Unleashing the Thrill at BMW's Performance Driving School

By Matt Lucas
Images Courtesy of BMW

A Freakin’ Awesome Day

Let me tell you about the most incredible day I had recently. As the Senior Marketer and Creative Director for JTEKT North America, I’ve had some pretty memorable experiences, but nothing quite compares to the day I spent behind the wheel of some serious German muscle, all while putting our JTEKT Steering Systems to the test.

We had just wrapped up an absolutely fantastic sales conference, marking our first major post-COVID event. To celebrate, JTEKT treated the attendees to an unbelievable day of driving high-performance M2s, M3s, and M4s at BMW’s Performance Driving School, nestled on the campus of BMW’s largest plant in Greer, Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Talk about the ultimate way to unleash some serious fun!

Picture this: you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a BMW M2, tackling a circular slalom course with precision and speed. And then, imagine gripping the wheel of a 503-horsepower M4, equipped with $8,000 worth of upgraded brakes, ready to conquer a twisting road course. Well, let me tell you, this wasn’t just a dream. It was our reality—a day filled with raw power and the performance of the Ultimate Driving Machine® in all its glory. It was an adrenaline-fueled adventure that left me craving more.

Stepping into the BMW Performance Center, my excitement soared. The air was thick with the scent of burning rubber, and the sound of high-performance engines filled the atmosphere. We were greeted by seasoned instructors who shared our passion for driving, and their enthusiasm fueled our anticipation for the epic experience that awaited us.

First up was the timed circular slalom course. Behind the wheel of a 405-horsepower 2019 BMW M2 Competition, I felt an immediate response to every command I gave. The car maneuvered effortlessly through the cones – missing them all, thankfully – and demanding quick reflexes and a delicate balance of power and control. To be honest, I had never paid much attention to the relatively small M2 before, but its handling and acceleration left me exhilarated and wanting more. I had previously owned a stock 2007 328i for several years, and while it was powerful and fun to drive, it couldn’t hold a candle to this M2.

Eager to push my limits, I was swiftly directed to the next challenge—a face-off with the mighty 2021 BMW M4 Competition. With a jaw-dropping 503 horsepower and those upgraded brakes, this M4 was ready to unleash its true potential on the longer twisting road course.

As I settled into the driver’s seat, anticipation coursed through my veins. I gently pressed the pedal, and the engine roared to life, propelling the M4 forward with our JTEKT North America COO, Gary Bourque, sitting next to me riding shotgun – no pressure there 😉. I was thrown into a realm of intense speed and adrenaline. Every corner demanded a delicate balance of power and finesse, and the upgraded brakes instilled unwavering confidence. The symphony of the engine’s growl, the tires’ grip on the asphalt, and the highly responsive JTEKT steering system electrified my senses. It made me feel like a true driving virtuoso, closing in quickly on the other cars in front of us, including the BMW track pro leading the pack. It was an experience that will forever be etched in my memory.

But the excitement didn’t end there. The cherry on top was getting to ride shotgun with one of the BMW track pros, a former NASCAR driver, in a 503-horsepower 2021 BMW M3 Competition during what they call a “Hot Lap”. Let me tell you, it was a Hot Lap and a freakin’ rush! Despite being a control freak by nature and generally feeling uncomfortable riding shotgun with anyone, this was different. Maybe it was because I had driven these powerful cars firsthand and knew how they handled. As our pro tore around the twisting road course at breakneck speeds, I was completely at ease and in awe. Did I mention it was a freakin’ rush? Because it absolutely was!

From Left to Right: Matt Lucas (Over-Drive CMO), Sean Blasch & Tracy Finley

The BMW Performance Driving School isn’t just a driving school—it’s an adult amusement park for car nuts. It’s a place where adrenaline aficionados go to learn how to drive potent BMWs on the edge of physics. With two fantastic locations in Spartanburg, SC, right across from the only BMW plant in the US, and in Thermal, CA, just outside beautiful Palm Springs, each BMW Performance Center boasts a private racetrack where students and guests can unleash the full potential of the Ultimate Driving Machine® under the watchful eye of the best BMW-certified professional instructors in the business.

Some of our group chose to experience precision handling a different way by trying not to spin out on a short and very wet oval in M3’s.  Others tested some X Series vehicles on the off-road course, going so far as to take the X’s over obstacles at 38 degrees with only the 2 driver-side tires on the ground.  Impressive!  

In conclusion, my day at the BMW Performance Driving School was nothing short of a haven for auto enthusiasts seeking the thrill of pushing their driving skills to new limits. With the M2 and M4 as my partners in crime, I embarked on an unforgettable journey that merged adrenaline and finesse in perfect harmony. This immersive experience not only unleashed the full potential of these powerful cars but also left an indelible mark on me as an enthusiast.

Whether you’re a seasoned performance junkie or a curious newcomer, the BMW Performance Driving School will take your driving prowess to new heights. So, buckle up, grip that wheel, and get ready to ignite your passion for the open road in an exhilarating symphony of power, precision, and pure driving pleasure. It’s a freakin’ awesome experience that you won’t want to miss!

Thank you, again, Gary and JTEKT for treating us to such an awesome day and thank you to BMW for hosting this great event. 

Want to experience BMW’s Performance Driving School​?

The BMW Performance Center East is a permanent performance-driver training facility located in Greer, South Carolina. The facility is open to the public and offers a wide range of driving schools for people of all ages and capabilities as well as special programs for private and corporate groups.

The BMW Performance Driving Schools are taught by BMW professional driving instructors on a private course. The classes provide individuals with the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Ultimate Driving Machine® and learn proper vision, basic car control, panic braking, handling, emergency lane changing, distracted driving, high-speed control and precision driving.

Located across from BMW’s X-vehicle manufacturing plant, the facility features a luxurious modern building, an expansive track, meeting spaces, a gourmet café, gift shop and a truly unique experience for the automotive enthusiast.

BMW Performance Driving Center East:
1155 SC-101, Greer, South Carolina 29651

Phone: (888) 345-4269

Website: BMWPerformanceCenter.com
Facebook: @BMWPerformanceCenter
Instagram: @BMWPerformanceDrivingSchools
Twitter: @BMWPDS
LinkedIn: @BMWPerformanceCenter
YouTube: youtube.com/@bmwperformancecenter

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