Street Survival – Summer 2019: Tire Rack Street Survival Update


By Larry Engel

Tire Rack Street Survival The New Jersey Chapter held the first of its Tire Rack Street Survival Schools on Sunday, June 30th at Campgaw Reservation in Mahwah. As usual, we had an overflow list of students wanting to participate. We accepted a record 34 young drivers for the event, which kept our all-volunteer staff extremely busy for the entire day.

For those of you not familiar with Street Survival, it is a program of the BMW CCA Foundation, a 501 c (3) charitable organization established by the club in 2002 to support teen safety and other important programs for the preservation of BMW history in the US. It also runs a museum in Greer, SC.

The Street Survival program is designed for young drivers age 16-21 who have a learners permit or license, and it combines classroom sessions with behind the wheel exercises on a carefully monitored closed course. Each student has a trained coach riding shotgun for all exercises. Exercises include panic braking, emergency lane change, slalom, wet skidpad, and others. Students learn important skills that aren’t normally practiced or taught but could mean the difference between being in a car crash and avoiding one. In addition, students learn some of the signals when a car is nearing its limit and the things they can do to bring it back under control.

Classroom Training – Photo by Brian Morgan
Braking Exercise – Photo by Brian Morgan
Handling Exercise – Photo by Brian Morgan

The New Jersey Chapter has run two schools each year for many years, the only exception being 2015 when we hosted Oktoberfest. Even then we conducted one school. We have an exceptionally dedicated corps of volunteer coaches and staff who make the events run like clockwork. If you’re interested in becoming a coach and you have autocross or driver school experience, go to the Street Survival website and take the short training course under the “become a coach” link at the bottom of the page. Please send evidence of completion to

Our second event will be held on Sunday, September 29 at Campgaw Reservation in Mahwah. By the time you read this it will probably be full, but we are also discussing the possibility of holding a third school in November at NJ Motorsports Park with a core group of our coaches and others from NJMP and South Jersey. For more information on the program, go to You can also check out the foundation. Their website is If you’re not already doing so, please consider making a tax deductible donation to keep these great programs running!

President’s Corner – Summer 2018


By Neil Gambony

One of the events that our Chapter does every year that you haven’t heard much about lately has been the Tire Rack Street Survival (TRSS) School program. For those of you unfamiliar with the Street Survival program, it’s the car control school for drivers 16-21 years of age. Yes, we put it on the schedule, lately two a year, when registration opens for it, it gets listed on the Street Survival website and in about a weeks’ time we have 32 students and just as many more on a waitlist. The word is on the street about this program and it is selling itself. Yes, the pun was intended.

The program is funded through the BMW CCA Foundation which is a 501 (3) (C) corporation which allows children of non-Club members to attend. The Foundation has had the Tire Rack as their main sponsor since 2006 which has helped bring the program to BMW CCA Chapters, the SCCA, the Porsche Club of America and several other motorsports organizations. I want to give you some information about the Foundation but want to cover something of more significance first.

The TRSS for the NJ Chapter has been organized by none other than former Chapter President Larry Engel since 2009. Larry took over the reins of the TRSS from past President David Finch who had spearheaded the program since its inception in 2005. Congratulations are in order to Larry who has been honored by the Foundation for the year 2017 with the Tire Rack Street Survival Circle of Excellence Award in the category of “Organization Volunteer/Instructor of the Year, BMW Car Club of America”. Larry is currently in the organizational stages of the Chapter’s 23rd TRSS School to be held in September.

Larry spends a lot of time fine-tuning the Schools; each one is a little different from the previous one either through an idea that he has or from a directive from the Driving Events coordinator of the Foundation. He is always the first one at the gate in the morning and is the last one to leave making it a very long day for him, not mentioning any of the other time he spends beforehand with assigning students with instructors and staff with assignments. He even makes it to the course a few days beforehand to mark the pavement with chalk.

Now before I go any further, I must also recognize the myriad of volunteers from not only our Chapter but from adjoining Chapters, the men and women who tirelessly sign up for either instructing or running the course exercises so they can run efficiently. For that you have my deepest gratitude.

Now about the Foundation. It was formed in 2002 by the BMW CCA. It currently has 3 initiatives; the first is the Street Survival School program. They reached the milestone of their 1000th school in October 2017 and have educated close to 23,000 students. The second initiative is for their Library; Archive and Museum. The Foundation has both BMW-related and BMW CCA information to be kept safe for the future. It is also accessible to members. Do you have an older project that you are working on that you may need some information on? There may be information in the Archive that can help. The Museum currently has on display the ICON exhibit of the 2002, currently 28 vehicles, each with their own unique background story. They will be on display there until January 2019. Their third initiative is the Conservation and Preservation Program. There are currently 50,000 pieces in their possession, all in different stages of condition, and each as equally important.

The Foundation’s Museum and Archive is located in Greer, South Carolina; directly next door to the BMW Performance Center and across the street from the BMW plant. They are open to the public and to Club members for a nominal access fee which helps to keep them going. Since they are a 501(3) (C) corporation, any additional donation would be tax deductible. You can find out more about the Foundation at

An upcoming NJ BMW CCA event will be right in the area of the factory, the Foundation and the Performance center; this is going to be a one-day M School at the BMW Performance Center on Saturday October 27. The Performance Center has been making arrangements for BMW CCA Chapters to use their facility at one half of their normal rate providing the Club fills the school for the day. You will get to drive several of the BMW M cars they have available there including the new M5. The cost for the School is $750 which includes a lunch and some giveaway items at the end of the day although I doubt any of them will be the M cars used at the School.

Arrangements have been made to view the Foundation’s Museum on Friday evening as well as a dinner at the Blue Ridge Brewing Company on Saturday night; these events are not inclusive of the registration cost. Information on registering for the School can be found at www.motorsport.reg under the BMW Performance Center category. You can also find hotel information there. Should this event be a success, we will definitely try to repeat it next year.

Another event you should mark your calendars for this year is the Whack Your Turkey (WYT) Rally; traditionally held the Sunday before Thanksgiving. This year the date for the Rally is Sunday November 18th. The WYT Rally is intended to be something the whole family can enjoy. There is a starting point where we congregate, hopefully in a parking lot close to where you could have coffee and donuts before heading out on about a 3 hour ride that ends somewhere for lunch.

I had the honor of being the Rallymeister last year, setting up the course on some of my favorite roads in central NJ. Being a contractor and not working in the same place all the time I get to travel the back roads where I happen to stumble upon some terrific roads either for scenery or the challenge of the road itself. It also helps if there are great landmarks that can be used for clues. It took a small team to put the event together and I am grateful to those that volunteered to help me especially with the scoring. The biggest reward for me was receiving thanks from participants afterwards telling me how much they enjoyed the rally.

This year’s Rally will once again benefit the food bank of NORWESCAP (Northwest NJ Community Action Partnership); they distribute 2 million pounds of food annually to over 120 pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, senior and child care centers in Hunterdon, Sussex, and Warren counties. Last year the Chapter donated $1000 to them and helped to provide 1400 pounds of food. Thanks to all the participants who gave generously for this cause last year. Information about the Rally will be on the Website soon as well as being sent in an e-blast to you.

It’s the time of year again when we are getting ready for the election of Club officers, which is held at the December meeting in conjunction with the Pinewood Derby. If you have the time and desire to help in the organizing of the Club, please consider running for a position. The positions available are: President, Vice- President, Secretary, Treasurer, Driving Events Chairperson, Social Chairperson, and 2 Member-at-Large spots. If you have any questions regarding the duties of each positon please contact me and I will you give a description of what is involved. Should you want to run for a position please contact the Club’s Secretary David Allaway at and indicate what position you are running for.

Regards to all.


President’s Corner – Summer 2016


You’re going to do what?

Hi everyone, hope you all had a wonderful summer and enjoyed some time off with family and friends. Undoubtedly, many of you took to the roads in your BMWs, whether it be heading to the shore, rushing to the airport to catch a flight for vacation, or simply going for a cruise with the top down. By the time this news bulletin reaches you, Labor Day will be in the rearview and we’ll all be starting to focus on the new school year, cooler temps and the oh so ubiquitous pumpkin latte at Starbucks. You know, the hot and savory coffee drink you love to consume while on the way to work. There it sits, safely ensconced in the cup holder of your precious BMW, just waiting to be enjoyed. You can almost taste it right now. But wait, will you be able to indulge in this treat or one like it for much longer?

I was driving home the other day and listening to a call-in show on the radio. The host was talking about a new “Dunkin Donuts law” whereby the police in NJ could pull you over for drinking coffee while driving. Resulting fines of up to $800 could be imposed for multiple offenses. Of course this seems far-fetched, but as law enforcement focuses more and more on revenue generation, it’s really not terribly outside reality. In fact, there is a NJ lawmaker who has proposed a bill on distracted driving that includes “anything which takes your focus from the road or operating the vehicle safely”. That’s a pretty big brush to paint with. The aforementioned “Dunkin Donuts law” seeks to give police the authority to stop anyone they feel is distracted from the road. This could be drinking coffee, changing the radio station, reaching for your sunglasses, or any number of things you do while driving. Despite many of the callers into the radio show screaming that this proposed law is an invasion of their rights, it does bring up an interesting topic. What is distracted driving and how can we curtail it?

Like many of the angry callers to the radio show, I find the coffee law preposterous. I don’t think any rational person believes we should ban coffee or changing the radio station in a car. However, there are things we can change. The NJ Division of Highway Safety states “distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on New Jersey’s roadways. Driver inattention has been a major contributing factor in nearly 800,000 motor vehicle crashes in the state from 2010 to 2014 and nationwide, 3,179 were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2014 alone.” Think about that for a moment. If the numbers are correct, they are staggering. 800,000 crashes in NJ over a five year period due to distracted driving.

If I were to guess on the major cause of distraction it would be cell phone use. I am continually amazed at how many people are texting, reading email or posting on social media while driving. Recently I made it a point to pay attention as I drove to and from work on how many people I saw either talking on the phone without a hands-free device (illegal in NJ) or looking down at their phones. I did not include those I saw texting or posting while sitting at a light. I am referring to the blatant use of a phone while the vehicle is underway. It was astounding. Without hard numbers I would say half or more of the people I saw were using their handheld devices while driving. HALF. That’s crazy. We have to find a way as drivers to put the phones down and concentrate on the road. Despite what you may think, even glancing down for a second can put your life or the life of those around you in danger. Be honest. How many of you have been rolling along, glanced down for a second, only to look up and see the car in front of you is braking and you have to “panic stop”? Seriously, be honest. I know you have done it at least once. I have. We all have. Maybe you’ve even rear-ended someone. Perhaps it was worse. Do you still look at your phone? It shouldn’t take an accident or near accident for us to realize this is dangerous behavior and it needs to stop.

Let me give you an example. As many of you know the NJ Chapter puts on Teen Street Survival driving schools for young drivers. As part of the exercises, we set up a slalom course of traffic cones. We first have the teens weave through the cones with no distractions. After they have done the course several times we ask them to take out their phones and text someone while negotiation the cone slalom. Without fail they hit most of the cones, drive erratically and don’t have complete control of the vehicle. Remember this is low speed, maybe 25-30 mph and they are hitting cones. Those could be kids in your neighborhood. Imagine as well how much speed magnifies the danger. If you are doing 80 mph on the Parkway at rush hour and texting your spouse about dinner when the car in front of you checks up on the brakes you will be in their trunk before you know what happened. It’s not worth it!

So, what can you do to curtail distracted driving and make the roads safer? First thing is get a hands-free device or enable the Bluetooth in your BMW. Second thing is to put the phone in your glovebox, purse or bag. Taking away the temptation to check Instagram one more time or text your buddy about the Yankee game is paramount. If you can’t reach it you won’t use it. Also important is setting a good example for your kids. They look up to you and emulate what you do. If you talk on the phone and text while driving, they will think it’s ok and do the same. Simply telling them not to do it is not enough. Teens and young drivers are probably the most important group for us to reach as they are most tied to their devices. Good behavior starts early and it starts with you. Please put the phone down. I’m not asking you to give up your latte or Wawa coffee. What I am asking is for you to be cognizant of distractions while driving and to do your best to minimize them. We all know BMWs are very safe cars. Don’t test those safety systems because you had to “LOL” at something on Facebook. Save that for home and put that beautiful bimmer back in the garage without a scratch. Put you at home without a scratch. That’s much more important than the cat meme you just shared. Trust me.

Have a wonderful fall, enjoy the season change and have a great time driving!

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