December 2011

BMWs at Buttonwillow

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I’ve been to a variety of driving schools, with instruction ranging from cursory to custodial. When the opportunity came for my daughter Alex and me to attend a two-day BMW Car Club of America high-performance driving school in Southern California, I thought I knew what to expect.

I’d be in the advanced class (of course — after all, I have my vintage license), lollygag around at a fairly high speed, and mostly feel good about myself. This driving school was really about Alex learning to pilot a high-performance machine (in this case a 6-speed manual 2011 BMW 335i, arranged for by Satch Carlson, a longtime SCMer and editor of Roundel, the BMW CCA magazine), getting good instruction and becoming a better driver. I was just along for some fun.

Buttonwillow Raceway, about an hour north of Los Angeles, winds through the desert outside of Buttonwillow, CA. The town consists mostly of a half-a-dozen truck stops. It’s not exactly Monterey and Laguna Seca, but it’s a good place to drive fast cars.

We were greeted by Eddy Funahasi of the BMW CCA, issued helmets and separated into our respective groups. I was in Advanced and Alex was in Intermediate (she had just finished a Pro Drive school in Portland in our Lotus Elise).