3 FEBRUARY 1976: THE START PHASE.
The BMW Board decides to establish a ‘School for Drivers’. In the same year, contacts were made with the people who could ensure the professional realization of this decision. In August 1976, Jochen Neerpasch, at the time Managing Director of BMW Motorsport GmbH, and Börries von Breitenbuch, long-standing secretary of the sports section of the Automobilclub von Deutschland (AvD), agreed on a joint planning concept for the training programmes. Neerpasch appointed Von Breitenbuch to the function of Training Director. Rauno Aaltonen, the professional rallye driver from Finland, became the first Head Instructor.
22 April 1977: The birth of the BMW Driving Safety Training programme.
This day saw the first participants taking part in training sessions in a BMW 320i. It is the first of 15 training courses, each of which was offered for groups of 20 participants by the BMW School for Drivers.
1991: A handshake that led to the BMW Snow Experience.
In 1990, a handshake between Josef Bücherl, one of the instigators of BMW Driver Training, and Hans Falkner, the director of the 5-Star Luxury hotel ‘DAS CENTRAL ALPINE’. LUXURY. LIFE’, in the Austrian town of Sölden gave the starting signal for the winter training programme in Ötztal. The first training event took place in the following year. Since then, several thousand BMW Snow Experience training events have been held on the world’s highest winter training facility at an altitude of almost 3,000 metres. It all began with six-day events, at which skiing was just as important as driver training. Today, a broad spectrum of the very latest BMW vehicles is driven in the various different training programmes – ranging from the BMW M4 to the BMW X5. In 2016, BMW and MINI Driving Experience and ‘DAS CENTRAL ALPINE. LUXURY. LIFE’, now managed by Angelika Falkner, jointly staged an exclusive jubilee event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the training events. Alongside unique driver training events with BMW DTM drivers and exciting skiing tours, the participants enjoyed the premium standards of the hotel and the award winning, Michelin-starred cuisine to the full.
1991: ‘FIT FOR THE ROAD’ – TRAINING EVENTS FOR YOUNG BEGINNERS BEHIND THE WHEEL.
In collaboration with prominent German daily newspapers, the BMW and MINI Driving Experience launched a training programme for young, less experienced driving licence holders aged between 18 and 25. As the by far most endangered group of road users, these young drivers learned how to handle a car correctly in special training sessions; an important contribution of many daily newspapers and BMW Driver Training to more confidence, responsibility and safety on the roads. The respective media offered the training courses and BMW professionally realised the content at attractively discounted prices. This programme was, and remains, incomparable until today.
1997: THE OPENING OF THE BMW DRIVER TRAINING CENTRE.
The BMW Driver Training programme finds a new home at Munich Airport. The 63,000 square metres of the training facility offer entirely new training options and mark the beginning of a new phase in the development of the BMW and MINI Driving Experience concept. Prior to this, the training sessions were held on the site of another airport in the region – in Munich-Riem.
1997: INTERNATIONAL TRAINING AT THE BMW GROUP INSTRUCTOR ACADEMY.
The nineteen-nineties saw the BMW and MINI Driving Experience pressing ahead with the internationalisation of its programmes. The utmost priority in this is the transfer of the high standards developed by BMW M GmbH in Munich to other countries without making compromises in any way. This was the reason for the founding of the BMW Group Instructor Academy in 1997. This is where future instructors learn all the skills that enable them to communicate safer driving skills and the joy of driving to customers in their home countries in full compliance with the precisely defined standards laid down by the BMW Group.
1999: THE BMW AND MINI DRIVING EXPERIENCE CONQUERS THE LEGENDARY ‘NORDSCHLEIFE’.
From 1999 onwards, driver training also takes place at the Nürburgring, the home of the BMW Testing Centre – where BMW engineers have conducted countless test-drives over the years. The first model that customers safely drove through the ‘Green Hell’ of the Nordschleife with an instructor at their side was a BMW Z3 M Coupé. The fascination and excitement of these events at ‘The Ring’ very quickly led to them becoming a permanent feature of the programme. Today, the Nordschleife training events are still among the most popular events of the BMW and MINI Driving Experience programme.
2000: AN ADVENTURE TOUR WITH THE BMW X5.
In the summer of the year 2000, the first BMW X5 Adventure Tour explored the Atlas Mountains and the sand deserts of Morocco. This was later joined by tours to other destinations in Africa, such as Kenya, Namibia and Botswana. Today, the BMW Tour Experience also offers exciting and luxurious round trips through Namibia and South Africa. As ever, the reliable and exclusive star of each tour is the latest generation of the BMW X5.
2003: THE MINI CONQUERS THE WORLD OF DRIVER TRAINING
2003 saw the starting signal for a whole new programme of driver training events with MINI models. The spectrum ranges from safety training sessions to fun and excitement on the racetrack. The programme is dedicated not only to the special handling characteristics of the MINI, but also to its adventurous, fun-loving target group. The training events include a good share of fun and games to loosen up the atmosphere for the predominantly young participants.
2006: EXPEDITION TO ARJEPLOG.
With the opening of the Arjeplog Testing Centre, the BMW Ice Training events move from Finland to Sweden. The almost endless wide open spaces of the icebound lakes offer ideal conditions for spectacular drift training sessions with BMW M models fitted with spikes. The setting also has its own special fascination. Participants even get a chance to see the secret prototypes of all major car manufacturers, who test the abilities of their latest production models in the ice and snow. A further breathtaking highlight is the scenery close to the Arctic Circle.
2012: OPENING OF THE BMW AND MINI DRIVING ACADEMY IN MAISACH.
The BMW and MINI Driving Experience moves to a new location. The new ‘Home of driving pleasure’ is the former airfield in Maisach, around 30 kilometres west of Munich. Where military aircraft, and later commercial flights, formerly took to the air is now one of most impressive driving safety centres in the south of Germany. The 130-hectare site is a dream come true for fans with a passion for cars and driving. Its highlights area 1.8-kilometre circuit and numerous dynamic driving areas for live-driving sessions of all kinds. The Driving Academy is, however, much more than a simple driving safety training venue. It is simultaneously an absolutely extraordinary location for first-class events. Just right for active driving incentives with employees, customers or business partners.
2014: BREAKING NEW GROUND – THE FIRST TRAINING EVENTS WITH ELECTRICALLY POWERED CARS.
With the BMW i3 eDrive Experience, BMW becomes the first manufacturer of premium cars to offer the exceptional experience of driving an electrically powered vehicle: the BMW i3 eDrive Experience. At the BMW und MINI Driving Academy in Maisach, participants learn all about the BMW i3 and discover the fascinating details of the BMW i mobility and lightweight construction concept, the battery and driving characteristics, servicing and maintenance. After this, they are given the opportunity to drive a BMW i3 in a special programme on two training areas and the circuit. In the following years, the programme is extended to include training sessions with the revolutionary BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.
2015: FIRST CERTIFICATION OF AN INTERNATIONALEN BMW DRIVING EXPERIENCE AS A COMPETENCE CENTRE.
One of the first results of the board’s decision to press ahead with the internationalisation of the BMW and MINI Driving Experience is a world premiere – the certification of the international BMW Driving Experience location operated by the local partner in the Netherlands. This authorises the Dutch organisation to conduct its business under the quality seal ‘BMW Driving Experience, Official Partner of BMW M’. This quality seal confirms that the BMW Driving Experience in the Netherlands performs convincingly not only in terms of the active driving activities it offers, but also with its public image and perception by customers. The certification process assesses the instructors, the training content, the entire organisation and staging of events and includes a rating of buildings and training areas. At the beginning of 2017, the BMW Performance Center East and the BMW Performance Center West in the USA also earned their certification.
OUTLOOK: EXPANSION OF THE MULTIDAY TOUR PROGRAMME IN AFRICA.
2017 will see the BMW and MINI Driving Experience making its first Multiday Tour through South Africa. Alongside the breathtaking beauty of the scenery and the fascinating wildlife of South Africa and the excitement of off-road driving in specially equipped BMW X5 models, a particular focus is set on the sheer luxury of the accommodation and cuisine during the tour. First-class food, drinks and stopovers in luxurious hotels and lodges make the South Africa Multiday Tours an exceptional and unforgettable experience. The Namibia Multiday Tour is being expanded and will offer a choice of eight or eleven day tours packed with adventure and unrivalled luxury. In 2018, the programme will be expanded to include the Botswana Multiday Tour. The agenda of this tour takes participants through some of the best wildlife reserves to be found anywhere in Africa.