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Category: National Events

President’s Article January 2015

President’s Article January 2015

Although the faces of the National Board of the BMW CCA may be viewed in each publication of the Roundel, their duties and actions are probably not widely known by the 70,000 members of the BMW CCA. Our Club is divided into five geographical regions, and each region elects a Regional Vice President to help oversee each Chapter within that region. It is the RVP’s job to help promote and enhance the experiences of the members of the local Chapters and help create a direction and mission for the National Club.  Regional Vice Presidents are elected on staggering three year terms, so as not to replace the entire Board in the same election cycle. The office of the President of the Club is elected to a three year term.

In the January edition of the Roundel, you will receive your ballot for the 2015 election of President and North Central and South Atlantic Regional Vice Presidents. All members in good standing are eligible to vote for President and the RVP candidate in their region. Steve Johnson, current Executive Vice President is the lone candidate for President.

In our region, four candidates are running for the position of North Central Region Vice President; myself, David Brighton from Iowa, James Walters and Tim Beechuk from Ohio and Sean Hayes from Illinois. Each of the candidate’s statements will be published in the January edition of the Roundel. I feel it is important to read and analyze each candidate’s statement before casting your vote.

Like any election, it is important for each member to voice his or her opinion in electing the leadership who will determine the future of our club for the next three years. I hope you will take the time to fill out and return your ballot.

BMW CCA Oktoberfest 2012

When some of my friends asked me where we were going for vacation this year–I told them Columbus, Ohio. I received several weird looks and many responses of “really?” I needed to inform the less knowledgeable, that Columbus was the site of our annual BMW Annual Oktoberfest Event and we would be seeing about 900 of our favorite BMW friends. After spending the night in Cedar Rapids with Katie, we started out in the technoviolet M3 and the blue 325ci about noon on Sunday to travel until we determined we needed a rest for the night. After several discussions back and forth with our traveling radios, we determined we would pull off at Danville, Illinois and find suitable lodging. Later on Monday evening, during the Liberty Mutual Welcome Reception in Columbus, we discovered the Bells had stayed very close to us and then visited with the other 17 Iowa Club members that had made the trip to Ohio.

Along with the driving school held at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Tuesday is devoted to the Concours de Elegance so that those participants can get the event out the way in order to concentrate on other events throughout the week. Tuesday was the only day it rained, and to the dismay of the Concours entrants, not all cars were totally ready for the judging that began at noon. It was an equal distraction for all entries, but the rain stopped about an hour before judging would begin. After the judges finished with the white gloves and Q-tips, we had two winners from Iowa walk up to accept their trophies during the Dinan Performance Concours Awards dinner that evening. Russ and Brian Wiles finished in first place in the 3rd Generation Clean Class with their 1995 M3 Lightweight and David and Becky Brighton finished first in the 3rd Generation Super Clean Class with their technoviolet M3.

Driving school at Mid-Ohio continued on Wednesday, as well as the Odometer Gears TSD rally. The rally was a 4-hour course that wound east out of Columbus about 120 miles through the foothills of the Adirondacks of eastern Ohio. When the scores were tallied, we had 4 cars from the Iowa Chapter that had won a trophy. In “Class B” David and Becky Brighton placed first and were followed closely by Russ and Brian Wiles who finished 3rd in class. “Class C” was won by Alex Totten and Sean Hayes followed by Alison and Fred Bell who finished 3rd in class. Gymkhana was also held back at the Polaris Hilton parking lot and the trophies began to pile up for Iowa members. The Iowa Chapter came home with some of the best times of the day with Russ Wiles finishing 2nd, Brian Wiles 5th, Alex Kotten 8th, Katie Brighton 15th, David Brighton 16th, Cindy Wiles 19th and Becky Brighton 31st out of about 75 participants. Wednesday evening was highlighted by the second version of “Casino Night” with proceeds going to the BMW CCA Foundation.

Over the years, I have been asked many times “why are so many trophies won by Iowa Chapter members?” and I always respond that we have the best members in the county.

Driving school is held each day, so that was also true on Thursday, as well as the first day of autocross–non “M car” day on the course. Iowa was well represented again with Alex Kotten finishing 1st in class 3A, Jan Gerber finishing 2nd in class 9, and Katie Brighton finishing in 7th place in class 3D. Thursday evening was highlighted by motorcoach rides for all participants to the buffet meal hosted at Kelly BMW. Kelly BMW had the showroom filled with historical and rare BMW’s for viewing preceding the highlight of the evening–special guest speaker Joey Hand with his E46 M3 race car driven in many races about 3 years ago.

Friday is “M” day at autocross and it is dominated by M3’s and M coupes. This year, the new 1 Series M was also well represented. The fastest time of the day went to Russ Wiles who finished 1st in class 5B. Brian Wiles finished 1st in class 4A. In class 5A, Scott Smed finished 4th, Don Van Lengen finished 9th and Stacy Van Lengen finished 12th. In class 5C David Brighton was nudged by 2 hundredths of a second for a trophy and finished 4th. Friday night at O’fest is always Banquet and Awards night and it usually lasts well into the night. This year’s Banquet was highlighted by a special award presented to Larry Koch who is retiring after 28 years with BMW NA and also with special speaker Joey Hand of RLL Racing.

Saturday morning brought another day of driving school and is also time for friends to pack up and say “good-bye” for another year until we meet again.

Oktoberfest 2013 will be held at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, California August 19-24, following the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

Photo Gallery

A First Timer’s Report from Oktoberfest

While I’ve been to, and organized, my fair share of local chapter events over the past couple of years, last month was the first time I’ve attended the club’s national annual event, Oktoberfest!
Due to the time and travel investment, I tried to get the most out of the event—here’s what my week looked like:


Arrive around noon, check into the event hotel, register and unpack. Enjoy Spaten hospitality in the beer garden at the hotel. Make sure glass is full before heading to the first timer’s meeting for a briefing, orientation and introductions, then on to the welcome banquet!


I volunteered to help with the concours. This was something I had no prior experience with, but was accepted and paired with a more experienced person to judge the “race” clean entries. Turns out volunteering also got me a free shirt and an invitation to a Wednesday evening reception. Dodged rain while the competitors prepared their cars. Also took test drive in a brand new 5 Series – nice. . Rain stopped before “rags down,” then went out to rub Q-tips and white gloves over a couple of race prepared cars. Evening was more Spaten hospitality, after which things get a little fuzzy.


First driving school day! Three sessions on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, followed by the volunteer reception, and even more Spaten .


Autocross, and the first time I’ve done it without needed to replace a fender liner! Course was laid out such that novices like myself were unlikely to get lost among the cones. Unfortunately, I’ve about as much sophistication at autocross as a hammer. Was fun though—eight runs for the day!


Out early for a second day at Mid-Ohio, followed by the awards banquet in the evening .


Last day at Mid-Ohio, with a BBQ that evening near by .

Drove home Sunday, and felt like I needed to sleep for three days! For someone my wife characterizes as “socially indifferent,” I also used up a lot of my socialization reserves! If you decide to attend O’fest for the first time next year, you can make your own decisions about how many activities you want to cram into the week, but I don’t know as I’d have done my first time any different.

As for next year, Laguna Seca is a long way away, but driving there is a bucket list kind of event… we’ll see!

BMW CCA’s Oktoberfest 2012

BMW CCA’s Oktoberfest 2012

If you have not registered yet for the 2012 edition of BMW CCA’s Oktoberfest, you still have time. With the current success surrounding this event recently, the BMW CCA has been hosting this event at major racetracks around the country for the past several years, and will continue the tradition into the future.

For 2012, the event will be held at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington, Ohio, Sept. 17 through Sept. 23. The host hotel will be a short drive from the track at the Hilton Columbus/Polaris. The 2012 event may one of the last events to be held relatively close to home for us for a few years, since it was held at Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin two years ago. BMW CCA has announced the 2013 O’Fest event will be held at Laguna Seca Raceway in California as the host site.

Every BMW CCA membership is really not complete until one has attended an O’Fest where you meet the nicest people that have the same love of cars that most of us share. The Iowa BMW CCA has been very well represented in the past with as many as 30 members in attendance in Wisconsin and 19 registered for this year. I hope you have still have time in your schedule to make the trip to Ohio this year.

Visit for more information and to register.

Oktoberfest 2011 – A Trip to the Barber Does Not Mean a Clip Joint!

Oktoberfest 2011 – A Trip to the Barber Does Not Mean a Clip Joint!
Oktoberfest this year was in Birmingham, AL. Unless you’re a loyal son or daughter of Dixie, that may not sound like a wonderful spot to host our national club’s annual gathering of the faithful. But those who missed the festivities this year missed a great setting and event.
I had never been through that section of Alabama before, and I was pleasantly surprised by the hills and curvy roads, along with constabulary and local populace that didn’t seem to take speed limit signs very seriously. So we had some great driving for the fun rally and the time-speed-distance rally, and pleasant drives out to the track at Barber Motorsports Park from the Ross Bridge Renaissance host hotel. This resort hotel is tucked back into a wooded nook not far from the city, and is a beautiful interpretation of an old Scottish baronial manse. Attendees who did not get wrapped up in the driving events could instead enjoy the spa at the resort or try their hand on the stunning golf course that was right outside our windows.
Barber? What to say about Barber? This place has to be the fanciest track I’ve ever seen. Beautiful landscaping around the track itself in addition to the grounds. Sculptures within the track confines -picture booming at triple digits downhill into a hairpin turn, and looking up from the sand trap at a huge spider right in front of you! A world-class museum of motorcycles and race cars. All of the facility was extremely well taken care of, and the Heart of Dixie Chapter folks ran a great driving school for us. One of the Ofest evening receptions was held inside the Barber museum. The security staff must have been having heart attacks watching us wander about their unprotected displays of up to hundred-year-old conveyances with our food plates and libations in hand – but they allowed us free rein anyway. I haven’t seen so many motorcycles since accidentally wandering into the Harley Davidson Sturgis rally some years ago on a Black Hills trip, and they weren’t taking nearly the trouble to display those nicely.
Sightseeing when we travel is a must. For Birmingham, with its notorious legacy of civil rights conflicts, there is the Civil Rights Institute and museum. I think almost all of our Iowa Chapter contingent went there at some point during the week, and all came away both more educated and impressed by the depth of the struggles and the eventual resolution. Our family also hit a number of stops to and from Ofest: Memphis with its river-oriented culture, blues and BBQ; Tupelo MS for a surprising antique car collection; Vicksburg’s Civil War battlefield sites and tours; and the Great River Road through numerous quaint small towns in Missouri, Illinois and points south. Altogether, a great trip for both car and tourist stuff – not to mention the occasional pause for local or unique food. (Just ask Scott and Joyce or the VanLengens about traveling on one’s stomach…)
And now it’s time to start getting ready for next year! Oktoberfest 2012 has been announced for Sept. 17-23 at MidOhio Sports Car Course, a little north of Columbus (OH, naturally). The host hotel has not been finalized as of this writing, but stay tuned on the national club website, Mid-Ohio has a reputation for being a fun and challenging course, and the area should provide lots of touring and sightseeing activities. See you there!

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