The year was 2010, and my E92 M3 was brand new. I was coming from many years of 350Z ownership – we’d have organized meets in hotel parking lots, maybe 25 cars would show. Then suddenly, I’m in the parking lot of M&T Stadium (where the NFL’s Ravens play), and I’m surrounded by over 300 BMWs. I’d never seen such a thing. By now I know: the BMW community is different (in good and bad ways), and MPACT 2023 is a perfect example why.
What makes a good car show?
Well, we know what makes a bad one. Although tickets were starting at $70 to show (The VIP experience approaches $400), no one complained here.
Guess what – worth it, and everything sold out extremely fast. Because this isn’t just a “park your BMW in a lot and see the same thing over and over” – it’s more like an amusement park for the BMW enthusiast. MPACT 2023 included:
- A judged car show
- Roll racing
- HPDE with instructors
- Multiple vendor booths of stuff you actually want to buy for your car
- Burnout contest
- Drift competition
- I don’t even know how many BMWs but it was a lot.
- Plenty of food options
- A beautiful venue as the backdrop
Add to that the uncontrollable but joyously beautiful weather, and you have yourself a day. I don’t know what else you could do with a car on a race track, short of getting Lewis Hamilton to drive you around for some hot laps. Not Max though. I can’t hear the Dutch anthem any more.
I don’t have friends, I have family
Despite the size, MPACT 2023 didn’t feel overwhelming. You can thank the layout – divided into multiple color lots in different areas of the track. Most people coordinate with friends to arrange where to park since they arrive together. In this way, the lots work themselves out into a nice, organized display.
Of course it’s nice to see everyone each year – it’s sort of like Thanksgiving. Everyone is smiling, laughing, and enjoying being around the things they love the most. New faces too – even my own M3, parked far away in the support crew lot, draws attention as I sit next to it between breaks. It was nice to meet you.
Pocono might be my favorite track to drive on. Something about that banked NASCAR portion. MPACT takes the venue and cuts it up to allow everyone to enjoy the type of driving they love.
Start with roll racing. It’s the best kind of drag race because we take out the launch factor, typically the hardest part on both you and the car. Instead, start accelerating before the line, then punch it once you’re past the cones. The straightaway is nothing like a drag strip – wide open and much longer. The fastest cars go beyond 160 miles per hour. Everyone behaves and is respectful, aside from a lone Audi R8 that wanted to drop everyone’s panties with a sick burnout. Instead, it introduced itself to a wall. Folks, when they say stay behind the partition, they mean it.
There’s also dedicated track time on the infield course in the form of an HPDE event. It’s the only show I know of that incorporates real track time with a car show, and I applaud it. Before racing your bro on the street, please do this at least once. It’s the most responsible and safest way to drive fast, and you’ll learn total car control.
And drifting? Who doesn’t love it – I hope more cars partake next year! Walking to each event, you feel as if you’re in a real-life Fast and Furious movie – you know, with the big rave party at the end. Just missing the big oil barrels with fire.
MPACT 2023 VIP
Jay, the organizer for MPACT, informed me of a new VIP experience this year, where about 35 cars would take to the track at the end of the day for a special photo shoot.
“Do you want to stay for this part?” Yes, please.
MPACT is always a long day (my watch said 20,000 steps), and usually a hot one, but chances like this don’t come along very often.
I work from the back of a pickup truck bed with two other photographers, and an extremely cool E90 M3 arm car from Golden Peak Productions as it weaves through the parade around Pocono. It’s impossible to get everyone, so I make sure the ones I can reach count. Then it’s still portraits of everyone on track, bringing back memories from all the way back in 2019. Walking that track bank is serious exercise!
It’s mostly BMWs here, but a few GT-Rs and Porsches join, and it makes for a special experience that allows you to celebrate the day. Getting to hang out with me is a special bonus. Book your ticket for this next year, and you could get an MWS roller keepsake as a way to remember.
Speaking of, remember that in 30 years you’re going to look back on days like this and say “Damn, it’s over.” The sound of engines, the smell of unburnt fuel – it’s just a matter of time.
MPACT 2023 was for us
Cars are costumes, and a car show is a very personal and exposing experience. You’re essentially taking your pride and joy, one of the things you’re most proud of in your life, and bringing it to a place where you know your peers will sit in judgement of it (and by extension, you). It’s part of the truth of having cars as a hobby – you either have what you want, or are working toward it.
It’ll never be done.
It’s also a sort of vain way to make friends. You drive the same car I do, and I’m not a “loser”, so by default you’re not either. We’re starting from common ground. In that way, MPACT is like a giant class reunion, catching up with friends and life’s happenings.
They can’t take the cars away from us once they’re built, so I hope that MPACT will remain special for the next decade. Feels real – I know the organizers care. The effort is apparent. I can’t say that about every show I attend.
Cars might be a costume, but it’s a genuine one for me.
MPACT 2023 Gallery
If you’d like to request a specific shot shown here, or a few others not posted, please check here.
Please repost with credit, or I’m sending Arnold Schwarzenegger to wake you up tomorrow at 4AM.
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