October 7, 6:00 am: It's still dark out. A chilly drizzle is falling on
the seacoast of NH. The forecasters all say it will clear soon. I hope
they're right. I am among the first group of groggy, Bavarian Autosport
employees arriving at 275 Constitution Ave. to start preparing for a day
of BMW fun with two thousand of our closest friends. As we approach the
entrance to the grounds, we can barely discern through the mist several
telltale "angel eyes" glowing in the distance. As we get closer, we see
the outlines of several BMWs already lined up by the side of the road,
waiting for the parking lot to open. Something tells me we're in for a
7:00 am: The light rain that was falling has turned to a fine mist. The
line of BMWs in the road is now about a half-mile long -- in both
directions. The parking isn't scheduled to open until 8:00 am, but we're
worried that if we wait until then, there will be a massive BMW traffic
jam up and down U.S. Route 1… and that probably wouldn't sit too well
with the local constabulary. The decision is made to open the lot early.
At 7:15 the cones and caution tape are moved aside, the sound of dozens
of BMW engines roaring to life fills the air and the first Bimmer eases
gently (yeah, right) onto the property.
8:00 am: A seemingly endless line of BMWs snakes around the building and
out into the street. We're parking cars as quickly as we can while keeping
a close eye on safety. Those drivers whose Bimmers are already parked are
either filling out forms, putting the finishing touches on their cars or
enjoying the free coffee and donuts under the tent.
9:05 am: Even though we don't officially start the event until 10:00 am,
everything is in full swing. There's a line at the registration table. The
showroom is full of people browsing, asking questions and buying products
for some last-minute detailing. We're still setting up the "You Can Do It!"
demo, the detailing demo, the raffles tables and the sound system.
10:10 am: The rain ended about 30 minutes ago, the clouds are starting
to thin and the show has officially opened. The parking lot is already
completely full -- more than 300 BMWs and a couple of MINIs. This blows
away our old record of filling the lot by 11:15 am. Out in the street
and in neighboring lots, there are another 100-150 BMWs we just don't
have room for. This is the biggest turnout we've ever had… and they're
still arriving! There are dozens of people in the vendor tent, asking
questions of the representatives for Bilstein, Sachs, Yokohama, Kumho,
Billy Boat Performance Exhaust, aFe, PIAA, Cool Carbon, Mann, Bosch, P21S,
Pagid, EIS/Plain Talk, Covercraft, Hella, Lexol, MacNeil and others. A
small crowd is gathered around the "You Can Do It" demo to watch how easy
it is to install a variety of replacement parts and upgrades on Ashley's
2001 330i. Across the parking lot, Bruce Maus of P21S is demonstrating
detailing products on Pete's 2001 330ci. People are filling out entry
forms for the free raffle, taking hats and product samples off the
"Free Stuff!" table, buying tickets for our Komen for the Cure charity
raffle... but mostly, people are walking around looking at all the
stunning BMWs. What a feast for the eyes! The model years represented
span more than four decades, from the mid-1960s up through 2008. Some of
the cars are factory-original garage queens, some are well-maintained
daily drivers, and some are super-modified show cars that cost more to
build than my first house. My walkie-talkie is ringing. Gotta run...
4:10 pm: This is the first chance I've had to add an entry to this diary in six
hours. The sun is out, and has been for a couple of hours. The vendor tent is
empty. The banners have been taken down a put away for another year. Most of the
cars are gone, (except a couple of employee rides and a 530i belonging to that
poor woman who lost her key. Talk about a bummer of a way to end the day. It's okay,
though -- the owners loaned her a vehicle to drive home to Rhode Island to pick up
another key. She'll be back tonight.)
With hundreds of spectators arriving and leaving throughout the day, there's no way
to know for sure how many people were here for this event, but it had to be close to
two thousand. We do know that we served 800 hamburgers, 300 knockwurst and 500 hot
dogs in 68 minutes (another new record) and provided a variety of frosty beverages --
all for free.
We also gave away several thousand dollars in free merchandise that was donated by our
generous vendor-partners, including such items as adjustable camber kits, floor mat sets,
Lubro Moly engine oil, wheel locks, Harman Kardon Drive+Play iPod system, PIAA XtremeWhite
bulbs and more. And through the charity raffle we raised more than $3,300 for Komen for
the Cure, giving away 13 prizes ranging in value from $100 to more than $1500.
As for the "People's Choice" competition, each of the three winning cars came from a
different "genre", if you will. The Best Exterior award went to George Douvelis of New
York and his daily-driver, a 1998 M3. The Best Interior prize went to Johnny DaSilva of
Connecticut and his super-modified 2003 M3 that featured multiple audio and video
installations. And the Best in Show went to Bill Williams and his rare, fully-restored
1972 2002tii Touring that he and his wife trailered up here from Maryland.
Everyone I spoke with today, from attendees, to vendors, to employees, said that, in spite
of the initial drizzle, this year's Show & Shine was the "best one yet!" Two of the vendors
commented that this was the best BMW enthusiasts' show they've ever attended, and they've
been to all the big ones. Guess that raises the bar for 2008. Don't know how we'll top it,
but we have 365 days to work on it.