Author Topic: M Track Days  (Read 154 times)

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Offline Xer0

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M Track Days
« on: September 09, 2019, 08:13:11 pm »
No idea where the other threads are that talked about this so here is a new one!  This is a long one cause I have a lot of thoughts.

Just got back from the full day M Track event and I'll outline what we did and what I thought of the cars that we did them with.  There was a lot of good stuff here and a lot of seat time.

First hour of the day is an in class session that goes over brake zones, following a line, under/oversteer, and general track etiquette.  It's a "duh" level amount of information that seems obvious when you hear it, especially if you've played a lot of Gran Turismo growing up, but super important to get right and pay attention to.  When brakes and tires are fresh it's very easy to be carried from point to point by sheer grip but as the day drags on, and your grip goes to shit, you have actually be a decent driver and this stuff was good to know.

At this point they divided us up into groups of 8 and our group went and did a slalom, skid pad, and drifting in the new M5 Competition.  The slalom was pretty forgettable and not really any fun in something big and cumbersome like the M5.  The skid pad and controlled drifting around it were a riot though.  All nannies were turned off and the car was switched to RWD mode so kicking the tail out was incredibly easy.  Unfortunately, controlling it wasn't.  I suck at drifting and I didn't get it right once; between too much gas, not enough steering, or braking when I didn't need to I was a mess.

After, we took the M5s out to track for a lead follow.  Our group of 8 was further split into two groups of 4 for all track events.  Instructors lead while two cars, M5s in this case, followed with two people in each.  Each driver did anywhere from 4-6 laps so there was considerable seat time.  There was no passing and the pace was set by the slowest driver, but the instructors were pretty good about pointing out what you were doing wrong so even the slow drivers got progressively faster.  With only two cars and the lead in any given group, runs moved smoothly and quickly but getting a slow driver was still a buzz kill.

M5 Thoughts - I don't get this car.  It's stupid capable, has near endless grip, the carbon ceramic brakes just wouldn't let up, and the AWD system made sure that no matter how stupid you were on corner entry you'd get straightened out just in time to go WOT at exit.  But it's not fun.  The car just kind of is amazing for the sake of being amazing not for the sake of being fun.  Its heavy as fuck too and you could feel it going down the track like a freight train.  Still, it was incredibly impressive just how good it was and what it needed to do.  I wouldn't buy it.

Following the first lead/follow, our group of 8 moved over to the autocross section with the guy that I most wanted to drive, the M2.  This wasn't the Competition car but the old 2018 models, all in BMW's beautiful light blue.  The course as laid out was about 27-30s for an average driver with no slalom, one sweeper, and barely a straight away to pick up speed.  My best run of the day was 24.9 but I hit 2 cones, oh well!  Best run of the day was 23.75 I think.

M2 Thoughts - Jumping out of the big and cumbersome M5 and into the M2 and everything just felt right; the interior was simple and clean without a million buttons, the car was tidy and small, and best of all it was light.  It sounded great too.  We didn't drive it too much so can't judge it too much but I really enjoyed it.

With the autocross over, we then had lunch.  It was a boxed lunch consisting of a decently sized steak sandwich, chips, Kind bar, rice crispy treat, pitted olives (no idea why), and a small salad.  I actually really enjoyed it and it was better than I thought it was going to be.

After lunch we went back to the track for another lead/follow session.  Same deal as with the M5 only this time we were driving the new M2 Competition.  I was so excited and the M2s were all in this gorgeous burnt orange color, which while I don't like it as much as the blue, still looked amazing.  To make things even better, we got the most seat time in this car!  Not sure, but I was not complaining.

M2 Competition thoughts - Loved this car, easily my favorite of the day.  It had tons of power and tons of grip.  It was the only car without Carbon Ceramics on the track but you wouldn't notice driving at 7/10s like us newbies were and shed speed very efficiently.  In comparison to the M5, which was a brute of a car that really only does amazing things under power with its trick AWD, the M2 you had to be much more mindful of when you were braking and on/off the power and it made it more fun.  The front end was so easy to point in that split second that you were off the brake but not yet on the gas and going through the turns was a blast.  Used 2017/2018 M2 are starting to get into the 42/45K range so that's something to think about.

With this done we then went and did some drag racing in an M4 vert, M850, X3M, and X4M.  Besides the slalom, I thought this was the most boring event as you literally just stomp on the gas.

M850 thoughts - This car is GORGEOUS.  I love it.  It sounds great too and the interior is so nice.  Having said that, it's not really a sports car and that's okay. 

X3/4M - Really quick, surprisingly decent steering, sounds pretty good, and great interior.  Between the new 5, X3/4, and 8, I'm really liking what BMW is doing with its interior. 

M4 Vert - Didn't care for it.  Didn't feel that fast, brakes didn't feel that good, and the steering was needlessly heavy.  That it was so disappointing made the blah interior stand out more.  It was the vert though so maybe the coupe on track was better?

Which brings us to the last lead/follow with the M4 Competition.  At this point it was 4pm and we had been beating on cars for almost 8 hours so maybe I was getting tired but my time on track with the M4 was not that pleasant.

M4 Competition - Remember all those things I just said about the vert?  Well, the Comp coupe doesn't solve them.  The steering was the heaviest of all the cars I drove and it felt the worst.  It sounded the worst too and I felt like it was the loudest.  It was at the end of the day too so grip on the tires was starting to go and I am not good enough to judge that kind of thing so I had a couple slides and fast entries from braking too late.  The couple clean laps I did do I just didn't enjoy as much as the M2 or the M5.  I'm putting this one as my least favorite.

With everything done there was one more event and that was a hot lap with the instructors in the M5.  All aides off and the car in RWD mode.  Riding shotgun in a 4400 lbs car with 640hp on board and an instructor at the helm that just does not want to drive in a straight line is practically worth the cost of admission.  This was a 2.5 mile track, but outside of the two main straights, we drifted through the whole time.  So much fun and a great way to end the day by showing what these cars can do when not piloted by idiots.

All in all, you got seat time in 8 brand new BMWs, 3 of them 20ish laps of considerable seat time, breakfast/lunch/dinner provided, and hanging out with some pretty cool people.  At 1K it was steep, but I plan on doing it again if it's in Chicago next year.

If I was rating what I drove for the day it would go something like this from top to bottom:

M2 Comp
M2
M850
M5
M4 Comp
X3/4M
M4 Vert

Offline 12,000 RPM

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2019, 05:45:20 am »
Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a blast.

It's amazing how different the 2 and 3/4 drive. They are the same damn car. Even my G wasn't so dramatically different from the Z. M2/M2C really seem like the perfect BMWs at the moment.
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Offline FoMoJo

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2019, 06:49:49 am »
Great write-up.
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Offline r0tor

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2019, 07:42:58 am »
Seems to echo my experience from last year.

I found the M3 can be fun to drive - but it really requires pushing it to 10/10 or above.  Below that it is just so damn sterile.


I didn't sign up for the track days this year... Price magically doubled for the same experience
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Offline Xer0

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2019, 10:08:38 am »
Seems to echo my experience from last year.

I found the M3 can be fun to drive - but it really requires pushing it to 10/10 or above.  Below that it is just so damn sterile.


I didn't sign up for the track days this year... Price magically doubled for the same experience

To be fair, the full day which I did only went up by 33%.  The half day doubled.  Its a bummer sure, but its still an amazing deal considering that your average performance school is like 2K for a day.  The M performance school starts at 1.5K.

Offline Xer0

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2019, 10:28:33 am »
Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a blast.

It's amazing how different the 2 and 3/4 drive. They are the same damn car. Even my G wasn't so dramatically different from the Z. M2/M2C really seem like the perfect BMWs at the moment.

Looking back at it, I'm not so sure how fresh that M4 was.  Besides the tires feeling worn, the transmission was also slow to downshift, upshifted too early, and didn't hang on to gears through corner.  They had us select a reprogrammed mode for it and I'm not sure exactly what it did so maybe that had something to do with it?

Speaking of transmissions, I forgot to talk about them.  All cars had automatics, the M2/4s DCTs and all the rest the 8 speed auto.  I didn't bother with manual control on the track and left the cars to their own devices.

-For my skill level, the DCT in the M2 was amazing and I never once felt like it wasn't in the right gear.  It downshifted quickly, held on to gears through corners, and was never caught flat footed. 
-The DCT in the M4 was unfortunately not as good.  There were so many times coming out of a corner where it was one gear too high and was a couple seconds slow in the downshift to really make the most of the straight.
-The 8 spd auto in the M5 I swore felt like a DCT.  Its shifts were lightning quick, there was real engine braking, and it hung onto gears at redline through corners.  It felt really good.

Quick sidenote on the BMW automatic stalk thing.  I don't like it, at all.  Its confusing, some of the cars have a "P" button for parking and some of the cars don't.  Its just not very intuitive.

Offline SJ_GTI

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2019, 02:31:04 pm »
I think using automatics for an event like this makes sense...too many people (especially in the US) are not comfortable using (or able to use) a manual transmission.

Offline Laconian

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2019, 02:32:32 pm »
I think using automatics for an event like this makes sense...too many people (especially in the US) are not comfortable using (or able to use) a manual transmission.

Yeah, the clutches wouldn't last long with a bunch of Gran Turismo-trained noobs dropping the clutch constantly.
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Offline Xer0

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2019, 02:41:47 pm »
I think using automatics for an event like this makes sense...too many people (especially in the US) are not comfortable using (or able to use) a manual transmission.

I actually talked to the instructors about this briefly.  They used to have manuals on hand, like 6/7 years ago, but quickly found out that people don't actually know how to drive manuals, even if they say they do, and it always led to blown clutches and expensive repairs.  Honestly, I was glad not to have to deal with shifting; rocketing down a straight at 120mph and trying to figure out proper brake timing so I don't overshoot the coming turn was more than enough for me.

Offline Laconian

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2019, 04:25:41 pm »
I actually talked to the instructors about this briefly.  They used to have manuals on hand, like 6/7 years ago, but quickly found out that people don't actually know how to drive manuals, even if they say they do, and it always led to blown clutches and expensive repairs.

I don't doubt it. It's exceedingly difficult to learn manual these days. Nobody has a friend with a stickshift.
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Offline NomisR

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2019, 04:33:06 pm »
I actually talked to the instructors about this briefly.  They used to have manuals on hand, like 6/7 years ago, but quickly found out that people don't actually know how to drive manuals, even if they say they do, and it always led to blown clutches and expensive repairs.  Honestly, I was glad not to have to deal with shifting; rocketing down a straight at 120mph and trying to figure out proper brake timing so I don't overshoot the coming turn was more than enough for me.

Seriously, you'll be spending your entire track day trying to get heel and toe correctly rather than trying to hit the apex properly. 

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2019, 05:46:49 pm »
I don't doubt it. It's exceedingly difficult to learn manual these days. Nobody has a friend with a stickshift.

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Offline AutobahnSHO

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2019, 07:36:07 pm »
I don't doubt it. It's exceedingly difficult to learn manual these days. Nobody has a friend with a stickshift.

I overheard my 15yr old telling his mom this summer that we're going to let them drive Subie but that I want him to learn to drive Scrappy.

*I never said any such thing. If the kid can't follow instructions like eat in the dining room instead of upstairs in your room, he's not going to be driving my cars!!! In MD they can get learner permit at 15yr 9months. (weird).
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Offline Xer0

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2019, 09:45:38 am »
Seriously, you'll be spending your entire track day trying to get heel and toe correctly rather than trying to hit the apex properly.

Its little things that you don't think about that add up quickly on a track.  The biggest thing I noticed is that a lot of people suck at hard braking.  I was behind a driver for a couple of laps that would brake early but not hard and would ride the brakes for longer than needed and would throw me off since I was always braking as hard as I could.  It was so annoying and really throws you off.  Adding a manual to that and it would be a shit show.

Offline CaminoRacer

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2019, 09:46:38 am »
Its little things that you don't think about that add up quickly on a track.  The biggest thing I noticed is that a lot of people suck at hard braking.  I was behind a driver for a couple of laps that would brake early but not hard and would ride the brakes for longer than needed and would throw me off since I was always braking as hard as I could.  It was so annoying and really throws you off.  Adding a manual to that and it would be a shit show.

I think most drivers aren't used to slamming on the brakes as hard as possible. TBH it's a bit uncomfortable until you get used to it
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Offline 12,000 RPM

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2019, 10:43:55 am »
Americans suck at driving in general, so IMO it's a small miracle BMW has these events at all. Same with those supercar track day experiences.
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Offline NomisR

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2019, 11:29:05 am »
Its little things that you don't think about that add up quickly on a track.  The biggest thing I noticed is that a lot of people suck at hard braking.  I was behind a driver for a couple of laps that would brake early but not hard and would ride the brakes for longer than needed and would throw me off since I was always braking as hard as I could.  It was so annoying and really throws you off.  Adding a manual to that and it would be a shit show.

Most people don't understand weight transfer of cars that helps with the rotation, etc.  Most people are not used to having to keep their foot on the gas and using the throttle to help you balance over/understeer.  They would likely at best drive through corners with their foot completely off both gas and brakes, and with normal street driving speeds with the FWD you won't have a lot of problem, but at track speeds with a RWD and especially in my situation a short wheelbase MR, you learn quickly. 

I've never done a BMW track day though, I should probably do one.

Offline 12,000 RPM

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2019, 11:44:50 am »
I would love to do it with old ///M cars. E30, E46, whatever the Z4M is, E90, E60, whatever the 1M is, all manual if possible.
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Offline Laconian

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2019, 11:52:45 am »
I would love to do it with old ///M cars. E30, E46, whatever the Z4M is, E90, E60, whatever the 1M is, all manual if possible.

You only get new cars, with all the nannies turned on.

Maybe Hector should make a few calls and organize a less-lame Track Day. ;)
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Offline 12,000 RPM

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2019, 11:57:31 am »
I am game as long as the venue has no walls.
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Offline Xer0

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Re: M Track Days
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2019, 12:14:16 pm »
You only get new cars, with all the nannies turned on.

Maybe Hector should make a few calls and organize a less-lame Track Day. ;)

As long as we also get to drive his cars too.