Advertisement

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada – Driving Is Believing

bmwclub-canada-21

Searching frantically to find track time for a car review, BMWBLOG stumbled upon one of Canada’s best-kept secrets: BMW Club Canada is a fantastic driving …

Searching frantically to find track time for a car review, BMWBLOG stumbled upon one of Canada’s best-kept secrets: BMW Club Canada is a fantastic driving school.

Beyond a school, I have found BMW Club Canada to be a sort of automotive utopia – a place for real enthusiasts, drivers, gear heads and fans to convene upon all things BMW and all things ‘driving.’

My first experience with the school came on a bright Sunday morning. Having never driven on track before, I was naturally very excited and intrigued. How would the weekend unfold? Will I learn a lot? How qualified are the instructors? What does a BMW feel like on an unrestricted racetrack?

I went on to find the answers to all of the above questions very quickly; read on to see what I’ve learned about the club.

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

This is no fly-by-night driver’s school. Established in 1973, the club has gone on to grow across the country, sub-dividing into 14 chapters centered around Canada’s greatest racetracks. The Trillium Chapter is Toronto’s branch of the club and the chapter I’ve been associated with. Track days are highly structured and organized to a near military level (in a fun way, no push ups) and this boot camp of a drivers’ school turns your brain into a sponge.

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

One of the first things our charismatic school director told us was to, “leave your egos at the door.” I did one better and locked mine in the trunk (it took a beating through those corners). Everything you think you know about driving is likely quite incorrect if you’ve never had formal instruction. The way to properly drive a car quickly is counter intuitive to human nature; it is principled, patient and structured. Adrenaline is the arch nemesis of these virtues. Suppressing your adrenaline and progressively stepping up your driving is part of the instruction, you never feel “over your head” or feel as though you’re out of control. As your skill and experience increases, so does your confidence and speed. Gradually you become more and more comfortable, having more and more fun. I have not smiled so hard in many years – my face hurt by the end of the weekend. Don’t forget to brush your teeth if you attend this school.

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

And the instructors? I have had two so far; allow me to introduce you to Scott and Francois (the French can drive, so this ought to be good).

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

Scott was my first instructor with the club, he is a man’s man, a true gentleman. Mindful of my in-experience, we started at the very basics, laying the foundations progressively through the morning. As the day progressed, my skill and Scott’s teaching advanced until I was at a level far beyond my expectations. Scott’s disciplined approach, friendly demeanor and passion for driving pervaded our entire time together and I could not have started off from a better place. By day’s end we were having an absolute blast – the most fun I had ever had behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Francois was a more experienced driver, having disciplined his driving on-track for more than 10 years. Francois was passionate about driving and very descriptive as he explained new skill sets and concepts. Again, my skill and confidence gradually increased throughout our time together and I really enjoyed every moment driving with Francois. I learned that every instructor will bring something unique to the table in terms of their instruction and style of driving, thus benefiting you, the student, as you develop your own skills and driving style.

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

“Experience counts” – nowhere is that more true than on the racetrack. I suppose the collective 600 years of instructor experience counts for something at BMW Club Canada, Trillium Chapter. The eldest active instructor with the club is Jacques Day at the ripe age of 79. I’m not aware of any other school or organization that puts you shoulder to shoulder with some of the most experienced and talented drivers in the Country.

Allow me to illustrate how advanced BMW Club Canada’s driver training program really is. Before I recount this story, please bear in mind that I recite this with total humility, mindful that I have everything to learn and remain a relatively inexperienced driver (Oh darn, I think I forgot to let my ego out of the trunk).

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

After completing two full driving schools with the club, I went on to compete in a driver challenge hosted by BMW Group at a recent Press event. All attending journalists (around 70 in total) were invited to complete their fastest timed lap around an autocross course while driving a Mini Clubman. Journalists from the likes of Road&Track, Car&Driver and other legendary journals were present at the event. Jumping into the Mini, I felt intimidated, knowing the prowess of my adversaries behind the wheel. My first timed lap put me within 2 seconds of the competition. An acceptable time for a warm-up lap to learn the track. My second lap closed the gap by a second. The Mini people seemed to think I was on to something, and made a few suggestions. Shortly thereafter, I completed a lap within 2.5 tenths of the leading time. A photo-shoot elsewhere at the event interrupted my efforts to top the time charts, and I was later pushed from 2nd place, to 3rd place on the podium. Not bad for my first ever autocross – and I owe every ounce of that success to what I learned a few weeks prior with BMW Club Canada; they taught me how to drive, and quickly.

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

So what does a BMW feel like on an open track? Simply amazing. Like a pent up stallion finally set free in open pastures – eagerly running faster and faster, for the first time embracing what it was destined to do. Speed is in every BMW’s DNA, and it is somewhat cruel to own one and never let it run to its full potential. I would even go so far as to say that until you’ve unleashed your BMW on a proper racetrack with professional instruction, you really haven’t ‘owned’ a BMW, merely learned about one. Most BMW owners experience a small percentage of their car’s ability through their entire ownership; BMW Club members learn to enjoy the full potential of their cars several weekends through the year. Experiencing an unleashed BMW on the racetrack really substantiates the purchase of “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” You will never look at the Roundel the same way.

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

Of course, there are many benefits to completing a course with BMW Club Canada beyond the thrill of the experience. Learning the subtleties of car control makes you a much safer, more prepared driver on public roads. Swerving to avoid a collision, for example, will become second nature, reflex, a no-brainer. The driver schools are not-for-profit so you are receiving one-on-one in-car instruction, ample track time and the full amenities of the racetrack at a bargain price. Because the driving school is registered as an educational entity, all costs of attending the school are tax deductable. Attending a driving school is much cheaper than increased insurance premiums, body work and car rentals after an avoidable accident. Any reasons you can think of to boycott this school would best be described as excuses.

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

I eagerly await BMW Club Canada’s next track event in my area and I encourage anyone who has a passion for driving fine cars to attend one of the club’s events held locally.

For now I will try to ensure that my writing is sharper than my driving.

Please visit www.bmwclub.ca for more information about how to attend events and explore your car’s full potential!

BMWBLOG Joins BMW Club Canada   Driving Is Believing

Photo Credit: Shawn Molnar / Alan Martin, www.refractionarts.ca

  • n8n

    Waaaa this 8-series is amazing!! :O
    e46 also!! :D

    • bmwm6

      umm wat 8 sries

  • Auday

    Where in Canada was it, and who owns that awesome M1 ?!

    • Shawn

      The photos shown here document two track events, both at Mosport Int’l Raceway, about 1 hour drive NE of Toronto. Some photos were shot on the Grand Prix circuit, and some were shot on the slower, tighter ‘B’ track.

      The M1 belongs to a devoted Club member, it is gorgeous, and sounds even meaner than it looks!

  • Doug

    Really nice article, Shawn. I’m sad that the nearest track to me is 1.5 hours away.

    • Shawn

      Thanks Doug, we always appreciate feedback, both positive and constructive.

      I know 1.5 hours feels like a long drive, but honestly, it’s worth it. Francois, the instructor I mentioned in the article drove to the event from a town near Ottawa, more than a 4 hour drive. The experience is priceless in my opinion, because you could never experience your car at this level on public roads. It should be mentioned that all cars are welcome to these events, not just BMWs.

      I say, give it a shot one weekend and then decide if it’s worth the 1.5 hour drive. :)

  • http://www.tashodi.ca/ jon

    Hey, that’s me in the Blue E46 having some fun on the skid pad.
    It was nice meeting you at the event Shawn. You’re spot on about how much fun events like this are. It’s definitely a must for everyone, not just BMW drivers (But it’s much more fun in a BMW).
    I drove 1.5hrs to this event. It was sooo hard getting up early for it but it was well worth it. I’ve driven 3hrs to some tracks.
    Shawn, is it possible to see the rest of the pictures you took at the event?

    • shawn

      jon,

      You are very photogenic behind the wheel! :)

      Yes, it’s a blast, well worth the effort to attend. I’ll be releasing more photos in due time as I publish future articles, unfortunately they are embargoed until then.

      Will you be attending the Shannonville track day?

  • http://www.tashodi.ca/ jon

    Unfortunately I will be on vacation that weekend so I won’t be able to go. Hopefully I’ll make it to another later this summer.
    I was at the Autocross yesterday, which is also a lot of fun and a good way to put your new car control skills to use. You should come out next month!

    • Shawn

      Couldn’t make the last autocross but I enjoyed the last one I attended. I’ll probably see you at the next one. Looking forward to it.

  • timmy O’ tool

    so how much is it to join the club and for the race instructions ??

    • Shawn

      The cost varies based on the track and the length of the school you’re attending. Ball park figure is around $180 for one full day of one on one instruction on the race track. Two day schools are closer to $400. Compared to the cost of for-profit schools this is an amazing value.

      • timmy O’ tool

        hey, thanks for the reply
        yea the price is really good i might actually join
        BTW do you know any other clubs like this for formula racing around Toronto

  • Mike Hawk

    STFU , that is a lamborgini gallordo

  • http://www.trillium-bmwclubs.ca Nigel Etherington

    Hi Shawn, great article and pics! For those who are interested in joining the Trillium Chapter (s/w Ontario) should come take a look at us at http://www.trillium-bmwclubs.ca or Facebook.

  • Pingback: Bmw Technician Schools In The Usa | BMW Photos Blog

  • Gbaca

    BMW build a great carr.  sometimes they build a bad one.  I’ve got a bad one.  2006 M5 -transmission repalced within 4 months of getting it.  One problem after another with tons of $$$ out of my pocket.  Sent four letters to CEO not a single acknowledgement.  some CS calls me tells me it out of warranty so not there issue.  Told him I cant even sell the lemon casue service records will show continual engine issues – response Oh?

  • Pingback: THE BMW CLUB | Tuning Labs

  • Simon

    Hi Guy ! I have a 2008 528 i with 89000km And the “board” for the tirés pressure Broke And thé dealer is trying to tell me That it’s not on thé premium cpo warranty…..what do you think? THANK!

BMWBLOG

NEWSLETTER