BMW Club Discussed Banning Bimmers With Active Safety Features From Track Days (Updated)
BMWCCA chapter puts a halt on modern cars ruining all the fun.
Update, 4/13/17, 9:15am: The BMW Car Club of America has reached out to The Drive with a statement from the organization's executive director, Frank Patek:
"Unfortunately, it seems that a small piece of internal discussion at one of our 68 chapters about safety features was somehow reported as a fait accompli. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Our National Driving Events Committee has been researching the issue of electronic safety controls on late-model BMWs. Our research has shown that the electronic safety features can be safely disengaged so as to allow all late-model BMWs to participate in BMW CCA-led High Performance Drivers Education schools."
The BMW Car Club of America is known for being strict on regulations. They're as traditional as they come, with a focus on motorsport and keeping the spirit of the Ultimate Driving Machine alive. As this news proves, they've haven't let up as of late.
As modern Bimmers now feature active safety controls like automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assists, they tend to have a tougher time on track as their undefeatable computers keep them from getting too close to the limit on the circuit. The Genesee Valley chapter of New York has discussed banning cars equipped with such features from their track days, and they might not be the only ones to do so in the future.
This isn't the first time BMW CCA has cracked down on "unfit" autos. In the past, they've even ruled out open-top convertibles that lacked proper bracing from participating in similar events, causing an uproar among some members. They view it as a safety measure to keep things organized on track, but as the chagrin of modern Bimmer owners shows, it's not helping them in the popularity department.
The announcement from the Genesee Valley chapter rules out all cars fitted with the technology—even if it can be turned off. They released this statement on the popular Bimmerfile forum:
As you know, the automotive world is rapidly deploying a variety of safety-related driver aids, and we are heading toward a brave new world of semi- and fully autonomous vehicles. This will undoubtedly be of great benefit to traffic safety, especially given the rise in accident rates attributed to smartphone use. However, some of these new driver aids may adversely impact the use of such vehicles on a racetrack. In particular, cars with “automatic emergency braking” and/or “lane keeping assistance” systems may behave in unpredictable and undesirable ways on a racetrack.
Because there is so much uncertainty about how these systems behave in a variety of conditions, GVC have decided to ban all vehicles equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking and/or Lane Keeping Assistance systems (or their equivalent) for use in our HPDE events, even if these systems may be disabled by the driver.
They went onto say that if drivers bring disqualified cars to their "High Performance Drivers' Education" events that they must leave immediately and forfeit their entry fees. That's a stern punishment, even for the club with a strict reputation like BMW CCA.
BMWCCA National Driving Events Chairman Jack Joyner went on to release this announcement in regards to the national organization:
From a National standpoint, the Driving Events Committee was in an information gathering stage, before making any decisions. As I understand it, these systems can be turned off, and that might be all we need. If I have heard correctly, people were freaking out over ABS when it was introduced too. I would ask the newer car owners not to panic, as we will be having a call or two on this subject over the next few days.
This will protect club members across the rest of the nation, allowing them to still attend track events even with contemporary cars.
Despite the national executive's ruling, we could see this trend branch out to other clubs. Since group officials must instruct drivers to turn off their car's safety functions, that could place them in a liable position in the event of a crash. This is just a result of advancing safety tech and their place with the enthusiast crowd.