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Old 4th August 2019, 06:53   #1
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Default 2 day driving school - BMW Performance Driving School, South Carolina

After my trip to Pacific Northwest, the next major adventure was the 2 day driving school experience at the BMW Performance Drive Center in Greer South Carolina. This is the second school in the US apart from Thermal California. I'm currently on my second BMW and it so happened last year that in one of magazine mailers from BMW, there was a small line at the bottom that they were offering me a chance to get a 1 day driving school experience. At first i did not believe that BMW would offer an approx 850$ training free of cost, so i ignored it for few months. At a later BMW ultimate driving event, i saw a desk for the driving school and asked about it, but again did not book it. The fellow drivers at the autocross mentioned that the driving school was really fun and a good experience.

On that day they were offering a 20% discount, but the base price was around 1600+ $ and this was a big number just for a driving school. This was towards the end of last year. This march i again looked at the email and gave a call to the driving school and asked about it and they mentioned they will call back in 2-3 days after validating the information. I didn't get a call for next few days, so i decided to call again and found out that the manager was out of office and had just returned, but my information was valid and i had a voucher for a 1 day driving school which was valid for next 3 days. I asked them if i could change it later, but was told that i could do it till the time it was valid. So i opted for the 1 day school. The next day i was trying to google and get reviews. There were mixed reviews but looking at the course contents, i made the upgrade to the 2 day school. After all i was going to go a long way from New Jersey so going for just a day was not worth it. I had a BMW CCA membership so that gave me a 15% discount. The one day school costs 849$.

There are multiple training's - 1 day school, 2 day school, teen school, m school, advanced m school, motorcycle school, some short courses and corporate events. I initially planned to drive along with family. But few days before the event, i ended up booking up flights as there was nothing at the center for families and the only thing they could do is sit at the hotel or go out on their own. The plan was to leave by night, do the course on the weekend and come back by night.

Day of Travel:
My flight was initially in the evening, but ended up getting delayed by over 2 hrs (I've hardly seen American Airlines taking off on time lately). I booked the Marriott hotel suggested by the performance center folks. They also provided drop and pick up services so it was a better option than Hilton options where i could get free upgrades. I had carried dinner with me, so after reaching the hotel i booked the shuttle for the morning and slept off.

Day 1:
The timings for the course were mentioned at 8:30 to 4 pm as per their email. I had booked a shuttle drop the previous night and the hotel staff suggested that i should start by 8 AM to reach there on time.So after a quick breakfast i hurried towards the shuttle which was already waiting along with another passenger. I initially thought that it was an airport drop, however the passenger turned out to be a motorcycle school participant. On reaching the center, i picked up the badge and signed into their registration form. A classroom had been booked for the next two days where they would conduct theory lessons. Soon other participants also came in and our class started. There were 4 instructors - Jim, Rick, Clint and Rob, out of which Rob had come from the Thermal, CA school and was leaving the next day. The other three were local instructors and came with 15-20 yrs of racing and training experience each. All of them had their names put up on the hall of fame at the center. They started with a quick introduction and group assignment. At most 2 people were put in a car. The theory sessions started with concepts like under-steer and over-steer, vehicle basics, response in different condition and overview of the courses we would get to do. After an hour we headed for the practicals. For the practicals we had two cars - 300i and M240i.

The first session was a regular slalom with going around the cones in a zig zag manner and finishing without hitting them.

Panic Braking

This exercise was about stopping the car when something came in front of the car while driving at speeds of 40+ mph. We did laps are different speeds to practice braking and coming out of the lane.

We had a lunch break after 12. I was not aware that we could order based on diet also, but i had to get hold of the chef to tell him on my restrictions. He agreed to make something in 10 mins. After lunch we headed for the skid pad exercises. In this exercise we were taught to control the car in a skid. The instruction rode along with the driver and created the skid by pulling off the breaks. We used the M240i as it had the hand brake lever instead of the electronic ones. Most people spun the car 1-2 times before getting control of the cars but it was definitely a fund experience.

Skid Pad

Single Lane Changes
After this the next task was single lane changes. It felt a bit scary as we were not supposed to use the breaks to get into the lane change but use them only after getting into the new lane. We went to 40+ mph while doing this.

Rat Race
We had a quick break and then headed back for a different type of challenge called rat race. This exercise was on a smaller skid pad, which was being sprayed with water. The objective was to go after the other car, which was standing opposite to us in a circular fashion and whoever reduces the distance (which by default was around 1/2 the circumference of the skid pad. I initially barely managed to keep the car in control, however on the next attempt was the winner. The winner would get a rat soft toy.

Timed Slalom
Next we had a slalom on a different track with timing being noted. This was the last exercise of the day.

After finishing up the exercises we headed back into the room allotted to us. The day ended with medals being given for the top performances (of which i too was one).

I called up the hotel shuttle thereafter and headed back to the hotel and just took rest after a tiring day. I had initially planned to use the spa but it turned out to be at a different location than the hotel.

Day 2:
I was going to take the evening flight, so i checked out after having breakfast. On reaching the classroom session started within 15 mins. Day 2 was more of reinforcing the first day concepts with some variations. The first task was again a slalom with some variation.

Day 2 Slalom

Next on the menu was a short slalom but with a u turn at the end and returning in the same direction for another slalom. The catch was to stop within a short box marked by cones. The instructors were also keeping track of the timings.

Day 2 Slalom with U turn

Interstate Braking
The next class was for interstate braking. This consisted of 3 speed changes - between 55 and 70 mph and the final two laps for stopping within a specific box marked by cones.

Similar to day 1 we had another skid pad exercise with 2 variations. First we would go in clockwise manner and second we would introduce the skid ourselves. So we headed off in the m series and practices on couple of laps.

Skidpad clockwise

Double Lane Changes
We had done single lane change on day 1, so it was time for the double lane changes today. We were given overview of how it was supposed to be done followed by our training laps.

Multi Car test drive laps
Once the training exercises were done we were off to a different part of the track (which was a longer one) to test out the M2, M5, M8 and X6. The M5 and M8 were the most powerful and fun to drive (both of them were $ 140k+ cars)

Offroad course
This was the last part of the day. We were given the latest X5 to go over an off road course. The water course was closed due to some maintenance, but the remaining parts were equally nerve wracking and the hill climb and descent was quite crazy (especially when the X5 was going like a see saw)

Hot Laps with instructors
After the offroad course we had an option of going in a speed lap with the instructions. We took the M5s for this and had the best time going across the different tracks and coming back shortly.

The day ended with a small presentation giving out certificates and medals for the timed events. We also got a goody bag with a cap, a mini BMW cone, a coffee mug, a bottle clip and a track sticker. The airport was very close by so the instructors offered to drop me and some others while going back. My return flight had a stopover in Atlanta and by the time i reached home it was past midnight. The 2 days spent there were tiring but i enjoyed all the exercises we did. They also have M school and an advanced M school which are even more expensive but probably worth for people who buy the 100k+ cars. There are very few schools from BMW (2 in US and probably in Germany also) and if you happen to get a chance to do the 1 day or 2 day course at a reduced rate or willing to spend the full amount, then i think its definitely worth it.

Last edited by aditya_rao : 17th August 2019 at 10:35. Reason: updates
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Old 18th August 2019, 07:33   #2
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Default re: 2 day driving school - BMW Performance Driving School, South Carolina

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th September 2019, 14:29   #3
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Default Informative Post

As an M fan, I really enjoyed reading the thread. Appreciate the effort taken to list them individually along with their respective videos. I'm surprised that you managed to record your session. If it were to be conducted here in South India, the local management would be more likely to discourage from recording the classes by giving some invalid reasons like it's against the terms & conditions or some other fine print.
During the 1'st Panic Braking attempt, I think that they expected you to switch from the A pedal to the B Pedal instantly without any interval or coasting in between. This is hard to pull off naturally if we're used to smooth driving on daily basis.
I'm slightly surprised that after 1.5 months, I'm the only/first person to reply. This thread deserves more views/replies.
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