Over 170 cars will descend on Canberra for four days next month and they all have one thing in common: the blue and white roundel.
The BMW Clubs Australia Nationals is a four-day festival of the ‘ultimate driving machine’. It has been running for more than 30 years, hosted by a different state or territory every two years and drawing BMW owners from across the country.
After last year’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, the lot fell to Canberra for Friday 11 to Monday, 14 March 2022.
The BMW Car Club of Canberra – with 125 local members on the books – has stepped up to organise the event. Vice-president Mark Wilson says it was last held here 18 years ago, and the club is very excited to again show off some of Australia’s most fascinating cultural, historic and arts institutions, especially in the wake of two lonely years.
“It’s an invitation to all affiliated BMW clubs to come and enjoy each other vehicles and participate in various motorsport events and activities.”
Mark is a long-time passionate fan of BMW and currently owns two iconic models from BMW’s M performance division, the E92 M3 and an E39 M5. He says there is also a derelict third around the corner, but this isn’t far from the scrap heap.
He says the event is a chance to get the cars out on the road and meet with fellow BMW lovers.
“There is strong representation from Canberra, but plenty of others are driving in from all over Australia, including Adelaide and Brisbane.”
The four-day event opens with drinks and speeches on Friday afternoon at the Canberra BMW dealership in Phillip before Saturday kicks off with a cruise to Wee Jasper.
The bulk of the weekend is strictly for registered members, but the public will have the chance to get up close and personal with the cars at a ‘Concours and Show N Shine’ event at the Kambri cultural precinct at the Australian National University (ANU) on Saturday, 12 March from 1 pm to 3 pm.
Mark says the ‘Concours’ element is inspired by similar high-class car shows overseas, including the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held each year in California.
“Concours is for cars of very high quality, or those which have been restored to immaculate condition. One of the judges for the Pebble Beach Concours will also be judging the cars here.”
There will also be categories for heavily modified cars and SUVs.
Mark says they have broken the event’s traditional mould slightly by allowing time on Saturday evening for members to “do their own thing”.
“We deliberately set this time aside so people can get out together and enjoy all the things of Canberra. We try to encourage people to stay longer, not only in Canberra but also the immediate surrounding region.”
Sunday’s highlight will be an afternoon spent at the Sutton Road Training Centre where owners will take their cars around the skidpan, participate in a Motorkhana-style race and a boot sale.
Each owner pays a fee to participate in the event, and this money – together with two raffles – will go to Marymead, a not-for-profit organisation servicing the ACT and southern and western regional areas of NSW, delivering a range of family support services to children, young people and their families.
Mark says Canberra is home to two of the seven amphibious BMWs in the whole country. These are equally well suited to water as they are to land, and winners of the raffles will be treated to a ride in on Lake Burley Griffin on Sunday afternoon.
The icing on the cake will be a large gala evening held in the foyer of the National Museum of Australia on Sunday night. Four vehicles will be scattered around the entrance, including two from Canberra BMW and the winner of the Concours.
“Representatives from BMW are also coming to look at all the cars we have and choosing the one they think is the ‘best in show’. This will be the fourth car on display.”
A female racer from Tasmania, Casey Price, is a regular participant in the annual Targa race and advocate for Women In Motorsport. She will be the guest speaker for the occasion.
Mark says they’re forced to close registrations on Sunday, 27 February, but the BMW Car Club will also have a part to play in the Wheels car show on Sunday, 6 March at Queanbeyan Showground for those looking to show off their BMW.
The next BMW Clubs Australia Nationals will be held in March on the Gold Coast.