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      12-04-2008, 11:11 PM   #1
achenator
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my ///M school experience

Just got home a little while ago from South Carolina where my wife and I attended the 1 day M school at the BMW Performance Center. We had a blast.

I got this trip for free after the purchase of my 08 M3. A few days after I registered, I got a call saying that our class was not full and I could also bring a guest if I wanted for no charge. Being a dutiful husband, I took the missus.
Although we were provided a room for 2 nights, we elected to go a day earlier on our own dime because we were driving up (about 9 hours each way.) The ladies at BMW got us in for the night at a favorable rate. The hotel was very nice and we were treated well.

We arrived Monday night and were tired out. Grabbed a couple margaritas and a mexican dinner at place close to the hotel. Early lights out.

Tuesday morning we ventured out to do a little x-mas shopping since we didn't have the kids. I had signed us up to go on the factory tour so we did that. We toured the Zentrum visitors center and went to see where the x5's and x6's are made. The factory is really efficient and clean. It is amazing how the cars are made in no particular order and all the parts arrive from the vendors already in line for the cars that they go with. We had a nice dinner that night at the hotel restaurant courtesy of BMW.

Wednesday was school day. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel courtesy of BMW, and hopped on the shuttle to head over to the Performance Center.
We met our instructors, Paul and Matt and had a little class instruction to lay out the day's events. There were only a total of 5 students in the class, so we had a lot of seat time. The instructors were awesome. Both had extensive driving and racing pedigrees and were great teachers as well. They were patient and fun. After about thirty minutes of instruction, we headed out to the cars.

There they were-, more M cars than I had ever seen in one place in my life. each student had their own M3, M5 and M6 to drive for the day's events.
There were probably 25 M cars total lined up counting the instructor's cars.
We started out in the M6's for a little turning practice. We made about 10 or so runs each at a sharp turn. We practiced braking for the turn and turning in to set up for the apex. The M6's were awesome machines in 500 hp mode. Mine was a beautiful AW on red fully optioned model. The instructors are constantly on the radio giving you pointers and advice. Most of the advice was "faster, faster" LOL. Most of this was done in 2nd gear and sometimes third, which is plenty fast in an M6. After several runs we went back to the lot.

Up next: part two.
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      12-04-2008, 11:12 PM   #2
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Part two:

Next up we took out the M3 coupes. I got in a nice space gray coupe and we took off for a little heel-toe downshifting work. I was nervous for my wife for this part because her manual transmission skills aren't that great. She did great. This was only her second time driving a manual car. She did wonderful considering she was in a high pressure environment. We took several runs at the same curve as in the first exercise. We took off at the turn at full speed in second, shifted to third and had to heel-toe down to second as we approached the turn. I had a little trouble with this at first. My foot wanted to get stuck to the brake pedal and I couldn't get the timing right to get my heel over to the throttle for the blip for the downshift. Towards the end of the exercise I got it better but not perfect. It is easy to heel-toe when you are sitting in neutral, but not so easy when you are barreling down towards a hard left doing 80+.

Next up was the skidpad in the M5's. The skidpad is basically a large circle of polished concrete that is wet down with sprinklers. My wife and I got in the same car with Paul , the instructor. My wife went first around and around the skidpad. We practiced understeer and oversteer and steering out of an oversteer skid. We spun that car more times than we could count. I feel sorry for that SMG gearbox because it went backwards in first gear SO many times. I did better than her but when you romp down on 500hp going in a wet circle to induce a skid, you can only turn the wheel so fast.

We headed in for a nice lunch and a few minutes of classroom and the instructors gave us keys to start the in-car video and audio systems. The rest of the day would be recorded by a camera in the car, on the front of the car and audio in the cabin. We will be receiving DVD's in the next few weeks.

We went up to the small oval, in the M6's for a little chase race. We chased each other around a small oval, on a wet track with stability control off. If you spun out you lost. We did a couple of laps, two cars at a time, one car each starting out on each side of the oval. Whoever passed their starting cone first after 3 or so laps was the winner and went on to the second round. I actually was declared the winner in this race. I got to do some victory donuts as my prize. Nothing like doing donuts in someone else's $100k car.
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      12-04-2008, 11:13 PM   #3
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Next, we went back and got the M5's for a little time trial action. We put the cars in 500 mode with MDM. (M dynamic mode) We started out with a small slalom and a long sweeping right turn. The turn was just sharp enough that you could feel the awesome grip of the car but shallow enough that you could wind it up in second. After the sweeping right was a sharp right with a small double S section and then we had to come to a quick stop in the stop box. Seconds were added if you hit a cone or stopped out of the stop box. The whole run was about 25-30 seconds. We all took several runs. I was the winner in this exercise also. I was surprised because 2 of the other guys had a little more training than me prior to this school. It was all in good fun any way.

The last exercise was a bigger track run. We went around a little bigger road course. We got to choose our car for this. I was torn with my choice. I could choose a manual M3, which is close to my car. Or I could choose a SMG M5 or M6. I ultimately chose the M6 as I wanted to not have to worry about the clutch as much and be able to concentrate on braking and paddle shifting as I approached the turns. After 1 turn, there was a good stretch I could floor it in second and third , eventually shifting into 4th before braking hard for a hard left turn. I got up to maybe 105-110 in this area. These cars make you so confident it is easy to forget you are in a 500hp monster. I had to tell myself several times that this wasn't a video game and i better slow down before I get to that hard turn.

After a dozen of so laps of this we returned to the lot. We got in a M3 sedan with the instructor for a hot lap of the whole course. WOW. We didn't get to use the whole course in our exercises as the whole course is used in the second day of the 2 day M school. Our instructor had 30 yrs, of racing experience and he made that car dance. It gave my wife and I new found respect for that little white car in the driveway.

All in all. we had a great time. BMW treated us like royalty. I am planning to go back in the spring on my own dime and take the 2 day school. Yes these courses are expensive, but I got to beat on $250k+ worth of cars for a day with no repercussions. Take in to consideration the amount of $ that BMW puts into the school, cars, maintenance and staff and it is worth the $.
Pics to come.
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      12-04-2008, 11:19 PM   #4
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Pics! Sounds so fun!
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      12-04-2008, 11:20 PM   #5
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I'm hoping to do the same..looking foward to pics
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      12-04-2008, 11:23 PM   #6
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our chariot covered in ice at the hotel


hotel lobby


me and the wifey


m's as far as the eye can see



the wife and her IB m3 for the day


staging the m6's



official car


bronze m5 that i drove
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      12-04-2008, 11:40 PM   #7
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Sign up for a BMW CCA HPDE. You can have as much fun and great instruction for about $150 a day.

Thanks for sharing your experience and pics.
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      12-05-2008, 01:13 AM   #8
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[quote=skierman64;3750011]Sign up for a BMW CCA HPDE. You can have as much fun and great instruction for about $150 a day.

I assume you use your own car for the BMW CCA HPDE?

Thanks
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      12-05-2008, 01:15 AM   #9
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achenator:

Nice write up... Thanks for sharing. I should be there with my wife in March or April. Your write up was exactly what I was looking for !!
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      12-05-2008, 01:37 AM   #10
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Sounds like a great time! Thank you for the detailed write-up and pics. Definitely looking forward to my turn. Time to send in that paperwork...
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      12-05-2008, 02:13 AM   #11
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Nice story.

It seems it's just as cold in South Carolina as here in NorthWest Europe at the moment.
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      12-05-2008, 02:54 AM   #12
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Cool story. I wasn't going to go even though my dealer offered to send me for free as a perk due to how many cars I have bought from them. After reading this, I think I'm going to go and pop to bring my GF. She would love it. That sounds like a great time.

Good story. Thanks for sharing.
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      12-05-2008, 02:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FunRevn View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by skierman64 View Post
Sign up for a BMW CCA HPDE. You can have as much fun and great instruction for about $150 a day.
I assume you use your own car for the BMW CCA HPDE?

Thanks
You use your own car for BMWCCA events, but the instructor is IN THE CAR WITH YOU. That makes a HUGE difference. I learned a LOT more with the CCA event compared to the M-school. When your starting out, you really don't eat up your brakes or tires because you're just not going that fast, but they teach you the proper line and how to look ahead. It's a VERY controlled environment since there's an instructor in each car. They will tell you when to point someone to pass or when to pass someone. It was one of the best things I've EVER done.

Join the CCA, and you would have gotten a $500 check for buying your car.

I went to a M school in Cali, so it wasn't the official school. I don't know if the instructors are in the car with you at the mother base, but we followed them around at California Speedway.
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      12-05-2008, 03:12 AM   #14
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Sounds awesome. Hmmm, maybe XMAS or Birthday present...
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      12-05-2008, 02:01 PM   #15
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wow! thks for posting your experience.. looks very exciting...
I cant wait for my turn in Spring 09, I figure I'd give 09 in a good start!

Wonderfull Photos!
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      12-05-2008, 02:20 PM   #16
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Great write up and pics!! Thanks for sharing and you have a real trooper of a wife!! What a neat thing to be able to do together! My other half doesn't drive manuals and has no interest in trying to learn! I'm going to have to send in the paperwork for sure now!!
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      12-05-2008, 02:31 PM   #17
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Nice write-up! I can't wait to go. It's awesome that they allow you to bring a guest as well.

I need to find cheap plane tickets for two.

Last edited by Sedan_Clan; 12-05-2008 at 02:48 PM.
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      12-05-2008, 02:44 PM   #18
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Awesome, I am going to be there in March '09!!! Can not wait!
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      12-05-2008, 02:49 PM   #19
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So do you they give you the option between a DCT and manual?
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      12-05-2008, 03:08 PM   #20
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Anyone here know where i can get the ///M Vinyl like on the white m3 coup just for the hood?
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      12-05-2008, 04:39 PM   #21
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So do you they give you the option between a DCT and manual?
Right now the M3's they have are all manual. They are putting the break in miles on the DCT cars right now. The DCT cars will be put in service after the first of the year. I don't know if the DCT M3's are replacing or supplementing the manual ones. The M5's and M6's are all SMG.
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      12-05-2008, 04:48 PM   #22
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I'll throw in the female support for the wifey.

Hot shoe girls rock!

I'm hoping to take the school this spring at VIR. WOO-HOO!
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