On May 11, 2013, BMW driving instructor Johan Schwartz broke the world record for the “Greatest Distance Vehicle Drift”. Schwartz drifted unmodified 2013 BMW M5 sedan for 51.278 miles also at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC. His record has since been broken twice, by different drivers in different cars. So both BMW and Schwartz wanted to regain the title for the world’s longest sustained vehicle drive. And they have.
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December 11, 2017, Schwartz drifted an all-new, F90-generation BMW M5 sedan 232.5 miles around a skid pad at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC. It took eight hours of continuous drifting to complete, which is almost difficult to comprehend. That’s the length of your typical work day, except the entire time you’d have to be holding a drift in a 600 hp super sedan. The concentration level to even attempt such a feat is unfathomable to me.
Even more, BMW also broke another world record that day for the world’s longest “Twin-Vehicle Drift” (water-assisted), with two BMW M5s drifting 49.25 miles over the course of an hour. For this, both Schwartz and BMW Performance Center Chief Driving Instructor Matt Mullins drifted new M5s around the skid pad together.
While both world records are incredibly impressive and must have been incredibly difficult to pull off, the really tricky one was the long one. For the F90 BMW M5 to drift for 232.5 miles straight, BMW needed to develop a complex fuel system so that the M5 never had to stop for fuel. Typically, the car would just be fitted with a much larger gas tank. But for this, BMW wanted to take things to the next level. Plus, filling the car with that much fuel would add a lot of weight and I’m sure the drivers would like to have the already portly M5 as light as possible for such a drift.
So rather than just stuffing a massive gas tank inside, BMW came up with a clever refueling system, not unlike how airplanes are refueled in the sky. “We knew going-in that if we were going to recapture the world record for longest sustained drift and set the bar as high as possible, we would need to find a way to keep the M5 going without stopping to refuel,” said Schwartz. “In the end, the refueling system worked flawlessly and the M5 performed as expected. It was a big win all around.” said Schwartz. To do so, North Carolina-based automotive fabricators Detroit Speed were tasked with coming up with a custom dry break fuel system capable of refueling the BMW M5 mid-drift.
To actually pull this off, Matt Mullins was tasked with driving an F10-generation BMW M5 and matching Schwartz’s drift while Detroit Speed’s Matt Butts, who was in the back seat of the F10 and suspended by a safety tether, had to connect the fueling system. This had to be done five separate times throughout the course of the eight-hour, 232.5-mile drift. “Although we practiced the refueling several times before the Guinness World Records title attempt, there was very little margin for error,” said Butts. “We’re excited to have played a part in Johan and BMW recapturing this record.”
This week, both Schwartz and Mullins will be at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and will be performing a drifting demonstration in the new F90 BMW M5 at the top of every hour. With them, the world record-setting BMW M5 will be on display for fans to see.