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“...drivers participating in the teen driving school, autocross or M control clinic will develop their own skills, gaining experience and confidence while learning under the guidance of our BMW Performance Center instructors.”

BMW Ultimate Driving Experience

by Ziva Allen

 

The BMW Ultimate Driving Experience kicked off on April 13th and ran through the 23rd at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NewAutocross Jersey.  It is the first of five more Ultimate Driving Experiences happening throughout the country.  The Experience is designed to introduce consumers to current BMW models.  It includes a range of activities from self-guided test drives to a teen driver safety school to an autocross and an M Car Control Clinic.  Highlights of the event include a new “Ultimate Driver” competition and a BMW Teen Driving School course based on the program taught at the BMW Performance Centers in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Thermal, California.  The tour will have stops in five other cities:

  • Los Angeles, CA, at Santa Anita Park (May 11-21);
  • San Francisco, CA, at Cow Palace (August 11-17);
  • Dallas, TX, at Lone Star Park (September 2-10);
  • Chicago, IL, at Arlington Park (October 14-22);
  • New York, NY, at Citi Field (November 2-12).

“The Ultimate Driving Experience gives drivers from across the country the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a BMW and experience firsthand why our brand is at the top of its class,” says Trudy Hardy, Vice President of Marketing, BMW of North America.  “Further, drivers participating in the teen driving school, autocross or M control clinic will develop their own skills, gaining experience and confidence while learning under the guidance of our BMW Performance Center instructors.”

The BMWs available for sampling range from the BMW I to the M3 and M4 performance vehicles to the newly released 5 series.  The experiences include:

  • Autocross, a two-hour challenging, closed-course driving program featuring the all-new BMW 5 Series.  Attendees are paired with BMW’s professional driving instructors for an experience that highlights advanced driving theories, defensive driving techniques and culminates in a hot-lap around the track.
  • M Car Control Clinic, an eight-hour driving school that allows drivers to get behind the wheel of the BMW M3 or M4 for a day of driving with individual instruction from BMW-certified professional driving instructors from the BMW Performance Centers.  Drivers will develop a sharper understanding of BMW’s responsive handling and performance, while learning advanced driving theory.  The M Car Control Clinic is offered for a fee of $750 per person.
  • Street Drives that allow for free, 20-minute, self-guided test drives of a full range of BMW vehicles.
  • Teen Driving School, a free, fully interactive two-hour teen driving course utilizing the BMW X1 and BMW 230i.  The Teen Driving School will provide an introduction to driving theory to improve driving skills through classroom instruction, driver awareness activities and hands-on driving exercises.  Education about the consequences of distracted driving is a main focus, with special emphasis on texting while driving and how it affects not only teens – but everyone who drives a vehicle.  Eligible drivers ages 15-20 with a valid learner's permit or driver’s license can register for the school.

M Car Control ClinicFor the first time, BMW will also introduce the “Ultimate Driver” competition for drivers participating in the Autocross and M Car Control Clinics at each stop.  All participating drivers will compete in a timed lap at the conclusion of their session and the top drivers from each Ultimate Driving Experience stop will move on to the session finals to compete in an event at the BMW Performance Center West track in Thermal, California.  The overall winner will be named The Ultimate Driver. 

Another way to compete in the Ultimate Driver includes M Track Days, which is another traveling experience offered by BMW.  These events give drivers a half-day with the full M fleet, professional instruction on famous racetracks, and a timed lap that qualifies you for a nationwide driving competition – all for $250.  Drivers will move from classroom to track for drag racing, braking, instructor hot laps, and a timed autocross.  The top drivers from autocross will move on to the finals at BMW’s Performance Center West in Thermal, California. The venues include the Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York from May 18th through May 25th, Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida from June 9th through June 16th, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas from July 26th through August 2nd, The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington from September 19th through September 26th and The Thermal Club in Thermal, California from September 29th through October 6th.

BMW currently offers active driving programs in over 30 countries on five continents.  BMW M supports local Driving Experiences around the world by providing training guidelines, as well as the buildings and premises required to create homogenous safety and quality standards for the BMW Driving Experience.  In the international BMW Instructor Academy, it has been training its instructors according to global standards since 1997 and putting them through their paces in an intense process.  If successful, they receive the official certification “Official Partner of M.”  The BMW Driving Experiences in the Netherlands and the USA are currently certified centers of excellence.  The Netherlands led the way in 2015, followed by the American BMW Performance Center East in Spartanburg and West in Palm Springs, at the beginning of 2017.

“We are pleased to present the second partner in the internationalization of our successful driver safety program at the BMW and MINI Driving Experience,” says Frank van Meel, President of BMW M GmbH.  “As with the pilot project in the Netherlands, the BMW Performance Centers in the USA fully comply with all the prerequisites for the certification.  Because of this, our customers in North America can now look forward to training courses that meet the high standards of the BMW and MINI Driving Experience in Germany.”

“The BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg has been helping drivers improve their skills, become safer drivers and experience theWillisch Ultimate Driving Machine in a very dynamic way since 1999.  Now with the completion of our new BMW Performance Center West, we are better able to serve our many west coast customers,” states Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America, LLC. “With this certification by BMW M, we can ensure consistency of our BMW and MINI Driving Experiences at both US locations and worldwide,” continues Willisch.

Instructor training goes a long way towards the quality of any driving school. Prospective BMW and MINI Driving Experience instructors first must complete an extensive part-time training program, for which there is a rigorous selection process.  In addition to technical knowledge, high levels of driving skill and experience in handling the products of the BMW Group, the aspiring instructors must also have the necessary personal skills for efficient communication of their expertise.  Participants in the instructor training program are therefore familiarized in detail with the educational and instructive philosophy behind the training courses and tours.  They learn how to identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of course participants and how to ensure a successful learning outcome as effectively as possible.

Teen Driving SchoolFor the potential track day driver, these driving experiences and schools are an excellent way to get started.  The instructors and programs offered by BMW are top notch and the prices are right.  Driving schools can cost thousands of dollars.  Here is your opportunity to get behind the wheel of someone else’s car (a BMW M 3 or 4, no less) and receive formal instruction from professionals.  The car control skills you take away will serve you well in your track day career.  While you are learning track skills, your teenage son or daughter can take advantage of an outstanding safe driver program.  They will learn car control skills and situational awareness and you will gain peace of mind.  The BMW Ultimate Driving Experience will be a yearly offering and will travel to new cities.  If you do not get your chance this year, keep your eyes open and jump on it when the experience comes to a city near you. 

We thought our readers would be most interested in the M Car Control Clinic, so we fired off a few questions to Kevin Philips, Manager, Retail and Experiential Marketing, BMW of North America:

Q.  Does the clinic involve classroom sessions?  How many of there are there and how long are they?  What is covered?

The M Car Control Clinic, offered during each Ultimate Driving Experience stop, is an eight-hour driving school that allows drivers to get behind the wheel of the powerful BMW M3 or M4 for an adrenaline-filled day of driving with individual instruction from BMW-certified professional driving instructors from the BMW Performance Centers.

Each clinic begins with an approximately 45 minute classroom session on vehicle dynamics, driving theory and car control. From the classroom, students then participate in approximately five hours of combined driving exercises.

There are a total of four M Car Control Sessions at each Ultimate Driving Experience stop with the exception of the upcoming stop at Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA (August 11-17), which will have two sessions. The M Car Control Clinic is offered for a fee of $750 per person, advanced registration is available at https://ude.bmwusa.com/register

 

Q. How much seat time does a student get?  Are there lead follow sessions?  What is the driver coaching format?

Students typically share a vehicle throughout the day with one other student. No lead follow in this class, but there is autocross driving. Professional driving instructors coach inside the car from the passenger seat.

 

Q. What is the venue for the clinic?  Is it the autocross track or is it held at a road course in the city visited?

The M Car Control Clinics are held at the same location as The Ultimate Driving Experiences. The next Ultimate Driving Experience will take place in San Francisco, CA, at Cow Palace (August 11-17), followed by Dallas, TX, at Lone Star Park (September 2-10); Chicago, IL, at Arlington Park (October 14-22), and concluding in New York, NY, at Citi Field (November 2-12).

For more information and to register for The BMW Ultimate Driving Experience visit:  bmwusa.com/ude or call 800-558-4BMW (4269).

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