MPACT East 2018: The Show Must Go On

Text and photography by Dave Tormey 

You’ve been planning for months, working on your car after work and on your days off, and just a few days away from the big event you get bad news. Rain: the weatherman says it’s going to rain. Either you choose to ignore the forecast because the weatherman is always wrong, or if you are like me, you are refreshing several weather apps multiples times per day, hoping for the forecast to change. Regardless of which camp you fall in, if you have ever raced your car or attended an outdoor car show, chances are you know the feeling when the weatherman is calling for rain on the day of a big event. It’s frustrating for attendees who have been prepping their cars and planning to make long trips, and it’s a show organizer’s worst fear. But unless you live in sunny Southern California, it happens.

Now in its eighth year, MPACT is a BMW-focused motorsports festival and car show hosted at the famous NASCAR track, Pocono Raceway, in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. With a car show set up around the paddock area, a NASA-sanctioned High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) event running on the infield racecourse, and roll racing on NASCAR’s longest straight, MPACT is not your typical car event.

Like last year, rain was in the forecast for the entire week leading up to this year’s event. Last year the weatherman was wrong and it ended up being a beautiful day. Since I didn’t know if we would have the same luck this year, I decided to arrive at the track early to capture some of the cars rolling in and vendors setting up before the crowds appeared.

AutoCouture, one of the premier BMW shops on the East Coast, was the headline sponsor for this year’s event. Last year they displayed an impressive lineup of cars, but with over 40 cars on display, they stepped it up this year. The assortment ranged from an old Bavaria to a modern McLaren, and a rainbow of perfectly lined up E9X M3’s.

This year Auto Couture was joined by a couple special guests from the Illinois-based BMW tuner, IND Distribution. IND is arguably one of the largest and most well-known tuners and parts retailers for modern BMWs in the U.S., so it was exciting to see some of these projects in person for the first time. The first car was one of IND’s latest projects, the Gelbgrün (yellow-green) M2, which sports a modified M4 GTS front lip, M4 mirrors, and a pair of BMW Motorsports M235R 24-hour foglights with custom carbon fiber mounts.

The second IND car, dubbed “Red Death”, is one of the company’s earlier projects which has seen multiple different looks over the years, but its current look might be one of my favorites. This Melbourne Red E90 M3 is owned by Unscene Media and was the first to have many different parts that are now commonplace on E90s. The F8X M3s may be the latest and greatest BMW has to offer, but this was still one of my personal favorites at MPACT.

The roll racing was slightly delayed this year due to the heavy morning rains wetting the track, but once the rain stopped and the track was cleared for racing, owners lined up in the paddock area eager to get their first passes in!

As I made my way out on the track to watch the first few passes I was happy to see that a little rain didn’t scare away the crowds!

Like a well-oiled machine, two rows of cars quickly formed in pit lane, and two at a time cars raced from a stand still and warmed up their tires before entering the track. Once they pulled on to the 1,800-foot front straight of the tri-oval track, the same cars lined up for a roll race from either a 40 or 60 mph rolling start. Before reaching the end of NASCAR’s longest straight, cars were hitting in excess of 160 miles per hour!

At the same time, the guys participating in the NASA HPDE event were enjoying a dry track as well! This gave the BMW owners less interested in top speed or showing their car, a chance to get their cars out on a road course and improve their driving skills. It also gave some track-dedicated E46 M cars the chance to test and tune their setups before their next wheel-to-wheel race. This portion of the event was open to all makes and models so it was cool to see such a diverse group of cars running together on the track.

They say you always want what you can’t have, and unfortunately in the U.S. that is all too often the case with German made station wagons: Mercedes’ Estates, Audi’s Avants, and BMW’s Touring models. Unlike this beautiful E30 Touring, the few wagons that are offered in the states are utilitarian soccer mom cars. Thankfully the E30 reached the 25-year mark for importation into the U.S. a few years ago, and we are starting to see enthusiasts import them.

This model in particular was sporting a period correct set of AC Schnitzer Type 1’s and was RHD!

Although MPACT caters to BMWs, there were still some different marques mixed throughout the show and roll racing. I think this speaks to the openness of the organizers, and to many past BMW owners who still enjoy coming back to this event.

You might be wondering what a Toyota is doing at a BMW event, or why is that FJ40 so low?! But this heavily modified FJ, dubbed the “Land Kreuzer”, is powered by none other than a BMW M70 V12 engine! And best of all, we recently caught up with the owner and posted an exclusive feature right here on Front Street!

Unfortunately, after lunch the rain returned. The roll racing was halted, and people in the show area hung out in their cars or in the paddock to stay dry. On the bright side, I brought my raincoat and camera sleeve so I could take some photos of cars in the rain for you guys.

Despite the less than desirable weather, everyone I spoke with was still having a good time connecting with friends, and those who came to race were happy to get in whatever driving they could before the rain returned. At the end of the day, MPACT still lived up to its tag line as “the event where you can do more than park your car!” and I think that says a lot about the organization and dedication of their staff. There really aren’t many places where you can see so many facets of motorsport in one place, and enjoy beautiful cars on display. This was my second year attending MPACT; I am already planning on going next year, and I hope to see you there!