Sunday, November 17, 2019

NMS Does BMW: Ultimate Driving Experience!



Our friends at BMW were back in New York City with their Ultimate Driving Experience this week, and once again it was a blast to drive their cars! It's just hard to beat the offer of driving someone else's brand new 382 HP car, while they keep telling you to go faster! In this case, with a pro driving coach that was helping me go faster on a little autocross circuit.

Welcome to Citi Field, the BMW flags are flying!


This year, the BMW team brought out the M340i, and I can vouch that it's a really fun car to drive! When I visited early on Sunday morning, they had 4 courses going full blast, with three identical cars at each one, each car with it's own instructor. Also at Citi Field there was a driving day for teenagers to learn more about car control, and other spots where BMW let you experience their SUVs like the new X7, and test drive a variety of their cars on the street around the big stadium complex.


Inside the various tents (heated, which was nice on a cold day!) they had other displays of vehicles, BMW race cars, and info on their performance driving opportunities in SC and CA, and the European delivery experience, (just in case you want to give me a new BMW for the holidays and let me fly to Germany for free to take delivery!) Hey, they even had some free coffee made to order, snacks, and bottled water! Thanks!



I've got a free coffee, and a lanyard with a badge. Let's do this!


Let me get this straight, you want us to drive your new 382 HP car and go
as fast as we can? Well allrighty then!!

Group 1, your cars are waiting. There were 4 separate courses running at the same time!

A few highlights

Hey, they come in blue! Let's go Mets!

There was also some golf event going on inside Citi Field.
I don't think they had as much fun as we did!



Full disclosure, I was 4th fastest out of my group of 21 drivers.
The instructor was a big help. 
Here's a video of the course we drove. This has the 3 instructors going very slowly, explaining how to drive the course, and then they put their feet down on the loud pedal and go much quicker around the little loop. I'm sure they were way faster than me!



BMW i3 electric. I've driven this model before, it's my favorite
electric vehicle. 

More cars available to drive. 

I skipped the SUV mountain climb event, but it looked like fun. 

You won't lose your car in a parking lot of black/silver/white cars when
it's this color!

X drive is BMW speak for 4 wheel drive. 

Don't forget that BMW makes motorcycles too!

Front end of the BMW M340i models that we drove.
The silver trim spices up the blue a bit. 
The higher performance flavor of BMW is Alpina. you can see this one
starts at $142,800. 

Alpina B7, 600HP!

Alpina B7 with a 21 inch rear wheel. 

Alpina interior. 

Next up, the Z4 sDrive M40i.


This looks to have the same engine as the M340i. 

Did you know that BMW is The Ultimate Driving Machine?

Z4 center panel
Reminder, a gift card for driving at one of the BMW performance
centers is a great gift idea!

Thanks for the coffee!

The BMW X7 SUV

X7 back seats


Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

F1 RACE DAY!


Sunday Sunday Sunday, it's RACE DAY! Before telling you about our race day experience, we'll mention again that everything is bigger in Texas. So big in fact, that just up the road from Austin, on the same day, the NASCAR teams are competing at the Texas Motor Speedway. "Just up the road" in Texas means about 240 miles, because Texas is a big place! I've got my tickets, I've got a parking pass, I'm wearing a Ferrari shirt and a Ferrari hat, so let's go to the track!


One really great thing about TEXAS is that some of the roads around Austin have 80mph speed limits! What could be better than that? The road that has an 85 MPH SPEED LIMIT!


After driving to the track for the third day, I didn't really need to read the signs, but it was great to see this one again anyway. 


Here's the main entrance sign. 


On the entrance road to the parking lots.


Walking over to the go-kart area. I'd entered a contest to win a free kart race but didn't win. However, my friend from SC Adam Powlas won a race, so we wanted to see him drive and meet up with the rest of our friends early in the day!



If you visit COTA some other time of the year, you can pay to drive one of these awesome Audis on the track. Makes a great Christmas gift for blog writers!


Here's Adam on the track. For the people that got to do karting for free, they held a drawing for a free bicycle, and he won that too! Adam is the owner of the Nissan Altima that I drove in a Lemons Race last year, so he's a fast driver. 


Still morning, waiting for the 1PM race, so we're walking around checking out the sights. Yep, it's still like being at a State Fair!


We got to our seats for the Drivers Parade, where we'll see the drivers riding around the track well before the race, just to wave to the fans. Part of the preparation of any race is making sure the racing surface is in good shape, so in addition to having the safety car and medical car doing some laps, these street sweepers came out to scrub the curbing. 



Then this guy was cleaning the center parts of the track. As he passed us, some piece of debris came loose and landed on the track. Trying to be funny from way up in the grandstad, I yelled out "HEY YOU DROPPED SOMETHING" but the only person that heard me was some lady walking to her seat, who started looking around thinking she'd dropped something. I told her I wasn't yelling at her. So much for my comedy career. 


One of the observant track workers retrieved the debris. Those guys and gals put in some long days. 


Here comes the driver parade. Most of them were in pure USA cars like this Corvette and some old pickups. 


I read later that one of the parade cars didn't start, so here you see two of the F1 drivers that teamed up in the same car. 


In the next two photos is something you don't see everyday, now 6 time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes. If he wins another championship (like next year probably!) he'll tie the all time record of 7 currently held by Michael Schumacher. 



So the drivers parade ended, and there was still some time before the race. We decided to wander about some more before going back to our seats in the sun. Here's the view inside the soccer stadium. There were always people just hanging out there on the grass, or up in the stands. There was one big video screen in the stadium, so this was a nice place to get away from the bigger crowds walking around. 


Next we returned to the Military Outpost for a few free beverages, and at this time the pre-race events started over at the start/finish line. On the screen here behind the bar the Cowboy Cheerleaders were doing a routine. The University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band had also played. 


Now we're ready for the race, with a refreshing Ziegenbock beer and a bottle of water and a Diet Coke. 



Sitting at turn 12, ready for Ferrari to win the race! My companions are wearing Haas hats, so we'll root for them too!


Some skydivers landed just past turn 12, so that was fun watching them float down. 



Right on cue after the National Anthem we had this flyover from some Navy aircraft. 



Let's get thing going!


Here's just a few shots during the race. I'm not a professional photographer, so mostly I wanted to just enjoy the race. First, pole sitter Bottas. 


Lewis Hamilton


McLaren's Lando Norris


Daniel Ricciardo for Renault


Ferrari driver Sebastien Vettel. This is almost a "rare" shot, because he had a suspension failure and had to retire on lap 8. His car came to a final stop just out of our view. 



So during the race, one of the highlights was that even though Hamilton was leading a lot of it, his team mate Bottas switched to newer tires, and started reeling in Hamilton. In this video, you can see the two McLaren cars go by, and then the crowd standing, anticipating the pass coming down to turn 12. If you look at the video board across the track you can see Bottas make the move, and then right after that they both come into view. With this pass, Bottas won the race, and Hamilton went on to finish 2nd. Bottas easily made the pass way before the braking zone, but it was still exciting to see. 





Near the end of the race we saw Haas driver Kevin Magnussen have a brake issue, and go straight at the corner, and he had to retire the car down in the gravel. The yellow caution flags for this meant that we didn't see any more passing, but this was only at the end of the race. The other Haas driver also finished out of the points, so it was a tough day for the home team. 




Here's the scoreboard of the final top ten. This shows Kvyat of Toro Rosso in 10th, but he was then given a penalty and Racing Point's Checo Perez took 10th. 


On the cool down lap here's a bunch of the drivers for the final time in Texas. Here's one of our favorite drivers Kimi Raikkonen for Alfa Romeo. 


Carlos Sainz, McLaren.


Daniel Kvyat for Toro Rosso.




Max Verstappen, Red Bull. Max took 3rd in the race.


Race winner, Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas.


Sergio Perez, Racing Point driver from Mexico. 


Williams driver George Russell. 


Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, AKA "The Hulk".


Whew, it was a tough weekend, having to goof off and have fun all the time! We really enjoyed spending the weekend at COTA, eating TX BBQ, seeing old friends, watching the racing, and all the other things we did. Ferrari didn't do so  hot in the race, and our American Haas team didn't get any points, but it was still a great weekend!


Brian gives us his best smiley Dan Ricciardo smile. 


After the race, the track was opened up to fans. most of them walked over to watch the podium awards, but we just went out here at turn 19 for a quick visit. This is looking back to turn 18, and in the upper right you can see the elevation at turn 1. Thanks for following along on the blog!




That's my take on the race. Check out the official Formula 1 video recap for more.