Driving Article

Texas World Speedway Serves a "BMW Special"

By Carl W. Irving
(50%) Driving Events Coordinator, Houston Chapter BMW CCA

General Event Information
Go To Article Text


Note: This page pertains to the 1997 High-Speed Driver's Ed. "BMW Special" event. Although there is no 1998 event, some of the information presented here may still be of general value to the reader. Please contact the TWS Motorsports Club directly if you would like to participate in a (non BMW-specific) event this year.

October 4 & 5, 1997


Texas World Speedway Motorsports Club
High Speed Driver's Education -- "BMW Special"

Getting to TWS:

Please see our online road map to see how to get from Houston to Texas World Speedway.

The Track:

For more information on the layout of the Texas World Speedway course and a typical line for driving it, see our online course map page.


Special Thanks:

We would like to extend our thanks to Bavarian Machine Specialties and German Autohaus for providing technical assistance to our participants before and during the event:




  • Participants must be 18-years old or older, be a current BMW CCA member (or spouse), posses a valid U.S. driver’s license and drive a BMW at the event. (Sharing a car is difficult to impossible–call for information.)
  • Drivers must wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants made of natural (wool or cotton) fibers, closed-toe rubber-soled shoes (no sandals) and Snell-90 (or better) rated helmets. (Sharing a helmet is difficult to impossible).
  • Car will need to pass a technical inspection (details and forms to accompany acceptance letter) to include: wheel bearings, brakes and brake lights, fresh brake fluid (system flush within past 6 months), tires (non-performance street tires are fine), steering, no fluid leaks, panels & battery secure, engine belts & hoses, no windshield cracks or unrepaired "stars," suspension, throttle response, etc.
  • Z3s and convertibles in the novice and first-timer run groups do not require additional roll-over protection.
  • Novice and TWS first-timers must not only attend the Saturday morning (7:30am) drivers meeting, but also the Saturday morning instructional meeting. If you do not attend you will not drive.

What to do:

  • Complete this form entirely, enclosing the proper funds, a copy of your current drivers license and a copy of your (or spouse’s) BMW CCA membership card. If your application is accepted your registration fee is non-refundable.
  • Registration is very limited. Return your application promptly, but not before September 1st. Forms postmarked before Monday September 1 will be returned. Registration will close on 12 September, however, the event will likely be sold-out before that time. Address all applications to: TWS "BMW SPECIAL, Box 721793, Houston, Texas 77272.

General information

  • If your application is accepted you will receive a "welcome" packet along with other useful information (including Tech Inspection Form) on or about September 18th. Unsuccessful applications will be returned at that time.
  • Track gates open at 7:00am and close at 7:00pm. Mandatory driver’s meeting is 7:45am each day. First cars out on the track at 8:00am, last cars off the track by 5:00pm. Lunch is noon-1:00pm, but may be altered due to driving schedule.
  • Family and friends (no pets) are welcome at the track, however, use extreme caution with your children. Passengers are not allowed with student drivers, nor are drivers other than those registered allowed on the track.
  • There is full concession at the track, including water and soft drinks as well as a Saturday evening track-side barbecue
  • A block of rooms is reserved at the Manor House Inn (800-231-4100). When making reservations ask for Jerry Albrecht and for the "TWS Racer" special rate. Other local hotels/motels include (all area-code 409): Motel 6 (696-3379), Hampton Inn (846-0184), Days Inn (696-6988), Comfort Inn (846-7333), Ramada (693-9891), Hilton (693-7500), or contact the College Station Visitor Center (260-9999).

What to expect as a "first timer:"

  • After registration and mandatory drivers meeting, "newbies" will be given classroom instruction on basic high-speed driving techniques, safety precautions and procedures and "chalk-talk" familiarization of the 1.8-mile TWS infield course.
  • At the beginning of the first driving session, the instructor (1 per student) will likely drive the student’s car (with the student as passenger) for a 2-3 lap "familiarization" drive. If comfortable, the student then takes the wheel while the instructor rides as passenger. As a first-time student an instructor will always accompany you on track (subsequent events may qualify the student to run solo).
  • On-track driving sessions will be approximately 25-minutes in length and number two each morning and two each afternoon. There will be ample time between driving sessions for instructor/student debriefing, discussions of techniques and experiences with others ("bench racing") and educational on-track rides with certified instructors in their cars.
  • There will be other cars on the track while you are driving, however, everyone will be divided based upon track experience and automobile performance so that only similar drivers in similar cars will be on the track at the same time.
  • Any form of discourteous, unsafe, or "race-like" driving will result in immediate expulsion. On-track passing is closely monitored, highly controlled and done only with permission of the slower driver. There is a full (professional) Emergency Response Team (fire, medical, rescue) on-station track side as well as experienced on-track workers.
  • Since this is a Drivers Education event, unless your policy states otherwise, your "regular" automobile insurance policy should be in affect. Nevertheless, a release of liability form will be required from all drivers and spectators prior to entering track property.

Article Text

Since going to a Porsche Club high-speed driver’s education school at Texas World Speedway in February, I have definitely become a believer in the benefits of such events. Not only do they allow drivers to learn to learn a lot about themselves and their car -- making them better (hence, safer) drivers, it also is an incredible amount of fun! Not only is it a fun and a valuable, experience -- it is safe, too.

In case you didn’t catch the previous installments of this column, high-speed driver’s education is not a racing school, it is a school designed to expand the student’s driving skill through supervised practice and close instruction. All competitive aspects and most variables present in racing are removed from these events. Students are not timed, as lap times are irrelevant to the desired result (driving skill), passing is limited to specific portions of the track and requires the explicit consent of both passer and passee (the passee gives an hand signal to indicate when and where he wishes to be passed). Also, the schools are run in a format that revolves around "run groups" -- where drivers of similar skill drive on the track at the same time for periods of approximately twenty to thirty minutes, thus making sure that skill levels and vehicle speeds are closely matched.

Needless to say that Robert Buttweiler and I have been investigating means to organize a similar event for the Houston Chapter BMW CCA. The aspects that we especially wanted to emphasize were:

Quality individual instruction -- Since this would be the first event of its kind for Houston Chapter BMW drivers, it is fair to assume that this would be the first high-speed driver’s education experience for most drivers taking part. It is thus crucial to provide a one-on-one student-instructor match. The instructors are thus able to tailor their advice to the experience, kind of vehicle and interests of their student. They coach the student (in and out of the car) through the course, the techniques to use and the rationale behind them -- while making sure that the experience remains entirely safe.

Uniform run groups -- Although returning driver’s ed. students love to tell their friends the "big boys" (e.g., Vipers, Ferraris, Turbo Porsches, and so forth) at the track, the truth is that you don’t want to be learning the track with cars and drivers of vastly different speed and experience. For instance, you would not want to be learning the track while also having to keep your eyes peeled on the rear-view mirror for experienced racers blasting around the track -- nor would you want to find Yugos ("mobile chicanes") cluttering the track, either.

Lots of track space -- In order to fully experience the track and have the opportunity to learn without distractions, you need to have as much of the track to yourself as possible. So, the fewer cars in a run group, the better.

Affordable -- Although track time is never "cheap," we would like to make the event as affordable as possible. Obviously, affordability and smaller run groups are somewhat at odds with each other, but we did think that we’d be able to find a compromise that is still on the inexpensive side.

To these ends, we were able to strike a deal with the Texas World Speedway Motorsports Club that allows BMW CCA club members to take part in a quality driver’s education event at an excellent price. In effect, we have made arrangements to fill one fifteen car run group at their October 4 & 5 event with BMW CCA members, driving BMWs. In return, they extended us special pricing ($175 for a two-day entry -- a $50 discount off the regular price of $225) and will arrange for a suitable number of qualified instructors to ensure the level of educational value we expect. This fifteen car run group will be reserved for BMW drivers with limited or no high-speed (i.e., on-track) training -- thus ensuring that the learning environment is as homogenous as possible.

Additionally, we will be able to place more experienced drivers (still BMW CCA members, driving BMWs) within the regular TWS Motorsports Club run groups, as required -- still at the same low price. So, if you are at all interested in high-speed driver’s education -- whatever your skill level -- this is an incredible deal!

This will be a TWS Motorsports Club event, but with specific tailoring to meet our needs and desires, so although we will be "hanging out" with the Ferrari, Viper and some race car drivers in the paddock, the BMW run group will not be sharing the track with them at any time. This group will be paced for the beginner to intermediate level, free of pressure and on-track distractions. "Piggy-backing," so to speak on a TWS Motorsports Club event also means that the course will be manned by the full safety crews that work the professional races at the track -- an added safety benefit.

So, you are interested and would like to know what you need to participate? All that is required is to fill out the application form found with this newsletter issue, a valid driver’s license, a safe and sound car (see below), paid-up BMW CCA membership, a Snell-90 or later rated helmet, a filled-out application form and a $175 payment (by check or credit card). Furthermore, safety being the primary concern, long-sleeved 100% natural-fiber clothing will be required while driving on the course. Of course, because the instruction may not only involve on-track and classroom work, but also observation of the advanced run groups from spectator or corner-worker positions, suitable clothing for an outdoors event in sunny Texas October is a good idea.

Since driving on a race track is obviously more demanding than the average daily commute, all cars admitted on the track will have to undergo a technical inspection. Upon acceptance to the school, you will receive a welcome packed detailing the steps to take to get your car inspected before the event.

I am very excited that we are able to offer this deal to our members, especially so that we have found an event structure that is extremely friendly to beginner, intermediate and advanced drivers -- while remaining fun for all!

For more Information, Please Contact:

Robert Buttweiler
281-879-6027 days.

Carl Irving
713-592-9803 evenings.