6th Annual Texas Z3 Spring Drive

An article submitted to
“The CruiZin' NewZ”, the ZSCCA Magazine
By Jeff "bluetex" Newton
an anyone think of a better way to spend a weekend than driving a road-lovin’ convertible through the Texas Hill Country? If you can, I’m game for hearing what it is, because that’s what the Texas Z3 club did April 4th through 6th in the area around Kerrville, and most people agreed “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
     Our annual Texas Z3 gathering has come to be known as one of the largest Z3 events outside of the yearly trek to South Carolina for Homecoming. This year didn’t yield the mammoth 50+ car turnout that 2000 did, but fielded a respectable 35 cars total. We had representation from Dallas/Ft.Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and even McAllen. Oddly enough we had no representation from our Z3/M Coupe brethren, but did have one Z4 3.0i and a Maserati (owned by a BMW guy).
     The overall mission of this drive remained intact - drive the hill country roads, see the bluebonnets, see old friends and new friends alike, share some of the best Bar-B-Que known to man, then drive home. Our leaders; Texas Z3 Organizer Doug Morgan, ZSCCA Houston Area Rep Fred Reinemeyer, and long term Z3 owner Randy Clark, put together a set of fantastic roads to drive. We started our journey this year in Kerrville, Texas, a small hitching point west of San Antonio.
     Friday, April 4th in the evening, the gang gathered at the Pinnacle Club just outside of town as the sun began to set on a clear and warm spring evening. We ascended the hillside that led up to the golf club to our dining venue, but first stopped off for a group photo on the cart path leading up to the clubhouse. To see over 30 sparkling Z3s with tops down looking shiny and primped for the photo was quite a sight. I’m sure we gave a few golfers pause as we rumbled over the hillside and down the double-switchback cartpath getting to our spots. Following the photo, we had dinner and a greeting session. John and Maria Swann did a fine job coordinating our efforts for the evening with the club.
     Saturday, April 5th brought us all together early for a jump-start on our 300+ mile romp for the day. With full tanks of gas and a set of maps from our drivemeister, we headed out for some fun. The terrain and scenery whizzes by you when you’re driving along. Sometimes it’s too much to take in. Sometimes, it’s all you can do just to drive the car. You have to marvel at the places that someone actually went through the trouble to cut a road through, and then thank them for every sweeping corner, every switchback, and diving turn. In a Z3 or M Roadster, you’re getting about as close to flying an airplane as most of us will ever get.

Some argue that the pre-lunch run from Kerrville to Rock Springs (a 2.5-3 hour drive) rivals even the “Dragon” at Deal’s Gap for overall fun factor. It was, for sure, the best roads most of us have ever driven.
     Saturday evening concluded with our annual dinner at the Inn of the Hills, our headquarters hotel for the weekend. It was a very well catered event where we got to view some of the great pictures compiled on the Homecoming 02 PhotoSwap CD. Several of our sponsors gave away door prizes (I even won a collector’s piece Z3CCA cap). Big thanks go out to all the people who secured door prizes to win! After our meals, a few desserts, and a drink or two it was off to bed for the next big day ahead.
     Sunday, April 6th came an hour early (it was the day we “spring forward” and set the clocks ahead) and the gang checked out of the hotel a little bleary-eyed but ready to head north to the Willow City Loop. For the subset of the group that headed out “early” to Enchanted Rock, it must have been brutal.
Mother Nature seemed a bit bitter about the time change too as we departed under dreary skies, but with the hopes that it’d burn off quickly. Our escorts for the weekend (pretty much every Harley-Davidson owner west of the Mississippi River) lead us out of Kerrville northbound toward Fredericksberg and ultimately to our lunch destination. The roads we drove throughout the weekend are the stomping grounds for the bikers, but unlike at Deal’s Gap the Z3s go faster than the bikers down here. In the rain of the morning, we saw a few bikers slipping and sliding around. We also closed our tops and remembered why we own cars rather than motorcycles.
     The Willow City Loop has been a staple of the Texas Z3 Club’s spring event. As roads go, it’s not the place to run hard and fast. This is the one point on the drive where we literally stop and enjoy the view. Fortunately, as we were waiting on the Enchanted Rock group, the skies cleared up and the tops came down. We carefully wandered our way around the Willow City Loop which consists of vistas and valleys literally filled with bright bluebonnets.
     From this point, all that is left to do on this mission is the Bar-B-Que. But, this isn’t just any ole meat thrown over fire. Oh no no no... this is Cooper’s! Cooper’s is located in Llano, Texas.
That’s pronounced LAN-o. Don’t be fooled, this small town at the head of the Texas Hill Country Lakes is no “Bubba-come-lately”. This is the best. The Wootan Family has provided its world famous Cooper's Bar-B-Que to hundreds of thousands over the years through its family owned and operated restaurant. At Cooper’s, you don’t just order your food and get some random piece of meat. You pick the cut right off the fire. The guy will dip it in their sauce if you want, then you take it inside to be cut, weighed, and pay. The people who have done this drive for the past 6 years know, bring a cooler, bring some Ziploc bags, and bring your money. If you leave there hungry, then you just don’t like meat. One thing to remember about Cooper’s on Sunday: You’d better get there before church lets out, or you’ll be waitin’ outside for a long time.      Our group bids their farewells after cleaning the bar-b-que sauce off their fingers. From here on the folks who live in Dallas/Ft.Worth go one way, the Austinites head another way, the Houstonians go a third way, and those from San Antonio yet another. One might argue that Llano really is “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.

     For those who have never seen fields upon fields of Bluebonnets in full bloom dabbed and dotted with Indian Paintbrush and the rocky terrain of Central Texas, you haven’t lived yet until you do. Maybe you can join us next year for the 7th.

Photos by Jeff Newton and Doug Meinen