BMW Performance Driving Center
The BMW Performance Driving Center was created near the BMW factory in South Carolina to promote performance driving techniques with late model BMW automobiles that could not be replicated anywhere else. There are a variety of performance driving programs designed and available for drivers of all skills, from one-day novice schools, two-day schools and advanced M schools. The schools designed and implemented at the BMW Performance Center are based on real world driving situations, much different than what most of us think of when we hear the words “driving school.” I had the opportunity to attend a one day school in October that was sponsored by the National Chapter, BMW CCA.
When Becky and I arrived at the Greenville airport on Friday morning, we were picked up and transported to our home base during the trip to the Greenville Marriott in a new 35X5d. The Greenville Marriott is located near the airport, BMW factory and museum, BMW Performance Driving Center and Michelin headquarters. In agreement with BMW NA, the hotel has new BMW’s on hand to transport their guests in first class style. As part of the agreement, the hotel will also transport guests of BMW activities to various locations in the city during their stay. Shortly after we checked in at the hotel, we asked the concierge for a ride to the BMW Museum. After a nice visit to the museum and gift shop, the driver from the hotel was summoned to return us to the hotel. The driver really wanted to impress us with the X5’s abilities, so he took the back roads to the hotel. Later in the evening, we were transported to downtown Greenville. While downtown, we were able to join the rest of the driving school attendees for dinner and enjoy the night life in a fabulous reinvigorated downtown Greenville. We enjoyed the ride to downtown and back in a new 750Li.
The driving school began early on Saturday morning with an introduction of our instructors, whom are all former or current race car drivers, and explanation of the exercises for the morning session. As with all driving schools, we began the day with classroom instruction. Following an hour of instruction, we were split into four groups of eight each. Each of us was paired with a partner in which to share a car. Four current model BMW’s are used in the exercises, M3’s M5’s, M6’s and 135is’s. Moving outside from the classroom, and after group instructions, the four instructor’s cars led the student’s cars to the appropriate place on the vast track to begin the designed exercises.
Four exercises were practiced during the morning session and four in the afternoon session, each lasting 45 minutes each. The morning session included a wet figure-8 skid pad, wet round skid pad, advanced corner entry on the long track and autocross practice on one of the short tracks. Each car contained a hand held radio attached in the door pocket. In this manner, the instructors would watch the students on the track and give instructions and encouragement to the students while standing near the track. After each 45 minute session, the students followed the instructor car back to the staging area and the students would move to a different car and follow a different instructor to a new exercise. After all students had practiced each of the four exercises, lunch was served.
Following a brief classroom session, the afternoon session began. The afternoon sessions consisted of high speed passing/follow the leader, wet skid pad pursuit races, timed autocross and high speed lapping on one of the short tracks. The last exercise of the day was a student ride on the track with the instructors as they performed flawless drifting on the skid pad followed by a 360 degree spin while leaving the skid pad and returning to the staging area.
If you have attended many high performance driving schools and would like to experience something new, or not attended any, a visit to the Performance Driving Center might be a great weekend getaway. I don’t know of many people that would not enjoy driving the latest M cars on a track without any worries.