Your chance to drive a 2014 BMW on a track for free is coming- don’t miss it
Pounding around a closed course in a new sports car or sports sedan is something you can pay for at most race tracks in the US, but wouldn’t you rather do it for free? BMW is about to offer you that chance.
BMW calls its tour the Ultimate Driving Experience. There are three different on-track offerings. The tracks are set up in giant parking lots. For example in a football stadium parking area. The course uses cones and other markers to create a variety of driving situations. Typically attendees are either allowed to try the cars on the course alone, or with an instructor in the vehicle offering suggestions. You might assume the instructors will try to slow you down, but in fact the opposite is usually true.
What You Will Do At a Free BMW Driving Event
Most of us are accustomed to street driving. That means we stop well short of any obstacle or threat. The in-car helpers will shout encouragements like “Gas! Gas! Gas! Keep going! Now Brake! Harder!” Auto writers get to do this on a regular basis, and now BMW is offering to let you do it too. It is about the most fun you can have for free in a new car. As the event goes on you will find yourself driving more confidently, faster, and braking much more forcefully than you ever do in normal driving.
BMW is offering a free 2-hour Autocross ride in a new BMW 2-series sports coupe, or in a BMW 5 series sports sedan. Our suggestion would be the smaller car since autocross courses are more fun in smaller, more tossable cars. BMW promises the attendee will experience not only a “pulse pounding hot lap” but also learn some advance driving theories and defensive driving maneuvers. This autocross course is the free one we strongly suggest you sign up for.
In this author’s experience, having attended about a dozen such events, there is rarely any “selling” going on. Expect to provide your name, address, license number, and to take a survey before and after the event. If this bothers you keep in mind that the value of the wheel time is hard to quantify in dollars, but would cost you roughly $100 per hour minimum at a driving school offered at a race track.
How to Prepare:
Our suggestion is to dress for the weather in layers. It is generally hot at these events. Most importantly, wear comfortable shoes with a thin sole. Sneakers or deck shoes work well. Don't wear flip flips of sandals (ever, not just here). Sunglasses are a must and I always bring a baseball cap. It might sound dumb, but plan ahead for stowing your cell phone. Baggy cargo shorts work best. You are going to be hopping in and out of cars, and cell phones tend to fall out of pockets, or get left in the cars.
When I attend these events I like to try to pick a weekday slot. They tend to be less busy and you will find that the attendees are a bit more serious about cars than the weekend folks. I also suggest arriving at last 30 minutes ahead of your designated time slot. You don’t want to miss your grouping. These events are well organized and you will have a reserved time. Respect it.
Sign Up Here
The event starts in Foxboro, MA at Gillette Stadium, home of the world’s very best football team (Go Pats!) the week of June 14-22. I will be there and will update this story with photos from the event shortly after it begins. The event then travels the country hitting a few California locations, two New York locations, Miami FL, Chicago, IL, and Houston TX. The events run all summer and fall. The website for the event registration is right here. You can also call 800-558-4269 to make your reservation.
Other BMW Offerings You Can Pay For
In addition to the free driving event BMW is also offering a Teen Driving School and a full day Car Control Clinic offered for a fee. There are also Street Drives in new BMWs offered (at no charge of course) and guided tours of some newer BMW models including the electric i3. If you attend please let us know how you liked the event.