If you’re sitting in State College traffic during the first weekend in August, chances are the car next to you will at least be easy on the eyes.
About 140 Z Series BMW automobiles will roll into town for ZFest, a weekend-long celebration of the popular brand that will begin July 31 before hitting the brakes Aug. 2.
This is the BMW festival’s second year in State College after stints in Greenville, S.C., Cleveland and Los Angeles.
“Last year was in State College and everybody had such a great time in central Pennsylvania that they decided they wanted to come back,” said Mark Bigelow, the central Pennsylvania area representative for the Z Series Car Club of America.
Specifically of interest were State College’s abundance of scenic back roads — a limited resource in Los Angeles.
“Around here, a couple of minutes and we’re out on the nice country roads,” Bigelow said.
Those same roads may begin to resemble a BMW evolutionary chart. The collection of automobiles scheduled to appear spans a range of more than 25 years, including a 1989 BMW that was produced only in Europe. The Elizabethtown couple who own the car, which is licensed in America solely as a museum piece, will bring it to State College for fellow festivalgoers to drool over.
And why wouldn’t they? Bigelow describes the appeal of the BMW in terms that sound positively romantic.
“It’s a two-seater car, just you and your significant other out enjoying the open road,” Bigelow said.
The entire weekend won’t be a drive through the country, though. There are several events on the schedule that will test a driver’s skill and manual dexterity both in and out of the car.
During the Zedkhana competition Friday, participants will have to maneuver their automobiles through a series of cones in addition to more pedestrian tasks like changing the tires and swapping a hard top for a soft top — all as quickly as possible.
Speed will also play a crucial role the following day during the ZFest Autocross at one of Mid-State Airport’s old runways. Drivers compete to see who can weave their cars through an obstacle course without sacrificing control for speed.
If a driver clips a cone, two seconds are added to their overall time.
“It’s not always about the speed. It’s about smoothness,” Bigelow said.
To learn more about ZFest, contact Bigelow at 321-2777.