For the 4th consecutive year, rabid fans and owners of BMW’s Motorsport badge made their way to Las Vegas for a weekend of heated, but friendly, competition, car ogling, bench racing and some Sin City nightlife. Judging by the annual growth of the event, it’s pretty obvious that what’s been happening at M Fest in Las Vegas isn’t exactly staying in Vegas.
What started out four years ago as an excuse for organizer, Chris Naguit, to gather a group of M heads to drive to Las Vegas with him, quickly evolved into a car show and then included a track day, from a one-day event to a three-day weekend, from open to all comers, to a cap of 400 tickets (He gave in and increased it to 600). Naguit said he even turned down potential sponsors to keep from getting too big.
This year’s participants came from as far away as Chicago and Canada. Oregon, Texas and Colorado were also well represented. At one point, from the rendezvous point in Barstow, they may have broken the record for the largest caravan of BMW’s ever. They’re checking with the Guiness Book people.
Always trying to out-do himself, Naguit added a new element to this year’s event by featuring a session of timed laps where tuners and sponsors could see how they measured up. Along with being a way to end the bickering and forum-bashing, at least for awhile, Naguit saw it as a good way for these companies to showcase their products and back up their claims
The fastest time was posted by a 600-hp turbocharged E46 M3 built by Horsepower Freaks and owned by Oscar Treviso. Driven by hired gun, Ivo Mitkov. it posted a 1:58.597, nearly three seconds faster than the second fastest car driven by Brian Sosa in an E90 M3 at 2:01417. Pro skateboarder, Rune Glifberg came in third with an Evo Sport-built E46 M3 (European Car project car?) with a 2:04.631.
But it wasn’t all about bragging rights. Participants of any skill level, from those who’ve never pushed their cars hard enough to activate the DSC, to advanced drivers in their caged, boosted and be-winged track-ready cars, all got ample track time. Along the way, some egos were bruised while others found new confidence near the limit, three engines were blown, a few SMG transmissions went into limp mode and two Lexus owners pledged to buy an M3 in the near future.
There were also a few companies on hand that offered ECU flash upgrades from their laptops. After getting an upgrade, customers would then be able to take their cars onto the track for evaluations. Those unhappy with the upgrades could then have their ECUs flashed back to stock settings.
Show trends featured a lot of matte paint, and, thankfully, only a smattering of chrome and bling. Unfortunately, some vinyl “paint jobs” were spotted. There were plenty of E46 and E92s, and quite a few E60 and E39 M5s but not too many first-gen M3s, M5s or M6s. Forced induction showed up big, with a gang of superchargers by VF Engineering, Gintani, ESS Tuning and a twin-supercharged G-Power M6 also on display. Horsepower Freaks of Portland, represented the turbocharged contingent with cars putting out anything from 600 to 1000hp.
Making its debut was Vorsteiner’s GTR S3. Based on an M3 and painted a menacing matte army green, the kit features gargantuan fender flares and the tasteful stylistic touches the company has quickly become known for. Under the hood is a VF Engineering supercharger kit for the 4.0-liter V8. Utilizing mostly carbon fiber, the kit will be limited to 100 to maintain exclusivity.
There’s an off-chance that MFest might not stay solely in Vegas as Naguit is pondering another event in SoCal just to appease those who missed out or he might turn M Fest into a bi-annual event. Whichever the case, M Fest has solidified itself as a gearhead’s Club Med for those who bleed BMW blue and white don’t want to miss.