[Update – BMWNA and BMWCCA Respond] Some New BMWs to be Banned from Track Days

M3_M4_Road_America_R2E5201

Update 04.12.17

Earlier today BMWNA and the BMWCCA responded to our story distancing themselves from any individual chapters who have banned any cars with colesion avoidance systems from track days. Now the BMWCCA chapter that started the debate is officiallly reversing its decision to ban some new BMWs.

Earlier this week, we inadvertently distributed a statement to participants of our HPDE events regarding the acceptance of BMW’s and vehicles of other manufacturers equipped with certain safety features. Unfortunately, this premature statement was made public before our discussions and research had been concluded.

While advancements in safety features are certainly issues to consider as HPDE schools continue to evolve with technological advancements, we’d like to emphasize that our post was in no way meant to reflect BMW CCA’s position or policy at a national or chapter level.

The BMW Car Club of America and the Genesee Valley Chapter have no HPDE event vehicle ban for BMW’s equipped with the drivers aids in question. BMW CCA continues to work with BMW NA to educate and develop a nationwide procedure for including BMWs with drivers aids in HPDE schools.

We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Update 04.11.17

Due to this story BMW of North America and the BMW CCA have provided an update to BimmerFile that should help to both clarify these rules and provide a sigh of relief for some BMW owners.

The Genesee Valley BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA) Chapter created and published an unauthorized policy banning BMW’s with Driver Aids from participating in their High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) schools. The national BMW CCA office does not share their opinion and is discussing the issue with the chapter.

BMW of North America LLC. is working closely with the national BMW CCA office to educate and develop a nationwide procedure for including BMWs with driver aids in HPDE schools. Advanced driver aids like Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Detection and Lane Keep do not affect the ability of the driver to control the car on-track at high speed. In addition, the systems can be shut off so that they are also not a distraction to a novice student.

Some drivers may find Frontal Collision Warning w/City Collision Mitigation to be intrusive on-track but this system can be adjusted in the iDrive menus to warn the driver later or completely shut off by pressing and holding the Driver Aids button on the dash until the green light goes out. The system defaults to ON upon re-start so this switch would need to be pressed at the beginning of each on-track run. It should be noted that Driver Aids Button in the OFF mode also indicates that all other Driver Aids installed on the car are also shut off.

This is a fantastic update to a story that none of us wanted to read. track days are a right of passage for BMW enthusiasts and provide one of the best and safest ways to full understand what a car is capable of. Kudos to both BMWNA and BMWCCA for stepping in and giving us some clarity on the matter.

Original story 04.09.17

The day many of us have feared is here. For the first time that we know of a BMWCCA Chapter (not the entire BMWCCA) is banning all cars with collision avoidance systems from the time honored tradition of track days. More specifically the Genesee Valley Chapter is banning cars with “automatic emergency braking” and/or “lane keeping assistance” systems. According to the club, this ban is due to the systems causing cars to behave in unpredictable and undesirable ways on a racetrack. Yes these systems can be turned off in modern BMWs. But that’s not enough for the chapter given user error in doing so.

What does this mean for BMWs? The current radar cruise control that is optional on BMW also includes a automatic emergency braking component to it. Additionally the new 5 and 7 Series offer lane keeping assistance as part of their light autonomous driving features. Any car with either of those options would fall under this particular BMWCCA Chapter’s ban.

Why is this is a big deal? For one this is notable given that the GVC runs some of the best HPDE on the east coast, including Watkins Glen (long considered BMWNA’s home track). This will also impact newer BMWs at these events (where BMW typically is well represented) and MINIs with Active Cruise. But it’s not just this one BMWCCA chapter. We’ve now confirmed that several others across North America have begun banning cars with these systems.

Given the proximity to Woodcliff Lake, BMWNA had previously participated in some of these track days for marketing purposes in the past.

track days

Here’s the official announcement:

Attention Genesee Valley Chapter HPDE Participants —

As you know, the automotive world is rapidly deploying a variety of safety-related driver aids, and we are heading toward a brave new world of semi- and fully autonomous vehicles. This will undoubtedly be of great benefit to traffic safety, especially given the rise in accident rates attributed to smartphone use. However, some of these new driver aids may adversely impact the use of such vehicles on a racetrack. In particular, cars with “automatic emergency braking” and/or “lane keeping assistance” systems may behave in unpredictable and undesirable ways on a racetrack.

Because there is so much uncertainty about how these systems behave in a variety of conditions, GVC have decided to ban all vehicles equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking and/or Lane Keeping Assistance systems (or their equivalent) for use in our HPDE events, even if these systems may be disabled by the driver.

Please consult your local new car dealership for assistance if you are unsure whether your vehicle is equipped with these collision avoidance systems. If your vehicle is so equipped, your only course of action will be to find another vehicle without said systems to use at the event. Please let us know if you will be driving a different car than the one you chose during registration so we can update your registration profile.

Note: GVC will deny participation, and forfeit the entry fees, of anyone arriving at our events intending to use a car equipped with these systems in the driving school.

For more information, I refer you to the article entitled “Ten Ways to Avoid a Crash” in the April 2016 edition of Consumer Reports. You may also find the following links useful:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collision_avoidance_system http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/17/470809148/automatic-braking-systems-to-become-standard-on-most-u-s-vehicles

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  • SockRolid

    I better track my M2 at Laguna Seca ASAP. Before the BMWCCA Golden Gate Chapter bans it!

  • Tom

    FUD at it’s best! On my M4, all of these system can be turned off. Lane Departure Avoidance won’t even function if it doesn’t see lane markers, even if it isn’t turned off and I’ve never seen lane markers on a race track. Front Collision Warning, if not turned off, will flash a warning on the dash and might beep if approaching a vehicle too rapidly. It doesn’t do “automatic emergency braking”. I’ve done 11 track days in my M4 in 11 months, including Nurburgring Nordscheife, Circuit Park Zandvoort, Spa Francorchamps, two separate weekends at Buttonwillow and two separate weekends at Laguna Seca, and not once did my car “behave in unpredictable and undesirable ways on a racetrack.” This is utter rubbish and is based on a complete misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of how these systems actually operate.

    • Mike

      You’re absolutely right about this being a complete misunderstanding and lack of knowledge – that’s the key point. Numerous master techs at a variety of dealerships were consulted to gain knowledge about how these systems measure and react, and none of them were actually able to clarify how they operate. It’s an insurance issue first and foremost, and you may know all about your system in the M4, but do you know about the guy’s system in the Lexus in front of you? Maybe he doesn’t either.

      • So true.

      • Tim Schenck

        As a Lexus tech, I can tell you the Lexus systems are easily turned off as well, daily commuters that don’t turn it off however, they’re very unpredictable

  • Steve

    The way I read this is that one Chapter is being overly cautious and wants to error on the side of caution. I suspect that once more information comes to light that this will all get cleared up. I would not rush to judgement just yet.

  • Only in the US of A….

    • Jeremy PHAN

      Sadly not.

      The BMW Club of Canada Trillium Chapter has also banned them.

  • Fin

    I prefer older cars anyway :)