Along for the Ride - BMW Performance Center

Quick trip: Spartanburg and Greenville, South Carolina

Spartanburg, South Carolina was never on my bucket list. The husband was given an offer he could not refuse: The chance to spend a couple hours at the BMW Performance Center.  So we took a quick trip over the President's Day holiday weekend to do a little driving, and to check out Greenville and surrounding cities for a potential retirement location (nope, neither one of us were impressed). 

Not his favorite color, but -- yeah. 

Agenda for the Day - New Owner's Track Drive

  • Orientation Meeting - two BMW drivers review the process, rules of the road and provide tips for a successful track day. I did learn something very important (at the bottom of the post). 
  • Track Time - M Performance cars
    • Not one, or two M-cars - five (5!) from small (M2) to large (X3-M). It was not the X3-M pictured below, but same basic build.
    • Important rule: all traction control stays on - it was drizzling, so this was a good idea. 
  • Off-road obstacle time - BMW X5
    • The view on the forward camera gives an idea. Balancing an X5 on the flats was interesting, balancing it at the tops of the hill was crazy.

Monster. Absolute Monster. 

BMW X5 front camera view up the hill.

Lessons from the Performance Center

  • Lesson 1 - Seat alignment is critical. You are probably doing it wrong. 
  • Lesson 2 - You will end up exactly where you are looking. 
    • Eyes to Brain: "Hey, I'm heading for the ditch." 
    • Hands: "Let's go!"  - BMW Pro Tip - look were you want to go.
  • Lesson 3 - The X3-M is a monster. 
  • Lesson 4 - Disneyland rides can make you dizzy - Six Flags rides can make you dizzy, multiple laps in M-cars can make you dizzy. 
  • Lesson 5 - Don't try any of this at home. But at the Performance Center - their cars, their track, let-er rip. 

The Accommodations

In Spartanburg we stayed at a brand-new Four Points by Sheraton. Beautiful lobby, nice rooms, odd location - tucked in behind a county building next to highway 85. 

We spent the next two days in Greenville, South Carolina at the Grand Bohemian Lodge - part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. The videos and photos online do no do justice to the atmosphere. 

The room had unusual flooring, wallpaper and an great river view. The Lodge has valet parking which very efficient when we checked-out. Shopping and restaurants were within walking distance.

View, just outside of the Grand Bohemian Lodge. 

The night before the return trip we stayed at the Springhill Suites by Marriott, about 10 minutes from Charlotte International. 

Pro tip: Consider hotel stays close to your departure points. Rushing to get from the airport to a cruise, or making a long drive to get to an airport can be very stressful. 

Rather than spending another night in Greenville, we make a leisurely drive up to Charlotte. We stayed the night, had a quick snack in the lobby,  dropped off the rental car (not a BMW) and we flew home -- no-muss, no-fuss. 

Lessons from the Rental Car Service

We pre-booked a rental car with Dollar for pick-up and drop-off at Charlotte (CLT) airport. The Dollar representative did an outstanding job at trying to upsell us to their insurance package "our cars have no insurance, you will pay for everything" and tried to sell an upgraded vehicle.

Scam, or not? 

We have insurance on our own cars, and the rental was paid for with a card that offers liability. When we went out to the garage to find the row of available cars, and there was our small SUV sitting right next to the mid-sized SUV that we were encouraged to pay for as an upgrade. (We took the mid-size).

I'm sure the representative was using standard sales practices to encourage insurance and a nicer model. I'm a bit skeptical that this might fall into scam territory - since we would have paid more for nothing at all.