Any time a failed burnout video is posted, I'm fondly reminded of when I decided I wanted my Mom to teach me how to drive manual. The year was 1999, I was 16 and sitting shotgun in a BMW M Coupe.
First, a little background. I am the result of two parents with a storied automobile history. Up until the divorce, my father was a car salesman. Either he wasn't very good at his job or the turnover rate is extremely high for salesmen, because I'm pretty sure he worked for every non-luxury brand known to exist for the first ten years of my life. That even includes Yugo. Every few weeks he would "borrow" a car from the lot for a week or two. There was so much variety that I can't even remember having a family car.
However, I didn't obtain my obsession for cars from him. It was my Mom's warm recollection of her car history that made me realize that this was about more than just transportation. Boy did she have some great taste (in cars, not men). Her first was a light blue 1964 Chevy Impala SS, handed down to her from my Grandpa. After that car was broadsided, she purchased an orange 1970 VW Karmann Ghia. Her third would have been an early 70's Porsche 911, but she tells me she had to choose between the Porsche and getting married. I always remind her that she would have been better off with the Porsche.
Back to my story. At the time, I was a few years into my obsession with cars. On a monthly basis I would anticipate the arrival of the next issue of Car and Driver. I made sure to go to the DMV on my 16th birthday to take my permit test and passed it with ease. I had the second set of keys to my Mom's 1988 Chevy Cavalier, procured in a somewhat unsavory manner, and drove it constantly. Life was complete, or so I thought. One day my monthly issue of C&D came, and with it news of what was to become my new obsession.
Like any other time I got my new issue, I ran to my room with it to read it from front to back. That day I didn't even make it to the first test drive. A story about BMW caught my eye, but it wasn't about any model in particular. It was about an event BMW was holding, called BMW Ultimate Drive. For those of you who don't know what this was, BMW would drive a fleet of all their different models to various dealerships around the country. They weren't just ordinary BMWs though. They were painted with pink ribbons and checkered flags on them, and for every mile driven in them BMW would donate $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You could show up at the dealership the day of the event and just drive random models, or you could schedule an appointment for the more sought after vehicles. I made a late afternoon appointment for the M Coupe and told my Mom about it. She agreed to take a half day, and I couldn't wait.
When the day finally came, I was bursting with joy. I begged my Mom to go to the dealership early, and she caved in pretty easily. When we got there, we informed them of our appointment with the M Coupe. Apparently it was already being driven by someone, so we signed the paperwork they gave us and drove a couple of other models until our time came. There was an age restriction of 21 or older (25 for the M models), but to say I hounded my Mom to pull over and let me drive would be an understatement. First we drove the 328i, then when we got back and found the M Coupe not present we took out the 740i. Finally when we got back, there was the M Coupe waiting for us. I could hardly contain myself.
My Mom took it slowly at first, getting used to it for the first half mile or so. The beginning of the predetermined route was curvy backroads, where she started pushing the car a little bit more but was hampered by some traffic. The second to last road on the route was a straight 3 lane affair, with traffic lights pretty much every quarter mile. I was somewhat disappointed that we hadn't been able to push the car, and I think my Mom was too. At the same time, the light in front of us turned red and we were the first ones in line.
I'll never forget my Mom revving that Bimmer's engine at that light and how I perked up at the sound. The people around us in their cars just stared at the out-of-place, pink ribboned car and turned away. The light turned green and my Mom popped the clutch and floored it. The tires squealed for a couple of seconds, maybe less, maybe more. I was too excited to keep track. Then she let up on the gas to get some traction and accelerated down that road like a bat out of hell. This was a side of my Mom that I had never seen before. She was loving every moment of it. She had been waiting almost 30 years for that rush, ever since the dream of her Porsche went down the drain. I made her promise to teach me to drive manual that day, and she made me promise to buy her a car like that M Coupe when she retired. She kept up her end of the bargain but thankfully hasn't retired yet.
I went back to the Ultimate Drive 4 more times as a driver, up until its final year in 2008. In 2009, BMW cited economic woes and didn't continue it. I don't blame them, but I sure do wish they would start it up again really soon.
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