Attend the multitude of shows, meets, track days, or all-around auto festivals thrown throughout the summer months and you'll begin to notice a lot of them seem to mimic the cars they honor. Drift bashes are more often than not a lot like a 240SX missile car: endlessly fun, but also rough around the edges, and thrown together as "economically" as possible with sparse planning. Stance meets? A lot like stanced cars: great for filling parking lots (savage burn!) But Bimmerfest — the largest BMW car show in the country, now in its 19th year — is smooth, well-rounded, fun to drive (or just be around), and massively popular. Coincidence? We think not.
The first thing you'll notice when arriving at the annual Bimmerfest West event is the din of dozens of tuned track machines making rounds of Auto Club Speedway's fast and technical Sports Car course: a track layout combining 15 turns of its technical course with over half of its massive, banked speedway oval.
Speed Ventures led the charge on coordinating the faster side of things, bringing out everything from fast street cars to tuned weekend track rats, to all-out IMSA LMS machines.
The vast majority of participating machines were of the Bavarian persuasion, but this being the age of inclusivity, Bimmerfest and Speed Ventures did the nice thing and invited any interested (and qualified) driver and machine take part in the festivities.
Plenty of fast E36 to F80 M3s and F82 M4s seemed to set the pace on track, but perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Steven Chan and the no. 720 time-attack Nissan GT-R that clocked the fastest lap of the weekend, with a 1:40.907 clocked on Sunday.
As awesome as the track action was, the bulk of attention was earned in the infield's more static areas, beginning with the parking lot. BMW enthusiasm runs so deep and diverse that preserved, modified, or just plain clean examples of just about any model/vintage BMW could be found in general parking and the owner's corrals.
No unpainted body kits and zipties here, and really very few stock rides at all. We have to hand it to this year's crop of attendees on the impressively clean and (largely) functional styles behind their builds.
Auto Club Fontana's endlessly appreciated (especially during these hot summer days!) pit garages were of course reserved for the racers, but just beside them was where Bimmerfest showed its true colors.
You might call it a giant Vendor Alley, and you wouldn't be wrong. Bimmerfest separates itself from a lot of other shows in its rich and extensive vendor participation. Where others might call it a day with just a bunch of clean cars in a lot, the best of the Bimmerfest bunch were almost exclusively found within vendor displays.
It almost felt like a mini, outdoor SEMA show, walking from booth to booth from wheel brands, suspension companies, parts retailers, turbo manufacturers, dealerships, and some of the communities most prominent crews and clubs.
Throw in a mobile dyno, some models and even a creative display from a high-end salvage yard and parts recycler, and an official presence by BMW Motorsport and well ... you get the picture.
The Bimmerfest format is so well-rounded, inclusive and complete that it leaves us scratching our heads as to why every major annual and one-off event doesn't follow its recipe. Whether it's the racing and high-performance track driving, the hundreds of clean, tunable daily drivers corralled into the parking areas, the massive aftermarket support and impressive performance and style builds crammed into the main show area, or the equally massive crowd of dedicated owners and enthusiasts, the Bimmerfest recipe performs perfectly. Just like the cars it honors.