Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Fall Driving School

Well that's another one in the books. We were back down to Pueblo for the Fall Driving School with the Rocky Mountain chapter of the BMW Car Club, and much fun was had by all.

There were lots of highlights, and the general banter with the gang (as well as before and after on email) was all top notch. Ross made it out without breaking anything, although he was in Franks Elise when Frank decided to go all agricultural at the end of the day. We had a winner in the group for best car of the day (they must have liked the Smurf), and everyone seemed like they were fast and happy by the end of the day (minus a couple of run-ins with the shuffle steer nazi).

Gareth had managed to invest in a set of coilovers, which looking at the laps below, paid dividends. It also makes the A8 lower and meaner, so it looked good in the car park the night before as well as on the track.

Mr Wallace kindly let us borrow his new video camera, and Todd's video is here, while Gareth's is below. I somehow managed to not be able to get the video set up when I put it on my car (obvious user error), but I did get about 800 photos of my drive, which provided the apex hitting evidence at the top there.

Everyone is now looking at whether or not they can get out to the track again before winter sets in - this weekend is meant to be the Audi club at HPR, but snow is forecast for both days so that might be tough. Porsche club the weekend after though 8-)) so there's still a chance, as well as the open lapping days. Stay tuned....

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Autocrossing the weekend away

So I tried autocrossing last weekend for the very first time, and I really liked it. Before you ask, it's basically just like a mini timed racetrack that's set up with cones in a car park (and no, it has nothing to do with motorbikes, dirt or crashing).

The course is obviously a lot tighter than a track, so you never actually get out of second gear for the whole time, but it feels very very fast as you're blasting around. One of the main problems you have to contend with (apart from not hitting the cones) is actually remembering which way you need to drive. You get a walk or two around the course at the start of the day, but the first time the starter gives you the green light to go, you're basically looking at a sea of orange cones all jumbled up in the parking lot, trying to work out if it's left or right. Luckily there are a few pointers (cones laying down as arrows, some white lines painted around the outside of the track etc), and after a couple of trips around, you start to feel a little bit more comfortable.

Feeling comfortable and going fast however, are two very different things. As it was my first time, I didn't have very high expectations - get around without killing myself or the car, and try not to come last. Luckily I managed both. I was actually relatively competitive in the morning - somewhere in the middle of my group, but then I after lunch I screwed up the first run by hitting a cone, and then the next two weren't as fast. Still, I had a blast, and came away wanting to do it again. So of course, I signed up for another one in a few weeks 8-)) Sign up here if you're interested in joining - there's a rumor that Mr Tonkin is going to join me and Wallace out there next time (and it's only 45 bucks!!)...

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Darth Maul Tuner M3

I think I kinda like the look of this one - maybe I'm just a sucker for the orange highlights or something. More details over here (but there's no performance stuff done to it - all just looks)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BMW Continues Ugly Streak

Back in the day, BMW used to make some pretty cars. These days, they all seem to just be big slabs of porky metal. This is the rumored 5 Series GT (via 5Post), and it's not helping my view that my next car may not be of the BMW variety....

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fastest BMW?

Oh my - a Smurf Blue supercar killer. This M6 based car from G Power can do 228mph. Producing 750 bhp via a little supercharger dropped into the already powerful V10 'base' engine, the car has the go to match the looks (which I must say I kinda like).

I know of one lady who has a bit of a smurf blue fetish, so guessing this might go on her list....

via Jalopnik

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ad War - BMW vs Audi

So last weeks news (or probably more like 2 or 3 weeks ago), but I had some issues getting this photo uploaded, and then I was busy for a week, so never got the chance.

Audi and BMW basically started having billboard wars out in California. This was BMW's response (and obviously, anytime a response is done using an M3, I'm a big fan).

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Monday, April 13, 2009


So, BMW goes and makes a car/truck/thing that nobody is quite sure why should exist (lets make an SUV that isn't really big enough to be an SUV, and then make it handle just like a car, instead of just making it a car in the first place...).

And then, they persuade/force/bribe the M division to sell their soul and work on this instead of the lsd equipped 1 Series M that every car geek/reporter/fan is waiting for.

I think it would have been a lot cheaper and easier to just bring the M5 Estate (wagon) over here, and save everyone the trouble.....

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Monday, June 02, 2008

RMCBMWCCA Spring Driving School

IMG_1384.JPG, originally uploaded by Aaron in Denver.

So the day finally arrived, and I got to spend the whole day (well, a lot of it) driving pretty fast around the track in Pueblo. George came along with his Porsche, and was grinning nearly as much as I was.

Technically I guess it was spring, but it certainly felt like summer, and my face is red enough to prove it. Rumor was that Sunday was going to be even hotter, so I'm glad I hadn't picked that day in the end (although doing both days is always tempting).

We had a few visitors come down to watch, and luckily they also took control of the camera for the day, so there's a small subset of the photos they took here. There were about 600 in total, so loading them all up on Flickr didn't seem like a practical approach. If you were in Group C or D, I've probably got a shot or two of your car, so let me know if you want me to take a look and send them direct.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

One week to go

And just when I thought I had the excitement level under control, Leslie goes and posts about her Lotus driving school.

Still, I need the week to try and get my heel and toe'ing to a decent enough level not to kill me next week. That means if you're in front of me this week on my drive to work, be warned.

(and if you don't know what I'm taking about in this post, you obviously haven't spoken to me in the last 6 months ;-)

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

BMW Car Club - Car Control Clinic

IMG_0501.JPG, originally uploaded by Aaron in Denver.

So this year I wasn't driving, but Wee Dod was, so I went up for an hour to take some pics and offer a bit of moral support.

Judging from the smile, I think George liked it (a lot), so the real driving school down in Pueblo in a couple of weeks should be a blast.

Managed to take way too many pics of course (and thanks to Cliff who provided a few photography pointers - "hold the camera like this", "don't keep pressing" etc etc), but I loaded a selection up on Flickr here if you wanna check them out.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My Favorite Ad

I know, I'm biased (not that I have this version of course). And one of the cool things about this is it's actually real video with camera slots cut into the side of the engine, along with the needed light holes as well. I've never seen the inside of an engine when it's running before - have you?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Brembo to supply BMW Brakes?

One of the most common faults levelled at M cars from BMW are that their brakes don't always live up to the performance of the rest of the cars.

I'm not sure I'm really qualified to comment on whether or not this is true, but some of the sources I trust when it comes to cars (Evo mainly) are convinced, and that's good enough for me. The only experience I have is the burning smell during my track day, and the incredibly loud squealing I ended the day with after my final super-fast (in my head anyway) session when I was really pushing it, but I never lost stopping power (although we were doing 20 minute sessions).

Anyway, it seems BMW have decided to follow a number of other high performance car manufacturers, and hook up with Brembo, the maker of some of the best brakes in the world. No complaints from me on this - I had them on the STi, and if I was ever going to retrofit a big brake kit to a car, they'd be my first choice. And of course, they look soo pretty....

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Monday, October 15, 2007


Just when you think you can't imagine your car being any better than it is, someone down the road puts up for sale a car with all the mods you'd do if you had an unlimited supply of money......

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Friday, October 12, 2007

New M3 isn't that fast

At least compared to this competition. Even though you know what's going to happen before you see it, you still feel compelled to watch....

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

BMW Performance Driving School

So yesterday was finally the day that I got to drive my car like it was supposed to be driven (well, at least sort of). It was the BMW Car Club's High Performance Driving School down at the Pueblo Race Track, and I had been waiting for far too long for it to actually happen. The run up involved the purchase of the new helmet, as well as a tech inspection and brake flush, but it was all worth it in the end.

The class itself was an all day affair, which involved getting up at 5am to get down to Pueblo in time. Not fun, but Red Bull gives you wings, and although I was a little late and slightly panicked on the way down, I made it in time to not miss anything. As it was my first time, I was in D class (it goes from A to D based on experience and skill, and all first timers end up in D from what I can tell, unless you've had prior to race experience, or done some other classes). You start off with classroom sessions where they tell you about the track, the racing line and some basics about how the day will go in terms of building up speed gradually, and getting the racing line down before you start to push it. The instructor was a guy called Bill, and it was obvious that he really knew his stuff - very knowledgeable about everything, and able to deal with all the questions, while making the classes fun.

After the classroom session, you go out with the instructors for a "brush the cone" exercise - the instructor takes you round twice, nice and slow, showing you the correct racing line around the corners. There are cones out on all the corners for the turn-in points, apex and track out point, which help a lot. So once you see the line, they let you go out, nice and slow to get the feel for the right line. It still feels pretty fast - 50 million things to do, all at once, and the instructor giving you step by step instructions. Overwhelming, but lots of fun.

Then a quick break, more classroom, and back out on track again. When you're in the D class, you get the same instructor again, and I have to say Peter, my instructor, was great. He was very patient and encouraging, and really knew his stuff. So, the second time out was a lot quicker, and some corners came a lot easier than others. Pueblo has some pretty technical sections in there (well they felt pretty technical to a novice like me) with 3 or 4 corners linked together in close succession, and not much straight to get set up, so the concentration on the line was very necessary.

After this run, it was lunch, and the instructors get some track time as a reward for putting up with us lot. Peter volunteered to take me out for a real lap as a passenger, and to be honest, it was one of the best rides of my life. He has a tuned E36 M3 with R compound tires, race brake pads and upgraded suspension, and at full blast, it sounds great. I learned a lot, mainly about how fast you could actually take the corners, and how late you could break before you hit the turns. We were flying, and staying ahead of a lot of supposedly faster cars - the Z06 in front stayed right in our sights, but it had way too much power on the straights for us to pass him. If you ever go on this course, make sure you take up the chance to go around with the instructors - it's amazing.

The afternoon sessions were the two best drives. It was suggested that the third session was going to be the best, as the 4th is late in the day, and all the concentration and processing you've done takes it's toll. It didn't quite turn out like that for me - 3 was great - lots of speed through the corners, but for some reason I was having a hard time hitting turn 9 right. It didn't slow me down too much, but it was a little frustrating. I went into a couple of corners a little too hot as well, but nothing too serious.

By the time session 4 came around, I was tired, but still completely wired with adrenalin and smiling like someone possessed. Another different instructor, so a couple of warm up laps hitting the line, and then we were off. This was by far the best session - I was about 3 times quicker than the first run, and there were some sections that I came out of knowing that I just nailed completely. My instructor, Doug, was pretty excited, especially through turns 5 and 6a and b. We took over a few cars, and had a decent little cat and mouse with a 997 S for a couple of laps before I let him past to see how fast he actually was. It turned out we were just as quick as he was, so we tracked together for a lap or two before the chequered flag ended the day.

So, I want to say thanks to all the instructors, corner workers, fellow students and other helpers. It was a great day out, and if you ever think about doing this, I'd definitely recommend it whole heartedly. The next one is going to be scheduled on my calendar as an immovable object, and I'll be waiting anxiously until that day...

One other (non-driving) highlight of the day - I got to meet some of the Lijit team - they're the smart people who make the widget over there on the left that makes searching for stuff so much more helpful. It had a special significance on this particular day, as the main reason I ended up at the driving school was through one of those 6 degrees of separation things that happen on the web. I had added Lijit, and found Tara's website, and she does some interviews of co-workers on Fridays. One of the first (or maybe even _the_ first) was Leslie, and she seems as obsessed about her car as I am (red S4 if you see it blasting around Boulder making wonderful noises). She had a post about the driving school, and how amazing it was, and that's what kicked off my plan. So, I saw a Lijit t-shirt floating around, and basically just went over to see if I could get one 8-) They're a very necessary commodity in the fashion world, so as it was probably my only shot to get one, I removed the typical English "don't speak until spoken too" part of my personality and went for it. And well worth it it was - business card duly dispatched to Todd, so I'm going to spend the next few weeks waiting for the post to arrive, and getting to hang out with a group of smart and fun people was a definite bonus.

So, class day all round, and as Nike keeps telling you "Just Do It". You won't regret it.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Car Post

See Lauren, I make it nice and easy for you to skip ;-)

Anyway, couple of things on the car front, so I wanted to do a combined post to get them all in before my tea is ready.

First off is the official announcement of the much rumoured RS6 Avant from Audi - power is ridiculous (up around 560 bhp), torque at 480 lb/ft and 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.

Pictures are here, with a video of it semi disguised going around The 'Ring at the end of this post (it's fast and loud and fun).

Next up, Alfa has announced they're coming back with more than just the gorgeous (but ridiculously expensive) 8C - it looks like the 159 and Brera (plus Spider, which I guess counts as number 3) are on their way over here in 2009, via the Maserati dealerships (which is lucky for me, as it's just along the road from my house, tucked in with the Ferrari, Lotus and Bentley - hows that for temptation).

If you've got money to burn (but not enough to buy) you can apparently hire a Bugatti Veryon for the day (or 50 miles, whichever comes first, and you already know the answer to that). It's only $40k!!!

Fiat seem like they're kicking arse with their new small cars, and they announced another one I want.

If you prefer the look of the old(er) E46 M3 (which of course I do), but need to have the extra performance of the new one, or even a bit more, here's your option.

There's a new A4 coming in a little while.

And finally, why would you ever do this to a car?

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

BMW M3 Offical Details and Advert

So I told you I wouldn't mention this again until it was all official, so they went and made it all official. Specs are here, and here's the first ad (apparently every road is a racetrack....).

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

2008 M3 (Lot's more details)

OK - this is (probably) going to be my last post on this particular car until we get the full official press release and pics. I had sort of decided after the last M3 post that I was getting a little too obsessed, and would refrain, but there's finally some new pics and a lot more (semi) official information available here. And that's it until the press release or reviews appear (or maybe more mp3's of the engine noise, coz I liked the last one)

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Friday, March 23, 2007

The Ring, a couple of Mancs, and a distinct lack of skill

And for some unknown reason (unless they are really desperate for views in YouTube) they won't let anyone embed the video. Laugh away.....

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New M3 Pics

Almost official now, BMW released the M3 "Concept" at the Geneva Motor Show - I have to say it's looking better now than the previous snaps of the test vehicle. And that carbon fibre roof.... Still prefer my shape though ;-)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

M5 Tuned, Shuffle with Colors

Any excuse for a decent car pick - this is the 560bhp M5 from Lumma Design, with 21 inch wheels, and low profile tires so low you can barely see them. Still not 100% on the two tone paintwork (or maybe is carbon, in which case I'm a believer).

Oh, and speaking of colors, Apple released multi colored Shuffles today. They're pretty....

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

M5 Station Wagon (or estate, for back homes benefit)

BMW answered the call from people who go to B&Q every weekend with the M5 Estate version of it's super fast (and not very cheap) mid sized saloon. I'm sure if you need the space, then this thing will come in handy, and obviously compete with Audi's Avant variant of the S6.

Performance looks to be the same, and 500 bhp (when you press the power button) should be enough to get you home in time to finish the decorating, and before Ant and Dec appear to entertain your Saturday night. (All English references in this post coz it's not going to make it over here to the USA).

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Friday, December 22, 2006

The car is coming out



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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

M5 in M3 Body

Right up until I saw the price for this, it could have been added onto my list for when I get very rich and have a garage full of cars (along with the 911 GT3 rS, F430, Lotus Exige, etc). But over 150k euros makes it a little on the pricey side, even for when I am rich ;-)

So basically Hartge call this the H50 V10, and it's got a tuned V10 from the M5, along with the necessary running gear to not self implode when you put your foot down.

All the juicy details are here if want to read...

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