I am such a driving enthusiast and being the owner of a 2011 BMW 5 series, living in Brooklyn, NY, I never get to push this machine to its full potential – although some may say different. Recently, I checked off one bucket list experience when A Girls Guide to Cars granted me with the opportunity to visit the BMW Performance Driving School West in Thermal, California. After reading about my awesome first-time performance driving experience, you’re going to want to visit, too!
The BMW Performance Driving School is a first-class experience all the way around. The building is new and beautiful as are the tracks and grounds. When we arrived, we were greeted by pleasant and friendly staff who showed us where we would be served a continental style breakfast. We needed an energy boost prior to getting on the track.
From there, my group had a brief but informative introduction and instruction on how to properly drive a car from Adam Seaman. He was pretty entertaining and gave my group the BEST hot lap experience ever! Adam is an…
“Internationally Certified Instructor has competed in Drift races and holds a Formula Drift Pro license. He also does stunt driving for NBC’s DRIVE and loves coaching skidpad and Lead/Follow on the larger racetracks. His key to driving skill improvement? “Vision. Disciplining your vision is the most difficult thing to master – but also the most important.”
While at the BMW Performance Center West, my group didn’t participate in a specific package, but it was close to the BMW Track Meet option. We had a customized experience due to the amount of time we had allotted to spend at the center.
We spent most of the time behind the wheel, and my journey began with Raoul. He led us around the course twice in the BMW M3’s, and then we were on our own. This was the part I was [impatiently] waiting on, and where the fun started. We had two test-runs that were timed and then after that, he began to log our time. I came in at 29.4 seconds! Fast, but not quite fast enough. Although I didn’t win out of our group of 20+ women, I did come in 5th place. After this, I swear I was a race car driver in another life.
Next, we drove the M4’s on Thermal Club circuit. We played a game of “follow the leader” where the instructor leads us around the track exclusively for club members, and I reached 130 mph. We got a full 20-30 min session on each circuit.
On the second track, the instructor was pretty excellent. He would continuously give driving instructions and would rotate us so that every 3 laps or so the person directly behind him will fall to the end and the next person would move up. That way each person would get a chance to be the driver directly behind the instructor. He would also push it hard if the driver behind him could keep up.
The third activity placed us on a track that was specially designed to show off BMW M-series vehicles designed to swiftly maneuver tight corners. I was finally able to drive my dream car, the BMW M6. This car retails for $119,000… $119,000! Most people would be nervous driving such an expensive car that they didn’t own but, I was able to drive the BMW M6 with so much confidence. Enough that I wasn’t afraid to push this fast, yet expensive car to its limits.
After doing two laps in the M6, we switched cars, and I got to drive, the X5, M5, which is the way more expensive model to what I currently own. In the M5, I skidded off the track because I hit the turn too late. Luckily, I didn’t panic and just waited for assistance. I was fine, the car was fine, and I went on to drive the M3 and M2. Whew!
Finally came the hot lap. We buckled up in the passenger seat with Adam and boy, did he not disappoint. He drifted and accelerated around the track, and all I could do was scream the entire time. It was definitely a ride I will never forget. You can actually see me and the other ladies in the group enjoying our drifting experience on Facebook.
At the end of the day, those who placed during the timed event received cute gifts, and everyone else got some swag (a water bottle, hat, shopping bag, and keychain).
The instructors at the BMW Performance Center West made our experience on the track safe and fun; it was the perfect learning and driving experience. They were top-notch professionals and personable and gave real-time advice to help us improve our driving skills and commended us if we were doing well.
If it’s in your budget, I would definitely splurge on this once and a lifetime experience. Learn more by visiting here.
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