On Tuesday, the 24th, 2022, I went to the Phillip Island race track and participated in the BMW Driver Experience program. It was epic. It was insanely fun. It was everything I’d hoped it’d be. And it left me jealous of the instructors.
For context, I grew up with love for cars. My first impressions came in the form of a BMW E34 520i. From watching Top Gear — I worshipped Top Gear and still think that being a Top Gear presenter is the greatest job in human history. I mean, till the main trio left because everything since has just been a streak of Star Wars Episode 9’s and being anywhere close to that kind of garbage is bad for one’s health.
After Top Gear came Formula One. I started following in 2007 (the same year Lewis Hamilton started in the sport). And the point is, I like driving, I really enjoy driving. It makes sense to me even more than talking nonsense because, well. Look, that’s a sport I’m very good at, but at this point, I stick with it because I’ve spent a lifetime practising, and there’s no point stopping now. But driving is different. Going fast gets my focus and my attention. It makes me a better and louder, and funner version of myself. Second, to the woman, driving is the love of my life.
Though it’s hard to maintain that love affair when you’re stuck in traffic going nowhere fast or thrilling. But things were different on Tuesday (which happened to be the exact birthday of BMW’s M division). I got to thrash high-performance cars around one of the best race tracks in the world (Phillip Island) and heard the sweet words “open it up”.
Happiness can be described as many things, chocolate, sex, money, drugs, whatever. I can tell you that driving at 220ish down the main straight made me happy. I wish more of my days in the office were in an office that moved so quickly and stopped so violently.
In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that I’ve been scheming for my entire working life as to how I could afford or beg or bribe someone to let me drive a car quickly. But the by-product of being useless at pretty much everything means that so far, I’ve failed.
Self-pity aside, there is something else here — someone else I’m impressed by and jealous of: the instructors. These guys were epic. Not only did they have the skill and charisma of… Well, of me, but they were far more humble about it. On top of that, they also seemed to really appreciate my crappy jokes, even if they were putting it on — I don’t care; I’m taking it. I need this.
What made the day wasn’t just the individuals; it was how the whole group worked as a team. It was like watching a well-rehearsed dance where everyone knew the steps. It was frictionless, and it was fun. They showed you how to drive the car the way it was designed. They also illustrated what happens when you switch off those well-thought-out buttons and programs to help me spin the car (on the skidpad) in front of a pretty large group of BMW people.
All of which leaves you a satisfied, safer, and happier human being.
This is probably the thing I find most frustrating about worshippers of Musk. I don’t think any of them have been told that cars — as God intended — are for more than just the utility they serve. They are also meant to be fun. But when you see how viciously people are attacked for speaking out even slightly against the high priest of automotive electrification. You get the sense they’d fail a spelling bee for not knowing how to assemble that humble three-letter word [F-U-N].
When I was out on the track, I couldn’t care less about my range or how many robots made the machine I was in. I was too busy trying to impress the instructors. I was secretly hoping that at some point, they’d pull me aside and quietly say, “Krystian, look… We don’t normally do this. And we had our doubts because you were the only nob to show up with his own helmet (that actually happened) — but you were so good out there… Krystian, you were the best we’ve ever seen; we’d like you to come back and drive for us”.
That idea is as unrealistic as porn but did I think about it — yes. Did I want it to happen — yes. Did I think about how life would be if we moved and bought some property on the island — maybe so what you can’t prove it.
Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked again (see what I did there). This whole experience was made by the team running it, and despite all of the above, it’s time to get back to the project at hand, the Ideathon/Something-along-those-lines.
Could this kind of fun be replicated in my Ideathon/Ideation-thing? Ideas and making things are also meant to be F-U-N. Sure, it’s talking and drawing stuff rather than driving a car around really fast, but I reckon we can work this out if we put our heads together.
This leads me to — if you are someone that would like to be on my KRS Ideation Experience Team (working title) — send me an email.
By the way — what’s the best sales tool ever? Don’t bother talking about the car. Give me the keys, and I’ll sell the car to myself. Till I drove one on Tuesday, I didn’t think I needed or wanted a BMW X3. In fact, I thought it was the stupidest thing in the world — why would you need a jumped up four-wheel-drive version of a road car that was initially a two-door coupe?!?! It seems greedy, pointless and irrationally damaging to the heritage that made BMW’s reputation what it is today.
Then you take that rage and stamp on the throttle, and wow… That was a surprise. It takes off like a stabbed rat and stops faster than; I don’t know, I’m not Jeremy Clarkson, so I can’t think of anything clever here. That braking test, my goodness.. I’ve never been in something that can stop from 80kph in about 4 meters (note: that’s not a safety recommendation. Talk to an instructor).
I want to own one of these cars just so that I can show off how ridiculous it is. Because a large car should not move so quickly — unless it’s an M5. So, Mr Salesperson, don’t tell me about the features. Let me drive the car and then later fill in the knowledge gaps around financing, fuel consumption, and other good stuff that I can tell my girlfriend. Even though it won’t matter because my mind made at 200kph.