Simpson motorsport

Longest Day Driving School – June 8 – 10, 2018

When – Friday, June 8 — Sunday, June 10, 2018

Where – Raceway Park of the Midlands, Pacific Junction, IA

Join for this year’s exciting Longest Day driving school. The Longest Day Driving School is one of our longest standing High Performance Driving Events with an excellent safety record and an experienced corps of experienced volunteer Instructors. You’ll learn a lot about car control, you’ll find yourself much more comfortable at speed than you thought possible – and you’ll have a lot of fun!

You’ll be paired up with an in-car instructor for the weekend, plus you’ll have a number of classroom sessions to learn more about the dynamics of high-performance driving and techniques. BMW CCA driving schools are among the best values and experiences for the money.

We will have an exciting opportunity for our LDDS participants this year. Des Moines Valley Region SCCA will be hosting a Time Trials event at RPM during our driving school weekend.

SCCA Time Trials (TT) are timed competitive events where the drivers vie for the fastest individual lap time in their class. Time Trials is not wheel-to-wheel racing. For those who like the thought of being compared to others to see who can turn the fastest lap and want to add the pressure of competition to their track experience without the distraction or investment of racing wheel-to-wheel – SCCA Time Trials might be what you’re looking for. Cars are divided into classes by power/weight ratio and equipment to level the playing field. Drivers must comply with passing rules in these events.

This event will be open to all makes and models (including convertibles – see the event rules via the link below for specifics about vehicles). Drivers participating in the driving school are welcome to participate in the Time Trials on a day when they are not driving in LDDS. If you’re interested in the DMVR Time Trials, you’ll need to register for LDDS as one-day student, and register separately with DMVR as a one-day driver in Time Trials. Please visit for information and registration.

We’re expecting a huge turnout for all the usual “Longest Day” fun and entertainment. This is your chance to attend one of the best driving schools available in the country. We strive for and have developed a very effective program to teach novice and experienced drivers the finer points of car control, all at a great facility. We have gathered the best enthusiast instructors from around the Midwest to help you have the time of your life!

So, whether you are an experienced driver or just want to significantly improve your basic on-road driving skills, whether you have a fully track-modified BMW M3, another brand of sports car, or a normal everyday economy car, we welcome all driving enthusiasts. The Longest Day Driving School is the place to be this July. Open to all licensed drivers 18 years of age or older of all skill levels, and we love novice students.

The host hotel is Country Inn and Suites of Council Bluffs, located at 17 Arena, Council Bluffs, IA 51501 Phone: 712-322-8282. We have a “BMW Club” block of rooms reserved at a price of $109/night, plus tax. The block is in effect until May 30, 2018, after which the hotel may change its rates.

Cost for the event is as follows:

  • Taste of the Track – $49
  • Three Day Advanced Student Registration – $399
  • Two Day (Sat-Sun) Student Registration – $339
  • First Timers (Sat-Sun) Student Registration – $289
  • One Day Student Registration – $229
  • Time Trials + One Day of Driving School(Also need to register with DMVR SCCA) – $149
  • Friday Solo + Sat/Sun Time Trials (Also need to register with DMVR SCCA) – $99
  • Friday Solo + 1 day DE + 1 day Time Trials (Also need to register with DMVR SCCA) – $199
  • Three Day (Fri-Sun) Instructor Registration – $99
  • Instructor Registration + Time Trials (You’ll also need to register with DMVR for the Time Trials event. Iowa Chapter BMW CCA will issue you a refund for your Time Trials cost.) – $99

Come on out and have some fun! Registration is available online at MotorsportReg. Please visit – 2018 LDDS

LDDS From a Newcomer’s Perspective

Ryan Smith and I have served on the Iowa BMW Club board for nearly three years and never attended the Longest Day Driving School at the Mid-America Motorplex in Pacific Junction. This year, we were finally able to make the trip and see what our fellow board members were raving about.

As described by our fellow club members, we found that it is unlike any other chapter event the club hosts. I attribute this to the high participation, the weekend-long time commitment, and the sheer love of cars lingering in the air from the track to the grid and the paddock. Being in the company of these car lovers all weekend brought together why we have this club, and work so hard to bring the driving school to members each year.

Ryan was a novice student, while I volunteered for the Saturday and Sunday sessions and took photos from the stands and at turn 14. We were met with rain most of the weekend, but saw that each group was blessed with at least one dry run each day. On Sunday, the rain created an obviously wet track that provided some teaching opportunities.

It was great to see so many club members in one place. We saw lots of familiar faces, met members we’ve never seen, and welcomed other club’s members to our driving school. We found that the day is really what you make of it. We enjoyed down time in the Brighton tent between sessions – and of course a tasty feast provided by Don and Stacy Van Lengen (whom you can find a recipe from in this issue).

Now for the driving. Ryan was glad to finally see what his 2008 335i is capable of. He enjoyed working with instructor Dave Anderson from Minnesota, who talked him through how to navigate the track and offered slight variations on the line based on Ryan’s car and track conditions. I enjoyed watching the instructor group’s session on the track, and even got a ride from instructor Fred Bell.

A special thank you goes to those who participated in the charity laps, especially since the track was a bit saturated. The funds raised from those laps go to a charity that’s dear to my heart; Animal Lifeline of Iowa. It’s a no kill, special needs animal shelter in Des Moines that I volunteer for. The money we raised was enough to have two cats spayed or neutered. Let me explain the impact that has on the shelter. If you never spay or neuter one cat, and her kittens, and their kittens, and so on, that creates 230,000 cats over seven years. That means your donations helped keep 460,000 cats out of shelters. You’re an awesome club! To learn more, visit

I noticed a lot of Go Cameras on cars. Some even had cameras capturing video from both the front and rear angles of the drive. If you had a camera shooting over the weekend and want to share video with the club, email Currently, a video of student Ryan Smith is posted on our Youtube channel.

High Performance Driving School – or How I Fill My Adrenaline Fix

Do you love to ride roller coasters? Thought about going zip-lining, bungee jumping or even sky diving? If so, then a high performance driving school might be right up your alley. I wasn’t always an adrenaline junkie, but as I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’ve become more adventurous and more open to trying new things. Driving schools aren’t just for the guys to come out and play anymore. Some reasons for attending are more practical in nature, others are just fun.

My indoctrination into the world of high performance driving came via another BMW CCA member. Then, my family started going to driving schools at Heartland Park Topeka. For my 18th birthday, I got to go to my very first driving school at Heartland Park, sharing the green 1999 M coupe with my dad. Not your typical daddy-daughter bonding time, but it works for us. Since that very first extremely hot weekend in Topeka, Kansas, I’ve done nearly 20 driving schools at tracks all over the country, including Mid America Motorplex (MAM), Heartland Park Topeka, Road America, MidOhio Sports Car Course, and Barber Motorsports Park.

When I started participating in driving schools, there weren’t many other women around. Sure you’d find a few wives or girlfriends around playing pit crew or working on their tans, but hardly any out on the track mixing it up. One of my early inspirations in driving was an instructor I’d had at Topeka that first year, Teresa. Some of you might remember her from Roundel as the “Oakley Woman.” She had a purple E36 M3, and I wanted a car just like that. She was one of the few women that I’d seen actually out on the track that first weekend. My new driving heroine is Sabine
Schmitz, of Nurburgring Ring Taxi fame. She’s done over 20,000 laps of the 20.8km Nurburgring, and has also appeared on UK’s “Top Gear” several times. There aren’t too many other women role models in high performance driving except for Danica Patrick and a few others, but I feel Sabine is much more humble and more versatile driver and thus a better role model.

As time has gone on, we’ve had a few women come out to try a driving school, but not too many stick around for the 2nd year and after that. Here are a couple of good reasons to come out and try it: First of all, it’s fun to “beat” the boys. I’ve had a couple instructors tell me that women are easier to teach than the men, so perhaps we also learn quicker and pick up new skills quicker. You don’t have to be the fastest car in a straight line to pass people on a road course. Half the battle is finding the best way through a corner to maximize your exit speed.

Second, and this should appeal to the shopaholics out there… you can buy some really cute driving shoes! We always recommend to drivers that you wear shoes that are obviously closed-toe, but also something with a smoother sole that won’t get mixed up in the pedals or possibly get caught. I’m a big fan of Puma’s Ferarri Collection; specifically the Drift Cat style, but they now have a BMW Motorsport Collection with all kinds of shoes appropriate for the task. Piloti also makes some great driving shoes, as well as Adidas, Simpson, and Oakley. If you get really into driving, then you can buy a really cute helmet; mine has flowers and kind of a tribal pattern on it.

Third, you get to meet a ton of awesome new people that enjoy doing the same things as you. We all enjoy driving our cars (not necessarily BMWs) and that goes a long way towards building friendships. I’ve gotten to know quite a few fellow drivers at the track, and now I am friends with them outside the track gates. These people can help you with your driving on/off the track,
and sometimes become life-long friends. The camaraderie is probably one of the things I look forward to about going to LDDS every year. One of the biggest reasons to come specifically to the
Longest Day Driving School at MAM is the Saturday night barbecue. Don and Stacy Van Lengen always put together a fantastic spread for us, and I’m sure that this year will not disappoint
The most important reason to come to LDDS is to have fun and learn a little about yourself and your vehicle along the way. No matter if you drive a Pontiac Vibe, Mini Cooper, or a brand new E92 M3, you’re sure to learn something. Inevitably there will be rain at LDDS… I can only remember one year out of the 10 or so we’ve been going there that it didn’t rain. Rain is a fantastic teaching tool for use on the street. It teaches you where the limits of your car and your tires are, and this can be especially useful in the winter time. Rain also teaches you to be smoother with your steering,
throttle and braking inputs. Some people say that “smooth is fast” and that holds true in both the wet and dry situations. Jerking the car around won’t help at all.

So, have I convinced you yet? Think that you’d like to try a driving school? One of the best places to start is at the Iowa Chapter’s Longest Day Driving School at Mid America Motorplex June 7-9. Check out for more information and registration links. Hope to see you there… and wear some cute shoes!

A Tale of Two (Driving) Seasons

It was the highest of water, it was the lowest of water…. Okay, enough damage to Dickens. But as in the famous novel, the contrasts between events were stark and momentous.

Last year, our Longest Day Driving School was held in the shadow of impending doom. The Missouri River was rising at an unheard-of pace, setting new records for flood height and water flow. Our event barely managed to happen. Only a few days beforehand, we were meeting with the Corps of Engineers and FEMA to see if we should even hold the school. The weather while we were there was actually pleasant, but that weekend was the last one that MidAmerica Motorplex would operate for about three months. Just days after we wrapped up, the local roads went under water, and then the track property and finally the track itself also were covered by rising groundwater over the next few weeks.

In contrast, 2012’s event was after a very dry fall and a warm winter, which was followed by a dry spring as well. No damage occurred to the track at all from either flood or freezing. The MAM staff has been busy all spring on repairing the buildings, replanting the infield, and generally putting things back as good as they were a year earlier. Last October’s moonscape appearance when the track re-opened has been replaced by nice green grass – and soybean plants in the infield! (We’re still in Iowa, after all). Our crowd was royally roasted in 90-plus degree temps and high winds, but we avoided the predicted Sunday thunderstorms and all sessions except for the very last ones were completely dry.

The participants had a great experience, as our chapter consistently provides at Longest Day. Comments from one first-timer: “I had an absolute blast this past weekend at this event….my expectations were totally exceeded. [T]he quality of the instruction and the approachability of everyone in the group really made this a sport I could absolutely see myself getting into. I will definitely be back next year”.

As always, the event takes a lot of help from many people. Chief Instructor Scott Smed worked many late hours ahead of the event to find sufficient qualified instructors and to make the student assignments that are key to the effectiveness of the school. Jeff Daly helped with pre-event planning, Brian Smith and Dana Schrader provided the classroom instruction, Candy Gerber organized the Friday reception, and Rick and Kathy Talbot reprised their stellar work on the grid again this year. The Saturday night feast at the track prepared by Don and Stacy Van Lengen was a highlight as always. We also had a new face leading the Saturday night track walk/ride after dinner – Dana did the honors in showing nuances of the track contours that just aren’t visible when driving at speed. Several other members helped with pre-event or on-site grunt work. And last but definitely not least, our key sponsor BMW of Des Moines provided our event mementos plus additional support in several ways. When you’re in the store for either sales or parts/service, please express appreciation for all they do for our chapter.

We had concerns about the viability of this year’s event, as a competing driving school was held by four neighboring chapters together – on top of our perennial place in the schedule and only 150 miles away. But Iowa Chapter made yet another difficult event happen, and with great success. We had as many participants in our school as the other one did, with only our one chapter as the host. That’s a testimony to the strength of what we offer our students and instructors for a weekend experience – and participants came from eight states for LDDS!

It is a far, far better thing that we do, than we have ever done….

June Traditions

In our culture, certain things just come to mind when you think of June. Graduations and weddings are what many come up with first. But if you’re in the Iowa Chapter of the BMW club, there is another tradition – the Longest Dat Driving School!

Every June for the last decade-plus – which is most of the chapter’s existence – we have hosted a driving school at MidAmerica Motorplex near Council Bluffs. Veteran LDDS attendees know what to expect; Great fun in your BMW on the track, great camaraderie with your fellow attendees and chapter volunteers, and great food at our Saturday barbecue dinner at the track.

For those of you who have not tried it yet, here’s a little more on what you’ll encounter. MidAmerica Motorplex (MAM) is a wonderful track for learning more about high performance driving and car control. It’s very technical (that means there are bunch of turns, none of which look the same) and it has very low penalties for doing something wrong, unlike tracks that have concrete walls or a lot of ‘Armco’ steel barriers. This allows advanced drivers to work on new techniques with little consequences other than mowing grass, while novices will find it very friendly in getting their feet wet in this part of our club’s activities. We have added some new features to our classroom and on-track instructions, too – come check it out!

When does all this fun happen, you ask? Well, that’s pretty easy. Just visit LDDS homepage and you’ll find all the information you need. Our host hotel, where we also provide the Friday evening reception, is the Spring Hill Suites in Council Bluffs, phone 712-256-6500.

Final deadline for registration – Monday June 4th or sooner if the school fills up. See you at the track!

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