BMW Driver School 24 March 1999

Howell, Tammy and I attended the BMW Driver School/Autocross at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley on 24 March 1999. The rain held off until just when we finished, but it was very windy.

"Now I know why Bimmers are so expensive" I thought as we came into the registration tent.
Fancy tents, furniture and lots of new BMW's surrounded us as we proceeded to the "M Cafe" to get free breakfast treats. Friendly and numerous event staff confronted us at every turn.
We decided Howell looked right at home in the M Coupe he covets so much, but Howell thought I looked too much like a hoodlum for it. ("The keys to your Impala SS, sir")
Tammy liked the Z3
There was a brief "chalk talk" session with the usual "friction circle" and general concepts, a traction control demo, then on to the cars. Four new BMWs in four complementary colors: two 323i and two 328i. First we did a little ABS brake testing, then two timed laps around the little course in each model of car. First I drove the 323i which plowed like a corn farmer. The traction control and automatic transmission kept me from generating any oversteer. The 328i was more neutral but still understeered a lot for autocross work.

Most of the novices were getting about 18.5 seconds. My best was a 17.14 and Tammy spanked us all with a 16.9! In fact she won the award for fastest time. Howell had the instructor pull the e-brake on him, causing a near spin.

We think the instructors were cheating and turning off the hated traction control for their runs (evidenced by a huge strip of rubber left on their launches). But they knew what they were doing and were very animated and humorous.

We filled out our evaluations on little handheld computers and left. The Probe felt so responsive and agile compared to the numbed bimmers.

March 1999

Bay Area Probe Owners Club Website