This is the first in a series of four articles (three as yet unfinished)
that I wrote concerning O'fest2000. Upon my return, I found the UUCDigest was in
a mess, her sails were ablaze and no one as at the helm to steer clear of the
rocks ahead. In other words, the usual foglight argument was taking place.
Is it clear? Detente declared? Never thought I'd be really happy to see monitor intervention. (Poodlegate lives!) (Sorry Brett, Rob. That will be the last mention that I ever make. I promise.)
Ok kids, who wants a tale or two from O'fest? Now I don't have the stories of depravity or debauchery that our dear departed Duane recanted last year but I do promise that I'll try to make them as entertaining as possible. Truth is though, if you're looking for facts and figures, you best turn your attention to Roundel when the O'fest edition surfaces. All I can provide is a first timers perspective and even that's been passed through the patented porridgehead pfilter and see if anything floats to the surface. So you're just going to have to suffer through, well... me. And any facts that I'm missing, I'll just make up some stuff so that it sounds good. Trust me, even the people who were there will say, "yeah, well, I guess that *could* have happened." Besides, Roundel will give a far more complete recap of all the stuff that's really important.
1.) I've never eaten so much bratwurst, sauerkraut, schnitzengruben, weaselschnitzel and blitzenschtool in my life. And I mean that cumulatively. It was to the point where I was really grateful that we weren't celebrating English cars but not quite to where I was longing for a Citroen convention. Much better than the usual track/road/junk food that you usually consume at these venues. The beer served at the Oktoberfest kiosk in the Hyatt lobby was something called Sputum (sp? Somebody might want to correct me on this.) that made for a serviceable bilge cleaner. It did come in pitchers, however.
2.) Speaking of the Hyatt, they did a terrific job. The lobby was an eight story open atrium decorated liberally with about a dozen BMW and ///Motorsport banners, an E39 ///M5, a pristine E30 M3, a 330i and even a Beemer or two. Tucked into a corner was a tasty little '02 Turbo and '02 Cabriolet. I don't mind telling you that it made the NoBrainz Garage look downright spartan (get it? Spartan-Spartanburg? Waaahaaaahaaaha ha...heh...err... so it was a long drive home. Sue me.) All this was in the *lobby*, mind you. The garage I'll get to shortly. The rooms that faced the lobby area were festooned by attendees with various BMW posters, signs and other paraphernalia including an early motorsports Roundel the size of a manhole cover (where, oh where, do I get one?) and one lone Michael Schumacher banner. Someone even saw fit to display their E36 forged wheel, complete with tire, for all the guests to see. All in all, it made me feel right at home and scared the bejeezus out of the 'normal' guests of the Hyatt. (Anybody know why those folks were running around all dressed up in nice clothes for? Weird.)
3.) The garage of the Hyatt was a droolworthy experience in and of itself. I mean, how many hotel garages do you wander through where there's three or more parked ///M1s, let alone providing the opportunity to have one drive by you in such a concrete cavern. I tell you, it sounds like God himself farting as the scream of that straight six echoes off the walls, ceilings and cars with alarms now ablazing. Ok, maybe not God but certainly a minor deity. Perhaps a hairy thunderer like Thor or gourmand like Bacchus would suffice. Anywho, it certainly is enough to send a generous shiver up the old bowel.
*Ahem* Sorry, got a little lost in the spirit there.
I lost count of the E30 M3s, all more beautiful than mine, and one gen-u-wine Sport Evo (hi Chet). You had your 3.0CS, CSI, CSL, 2002s in various guises. Pristine stock, madly modified or anywhere in between. Ever see an E30 Touring in the states? There's one over in the corner, just a couple cars down from that concourse prepared Euro ///M635 that's parked next to a tasty little Gruppe A E30 M3. There was even two E34 M5 Tourings, including one with large UUC Motorworks stickers on it.
And get this, the Hyatt even provided hoses and towels in the garage for those cleanlier than moi. And believe me, there were a lot that were far cleaner than I. There was this lovely L6 that was painstakingly cleaned and detailed every single night, only to be taken out and flogged on the skidpad, on the track, on the autocross, every single day. Such single-minded devotion to perfection personally escapes me, but to witness the result certainly yields an appreciation of the effort.
Greenville itself was a tidy, somewhat bohemian town with lots of shops, store, clubs and restaurants that I never got to see. Apart from the hotel, an auto parts store, and Chez Target (for some much needed aloe. Anybody else wind up as a redneck with a white stripe from the id necklace? No? Damn.) I didn't see much of Greenville at all. Largely because…
4.) Spartanburg was 12 miles down the road. And with Spartanburg came the Zentrum, the factory and the Performance Center. The Performance Center was where most of my activities were concentrated. Apart from the plethora of new BMWs sitting out front for general perusal, there was a Z8 (#14 produced and the very last with the Z8 logo on the trunk. How do I know this? Because this is one of those little factlets that I either overheard from a distinctly disreputable source or quite simply made up.) and an E46 M3 for general display and as handy salivary gland exercisers. You could inspect, sit in, shift, open the hoods and even make realistic throttle and screeching noises while pretending that you were doing something spectacular in the cars. Not that I ever did that so that anybody noticed. I hope.
I know many of you have seen the E46 M3 in person by now, but lots are still waiting for their first sighting. I know that I had my doubts when I saw the photos but once I saw the car in a decent color (neither monkey vomit nor smurf stool, but a proper silber (dear me, I am waxing scatological tonight, aren't I?)), in the steel, most of those doubts were cast aside. In a word: it's freaking terrific. It manages to be muscular yet lithe, brutish yet sensitive, oaky with the faint scent of plums and the nose of a rhinoceros in heat. Ok, maybe not that last bit, but the car does possess a very purposeful, powerful and well balanced presence. The front three quarters view provides the ready to pounce look of well muscled haunches and the rear, well, it has those cute little backup warning indicators. Even the engine bay is well done, devoid of the BPC syndrome (Big Plastic Cover) that plagues so many performance cars these days. There are no fake intake runners, only real ones, attached to six lovely little throttle bodies, just as they should be. There's even a proper cam cover, sort of.
The Z8 is quite another animal and seeing as I no more have any likelihood of owning one than I do of securing a supreme court nomination due to my unflinching credibility, I'm just going to treat it like it's for other people much more handsome than I and pretend that it doesn't exist. It is quite stunning though.
Oops, 1,271 words gone. Next chapter: Autox, Road Atlanta and flying upside down at speed with the engine floored while wondering why your visor won't stay shut (no silly, not me, Auberlen).