Behind the Wheel at the BMW Driving Experience

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This year I’m a driving instructor for the 2014 BMW Ultimate Driving Experience (UDE) tour.  Our fourth stop on the tour was a nine-day event in the San Francisco region, at the old Alameda Naval Base Airstrip.

On the first day of the San Francisco event, little did I know, Rupen Patel from eBay was one of my students on the 535i & 535d autocross course. Rupen has been a BMW fan ever since he visited the BMW Welt (their exhibition facility in Munich, Germany) and immediately signed up when he got the invite to the BMW UDE. “I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of a 2-Series and get some tips from a pro driver.“ Rupen not only got behind the wheel, he took the 228i, 535i and 535d on an autocross course, then a 335d on a street drive.

As instructors, we always try to make the event fun for everyone, but I was curious to hear what Rupen thought of the Ultimate Driving Experience from a consumer perspective. I asked Rupen a series of questions to see what his experience was like, and this is what he had to say . . .

VM: What did you expect from the Ultimate Driving Experience? 

RP: Initially when I signed up I only expected to have the opportunity to do one hot lap in the car and drive one model of the car, surprisingly with the 5-Series Autocross you get to drive a diesel and a gas model.

VM: Out of the cars you drove, which were your favorite(s) and why?

RP: 535d and 228i were my favorites. I was thoroughly impressed by the torque and stability control of the 535d. The 228i was just fun! The car is very precise and it performed well on the track. The styling of the 2-Series is just sharp, and the interior is quite spacious.

VM: What was your favorite part about the Ultimate Driving Experience?

RP: The selection of street drive cars was great, they have everything from an X5, Z4, 335d, 650 Gran Coupes, and a BMW i3. The autocross was the highlight. Being able to feel the performance of the car on the track makes you love BMW driving dynamics that much more. The cars handled the track perfectly and the instructors do a great job of giving you just enough pointers to improve while in the car.

VM: Did you have fun?

RP: Yes! For most of the attendees, like me, it was the first time we have had the opportunity to autocross and push a car to its limits. It was exhilarating!  Being a car enthusiast, this was also a great opportunity to meet other gearheads and BMW owners to talk cars. It’s great for all ages!

I’ve been an Instructor for BMW since 2006, and the Ultimate Driving Experience is my favorite!  It’s a rare opportunity that I get to spend time sharing my passion, teaching proper driving techniques and giving everyday drivers a little taste of adrenaline behind the wheel (yes, there’s a timed competition!).  The theme of this year’s tour is “Driving is Believing”, and if you’re wondering if it’s true, you’ll just have to see for yourself!

So far the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience tour has stopped in Boston, New Jersey, and San Francisco.  Next up is Los Angeles from September 6 – 21st.   Followed by New York City, Houston and Miami.

It’s open to the public, and you sign up for an autocross session (228i, 535i & 535d), street drives, dynamic experiences, and teen school (4-hour course), all for free!  An all-day Car Control Clinic (in M3’s & M235i’s) is also available for $650.

Register at:

Hope to drive with all of you in Los Angeles (September 6 – 21) and New York City (October 4- 12)!