LDDS From a Newcomer’s Perspective

Ryan Smith and I have served on the Iowa BMW Club board for nearly three years and never attended the Longest Day Driving School at the Mid-America Motorplex in Pacific Junction. This year, we were finally able to make the trip and see what our fellow board members were raving about.

As described by our fellow club members, we found that it is unlike any other chapter event the club hosts. I attribute this to the high participation, the weekend-long time commitment, and the sheer love of cars lingering in the air from the track to the grid and the paddock. Being in the company of these car lovers all weekend brought together why we have this club, and work so hard to bring the driving school to members each year.

Ryan was a novice student, while I volunteered for the Saturday and Sunday sessions and took photos from the stands and at turn 14. We were met with rain most of the weekend, but saw that each group was blessed with at least one dry run each day. On Sunday, the rain created an obviously wet track that provided some teaching opportunities.

It was great to see so many club members in one place. We saw lots of familiar faces, met members we’ve never seen, and welcomed other club’s members to our driving school. We found that the day is really what you make of it. We enjoyed down time in the Brighton tent between sessions – and of course a tasty feast provided by Don and Stacy Van Lengen (whom you can find a recipe from in this issue).

Now for the driving. Ryan was glad to finally see what his 2008 335i is capable of. He enjoyed working with instructor Dave Anderson from Minnesota, who talked him through how to navigate the track and offered slight variations on the line based on Ryan’s car and track conditions. I enjoyed watching the instructor group’s session on the track, and even got a ride from instructor Fred Bell.

A special thank you goes to those who participated in the charity laps, especially since the track was a bit saturated. The funds raised from those laps go to a charity that’s dear to my heart; Animal Lifeline of Iowa. It’s a no kill, special needs animal shelter in Des Moines that I volunteer for. The money we raised was enough to have two cats spayed or neutered. Let me explain the impact that has on the shelter. If you never spay or neuter one cat, and her kittens, and their kittens, and so on, that creates 230,000 cats over seven years. That means your donations helped keep 460,000 cats out of shelters. You’re an awesome club! To learn more, visit

I noticed a lot of Go Cameras on cars. Some even had cameras capturing video from both the front and rear angles of the drive. If you had a camera shooting over the weekend and want to share video with the club, email Currently, a video of student Ryan Smith is posted on our Youtube channel.

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