M Fest

The good times roll as the world’s longest caravan of BMWs heads to Las Vegas for M Fest IV.

Photo: M Fest 1
July 13, 2010

One hundred and ninety-five M cars in a row… That’s a mighty sight in the middle of the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border. So immense was the caravan of BMWs that it spanned more than four miles of Nevada highway.

“Awesome!” beams Chris Naguit, the intrepid organizer of the ever more popular M Fest. “We hit the magic number!”

As he prepared to file the achievement with the Guiness Book of Records, Naguit conceded that the run had to be staged twice, the first attempt having been interrupted by an ambitious Porsche driver who cut the line in Barstow and almost ruined Chris’ day.

Photo: M Fest 2

“The rule states that no non-BMW should be in line,” he says. “We almost gave up on it then.”

Instead, Naguit stubbornly rearranged the convoy and—lo and behold—managed to break the record. “And then it was there: 195!”

Beyond the record-breaking convoy, M Festers packed the freeway between Los Angeles to Vegas—a bit of a rowdy bunch on the jammed-up interstate, everybody honking and signaling, having quite obviously started the party early.

Photo: M Fest 3

The ride is just the beginning

Whether they were driving out from L.A. or from as far away as Chicago or Houston, the ride to Vegas was just the beginning. By the time the fourth annual love-fest of M owners really got rolling, between 500 and 600 had gathered at the Palazzo, the now traditional venue for the fun-loving M Festers. That’s over 50% more than attended the already successful event last year—a feat in itself given the competition this weekend.

As M Fest descended on Vegas, the IRL and ALMS races were running in Long Beach, and the Coachella Festival was drawing hundreds of thousands of music fans to the Mojave Desert town of Indio, offering plenty of competition to a meet whose participants would fit perfectly into the target audience for the big guys.

“I have no idea!” shrugs Chris when I ask how he managed to attract so many friends to Vegas, given the competition. “But it’s good, isn’t it?”

Photo: M Fest 4

It sure is.

On Friday night, a go-kart event at Pole Position Raceway was followed by a “boy’s night out” on the Strip. Early the next morning, the M Festers regrouped at Cars & Coffee, showing off everything from a plain E30 M3 to a monster of an E92 M3 from Vorsteiner/VF Engineering in camouflage green and the wildest fenders this side of the Nürburgring. It was a cool warm-up for a day on the road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which could have set a record in itself as 120 Bimmers were driven by amateurs and pros alike for hours around the circuit. Most stuck to the track, though a few ended up in the sand when their courage exceeded their grip. It all went well, the sole casualty being a blown engine for the same Porsche that had cut into the Guinness record line the day before.

That would be karma, I think.

Photo: M Fest 5

Those who didn’t want to run the big track could drive their cars on the autocross course, which quickly turned into a major drift event…very much to the chagrin of a guy in a beautifully restored Alpina B7 who ended up in a cloud of smoke when oil got onto his overtaxed tires and brakes. Which only goes to show that a big Alpina-built 7 Series doesn’t really lend itself to drift exercises.

No bother. There were more than 40 vendors on hand—including VF Engineering, Vorsteiner, EAS, Horsepower Freaks, Sonax, Gintani, Savini, Nitto Tires and Forgeline Wheels, to name but a few (“We sold out our sponsorship way before our set deadline,” Chris tells us)—to help out with spare parts. A few even ran their latest cars at full speed on the track, the “Proving Grounds,” to show what they could do.

From Best Carbon to Best of Show

Like all proper car events, M Fest featured awards, and so many were given out that yet another Guiness record might have been broken. VF Engineering/Vorsteiner won Best of Show for the aforementioned E92 M3, while Horsepower Freaks’ brutal-looking orange M3 took home the Best of Wild award—richly deserved, I might add, as the car blew everybody off the track and took your breath away just standing still. James Perry, aka Shady, a U.S. Marine sergeant from Texas, won the award for Best Carbon Fiber Theme, while Best Paint went to Mert Contapay’s stunning blue E39 M5.

Photo: M Fest 6

Even with the awards, M Fest is more than your average car show—it’s more like a bunch of friends coming together for a, shall we say, eventful weekend in Vegas. Plenty of people show up for the parties as much as the driving events, or so it seems. M Festers jammed the Palazzo’s TAO club on Saturday night, the mood aided when the organizers surprised everyone with a two-hour open bar. Anyone who’s seen The Hangover will be surprised that 30-plus cars still managed to show up before noon for a drive to the Valley of Fire.

Holding back their abundant horsepower, the M Festers kept speeds strictly legal through this stunningly beautiful—and aptly named—canyon park about an hour north of Vegas, not surprising considering the participants’ immense need for drinking water and Tylenol after a night at TAO. The muted behavior didn’t last long, though: On the way back to Vegas, the Nevada Highway Patrol had to sort out a few guys along I-15—I guess dudes shouldn’t hang out of car windows while driving over the limit!

Despite the tickets, everyone seemed to have a good time. Naguit says that most M Festers are repeat offenders, a fact that bodes rather well for future events.

Photo: M Fest 7

“M Fest IV was really a blast,” says an exhausted but happy Chris on Sunday evening. “It’ll be hard to top it, but that’s what everybody told me in the past.”

M Fest V will return to Vegas again next May—it’s just too much fun. And those who don’t want to wait that long are in luck, because Naguit is now firmly hooked on organizing cool events for M cars.

”We’ll do an M Fest 4.5 in Southern California by the end of summer,” he says.

Get your wheels ready, register early and don’t forget that industrial-size tub of Tylenol.

Also from Issue 93

  • E92 M3 GT4 imported to U.S.
  • 2011 F25 X3 preview
  • Interview: R. Steinberg on electrics
  • Buyer’s Guide: Best first BMWs
  • Active Autowerke E92 M3
  • Phil Ganderton’s R53 MINI
  • 1940 328 Kamm Coupe racer
  • Kivanc Aslaner’s E30 318is
  • Eddie Ribeiro’s E12 528i
  • Paul Cain’s 2002 vs. E82 135i
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