California Here We Come
by Bob Morin
This year, for the first time in 11 years, Oktoberfest headed all the way west to car-crazy California for a July 4 th celebration with our BMW friends from all across the country. As most of you know, the cost of living in CA is quite high and so is the cost of visiting. Whether that, or the distance to get there for the traditional east-coast participants; something caused attendance to lag from early projections, but in the end, I guess it was about average in number. Most of the usual suspects were there though, including Michael J. Izor, the only BMW CCA member to have attended every single Oktoberfest.
The week started out slowly as there was no traditional Sunday night early-arrival’s reception. However, Monday morning kicked off the week with the well-run Gymkhana. This year’s event was run on Segways, those two-wheeled personal transportation vehicles. You were given a brief training session followed by your run, which included an attempt to place your star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a shoot out with the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. It was all great fun!
Being in a rental car this year after flying out to CA, we did not do Driver’s School and had no plans to do Autocross, but TX friends Tony and Kathy Lee offered Chuck and Bobbi Lonsdale and Sheila and me the opportunity to drive their car in the Autocross, so the six of us all ran in the same car. In return we offered to help prepare the car for Concours later in the week. The Autocross was a themed event, basically a One Lap of California, which included the Freeway Lane Change, the Laguna Seca Corkscrew, a quick left over a rise and back to the right gate, and so on, all making the event more interesting.
Also on site was an opportunity to try drifting. Thanks to Bill Arnold, who donated der Driftwagen, participants were offered several laps to see how sideways you could get without losing it. Plenty of rubber was left behind, but there were lots of smiles.
The Fun Rally was an ongoing affair so we started it on Sunday, but as usual, we are never confident after our first attempt, so we had to make a re-run before we were happy with our answers. The roads used traveled through many local canyons and also a stint through Malibu , including passing Cher ’s house and, for us anyway, a brief encounter with Jay Leno when he passed by on his motorcycle while we were trying to decide on an answer. The scenery was spectacular and not expected that close to L.A.
Monday and Tuesday receptions were held in the vendor area and there were no Krispy Crème donuts this year. Monday was Mexican food and Tuesday’s Bavarian reception, for some reason, featured Chinese food. They must have gotten some recipes from the far eastern part of Bavaria . Also on hand, was the world premier of the exciting new M5, although shown in a very ugly brown metallic that I hope will not even make into production.
These receptions were also our first opportunity to check out the entries in the Model Car Concours and the Photo Contest. Of course, there is always something to peruse in the vendor area as well.
Wednesday night was the Motorsports Reception at the Petersen Museum , which was very cool to visit. Thursday is the traditional rally day and again this year, there were two TSD Rallies from which to choose. The morning rally was supposed to be the easier of the two, but we actually did better in the afternoon trap rally.
Friday is the big day with the Concours always finishing the competition portion of the week and then the Awards Banquet. All too soon it is over and plans are being made for next year, closer to home in Greensboro , NC . Thanks to all the gang on the left coast who made a great week possible.
Sheila on a Segway