The fourth day of the BMW CCA Celebrate BMW Tour has begun! We’re hanging out in St. Louis today, but first, check out our progress and video blog from day three. For all the rest of the updates, click here!
A truly massive road trip is nothing if not unpredictable. In the past four days, we’ve met up with old friends, made late after-midnight arrivals, and departed on the road for new territories. Yesterday, though, was a day of polar opposites—a scheduled visit to the BMW Team RLL and BMW USA Classic shop, and an unplanned welcome to the Midwest.
This was my second visit to Columbus, Ohio, and also the second time pairing a visit to the BMW USA Classic collection with a stay at an IHG® Rewards Club hotel. By the time we arrived in from Pittsburgh, we got straight to work at the Holiday Inn Express backing up files and editing pictures from the previous morning’s activities. After a much-needed rest and a quick breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road again for the incredible BMW Team RLL shop.
The visit was an absolute blast. I’d recommend that everyone check out the collection of vintage race cars from the BMW USA Classic collection, blasting around race circuits and enjoying retirement under the awning, but seeing the cars at rest at the Rahal Letterman Lanigan shop just outside of Columbus is a unique, more retrospective experience.
The Classic shop is an incredible location, and one that performs all the work, restorations, and maintenance involved in preserving a collection of vintage racers. Packed into the shop were multiple E92 M3 GT racers from the American Le Mans Series, a 320i Turbo, an E30 M3 DTM car, the M1 IMSA car (an M1 racer very similar to the Procar, but which raced in North America), an E46 M3 from the early 2000s and the years when PTG ran BMW, and countless other storied race cars from BMW’s Motorsports history in North America. There were also a couple open spaces where some of the big-name cars—the Sebring-winning 3.0 CSL, the McLaren F1 GTR, the V12 LMR prototype and the Stars and Stripes E46 M3 GTR, among others—had already departed for Monterey.
Steve Dickson, general manager of the Ohio facility, returned from the IMSA race at Road America just in time to give us a tour of the shop, and opened up the other half of the facility: the meticulously-cleaned active race shop for BMW Team RLL in the IMSA series. The M6 GTLM racers were just returning from a podium at Road America, so we took a quick look at the facility where the cars will be prepped for the next event.
It’s always hard to leave the Team RLL shop, since the space is so full of surprises and old four-wheeled friends, but the six-hour drive to St. Louis is a strong motivator. We packed the now-familiar 640i, and began to make our way into two unvisited states for both Nick and myself: Illinois and Missouri.
It had been one of my goals to visit any roadside attraction near the route. So when we saw signs for the claimed world’s largest wind chime, a stop was in order.
We were underwhelmed by the wind chime, but the small town of Casey, Illinois, left us charmed by their yarn museum, visitors center, and also their giant, five-story-tall rocking chair.
We paid our respects to the strange nostalgia of the roadside attraction and got back on the route to St. Louis. It’ll be another eight days to Monterey, but our spirit is renewed—and there are many oddities to come. —David Rose