Remember those guys in middle school who wore T-shirts with big Chevy muscle cars eating little Fords, or the ones with giant Ford trucks crushing little Chevys until their headlights popped out? Remember those guys? The ones with permanent grease stains under their finger nails? Well, I wasn't one of those guys. I'm not a car guy. So when Kamran Popkin, @swagclub, invited me down to the BMW Performance Driving School (PDS) for a day, I was at once honored, and skeptical.
But I got into my wife's Pacifica and drove to Greenville (Greer) from Charlotte, anyway. What the hell, I could drive fancy cars for a few hours. It would be kind of cool. In his infinite wisdom, Popkin invited several people from social media to attend this event – which no doubt garnered some buzz about the school, while also developing some loyalty to Kamran (and his company). Don't get me wrong, Kamran's not the type of guy to ask you to do or say anything on his company's behalf. In fact, if you check out his Twitter page, it's clear that just the opposite is true. Kamran was offering us a one-of-a-kind experience with nothing expected in return. Because that's just the kind of guy he is.
But enough about Kamran. This was about the BMW experience. Not being a car guy, I've always just assumed that people who drove Mercedes or BMW were doing it for the status of the hood ornament – only. And while that might be true for many owners, the PDS makes you think differently about the brand. These cars flat out bust it. It's almost a crime to call them cars at all. More like land-jets. Land F-15s. I drove several of these machines at very high speeds. They fly. The video below is taken with the iPhone as I sat shotgun while an instructor drove (I forget the model – I'm not a car guy).
Everything about the BMW PDS is solid. The brand's clean lines and attention to detail resonate in every corner of this place. From the briefing room to the instructors to the sign above our fleet that stated, "Don't forget to breathe" – the PDS is more than just the ultimate driving school, it's the ultimate ad for BMW. Imagine all brands giving their prospects a chance to experience the very best that the brand offers, in a controlled environment that reinforces the promise of value – and charge them for it! Sure, the PDS might set you back a few bucks (a lot actually), but if you're looking to purchase one of these machines – the cost is insignificant.
Which is to say, I will likely never own a BMW. A love for cars just wasn't passed down to me. So I'll continue to drive my old jalopy (a 1993 Range Rover with 85K miles that I bought to accommodate dogs and kids) and my wife's fancy car, when necessary. All I care about is getting to where I'm going. But, if you have the means, and you're in the market for a car that can outrun James Bond villains, I can't recommend BMW highly enough.
At the end of the day, we were asked to fill out a form about the experience. On the form it asked which brands we associated closest with BMW. I could only think of two – Apple and Disney.
One last thing, I was able to meet a couple of people on Twitter at this event, and at one point was a passenger in a vehicle driven by @sydneywilliams. She tried to kill me. I (somehow) survived. And don't believe her if she tells you she beat my time around the track. Ok, believe her. I'm not a car guy.