The second weekend of September was the sixth edition of the Motoring Classic at Aspen Snowmass, and the second featuring Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing. And what a weekend it was! The car festival, hosted by Aspen Snowmass, benefits the Morgan Adams Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research and is sponsored Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing and Hagerty Insurance, in addition to many of the local car clubs and other sponsors.
The BMW CCA was not an official sponsor this year, but our membership and favorite marque were well represented with the support of Winslow BMW of Colorado Springs.
Thursday and Friday were filled with group events, including organized caravans to Aspen, social meals, bonfires, and driving rallies (I was going to suggest driving rallies to bonfires, but a particularly bad fire season this year made that idea a non-starter). Saturday things ramped up with a car show on the manicured grass of the Snowmass Town Park, which is held with the Snowmass Wine Festival. Sunday and Monday the streets of Snowmass were transformed into a racing circuit filled with vintage racers mixing it up on a challenging course with lots of elevation change. Each marque was also invited to its own track day at the privately owned Aspen Motorsports Park, or Woody Creek.This would be my second year at the Motoring Classic, and I decided to bring the M coupe and the M5 Touring with the help of fellow CCA member Parker Brown. Who would drive what was one of those quality problems that had no wrong answer; I opted for the M coupe, which was like strapping into a vortex of sound thanks to a freshly mounted Meistershaft exhaust—there are literally fighter jets that are less loud! The scenery as we made our way through Leadville and over Independence Pass was equally stimulating, thanks to the complementary colors of a Daytona Violet M5 Touring in my mirrors against a backdrop of yellow aspen trees nearing their peak color transformation. Even though we were behind schedule, we stopped at Twin Lakes to take in the scene. The shimmering glassy water lead our eyes to pointed rocky peaks painted with yellow swatches of aspens in the mid-morning light; I could have spent all day there. But then we wouldn’t have made it to the car show, which we did just in time for the start. At the car show, Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing cars were front and center, surrounded by displays from the various car clubs in attendance—the BMW contingent being the second-largest after the race cars. On our side of the field, the number eight was represented by an exquisite Z8 and an i8 on loan to club member Christine Foley. The letter M was accounted for by every generation of M3, with my clown shoe and purple station wagon rounding out the odd M examples. A beautiful 3.0CS and a local 2002 represented the classics, while Kyle Popejoy and Andrew Jordan both had their vintage 2002 race cars displayed. Other race-car favorites were an MGB GT (one of the M coupe’s shooting-brake spiritual predecessors), a beautiful polished Porsche 356, and a Herbie The Love Bug-themed Volkswagen Beetle. We finished the day hobnobbing with the rich at the luxurious Viceroy Snowmass hotel (thanks to a highly discounted attendee rate). This allowed the surreal opportunity the next morning to watch the vintage-race qualifying sessions while enjoying breakfast on the Viceroy’s restaurant balcony. Listening to the sound of vintage race cars being driven in anger while delighting in only the fluffiest scrambled eggs and freshly simmered bacon was a moment to be relished (and tasted). Unfortunately, that moment would have to suffice for my vintage-racing fix, as the BMW slot at Woody Creek was scheduled for during the actual race. Mike Rogers of Driven Imagery photographed the racing wonderfully, which was a journey back in time; David-and-Goliath battles between big American Mustangs and Camaros and feisty BMW 2002s and Mini Coopers were the norm, but the course didn’t give an advantage to either.
And an i8! [Photo: Alex McCulloch]Across the valley, driving Woody Creek is an opportunity not to be missed. The historic tight, technical track was established in 1968, and is not normally open to the public. We were invited as (BMW) friends of Andrew Jordan—who didn’t even get to attend due to his racing in the vintage race. The M coupe is perfectly at home on this type of track, making up for its power disadvantage, compared to modern cars, with agility. It’s the location more than the track that makes it special, as race tracks are a rare commodity in Colorado—much less the Rocky Mountains.
A proper four person test of the M5 Touring on the track. [Photo: Alex McCulloch]After spending most of the day putting the M Coupe through its paces, I was curious about how the big, heavy M5 Touring would do. To make it a proper test, I gathered three helmeted volunteer passengers and off we went—this is journalism, after all! On the track, the big station wagon was staggeringly athletic in a way that a big station wagon just shouldn’t be. I said it last month, and I’ll say it again: a car this big, this heavy, and this old should not go around corners this well! The interior was filled with equal parts giggles and screams—the latter mostly from the two poor souls in the back seat. The word “blender” was used after the fact by one motion-sick volunteer. The Motoring Classic at Aspen Snowmass has the potential to be a premier BMW event that can reach well beyond the Rocky Mountain region. It has something for everyone—car shows, vintage racing, and track access—in a location that is unmatched during the golden weeks of early autumn. It benefits children affected with cancer through the Morgan Adams Foundation, and is a great excuse for a road trip into the Colorado high-country for a weekend. I hope it continues to grow, and I encourage you to come out and join us next year.—Alex McCulloch.