Club Happenings – Fall 2019: BMW of North America Hosts E30 M3 SIGfest and NJ Chapter Cars and Coffee
by NJ BMW CCA
By Brian Morgan
The New Jersey Chapter’s Cars and Coffee at BMW North America in Woodcliff Lake, NJ on September 21 was an opportunity to see old friends, check out an impressive array of BMW’s latest cars and motorcycles, get a close look at several iconic BMW race cars, and spend time with BMW’s knowledgeable product experts and with their tech people, both one-on-one and in seminars. Of course there were the BMWs of the 150+ members who came to NA, making up a car show of their own in the parking lot. And there was more; SIGFest shared the space with Cars and Coffee, bringing 60 E30 M3s to the party.
The event began at 8:00 AM on a sunny Saturday morning. At 8:00 the new cars were already parked outside BMW NA’s Technical Training Center. Among them were coupe and convertible M8s, an M2 Competition, an M850i xDrive Gran Coupe, a 330i xDrive SportsWagon, an X3M, and many others. There were two Minis, a Cooper S and a Cooper S electric, and there was a beautifully turned out E28 M5.
Four race cars were being rolled out as the day began. There was the Stars and Stripes M3 GTR from 2001, an example of the legendary Le Mans-winning V12 LMR, a PTG Group E36 M3, and the 2017 M6 GTLM that Bill Auberlen drove in his 400th race at Petit Le Mans in 2017 (he scored a class win, sharing the car with Alexander Sims and Kuno Wittmer). The car, replete with race grime, was parked at the front of the driveway into the tech center. BMW tech people were available in bays in the training center to answer questions and to provide a close-up look at cars, engines, and more. Over the course of the day four seminars were offered, including one each on BMW electrical systems, InFotainment and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, BMW Chassis design, and BMW drivetrains.
SIGFest, the E30 M3 special interest group, occupied the lawn outside the tech center. Walking onto the lawn, participants first encountered two very rare E30 M3 cabriolets, one owned by event organizer James Liu, who put the 20th anniversary SIGFest together along with co-chair Tony Rausch. Next to it was Mike Gallino’s beautifully restored ’91 cabriolet; the amazing story of Gallino’s restoration odyssey was reported in Roundel way back in 2011. The car still looks every bit as good as it did then. Eric Heinrich’s Gulfliveried E30 M3 race car sat near the two cabs. Beyond them on the lawn was a fantastic array of E30 M3s ranging from garage queens to daily drivers (well, maybe not every day, but there was a class called “Road Warrior” for high mileage, frequently driven cars). Mike Gallino’s cabriolet was judged best in show. A complete list of winners, along with more information on the event, can be found at www.sigfest.com.
Thanks to the team at BMW NA for inviting us to their great facility and for hosting an exceptional event. This was a not-to-be-missed occasion for BMW aficionados.