Moonlighting recently took part in a company outing and it was one for the ages! Moonlighting President (and BMW owner) Mike Rollins had always wanted to see what it was like to take on the BMW Performance Center. With months of planning he made that a reality… for the entire company!
We decided to close the office for two days and make the trek to Spartanburg, S.C. where the BMW Performance Center is located, along with the 6.2 million square foot factory that produces a number of BMW models that are assembled and shipped out worldwide.
We warmed up with a quick lunch and brief overview of what we would be doing with two incredibly skilled BMW instructors, Guiness Book of World Records holder, Johan Scwhartz and accomplished racer Laura Hayes. We would eventually split up into two groups. Group A would head towards the off-road experience for some all-terrain fun and Group B would head towards the tracks to hit high speeds and challenges to test how these luxury vehicles handle.
The off road course consisted of Moonlighters pushing the BMW X-5 to the limit on a series of steep embankments, challenging descents and even balancing these performance machines on two-wheels at one point. The name of the game on this course was quite the opposite of speed. It was all about finesse!
The street course is where the real competition took place. To warm things up, each group had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of five different models ranging from the M2, the M4, the 850i, etc. We started out running each model a few laps through a series of short straightaways and short turns, reaching speeds upwards of 100 mph.
Next, it was on to the timed circuit course where the real fun was had. Each Moonlighter got behind the wheel of an M4 and was given the opportunity to run six timed laps, going through a series of slaloms and challenging turns. Their fastest, cleanest lap (not hitting any cones or coming to a complete stop outside the designated finish line) would be counted as their best lap. If we didn’t already know before, we found out today that Moonlighting is one competitive group!
In the end there were only three spots on the podium. First place was taken by Installation Tech Ricky Eckert, second place by Installation Foreman Mike Ned and third place by Moonlighting President Mike Rollins.
To end the day, we each had the opportunity to hop in with Johan and Laura and they took us on a “hot lap” where we reached high speeds, quick turns and even a drift lap on the very course where Johan set his world record of the longest consecutive drift. We’re not sure any of us knew what to expect when we got in the cars with our instructors, but it was by far the fastest and most extreme driving that any of us could have even imagined.
The competition continued that evening at the Stone Pin Company in downtown Greenville where we turned in our driving gloves for bowling shoes. In the end, it was a clean sweep for Ricky as he took first place on the track and first place on the bowling lanes, bowling the highest score for the evening. Congrats, Ricky!!
We would cap the trip off the next morning by taking an exclusive tour of the BMW Plant and learned first-hand the assembly process from start to finish of several BMW models. Following the tour, we got to wander through the BMW museum and the history of these automobiles.
What a trip this was and what a way for everyone to have a little company bonding outside of the office! To see some highlights of our trip, check out our video below.