I’m not a new kid on the block when it comes to adventure, or to cars. I’ve ziplined in Costa Rica, penguin-watched on Antarctica, skydived in New Zealand, and camera-hunted lions in Zimbabwe. But nothing prepared me for the adrenaline rush of riding with a certified racecar driver at the BMW Performance Center at The Thermal Club—this moments after having spent solo time behind the wheel sampling some of the hottest performance cars in the world.
A group of guys I know—car enthusiasts all—took advantage of the newly formed partnership between Rancho Mirage’s Omni Rancho Las Palmas and BMW, which offers guests of the resort the chance to zoom at one of the only two BMW Performance Centers in the country. The “Rev & Recharge” package, available through the end of 2015, includes a stay at the luxurious resort as well as a half-day visit to the BMW track in Thermal, about 30 minutes from the Omni. Prices start at $389/night for single occupancy/single driver.
After a brief classroom-style intro to the BMW facility, our instructor (and master driver) Dave took us out to start our adventure. We drove a variety of models, including the M3, M4, M5, M6, X5, and X6 for multiple laps around the “spaghetti bowl,” a multi-configurable track. We then competed in four legs of a timed race, of which, embarrassingly, I came in last in our group—by 5 whole seconds! But beside all the fun of commandeering these astonishing vehicles myself, the heart-pounding finale—the “Hot Lap”—is what will stay with me forever. Dave raced us around another track at high speed, navigating hairpin turns and short straightaways like the pro master he is—complete with burning rubber and smoking tires. Wild, wild, wild!
If you’re into exciting escapes, do not miss this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Omni Rancho Las Palmas and BMW Performance Center package is the perfect chance to get a group of guys and/or gals together for fun and adventure in the desert, maybe use the facility for a team-building corporate retreat, or even use it for a family reunion activity. I promise you’ll have a blast!