Bringing Out My Inner Race Car Driver at the BMW Performance Driving School

When I got invited to experience the BMW Performance Driving School in Thermal, California hosted by A Girl’s Guide to Cars, I was BEYOND excited! I had no idea such an experience existed to begin with but while it made an interesting gift option for my husband some day, I wasn’t going to stereotype the event as a male only thing. There was never a question about if I should go to this event or not as it was an emphatic YES PLEASE!

I’ve always been a bit of a closet car aficionado and fondly remember the days where I my friend and I self taught ourselves how to drive stick shift. From that moment on, driving a traditional manual transmission always held a bit of excitement for me and my heart would skip a beat when shifting gears. It was pure exhilaration having full control of the car and feeling the power under you! Yes going to the BMW Performance Driving School was a dream come true.

Our experience was customized for our event and specific timing and we got to experience a little of each offering they had from the BMW Buffet, Timed Laps, Lead/Follow and Instructor Hot Laps. Before any program begins, you have some classroom time with one of their very skilled BMW Internationally Certified instructors who take you through safety tips and some of the mechanics of driving performance cars like BMWs. Our instructor was Adam Seaman, a self professed adrenaline junkie who loves Drift races and holds a Formula Drift Pro license too. You could tell he loved to drive and he loves BMWs. One might roll their eyes at having to sit in class but I know that learning never stops and there was definitely a lot I didn’t know I didn’t know. I refreshed on usual things like vision, sight lines and hand eye coordination but had my mind blown when it came to hand placement and seat positioning. I’m sure we all remember hand at 10 and 2. No, it’s wrong. ALL WRONG. 9 and 3 is the optimal hand positioning for quick unobstructed turns – 9 AND 3! But wait…

If you’re not seated properly, 9 and 3 mean nothing at all. I never really gave much thought to how I sit in my car. I usually adjust it all the time, even though I have a seat memory setting locked in as it’s mostly depending on whether or not I’m wearing heels. I’m sure that’s not how car designers envisioned seat adjustments. I learned that the little “foot rest” in my car really isn’t a foot rest. Rather it’s called a “dead pedal” and it plays an important role in body mechanics, allowing your body to brace itself for turns, increased speed or even impact.

I have to admit after our little classroom session my confidence was a little dampened as I considered all that I thought I knew and really didn’t know. That ease of feeling through a turn was gone and replaced with much critical thinking. I guess that served me well as being at the BMW Performance Driving School required a lot of it.

What cars were in the BMW Buffet? M2, M3, M4, M550i, X5 with M sport package and X6 with M sport package. None of these cars were modified. These are the very same specs and models you can purchase at your local BMW dealership making exactly what you experience at the BMW Performance Driving School the same you can replicate at home (sort of).

Which car was my favorite? Of course the M4, closest competitor to my own personal car, giving me just a little buyer’s remorse.

Which event was my favorite? That’s a really tough one. I loved the BMW Buffet for the chance to go a few laps in each of their cars, something I probably would never get to experience normally but highly recommended if you don’t know exactly what you want or need in a car. The Timed Laps was just sheer fun and I might have gotten carried away or overly ambitious trying to beat my own best time as my instructor said. The Lead/Follow could have been my absolute favorite had I not been held back by a very cautious driver in our group that set the pace to a very slow and careful drive but I digress.

These experiences and more can be booked by anyone at either South Carolina or California site. You can have a quick 2 hour experience to a full 2 day experience. I’m trying to clear our schedule now and get my husband to down to the school! I hear there’s an X7 now and we may need to consider a new car!

{ disclosure: I attended the BMW Performance Driving School as part of A Girls Guide To Cars #Drive2Learn Conference. No compensation was exchanged. As always, all opinions expressed here are my very own! }