For the 18th year in a row, the annual Bimmerfest super show returned to SoCal and reset unofficial records as one of the largest, greatest, and most thoroughly satisfying enthusiast meets in existence. Hailed as the West Coast's largest gathering of BMWs and their owners, Bimmerfest provides an event like no other, combining elements like a judged show competition with various races and time-trial competitions, a dyno challenge, owner's corral, cooperation with dozens of the industry's finest vendors, and lots, lots more. If you're a BMW enthusiast — of any sort — and you're unable to have a good time here, your heart may not be pumping blood.
Not much more is needed to throw a successful car show than an open lot to do it, but if you're going to throw an event by which the others are measured, you need an accordingly epic venue. Enter Fontana, Calif.'s, Auto Club Speedway. It's got more open parking area in its infield than most other shows can fill, and each year Bimmerfest seems to come closest to surpassing those lofty limitations.
First and foremost Auto Club Speedway is a racing venue — arguably the best in the area, at that. Its pit garages, staging areas and VIP suites (with open-to-public rooftop seating that overlooks the entire grounds) are a blessing to racers and fans alike, especially in SoCal's searing sun and balmy late-spring heat.
Auto Club Speedway's two-mile NASCAR oval allows cars to stretch their gears more than most, and its technical infield track lets more agile machines really shine and occasionally surpass big-power rivals.
Combine those two elements and you get "The Roval" (properly called the Sports Car Course): a 21-turn configuration that combines about three-fourths of the speedway oval with most of the infield road course, for a track that's both fast and technical, and continually entertaining for fans.
Attendees competing in Bimmerfest Challenge competition, BMW CCA Club races, and the Bilstein Road Course Challenge (managed by Extreme Speed) got to take full advantage of the Roval all weekend long, and fans enjoyed a continuous din of Bavarian engines at full-crack.
Standout track performances came at the hand of drivers and machines common to USTCC, SCCA, NASA, even Pirelli World Challenge competition, thanks to teams like Brecht Motorsports, Strom Motorsports, JMP Autowerkz, and Bullet.
Fans wanting to drive their cars on track, but maybe not with the big dogs, had their chances during parade laps throughout the weekend. Those who did want to mix it up with the big dogs (but maybe not in their own cars) could ride-along with professional drivers in BMW Performance School M3s.
Leading from the track to Vendor Alley, a pair of mobile Dynojet dynamometers was open to anyone wanting to learn (or show off) the power and torque of their BMW machine. It wasn't a quick process and a long line seemed to persist throughout the weekend, but at a cost of only $80 for three pulls, who could say no?
As for that Vendor Alley, it filled the entire lower paddock with countless examples of the cleanest and most highly modified BMWs in the area, which for the SoCal region says a lot in terms of quantity and quality.
Observations: Widebody incarnations, a la Liberty Walk and the like, are still a trending topic of modification, as is forced induction (mostly supercharged variations); air suspensions; bright, retro, race-inspired livery; and colorful, anodized, three-piece alloy wheels.
Moving on to general parking and owners' corrals, those trends continue, but were mixed with more subtle modification themes, impressive resto-mods, factory-stock rarities, and some thoroughly enjoyed daily drivers.
The "featured model" of the show was the BMW E30, of which there were some very clean examples. But maybe more impressive were a handful of modified 2002s, like one featuring a turbo-upgraded 2.5L M20 inline-six from a '91 325i.
After 18 years and running as strong as ever, Bimmerfest reasserts itself not only as the top BMW show in the land, but possibly the top one-make show bar none, and a damned good way for any auto enthusiast to spend a weekend in Southern California.
Missed the show or can't make it to SoCal? Check our gallery below, and click over to www.bimmerfest.com for details on the upcoming Bimmerfest East, scheduled for July 29-30th, 2017, at Englishtown, New Jersey.