BMW Custom Painted Helmet (Snell rated)
-BMW Goodies (Shirt, pens, hat, fleece)
-Thumb drive with Race Keeper Instant Video Software to plug into car computer to capture video and track data

The cost traveling to the center was not included; however I booked a flight from DC to Greenville, SC for $250 round trip ticket. Not bad.

Having booked this trip in early January, the anticipation for going on this trip was high. Finally the day came. I took my travel bag to work, and headed directly to the airport at the end of the work day. Nothing was going to stop me from getting to my destination. I’ve been waiting for this trip for a very long time. Departed on the 7:30 flight out of DC and landed in Greenville at 9 in the evening. Pretty calm ,and uneventful flight.

Catching My flight:
[IMG] 102_3107 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Landed at Greenville/Spartanburg
[IMG] 102_3112 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]


Upon arrival at my destination. I went to the Baggage claim area to find the call booth for the Marriot Hotel. I quickly found it and the receptionist said that a vehicle will pick me up in 10 minutes. As I looked around the baggage claim area, it is obvious that BMW has left its mark. A X3 was on display with a "Crafted With Pride in USA".


[IMG] 102_3122 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3119 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3121 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

After waiting 10 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised to see a brand new 5 series GT arrive to pick me up! Talk about traveling in style. It is indeed an odd looking vehicle, but still very nice. The interior was very roomy and the fit and finish was spectacular. The driver, Mark was a very nice guy and upon or drive to the hotel, began describing the agenda for the next couple of days. He informed me that dinner (comped by BMW) is available when you arrive, my room is ready, and that everything will be taken care of.

Alpine White 5 Series GT

[IMG] 102_3125 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3127 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Arrival at the Marriot Hotel

[IMG] 102_3141 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Upon arrival at the Marriot, I checked in, given my room keys, and my BMW M School welcome package. In it included the schedule for the next couple of days, a M School Name tag, and two coupons for complimentary beer or wine. I then proceeded to the hotel restaurant and bar called that "Gaitu". I was promptly attended to and was given the BMW Performance Driving School Menu. I chuckled to myself and thought, wow, BMW has thought of everything...even a "BMW Menu". They had a small, but decent selection and I ordered the Caesar salad, Sirloin, and cheesecake desert. All were delicious!

Welcome Packet


102_3128.edited by mdyaman, on Flickr



Beer/Wine coupons

[IMG] 102_3131 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Restaurant/Bar

[IMG] 102_3139 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

BMW Performance School Menu

[IMG] 102_3132 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Ahh...Draft Beer

[IMG] 102_3135 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Caesar Salad
[IMG] 102_3136 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Steak

[IMG] 102_3137 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Cheesecake

[IMG] 102_3138 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Being that it was past 10pm, and I've had a long day, i headed to my room. I was tired, wanted to shower, and go to bed. From what I heard from others that have attended this event, plenty of rest is needed. Little did I know that I was in for another small BMW surprise. They really do think of everything, and make you feel welcome, and one of their own. As I got to the room, opened the door, organized neatly on the King sized bed (yes, King size - woo hoo!) was more BMW goodies. BMW had provided a complementary M Driving School Fleece Jacket and a BMW M Performance Driving School Shirt.


102_3145.edited by mdyaman, on Flickr

[IMG] 102_3149 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

The next morning came before I knew it. I slept pretty well, and even though I was still a bit tired, the anticipation for M School kept me moving. I quickly arose, hopped into the shower, shaved, etc and headed downstairs for breakfast. The restaurant hostess had me join the rest of the M School crew and we began introducing each other. I was probably one of the younger guys there. I think 3 of us were under 30 years old, while the rest were quite older. A lot of CEOs, small business orders, doctors/physicians, etc. All in all, a great lively group. I quickly took count of the number of people there, and as it turns out, BMW organizes the 2 Day M school into groups of 15 members. Breakfast was excellent. They had a buffet, along with a chef serving up omlettes, eggs, or whatever you want. At 8:20, the shuttle came and picked us up, and off we went to the Performance Driving School to begin M School...

Some of Marriot Hotel Fleet of cars

[IMG] 102_3150 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Shuttle Bus that was dubbed by the group as the "M Bus". The driver played the part too...

[IMG] 102_3151 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

When we arrived, we were amazed at the facilities. As we pulled up, we saw Alpine White e9x M3s with M racing stripes out on display by the entrance. As we disembarked the "M Shuttle Bus", we were greeted by the staff and instructors. They gave us a quick brief and off we went to the class room area where we signed release forms for liability purposes...lol Go figure! But I didn't care as it was just a formality. Then we proceeded into the classroom, each staff/instructor introduced themselves, and the class began.

I must say that each staff/instructor was a true professional. Naturally I assume BMW would probably only hire the best. The good thing is, us, as students, it didn't matter what level or skill of driving we had. They started with the basics, and provided a lot of feedback via car radios the whole time. Very little time was spent in the classroom as most of the instruction was behind the wheel of a M car. Why sit in a classroom and teach when you can learn better through practical application?

With the class size being 15, they split the class into 3 groups of 5, the Red, Green, and Blue team. We were then assigned car numbers, 1 through 5. The cars that were available to drive were 1 Ms, the M3, and the M5. Each day consisted of a morning and afternoon session, with 3 rotations each. So basically 3 sessions in the morning, rotating through the 1 M, M3, then the M5, then the same in the afternoon. The mornings were spent learning skills where each group went to different areas of the track, and the afternoons were spent applying all the skills on the main circuit track.

I was very impressed on how smoothly and organized it was run. Plenty of seat time was available - good thing to as I'd rather be on the track than learning in a classroom! During each session, we would be guided by a couple of instructors. We would first drive the course we would be learning on, spend some time talking about the skills to be learned, then we would get a ride along with the instructor to watch them do it. Then it was our turn! Each of us would rotate through the session multiple times and given feedback on errors we made, what we were doing wrong, and what we were doing right.

Our Lead instructor, Jim, had a quote which I'll never forget, "Whatever you do, don't crash fast" He essentially wanted us to push the cars to their threshold, but never drive out of our comfort zone if we weren't comfortable. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. He was more concerned for us learning proper techniques rather than just going fast.

Signing liability forms

[IMG] 102_3155 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Staff Introduction

[IMG] 102_3157 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

M School...Day 1

[IMG] 102_3239 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Classroom instruction:

[IMG] 102_3160 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3161 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Out to the cars!!!

[IMG] 102_3163 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3165 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3167 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3168 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Since I was in the Green group, our first session was in the e9x M3 where we learned hard braking and cornering/turning. The instructor pretty much said not to be afraid to mash the brake pedal and see what the brakes can really do. Essentially, get up to speed, and then stand on the brake pedal so we can get comfortable knowing how these cars can stop and to get rid of any hesitation or concern when doing high speed turning/cornering, etc.

[IMG] 102_3171 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3170 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3174 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

The next session was with the 1 M. Here we learned heal-toe shifting. I could never quite get it down, but was assured by the instructors that it takes a long time to master perfectly, and if anything understand how it works, and why it is useful.

As for driving the 1 M - all I have to say is JUST WOW. I am truly impressed by the car. For anyone that says the 1 M isn't a true M car, well I think you are crazy and that you should probably go drive one. I think i'm in love with it. The e9x M3 is great, but the 1 M feels like a lighter, nimbler, more agile e9x M3. It really is fast, and can MOVE. If I had to pick b/w a e9x M3 or a 1 M, that would be a difficult choice. I would probably lean toward the 1 M simply because it has a raw and visceral feel to it, like the e46 and e36 M3 had. In my opinion, the 1 M made the e9x M3 feel tame. I'll probably get flamed for saying that, but it was just my experience. The M3 was noticeably heavier, and the 1 M could turn a corner like no other.

My number 4

[IMG] 102_3180 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3181 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

The bare, but elegant interior of a 1 M

[IMG] 102_3183 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Instruction on heal-toe shifting

[IMG] 102_3186 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3189 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

All lined up

[IMG] 102_3193 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3197 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

1 M fly by

[IMG] 102_3196 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

The next class was with the M5. Here we learned about under-steer, over-steer, and drifting. Talk about skills....I too could not master this and was quite timid in the 500 Hp V10 monster doing circles around the skid pad. Others were more successful than me.

[IMG]htt 102_3201 by mdyaman, on Flickrp://[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3202 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

X5 M all lonely sitting by itself

[IMG] 102_3203 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3206 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3205 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3209 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

After the morning session, we broke for lunch. We all ate the Performance Center and the instructors sat with us so we could pick their brains. Before lunch was served, the lead instructor, having a sense of humor said, "well folks, I have good news, and bad news. The good news is that we have great chefs. The bad news is that we have great chefs".

Point being that the food was excellent! The excellence of the food throughout my time was nothing short of superb. This was a reoccurring theme and BMW really does a good job in making sure you not only drive the best, but eat the best too!

After lunch, it was helmet fitting time. Yes, we get helmets...TO KEEP! BMW has Snell Rated "Impact Brand" Helmets that are custom painted with Motorsport Colors.

[IMG] 102_3213 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3215 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3217 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

After lunch, myself and the Green team were back in the M5s where we did a slalom, comprised corner, and chicane course. The instructor timed us and made it into a competition on who could do it the fastest. Nothing like a little healthy competition in a V10 Beast!

After that, we switched over into the 1 Ms where we were on another, different skid pad where we learned how to drive and control the car with DSC OFF. I must say, thank goodness for DSC on these cars. If one is not careful, one can spin out! Even though we take it for granted, DSC truly can be a life saver!

M5 course

[IMG] 102_3219 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

1 M skid pad DSC Off course

[IMG] 102_3222 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3220 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3223 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

DSC Off? YUP


[IMG] 102_3225 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

After the 1 M session, we were back in the M3s for some track time. Here we put together all the morning and prior afternoon schools for an extended track circuit. Our cars were set up in MDM Mode and the course ran the gambit of the skid pad, straight away, chicane, hard braking, and compromised corner!

All this was timed for...you guessed it...a little healthy competition.

[IMG] 102_3237 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3234 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3232 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3238 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

At the end of Day 1 activities, we went back into the classroom area and were served up beer/wine, cocktails, and dinner. Yet another fine dining experience with BMW! And they had German beer....go figure right? Nothing like have a good Weissbeir to compliment your dinner after a long hard day of intense driving!

Beer and cocktails

[IMG] 102_3240 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

Beer and steak dinner

[IMG] 102_3241 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

As the day concluded, we gathered our things and boarded the shuttle bus back to the hotel. Some of the group wanted to head into downtown Greenville to enjoy the nightlife. The majority of us, including myself, were too exhausted and opted to hang out in the hotel bar, and have an early evening. Tomorrow was assured to be an even more strenuous driving day - where we push the envelope even further, and faster in the M cars

Sunset

[IMG] 102_3244 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

I was greeted by pillow chocolates when I got back to my room in the evening


[IMG] 102_3245 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

----Day 2-----

Day 2 arrived and we were back off to the center for another eventful day! Upon arrival, we were back in the classroom for some more instruction and a briefing on the days events.

We were also provided USB Thumdrives to keep. The cars had USB ports and two cameras, one camera in the interior focusing on the driver, the other pointing out the front of the car. The thumdrives plug into the car and record the cameras and car track data. Pretty neat! A good keepsake for your time around the track!

Day 2 was even more seat time than Day 1. My group started off with the 1 Ms where we did a mini track circuit comprising of skills we had to apply from yesterday, elevation changes, turns, corners, chicanes, etc. Talk about having a blast in the 1 M!

Next we moved to the M3s for some Figure 8 Skid pad work in DSC off setting. And of course, in true Performance Center fashion, it was a competition to see who could do 8 laps on the skid pad the fastest!

The next session was the M5 were we did straight-a-ways, and a more complex turn, along with compromised corners. Then it was off to lunch!

More classroom instruction

[IMG] 102_3247 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]


[IMG] 102_3248 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

More 1 Ms

[IMG] 102_3254 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3251 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3274 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

The mighty M5

[IMG] 102_3255 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

M Water Bottles - they really do think of EVERYTHING

[IMG] 102_3261 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3262 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

M Thumdrive with Race Keeper Software


[IMG] 102_3265 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

M3 Session with the figure 8 skid pad


[IMG] 102_3258 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG] 102_3257 by mdyaman, on Flickr[/IMG]

After lunch, the afternoon was spent with more time in the M3 and M5. Here they set up a full circuit course with adding everything we learned previously into one big grand finale. The course was driven in a 20 minute duration. 20 minutes in the M5, and 20 minutes in the M3.

I must say, the M5, though powerful, really takes a lot of hard work to get through the course. It is a magnificent machine, but heavy as compared to the likes of the M3 and the 1 M. I had a M3 on my six for half the time and went into the pit lane so I could let him pass...lol Oh well!

Upon conclusion of that day, we wrapped up and were provided graduation certificates. I felt like the 2 days went by so fast that it was over before we even knew it. The instructors ran through the time sheets and let us know who were the winners of the day. Of course I was not as i'm such a noob! haha, no worries though as I learned a lot and had soo much fun! We were then handed some more goodie bags, consisting of a BMW Performance Driving School hat, another t-shirt, and some others small tokens. We said our good byes, and off we went - and I headed to the airport to catch my evening flight!

------------

I said it once, and i'll say it again. This truly was a FIRST CLASS experience. BMW truly goes all out to show the M school participants a good time, and no holds bar on the cars as they are driven HARD. They really allow you to push the envelope, drive the cars to the threshold (safely) and show why these cars are called M Cars. The instructors were all awesome, truly professional, and cared about your well being in ensuring you learned the skills. They provided great feedback, corrections, etc. They truly make you feel welcome and one of their own.

Now here's to Advanced M school in the future!!!!

Edit

In regards to the F10 M5. There wasn't any available for this session, and none to be seen. After talking to one of the instructors, they expect the F10 M5 later this year. They hope to receive it in may, but then they have to do the 1200 mile break in and be trained on it. So you can expect F10 M5s available for M School around the summer timeframe (June/July) but don't quote me on that!
__________________
Retired: '06 BMW E46 ///M3
Current: '08 BMW E60 DINAN ///M5, Interlagos Blue, SMG
DINAN Stage 2 Suspension, Exhaust, Stage III Software, Front strut braces,
Intakes, 13% Underdrive pulley, 3.91 Differential, RPI Scoops.

Last edited by MDyDinanM; 02-27-2012 at 05:33 PM.
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