The Vintage at the Vineyards, to those that aren’t into old German iron, could be described as a collection of old men pillaging once a year to Winston Salem in their out-of-date BMWs. But that’s not my interpretation of the gathering.
I was first informed of this event last year by Clay and Dudley. Clay’s car has been on here before, so some of you might recognize it, and Dudley is another local with an 02. I met Clay and Dudley at a C&C in Bethesda, MD because we all shared pretty much the same car. After realizing that they were two of the nicest car guys out there, we chatted for a bit, and The Vintage came up in conversation.Unfortunately, I found out about The Vintage two weeks before the 2014 event, and I happened to be moving that very weekend. So, I had to wait over a whole year for this experience. Although I couldn’t attend, I knew I had to make it the next year (2015). I was told many things about this event, but instead of sharing what others said, I’m going to share my story. So, enjoy!
Oil change, fixed oil leaks, replaced fuel pump gaskets, changed tranny fluid, changed diff oil, changed coolant, adjusted valves, adjusted timing, new fuel filters, treated and painted rusting rockers, painted front and rear glass lock strip, and installed a freshly painted valve cover (thanks Clay).
(gaskets cut from a school notebook)
The Vintage takes place from Friday to Sunday. But since I live in Maryland and the event is in Winston Salem, NC, it was only logical to make the Memorial Day long weekend even longer. I knew I would be traveling with a group of people, and since I lived the farthest north, I had to hit the road a bit early. So, up at 6, out the door at 6:30 and at my first stop, Dudley’s house, at 7:30. From there we left Bethesda and cut through Rock Creek Park (beautiful drive) and shot out right before the VA line right at the Jefferson Memorial. From there we continued south to the next stop, Marshall’s house. Once there it began to pour buckets, but we also met up with 4 more 2002 owners. Once everyone arrived and went to the bathroom we were on our way. It rained hard until we made it to Richmond, where we stopped for lunch. Then we continued to The Vintage, leaving 95 and cutting west. The weather cleared up and the roads became fun and beautiful. And, after almost 400 miles I finally made it.
Now the event doesn’t start till Friday, but that doesn’t stop anyone from having fun. We arrived at the hotel a few mins after 3, and it didn’t take a minute till all 7 of us were out of our cars and holding cold beer. Right then, you look around and all you see is a parking lot full of old BMWs. Once there, beer in hand, everyone wanders around. Some looking at cars, but most talking with other owners. Immediately I knew I was in great company. I was introduced to people and people were introduced to me. But, the majority of the time, people would just walk up to you and say ‘which one is yours?’ And BAM you just had a 20 min conversation about cars and you made a friend. This continued all night, and by ‘this’ I mean drinking beer, meeting great people, and look at amazing cars.
Friday was the day of the road rally, and boy was I excited. Why? Well I got to ride shotgun in Marshall’s car. Now, many of you are probably asking who the hell is Marshall and what does he drive. Well, he drives a square light S14-powered 02 in the lead image of Patrick’s post last year, all the info is in there. To sum it up, it’s balls-to-the-walls fast.
So Friday morning, I head down to breakfast and meet more people. I run into a gentleman and we have this conversation.
Him: Hi my names is . . . do you attend any other BMW events
Me: No, this is my first.
Him: Well, there are some great ones in Massachusetts and Vermont, you should try and make it out there.
Me: I’d love to.
Him: Hey, if you need a place to stay, my house is always open. You can stay with me and my family and we’ll drive to whatever event. And I’m not just saying that, I’m serious, if you’re coming up, just give me a call.
Now, I know this may sound odd and creepy, but he was a genuine guy and he had the same attitude as everyone else there. But, I still couldn’t believe it. I talked to the guy for 30 seconds and he was offering me a place to stay if I’m ever up north. And he reassured me that the offer was genuine. Now, I know this is supposed to be about a car event and this is a car-oriented website, but by the end of the weekend, I couldn’t care less about the cars. It was all about the people.
Anyway, we hop on the highway and Marshall and I are in the front of the pack, so I’m giving directions. There was 6 of us in the pack: 3 02s, an e28 M5, a 635i, and a turbo’d e30. We skipped down the highway till we were instructed to get off and enter a more rural landscape. It was thrilling. Being in front car it felt like we were in an actual rally. Marshall’s car is quick, seriously quick. It only has about 230 hp, but in a car that weighs 2300-2400lbs, it’s enough to have plenty of fun. He has a race suspension setup, so we were taking corners like I never imagined. The suggested speed limit for turns was a joke. Hell, we were doing twice that, yet still staying in the lane, and still completely flat. Being in this car was a whole new experience for me. Part of that might have been the racing seat and the 5-point harness, but it was mostly how shockingly quick his car was.
After about 10 mins the inevitable happened: we were lost. The directions weren’t very clear, but it was still my fault. So, we gave up the lead, but now I didn’t have to worry about navigating. I could enjoy the ride. It was about an hour stint to the vineyard. We arrived, had lunch, and left. We wanted to get back on the road and drive these cars, not look at grapes. We rode back into town and the beer consumption continued.
Saturday is the day of the main event. Everyone gathers in Historic Winston Salem and it’s a festival of sorts. There are vendors, people selling every part imaginable, food stands, and of course, lots of old BMWs. There isn’t much to say about it, but the historic city was a beautiful backdrop for all the Bimmers. After the event, it was back to the hotel, out for dinner, and then time to meet more people and drink.
While meeting new people I found myself able to answer car questions. I was surprised. I’ve only had the car for 3 years, but it didn’t matter, everyone shared their knowledge. I had someone ask me what it’s like to drive an 02. I countered and offered them a ride. He didn’t take the offer then, but I found out he drove someone elses’ 02 and it’s now on his bucket list. Everyone was here to share experiences, knowledge, and stories. Once again, it wasn’t really about the cars. Sure, it was a large topic of conversation, but they were what brought us together.
That night I met a really interesting man, Peter, who brought the 2002ti in the lead image down to the event. Ti’s are rare sights because they were never imported in the US due to emissions. After talking for a while I learned that this man had a plethora of cars and motorcycles. An 1800Ti/SA, 2002ti, Slantnose 911 turbo, 930 turbo (Yellowbird lookalike, but with turbo arches), 72 911 race car, and more. So, we’re talking and I notice that he is wearing a Reading Hillclimb shirt. I ask about it and he says that’s his car on the shirt. I say I’ve always wanted to attend a hill climb, and he makes me an offer I can’t refuse. He said to give him a call and he’ll invite me and my GF to his house in PA. We’ll stay at his house and he’ll let me drive his 72 911 to the event and drive the 911 turbo after. Yes, this is not a dream and I’m not lying. I thank him and ask if he’s crazy. He said he just wanted to share an experience. And yes, it’s my dream to drive a 911 turbo, but that wasn’t even the point. The guy opened up his house and garage to me to share an experience. But that’s not all.
Three of the 7 people that I rode down with are race instructors at Summit Point. They also have their own sprint and endurance race cars. The invited me to help on their pit crew or volunteer at the track for races and they’d make sure I had a good time. Again, didn’t even think people could be this kind, especially to someone they just met. Must have been the beer. Well, that night I couldn’t sleep because I was grinning from ear to ear. I never thought I would meet people so generous and trusting in a 20 year old.
We left early and made it home without any problems. Oh, and the sky was clear. And, even though I only knew most of the guys for 3 days, I couldn’t help feeling sad as each one turned off their respective exit as I continued north.