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      12-21-2021, 10:17 PM   #1
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First ever track day: Laguna Seca in M4!

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Last weekend was my first ever day at the track, and it was at the famous Laguna Seca! I was invited to a VIP event from my dealership, and I now worry I have the track day bug. It was so much damn fun with a bunch of terrific M car folks.

While I'm no stranger to high speeds through twisty mountain/coastal roads with both sports cars as well as sportbikes, I really wanted to get the right "training" before unleashing my car. As homework, I went through articles on track days, YouTube videos, and Laguna-specific tips.

And perhaps silly: I've been playing Real Racing 3 on my iPhone for years, and have "raced" Laguna Seca a few hundred times. Well that game is no joke in some ways. I was kind of blown away at how much that game prepared me for how to know all turns and understand them. I knew what I was up against despite having never been there. The elevation changes were obviously not easy to grok from the game, so that was a surprise.

After five sessions at the Beginner level (lead-follow sessions which really helped me understand braking and approach speeds), I jumped into the Intermediate class. I followed a newfound friend in a 950+ hp McLaren for about 4 laps, which was intimidating at first, but he's 70+ years old and wasn't pushing his machine as hard he could. (Maybe age has no influence, but I just think he was playing it safer than, say, a 25 year old InstaMillionaire with a supercar.) I was able to keep up pretty well, so much so that he waived me on and that's when my lead foot sank to the floor and I could just explore the track at the speed I wanted.

While I don't know what that track would be like with RWD, I do feel that the xDrive really did seem to allow me to pull out of corners very aggressively, at least when compared to my experience through twisty roads (however flawed that comparison may be).

From my brief time there, and from watching the videos afterward, I think one thing I could have done better is to keep on the acceleration longer while also braking much later than I had been. You can see in the video that I'm easing off the throttle too early. Besides braking too late (I think), I feel like I was turning in to the apex too early. Put a little video together to share and I'd honestly welcome any feedback on track driving tips.


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      12-21-2021, 10:30 PM   #2
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Nothing like the real experience and lessons but Don't forget pilots learn on simulations as well 😁
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      12-21-2021, 10:37 PM   #3
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Nice job and smooth driving too. I think your analysis is spot on. You're coasting in between letting off the gas and hitting the brakes but don't worry about it. You're not going to be going bat shit crazy on your first time at the track in a new car and you probably ended up with less wear and tear as a result.

Correct on the turn in points too. Some of them you want to turn in later but more aggressively and hug the apex. Your cutting the line a little bit early which forces you wide, and you don't get on the gas as quick as you would have as a result.

Great job though over all, very solid effort and looked like a lot of fun!!
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      12-21-2021, 10:53 PM   #4
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Honestly I think you did it right. No need to be on throttle until threshold braking. It's your street car and you're just having fun well within a safety margin. No prizes or money be handed out. Glad you had such a great time.
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      12-22-2021, 01:52 AM   #5
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Nothing wrong with taking it easy, especially on your first time out. You did well to let off the throttle before the crest at 1, Iíve seen that catch some folks off guard as itís an easy spot to spin when the car goes light. Line looks pretty good, the games taught you well lol. I recommended my wife to do the same before her first time out, it really does help.

What a way to learn your new car, huh? Glad you enjoyed it
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      12-22-2021, 04:03 AM   #6
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Looks like lots of fun in an AWD M4 & you'll quickly improve with more sessions.
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      12-22-2021, 05:23 AM   #7
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Looks like a great time! Canít give you any tips as Iím no expert in this arena. However, would love to see more pics of your car. Really like how you painted the bottom bits
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      12-22-2021, 06:48 AM   #8
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It was my first time at Laguna as well...can't thank Andy@BMW San Rafael and the Sunwise group enough! Whole event was a blast and glad you had a great time.
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      12-22-2021, 08:35 AM   #9
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Nice of your dealership to do that. I get a free cup of coffee when I visit my BMW store.

Well, I used to. Now with Covid, there is no free food.

Laguna is one of my bucket list tracks, but as I am on the east coast, it's likely not going to happen unless I borrow a friend's car (Miata) or rent something, mostly likely a Miata. I'm not a big Miata fan, although they are fun to drive, if you don't mind a car motivated by a squirrel.

If you get/got the track bug, which is a bug worth having, you need to do a real HPDE school with the BMW CCA or PCA or Audi or any decent club that has in-car instruction as well as real classroom instruction. That will help you learn the line, car control concepts, and proper braking. It will take years and years of instruction, and after you have spent most of your childrens' college funds and your retirement, you may feel like you are finally "getting it".

Worth it.

Congrats on the lovely car, mine is a twin. Albeit with 2WD and three pedals.
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      12-22-2021, 08:52 AM   #10
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Don't be embarrassed because I've used Gran Turismo to help learn track layouts. It's a great tool!
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      12-22-2021, 09:13 AM   #11
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Great. Could you share details on which mount you used for the camera, which equipment and which settings? Thanks!
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      12-22-2021, 09:29 AM   #12
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Good stuff!! but…..I have to say HELL YES to color matching the horrific gloss black lower portions to the color of your car. Looks so much better
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      12-22-2021, 11:35 AM   #13
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Using games/simulators to learn how the track flows is absolutely a good practice. Glad you had a good time. Welcome to the slippery slope!

watched the video and your line was pretty good but i felt like you can carry more speed through the corners. But that comes with practice. Good first job. Followed you on IG as well. I am @eurotouringcar

Last edited by BMWRacer523; 12-22-2021 at 02:51 PM..
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      12-22-2021, 01:46 PM   #14
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You're on the correct line based on the video, so doing great! You could definitely push a bit more. But I don't know if I'd push my own personal car hard haha

What were your lap times?
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      12-22-2021, 01:58 PM   #15
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So happy you guys all could make it! We had a blast hosting you all ! Will make the next one even better ! We appreciate all our clients... This is our way of saying Thank you for choosing us !

Your Lines were Awesome very impressive for your first outing....That AWD G82 is a Rocket !
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      12-22-2021, 02:06 PM   #16
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Haha, you are right about the sim racing practice.

I was at the Sunwise track day as well with my M2 comp, I had never been to Laguna Seca or any track with my car for that matter. My only experience with any sort of track day was some motorcycle track days up at Thunderhill, but over the last few years I've put at least 150 hours on Laguna Seca in sim games such as Asseto Corsa and Gran Turismo Sport, I felt so at home on the track, though I did have to change up some of my braking zones as I didn't want to risk going into the dirt for a good lap haha.

I decided to go into the intermediate group and I was in aw of how amazing the track was it flows so well, the corkscrew being the best part by far. By the end of the day, I had a best lap of 1:46 lifting a bit by the sound booth as my car is pretty loud. Staying pinned over that turn 1 crest has to be one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had in a car, Overall, it was such a blast and I can't wait to go back, hoping I can get into the low 1:40s.

Thank you so much Sunwise Auto Group and @BMW Of San Rafael for an amazing track day, It's very rare for an auto group to do something like this in these times and it really shows their passion for BMWs and cars in general, not many would think to go the extra mile like this and invite all of their M customers to a private track day at such a historic track.

Last edited by lightfurym2c; 12-22-2021 at 02:14 PM..
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      12-22-2021, 04:25 PM   #17
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Really appreciate everyone's feedback and thoughts! I swear I'm still smiling three days later from the event.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yousefnjr View Post
Nothing wrong with taking it easy, especially on your first time out. You did well to let off the throttle before the crest at 1, Iíve seen that catch some folks off guard as itís an easy spot to spin when the car goes light. Line looks pretty good, the games taught you well lol. I recommended my wife to do the same before her first time out, it really does help.

What a way to learn your new car, huh? Glad you enjoyed it
Thank you! Easing off the throttle on the crest was definitely the approach for me. With more experience I could do what others did, which is to carve a line and just stay full throttle...but I need a few more days (and some track insurance) to do that. 😳

Quote:
Originally Posted by BRAKE! View Post
Looks like a great time! Canít give you any tips as Iím no expert in this arena. However, would love to see more pics of your car. Really like how you painted the bottom bits
Will definitely post more soon! Right now the bottom color is through a wrap (proof of concept), but at this point I'm going to get it painted permanently. BMW should have given us this option from the start! If you're on Instagram, I'm there @m.dreamin and will be posting more pics there quite often. Here's a shot (at bottom of this post) my wife grabbed with my big lens.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Commanderwiggin View Post
It was my first time at Laguna as well...can't thank Andy@BMW San Rafael and the Sunwise group enough! Whole event was a blast and glad you had a great time.
100% agree! Which car was yours? I may have some pictures from that day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuvMyE92 View Post
Nice of your dealership to do that. I get a free cup of coffee when I visit my BMW store.

Well, I used to. Now with Covid, there is no free food.

Laguna is one of my bucket list tracks, but as I am on the east coast, it's likely not going to happen unless I borrow a friend's car (Miata) or rent something, mostly likely a Miata. I'm not a big Miata fan, although they are fun to drive, if you don't mind a car motivated by a squirrel.

If you get/got the track bug, which is a bug worth having, you need to do a real HPDE school with the BMW CCA or PCA or Audi or any decent club that has in-car instruction as well as real classroom instruction. That will help you learn the line, car control concepts, and proper braking. It will take years and years of instruction, and after you have spent most of your childrens' college funds and your retirement, you may feel like you are finally "getting it".

Worth it.

Congrats on the lovely car, mine is a twin. Albeit with 2WD and three pedals.
So many 🤣, especially the Miata bit. And indeed, would love to at some point do a proper HPDE course with a pro in the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3some! View Post
Great. Could you share details on which mount you used for the camera, which equipment and which settings? Thanks!
Pretty simple setup, really. I borrowed a friend's GoPro Session 5 and his suction cup mount. Here's what it looks like (at bottom of this post). At this point I will end up getting my own GoPro and some mounts that would work on my moonroof so that more of the car, tach, etc can be captured.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicksm3 View Post
Good stuff!! butÖ..I have to say HELL YES to color matching the horrific gloss black lower portions to the color of your car. Looks so much better
Thank you! I wanted that look even before I took delivery. At this point I'll be getting them painted because it's just the look I was after.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWRacer523 View Post
Using games/simulators to learn how the track flows is absolutely a good practice. Glad you had a good time. Welcome to the slippery slope!

watched the video and your line was pretty good but i felt like you can carry more speed through the corners. But that comes with practice. Good first job. Followed you on IG as well. I am @eurotouringcar
Thank you! Following you on IG now as well. 😬

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Pete View Post
You're on the correct line based on the video, so doing great! You could definitely push a bit more. But I don't know if I'd push my own personal car hard haha

What were your lap times?
I checked the video and from finish line to finish line (having already gotten up to speed in previous laps), my fastest lap time was 1:51.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TKT2SPEED View Post
So happy you guys all could make it! We had a blast hosting you all ! Will make the next one even better ! We appreciate all our clients... This is our way of saying Thank you for choosing us !

Your Lines were Awesome very impressive for your first outing....That AWD G82 is a Rocket !
You and your team freaking rock, brother. Also really appreciated you letting me borrow your helmet. If racing an M4 at Laguna isn't already kick-ass enough, the community of folks like you the rest were just a treat to hang with for the weekend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lightfurym2c View Post
I decided to go into the intermediate group and I was in aw of how amazing the track was it flows so well, the corkscrew being the best part by far. By the end of the day, I had a best lap of 1:46 lifting a bit by the sound booth as my car is pretty loud. Staying pinned over that turn 1 crest has to be one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had in a car, Overall, it was such a blast and I can't wait to go back, hoping I can get into the low 1:40s.

Thank you so much Sunwise Auto Group and @BMW Of San Rafael for an amazing track day, It's very rare for an auto group to do something like this in these times and it really shows their passion for BMWs and cars in general, not many would think to go the extra mile like this and invite all of their M customers to a private track day at such a historic track.
One day I'll work toward a line straight through the crest with foot to the floor, but in the video I posted above, the audible "woo hoo" after the crest was because the crest obviously caused the car's weight to change, producing a 116 mph wiggle that felt just a tad unsettling. Definitely required some finessed steering to control so that I wasn't going to head toward the gravel. 😳

And echo'ing that sentiment: Sunwise Auto Group and BMW of San Rafael really went above and beyond with this event. Can't say how much I appreciated being part of it. I'm constantly singing the praises of that group. 🙏
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      12-22-2021, 06:03 PM   #18
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Pretty awesome ride for a first track day! And the color matched lower pieces turned out nicely!
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      12-22-2021, 06:12 PM   #19
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Did you paint the lower trim pieces on your exterior or is that an option? Thought they were always black
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      12-22-2021, 10:55 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShockArrival View Post
Pretty awesome ride for a first track day! And the color matched lower pieces turned out nicely!
Thank you! I'm happy each time I see them in the body color. That's how I always wanted to see those panels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by antzcrashing View Post
Did you paint the lower trim pieces on your exterior or is that an option? Thought they were always black
Indeed, they're always black (but it should have been an option!). For now, what I did was to have them wrapped. Found a great shop (North Bay Auto Wraps: http://www.northbayautowraps.com/) that couldn't find a matching color in their existing set of wraps, so they worked with me to find the closest color they could by custom printing it onto vinyl. They got it 99% of the way there, and it convinced me to go the extra 1% by having them professionally painted. One of my best buds owns a local body shop and is a master at his craft, so I'm hoping to get the job done quite soon.
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      12-23-2021, 12:50 AM   #21
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Awesome video, I remember seeing your car in the first few run groups it performed beautifully. Was trying my best to keep pace I'm in the white m4 with no plates. Shoutout to Andy at BMW San Rafael and the sunwise group they're the best! Was really shocked and excited I got invited to my first track day. Event was awesome, they even had great instructors for the newbies out there like me. Enjoyed the food and all the track time, definitely get your next cars from there.
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      12-23-2021, 12:22 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gowarriors View Post
Awesome video, I remember seeing your car in the first few run groups it performed beautifully. Was trying my best to keep pace I'm in the white m4 with no plates. Shoutout to Andy at BMW San Rafael and the sunwise group they're the best! Was really shocked and excited I got invited to my first track day. Event was awesome, they even had great instructors for the newbies out there like me. Enjoyed the food and all the track time, definitely get your next cars from there.
Thanks and I do remember your car! The color and mods you've done make that thing a beautiful specimen. And I'll second that motion: BMW owners/seekers in the Bay Area (or NorCal at large) should get their cars from Sunwise Auto Group.
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