Festival of Fast: MPACT Combines Motorsports and M-Powered Machines
Photos by Dave Tormey
Amidst the sudden surge of automotive festivals present in the culture today, it can be difficult to choose which is the best fit for an enthusiast. Some of these events cater to the masses, by inviting any guest with an affection for automobiles that knows no boundaries. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those tailored specifically to one particular make or model, in an attempt to attract only the most hardcore admirer of that brand or vehicle. These events push the culture even further, by creating an immersive motivation for the dedicated and brand-loyal enthusiast to deepen their passion. Specialized events like the MPACT Motorsports Festival and Car Show successfully satiate the BMW crowd’s thirst for their own festival.
Set in Long Pond, Pennsylvania throughout the grounds of NASCAR’s famed Tricky Triangle—also known as Pocono Raceway—MPACT was created by an enthusiast for the enthusiast. In the past, there have been Bavarian-specific automotive car shows on the East Coast of the United States, but never one that could satisfy so many different tastes.
The entire week leading up to MPACT, the forecast called for rain on the day of the event. Unsurprising to me, as my friends and I had planned on attending, and Mother Nature likes to procure inclement weather for me. However, the rain arrived early on Friday afternoon, which left the forecast dry for the following day’s festivities.
The morning of MPACT was foggy and overcast. It was a welcomed set of weather conditions considering what was expected just a few days prior. The vendor booths had begun to set up on the main drive of the infield, and their accompanying display cars arrived in exquisite fashion.
More vendor cars planted themselves inside the paddock area of the racetrack, including this spotless Silverstone Metallic F80 M3 equipped with a gorgeous set of a BBS Motorsport E88 wheels. The owner also has a matte black colored set of Volk Racing TE37 wheels for the car, but I prefer the prestigious yet racy look of these—especially against the car’s silver tone.
Elsewhere in the paddock, the event’s Official Sim Experience Partner, Crimson Simulation had one of their virtual driving setups on location. Their full-motion rig incorporated a Bride bucket seat, a resistance-equipped Momo steering wheel, an H-pattern, sequential, or paddle shifting setup, as well as three television screens, and active pedals. The company’s model takes after the arrive-and-drive business of some racetracks—allowing eager motorsports enthusiasts to pilot rented racecars—except in Crimson’s version you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas. For MPACT, they held a lap time competition, to see who could record the quickest lap and prove they were the fastest of the day.
Outside the paddock assorted cars lined up for roll racing, one of the headline attractions of the MPACT event. In pit lane, pairs of cars lined up against one another, where they were offered the opportunity to drag race from a standstill before entering the track. Once on the 1,800-foot front straight of the Tri-Oval, the same cars competed in a Roll Racing and MPH Challenge. This consisted of either 40 or 60mph rolling starts, where cars battled the balance of power, grip, and the car next to them, while simultaneously trying to record the highest MPH along NASCAR’s longest straight.
There may have been DJs around the show area playing music, but the performance-minded vehicles accelerating down the track echoed loud pops, whirs, whines, squeals, and growls all day from this portion of competition.
Fans of not only the BMW marque, but of fast cars in general, lined the edge of the pit wall with a perfect vantage point for the intense racing.
Some powerful Japanese muscle cars made their presence known, and recorded the highest MPH we saw all day. Cars like this MKIV Toyota Supra, which ran an amazingly fast 161.8mph. Even more surprising is that this car was a targa-top model—when the flat center section of the roof panel can be removed—and had completely stock interior without a roll cage.
Along with the side-by-side roll racing on the oval portion, there was a full-judged car show throughout the infield. Open to any BMW, European, Exotic, or performance-based vehicles, this offered the chance for pristine examples to be ogled by showgoers in their finest state.
In recent years, Pocono Raceway revamped their infield racecourse, by adding trickier technical sections, and connecting their North and South courses together. Yes, there was even more MPACT action present here. Sanctioned by the trusty NASA Northeast organization, the infield course held a high performance driver education (HPDE) event for anyone interested in registering. This gave BMW owners a chance to get their cars out on a real road course racetrack, and maneuver through traffic to set a quick lap time behind the wheel of their own car. It also gave some track-dedicated E46 M cars the chance to test and tune their setups before their next wheel-to-wheel race.
However, the cars on track were quite diverse including my friends and I, in our Honda Civics. Trailing—of course—to this extremely quick and well-balanced Lotus Exige, which was piloted by one of NASA’s on-site driving instructors.
If the roll racing, HPDE, car show, vendor booths, and simulator still weren’t enough for attendees, MPACT also featured a burnout competition. Open to all who were willing to shred through their vehicle’s rubber in the name of bragging rights. This competition drew thick black tire lines across the paddock’s pavement. That is, until this supercharged CTS-V lit on fire. The driver evacuated the vehicle, the crowds surrounded him, and the track’s Fire Rescue squad was able to extinguish the flame before any real damage was done. I fear his ego suffered the worst of it.
To finish off the burnout competition properly, the driver of this VAC Motorsports-sponsored “Drift Police” E36-chassis M3 spent a few minutes wearing down the tread on its rear tires until they exploded, and sent bits of rubber soaring through the air.
I’m not an expert on tires, but I think this one is shot.
Spectators were entertained throughout the entire day, with a multitude of activities to enjoy at the MPACT event. There were extremely well built cars at every turn, dozens of the industry’s leading vendors, and even a guest appearance by Vorsteiner—who shipped its M4 GTS across the United States just for the show.
The weather ended up holding out for the entirety of the event, and as the show field started to deplete and vendors began packing up their booths later in the day, I could really take in what a massive event it was.
I was easily able to witness it first hand, since I broke my car on the track, and had to sit out majority of the day’s HPDE sessions—bummer.
Where else can you see so many facets of motorsport in one place, yet still remain aligned with one signature brand? (Also, where else can you see this many M4 GTS cars in the same place?) MPACT was such a pleasurable event with so many festivities available to be consumed by attendees. It is setting the standard for the shape of things to come. We’re already planning on going next year, and hope we’ll see you at the 2018 iteration.