15 Things That Sum Up Bimmerfest, the Ultimate BMW Experience
Most know Bimmerfest as the West Coast’s largest single gathering of BMWs and their owners. Behind this annual event stands an even larger and farther-reaching community of BMW owners, drivers and enthusiasts who cultivate a wealth of BMW knowledge and resources on www.bimmerfest.com. But today, we’re focusing on the show, specifically the coolest stuff we saw there this last time around.
Here's what to expect from the ultimate BMW experience:
1. The Size
Bimmerfest is huge. Lots of automotive celebrations and one-make shows take to the lots and tracks of Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway throughout the year (Porsche fan? There was the CA Festival of Speed) — but no one in recent memory has been able to pack the place like Bimmerfest. We were impressed by the size of the show, and maybe even more so by the volume and quality of fan involvement.
2. The “Roval”
Car shows are cool. Car shows that incorporate track time are a higher level of cool, and car shows that incorporate track time on the Auto Club Speedway “Roval” course (proper name: Sports Car Course) are some of the coolest around — for racers and fans, alike.
A portmanteau of “road course" and “oval," the Roval is a 21-turn configuration that combines slow and fast turns, chicanes and straights of the Auto Club Speedway infield with about three-quarters of its 2-mile oval, for a course that’s both technical and flat-out fast.
Racers get to enjoy this, as well as full use of the property's pit garages and pit lane (also open to fans’ perusal) for a truly world-class experience, and almost the entire course can be viewed from seating atop the VIP suites.
There were even several parade laps and lots of complimentary hot-lap ride-alongs for fans, the latter of which were provided by BMW Performance Driving School.
3. Brecht Motorsports
Not only did Brecht Motorsports kill it on track all weekend with their BMW M235iR World Challenge machine, but they also put on one of the most memorable pit-garage presences by juxtaposing it next to a very clean BMW Isetta 300 in matching livery. There was no track time for the little guy, though.
4. The Vendors
The entire lower paddock section of the Auto Club infield was dedicated as “vendor alley” for Bimmerfest, and the cars, displays, products and models present attracted a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd all weekend.
5. Rolloface M3s
Topping our list of favorite cars from the event are the two E92 M3s present in Rolloface displays. The green one was the flashier of the two, but the red one now sits much more tastefully modified than we’ve seen it in past shows. We might even pick it as our single favorite car of the event.
6. Rusty Slammington
Yes, the internet’s most infamous M5 reared its oxidized head at Bimmerfest, and attracted a crowd for 48+ hours straight. Love or hate this thing, there are two inarguable facts about it: It’s wildly different than any other M5 you’ll see, and it’s built really, really well. The amount of top-quality performance parts and fabrication in the car is only rivaled by its awesome rat-rod aesthetic. We’re fans.
7. Wide Bodies
With each new show, it’s 100 percent evident that the wide body trend has yet to hit critical mass. Some may consider it a has-been at this point, but with tasteful flares from Liberty Walk, Rocket Bunny, Aimgain and the like looking so “right” on so many applications, what is there not to like?
Gaining steam in the show scene in 2017 are liveries. More an homage to vintage sports-car racers and less descendant from yesterday’s tribal-laden, neon-colored tuned imports, many examples of today’s emerging trend we saw at Bimmerfest were at once eye-catching and tasteful.
9. “Barn Find” BMW M1
Ultra-rare BMW M1s are always cool to see in person, but when they’re shown in exactly the condition as one lucky picker found it — years of built-up dust and dry-rotted tires intact — they’re that much cooler. OK, now someone get a fresh set of Nittos for this thing!
10. Top Drifters
Maybe it’s the loads of steering angle BMWs routinely have. Or maybe it’s all the powerful/durable engines put out over the years. Or maybe it’s that the prices have fallen (somewhat) on older models and replacement parts. Whatever the case, stateside drifters over the past few years have begun to realize something their European brothers have known for many years: that BMWs make excellent drift cars. It was rad to see some of today’s best competitors of the Top Drift series display their war machines alongside so many pristine show cars.
11. Dyno Challenge
Ever wanted to see just how much power and torque your BMW puts out to its wheels? Know those numbers full-well and want to show off for the masses? For a measly $80 (pre-sale cost) show-goers who registered for the Dyno Challenge got three chances to hit their best number on one of two mobile Dynojet machines present. The line for this never stopped.
12. BMW Z1
If you slept through car news during the three years that only a handful of the BMW Z1 were produced, you might have missed ever knowing it existed. One very clean example of BMW’s quirky little Z3 predecessor was on hand at Bimmerfest, wowing crowds with its retro Harm Lagaay styling and vertical-sliding doors.
13. Fan Involvement
There were more fans who turned out for Bimmerfest than we can remember seeing at any Fontana event in years past, and just about all of them arrived in BMWs ranging from clean and stock, to highly modified, to...well, enjoyed in one sense or another. Some of our favorites included some impressively resto-modded 2002s, and more 8-series in one place than maybe we’ve seen in our lives, cumulatively.
14. Girls, Girls, Girls!
Whether driving, modeling, representing brands and enlightening the masses about the newest and freshest, or just enjoying the event as fans, the amount of talented and beautiful women who enjoyed the day with all us gearhead guys is something that can’t go unappreciated.
The amount of creepy dudes shoving cameras in their faces (among elsewhere) is something that probably can, however.
15. Bimmerfest East
Bimmerfest is over, but we’re betting it’ll be back for a 19th successful time in less than a year, and for BMW diehards on the East Coast (or those willing to travel), you’ll have your chance to partake in the festivities July 29-30, in Englishtown, New Jersey.