In this episode of, “holy wow, my life is a lot of fun,” I attempt to put into words how amazing the BMW Performance Center and my first BMW Driving Schools experience was. Just know nothing I say in this post will do justice to how incredible our day turned out. You have to experience it for yourself.

As a kid, growing up in New Hampshire, I always dreamt of driving a BMW. They were a unicorn in my small town, but I can almost remember each time I spotted one. I could barely keep my jaw from hitting the ground when seeing one in the wild, especially one from the M-series. There was a similar feeling when I pulled into the BMW Performance Center parking lot in Thermal, California. I knew it was going to be an experience I’d never forget.

BMW Performance Center building in Thermal, CA
BMW Performance Center building in Thermal, CA

I was invited by the folks at BMW Performance Center to learn how to drive BMW M-series vehicles on their various tracks. Since I was there with a media group (#MenWhoBlog), and only there for one day, they gave us a ‘custom’ experience so we would have a little taste of the various programs they offered. As a first timer, I learned a lot and wanted to give you the low down on what went on that day in hopes that you will book a driving class sometime soon. It’s a great gift for car enthusiasts, bachelor parties, or a guys weekend away in Palm Springs.

BMW Driving School

Class began as soon as we arrived. Or maybe it was after we drooled over all the cars in the parking lot for a bit; I can’t remember exactly. We headed inside the building and took a seat in their classroom, where we met both of our driving instructors for the day. After a brief introduction and safety demonstration, we headed out to our first vehicle to learn the proper seating arrangement in the car.

BMW driving instructors vehicle

BMW Driving School instructor
Our driving instructor was showing us how to sit in the BMW properly.

Our day at BMW Performance Center was broken up into three stages, all of which featured different vehicles. Our first stage was to familiarize us with what we would be driving, the M2, M4, 550i, and the X5 SUV. As you will see in our friend Greg’s (SuburbanMen) video below, our driving instructor Dave led us through the course as a caravan, stopping off at various parts of the track to educate us on the best ways to properly take turns.

Skip to around the 3-minute mark to see the class get started.

Greg’s video above really captures the essence of our experience that day at BMW Performance Driving School. The instructors were extremely patient with us and allowed us to not only get the content we needed for our posts but to really help us get the best times on the track. Not to brag, but, I did get the fastest time.

BMW Driving School race winners
BMW Driving School winners. Order of appearance: Mantripping (2nd), SuburbanMen (3rd), Joe’s Daily (1st), and David (BMW Instructor).
My first place medal and track time at BMW Performance Driving School
My first place medal and track time at BMW Performance Driving School

Just when I thought the coolest experience was driving the cars, we ended the day inside the instructor’s car for a final hot lap. Let’s just say that they drive a whole lot better than any of the guys from our trip. See a quick clip I captured below in slow-mo.

As I previously mentioned, the BMW Performance Driving School makes for a great gift. I’d highly recommend you check out their class availability and plan your next trip to Palm Desert. You won’t regret it!

Where to stay when visiting Palm Desert

Hotel Paseo - Palm Desert hotels
Photo courtesy: Hotel Paseo, Palm Desert

Assuming you will be making your trip to the Greater Palm Springs a vacation, you’re going to need a place to stay. I would highly recommend HOTEL PASEO, part of Autograph Collection Hotels. We were lucky enough to spend two nights there and enjoyed every minute. While I was out with the boys learning how to drive with BMW at the track, my wife had some much needed R&R back in the room. HOTEL PASEO’s chic rooms are easy to get lost in. Sarah mostly hung out on the spacious balcony and enjoyed her book while basking in the sun.

After returning from a day at the track and exploring other parts of Palm Desert, it was nice to come back to this view and Hotel Paseo’s ultra comfortable beds. I recommend paying a visit to their AC3 Restaurant + Bar, grabbing yourself a glass of whiskey to sip on, and enjoying the sunset. Not a bad way to end your day.

The Instagram-worthy Airstream at Hotel Paseo, Palm Desert

Hotel Paseo, Palm Desert room

The boutique property is just a few steps from upscale shopping, art galleries, restaurants, and nightlife on El Paseo, known as “The Rodeo Drive of the Desert.” Hotel Paseo is in the heart of the Coachella Valley, so you can be sure that whatever you want to get into is merely a few miles away.

Great BBQ in Palm Desert

Who knew Palm Desert had good BBQ? I sure didn’t, until I ate at Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse. I’m sure we have all heard of the mega-franchise Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery before, best known for their famous pies. Well, Babe’s was founded by Marie Callender’s son, Donald Callender, and his passion was BBQ & Beer.

We were all starving by the time we got to dinner, so you can imagine all that we ordered. Think Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread, Craft Beer-Battered Onion Rings, Parmesan Garlic Fries, and that was to start. For my entree, I ordered the triple threat: Babe’s Brisket, Tri-Tip, and Short Rib Platter.

I think Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse is best encapsulated in the following two photos of their Baby Back Ribs and their tasty beer flight.

Babe's BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Babe’s BBQ Baby Back Ribs. Credit: SuburbanMen

Babe's BBQ Beer Flight

I’m excited to head back to Palm Desert, so I can return to Babe’s, rub Rose the famous bronze pig statue’s nose (for good luck), and try even more of their BBQ. Perhaps even something from their new Latin BBQ Fusion menu they just unveiled.

This post was sponsored by the BMW Performance Center. All opinions are 100% my own.