Why I love Endurance Racing

This past June was the 48 Hours of the Le Mansburgring. Okay, that’s a rather lame combination of names, but this was a rather special occurrence. In a normal year, the Nurburging 24 Hours on the famed Nordschleife takes place a full month prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours. This year, however, was a little different: The Nurburging marathon was the weekend directly after Le Mans. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Maybe a reader can shed some knowledge on this. Regardless, this was endurance racing heaven two weekends in a row.

So why’s this important? Think about it: many of the top sports car drivers in the world compete in both events. That’s one mega race weekend followed immediately by another. It’s not just the 24 hours of racing (shared with 2 other drivers), but all the practice time and preparation involved as well. Finish Le Mans, and two days later you’re in the Eifel Forest. 8.5 mile track, then over 13 miles. That just sounds overwhelming! Respect is much deserved and due to the drivers and crew members who contested both annual racing extravaganzas.

Now let’s get on to the real reason for writing this, why I love endurance racing. It’s just the best, isn’t it? This is real racing, on the limit, go hard or go home (as Nicki Thiim says) driving for 24 hours straight. Gone are the days of preservation to ensure a car finishes, or sending out the ‘hare’ to entice others to push hard and consequently break down in sacrifice. GT cars have really never been better, either, between variety and durability (they just pound those kerbs). Say what you will about Balance of Performance, but the close racing it has produced cannot be denied. Okay, so BMW didn’t exactly do that well at either event this year, in fact they did rather dismal, but that happens; that’s racing. Some years things just don’t work out.

The Setting

Le Mans and the Nurburgring are two of my favorite tracks in the entire world. There’s this level of mysticism and wonder about them that is nearly unmatched (Spa is just behind, though). It’s almost a wonder that both tracks are allowed to exist even in 2019 still. Each’s legacy is undying, and it’s the passion of motorsport and past triumphs and battles that has guaranteed this. Favorite corner on the Nordschleife? They’re all pretty good actually…many drivers call it the greatest track on the planet for a reason. Playing simulators my whole life, it’s my most often driven track virtually, even. And then there’s Le Mans, with the Mulsanne straight and daunting Porsche Curves that LMP1 can crush at over 150MPH. The long straights make for incredible side by side racing between all classes. Literally dozens and dozens of times this year were there instances of at least 3 GTE cars nose-to-tail and door-to-door blasting down the French motorway at 180MPH. Seeing who had the guts to stay out of the brakes the longest into a 70 MPH chicane never gets old.

This is where an endurance race differs from a shorter sprint race: it just keeps going. And going. And going, yet the racing doesn’t let up. The drivers are pushing, but never forcing 11/10ths, battling as hard in the 3rd hour as they would the last lap. The teams who run into trouble, it’s impossible to not feel empathy for them, even for a rival team to those whose shirt you’re sporting. Oh, the traffic, too. Traffic? I mean the faster car classes somehow maneuvering around the slower cars. That’s why the guys in LMP1 at Le Mans and the full-fat SP9 GT3 class at the ‘Ring are so freaking talented. Coming across cars with half the power and downforce in corners would be scary, right? Actually, it probably is, but the way guys like Alonso, or Buemi, or Vanthoor and Rast just negotiate around them like they’re not even present is bewildering to watch from inside the cockpit.

The Pass

What pass? Kevin Estre on Dirk Mueller for the lead on the Kimmel Straight. At probably 170 MPH(?) Estre made his move for the lead and dropped 50% of his car into the grass. At over 170. LEGEND. And this was only 5 hours into a 24 hour race, reiterating the point of flat-out all-out for 24 hours. Absolutely fantastic racing.

I’ll miss the big BMW M8 from Le Mans next year. Unless the US-based Rahal IMSA BMW team comes to Le Mans next year, this was the end of BMW at Le Mans for the foreseeable future. Hopefully the Americans come out to play, as it’s a real shame for the WEC series to lose both the factory BMW and Ford teams in GTE. Luckily, IMSA still has a full-force GTE field still. The GT3 racing might be best though when it comes to variety at the ‘Ring and the Blancpain Endurance Series: Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, McLaren, Bentley, Nissan, Glickenhaus, am I missing someone? Astounding number of manufacturers, all going for it at the Green Hell.

I love endurance racing. I remember my first Le Mans in 2005, I tried to stay up the whole race, but kid metabolism defeated me. Each year I’ve done my best to watch as much as possible, missing maybe 30 minutes at most. If you’ve never watched either, I highly encourage you to give both races a watch next year. Make an event out of it, drink beers and barbecue with your mates while watching it. The unbridled enthusiasm in the teams and fans at each race is something else and absolutely bleeds through the tv screen. I hope to be among those same passionate fans one day trackside myself. I’m already ready for the next N24 and LM24. 11 months is too long…

5 Things to Love About the Official BMW X7 Pickup Truck

In October, BMW released a rendering of a pickup truck that — if we’re being honest — didn’t look all that great. Still, it was a new direction for the brand that’s normally known for its luxury sedans, but the new X7 pickup is moving the manufacturer squarely into truck territory.

The concept isn’t rolling off assembly lines just yet, but we’re already excited to see what this might mean for the brand. Let’s take a look at some of the best things about this new BMW pickup truck.

1. It’s Designed by Students

This isn’t a prototype that comes off one of BMW’s many assembly lines. Instead, it was designed and built by students in Munich that are enrolled at the brand’s vocational training center.

Yes, you read that right — the BMW pickup that you’ve been dreaming about since the concept art was revealed in October was built by students, and it looks amazing. Plus it only took them 10 months to complete the job.

Of course, this means that there are only one of these concepts right now, but we can cross our fingers that this will change soon.

2. It’s Based on the X7 SUV

BMW took a page out of Cadillac’s book with this design. Instead of creating a totally new pickup truck, they used the existing frame of an X7 SUV, removing the back row of seats and replacing it with a bed that’s big enough to fit an F 850 GS motorcycle.

This means that you’ve got plenty of room for all your passengers, plus a ton of storage space in the back for whatever you’re hauling, all wrapped up in the comfort and luxury that BMW is known for.

3. It Weighs Less Than the SUV

Carbon fiber takes the place many on of the body components in this prototype, including the roof, rear doors, and cargo bed. This actually takes 440lbs off the weight of the production model X7 SUV. If the pickup becomes an actual production model, this will likely help improve its gas mileage.

4. It’s Gorgeous

Just look at these pictures — for a truck that started its life as an SUV, it is downright gorgeous. The cargo bed is lined with handcrafted teakwood similar to what you’d find on a Rolls-Royce, and it’s painted in BMW’s Tanzanite Blue.

The contrasting colors — dark blue exterior and honey stain on the teakwood — was actually inspired by the color scheme used on luxury yachts.

5. It’s Packing Power Under the Hood

The SUV that eventually became the X7 Pickup was a pre-production prototype that was due to be scrapped before this project began. It’s equipped with an xDrive40i engine — a 3.0L turbocharged six-cylinder engine capable of generating 335hp and 330 foot-pounds of torque.

Forever a Prototype

Much to our disappointment, BMW isn’t planning to launch a line of luxury pickup trucks, despite how gorgeous this one looks.

Maybe, if the luxury brand sees how many fans are interested in purchasing one of these models, they’ll change their mind but for now, the X7 pickup will remain a prototype, and for the moment, out of reach.

15 Upcoming Bimmer Events You Can’t Miss

Events for BMW enthusiasts — races, social meet-ups, contests and more — are held all across the country. Whether you’re planning a BMW-inspired vacation or want to try something local, there are plenty of events you can attend year-round.

1. GVC Autocross at Pineview Run

Date: July 27, 2019

This fun driving experience event, located in Lafayette, New York, features a 1.1-mile track with twists and elevation changes. The first session of the day starts with orientation laps, followed by a timed lap, an in-lap and more. The event begins at 8:30 am with an entrance fee of $50.

2. August Autocross SE Lot

Date: August 3, 2019

With a $70 ticket price, this all-day event at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego allows you to explore your car’s full potential in a safe environment. You’ll even have access to a professional instructor. The ticket also includes unlimited beverages, snacks and lunch.

3. Boston BMW CCA Concours d’Elegance

Date: August 11, 2019

Compete in the famous Concours d’Elegance located in the hills of Brookline, Massachusetts. Bring your car, talk with like-minded enthusiasts and maybe even win best recognition and a t-shirt. Enter your vehicle in the competition for $20 by pre-registering online. Or pay $30 if you register at the gate.

4. M Performance School

Date: August 24, 2019

Put your driving skills to the test as your whip around race tracks in M2s, M3s and M4s at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, South Carolina. For an entrance fee of $900, you’ll have a full day of access to the best driving instructors, one-on-one training and dedicated track time.

5. Wisconsin Dells BMW Rally

Date: September 7-9, 2019

Head to Camp Wawbeek in the Wisconsin Dells to join the 49th Annual Dells Rally. Costs include $39 for pre-registration or $50 at the gate. Each ticket comes with two nights of camping, beverages, snacks, field events, rally mugs, an awards ceremony and more.

6. Yankee Beemers “Back to Jamaica” Fall Event

Date: September 13-15, 2019

Head up to Jamaica State Park in the heart of Vermont’s mountains. Join other BMW enthusiasts as you explore the twisty dirt roads and end the night by the campfire. The $35 entry fee includes camping and coffee. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a dish for the Potluck dinners on Friday and Saturday.

7. Auto-X at TD Bank Ballpark

Date: September 15, 2019

Attend the Auto-X event in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, for a chance to run at least eight timed laps around the course. Each orange cone knocked down equals a two-second penalty. Your best time goes towards the final competition. Pre-registration is $50 for members and $60 for non-members.

8. Thunder Mountain Rendezvous

Date: September 20-22, 2019

Spend your weekend with like-minded BMW enthusiasts in the high mountains of Hotchkiss, Colorado. The entrance fee, $50 at the gate, includes two dinners, a pancake breakfast, coffee, entertainment and more. You’ll also be entered for a chance to win special door prizes.

9. Annual Hoosier Beemer Rally

Date: September 27-29, 2019

With a rally fee of $30, you can camp alongside fellow BMW-lovers for two nights. The ticket also includes two dinners — including a gourmet hot dog roast — door prizes and awards. It’s also the perfect time-of-year to explore the roads of scenic southern Indiana.

10. 2019 NCC Autocross Points

Date: October 5, 2019

This beginner-friendly event offers in-car instruction, guided courses and a staff of experts available to answer any questions. The registration fee of $55 — or $65 for non-members — guarantees track time on Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland. Free loaner helmets are also available to those in need.

11. BMW CCA Petit Le Mans

Date: October 9-13, 2019

Don’t miss the 2019 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. When you join the BMW CCA Peachtree Chapter, you’ll gain exclusive parking, a hospitality tent, meet and greets with race teams, raffles and more. The event tickets range from $70 to $90, depending on the number of days you wish to attend.

12. Annual BMW CCA Oktoberfest

Date: October 15-19, 2019

The Annual BMW Oktoberfest, now in its 50th year, is a well-known festival referred to locally as O’Fest. Come to Greenville, South Carolina, to celebrate everything BMW. The schedule is packed full of events like charity hot lap rides, car control clinic, rallies, tire rack autocross and more.

13. Fall Tour to Monticello

Date: October 26-27, 2019

Join the National Capital Chapter of the BMW CCA for an overnight journey down to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation in Charlottesville, Virginia. Visit an architectural marvel dating to the late 18th century while bonding with BMW enthusiasts. The tour costs $10 per car, and drivers are encouraged to bring along walkie-talkies for easier group communication.

14. SoCal Vintage BMW Meet

Date: November 2, 2019

This event, the largest independent vintage BMW meet in the country, is open to all BMW models from 1989 and back. BMW owners from around the country, including Nevada, Washington and even Florida, drive in to meet other enthusiasts and check out the turnout of more than 400 cars.

15. Autocross Points Event 8

Date: November 2, 2019

Held at Moore Airfield in Ayer, Massachusetts, this all-day event is open to all BMW CCA members. Attend the morning tech inspection and meet with other drivers. Then pilot your own car through a timed obstacle course with confusing turns and twists.

Don’t miss out on some of the most highly-anticipated BMW events coming up. Attend social events to chat with other enthusiasts. Show off your car in a competition. Or try your hand behind on the wheel on a well-known track.

The Ultimate BMW Forum

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