So, with overseas travel being a little more difficult this year (due to all the testing and quarantining red tape) than years of the past we decided to give international road trips a miss and see what the UK had to offer instead.
We had booked the Nurburgring for our annual bank holiday weekend but pulled out as half the group hadn't been double vaccinated and also there were some terrible floods in the Eifel region (where the Ring is based) and so that was the nail in the coffin for us.
We ended up doing a trip around the Midlands, consisting of Oxfordshire, Birmingham, Warwickshire (incl. a stop off at Caffeine & Machine) and the Cotswolds; and I also took the car to Wales, in particular Snowdonia and Anglesey. I did another trip covering Stonehenge, Lacock, Bath and Bristol, but I didn't take the M3 so do not have any E46 M3/car related content to share from this trip.
Anywho I shan't bore you with all the details of my holidays however, feel free to have a nose through some of the pictures (the car felt great by the way)!
As I wasn't taking the car to the Nurburgring this year, coupled in with the front end suspension refresh, I was itching to get some track time in; so I booked in a track day with the BMW Car Club at Anglesey Circuit in September.
This was my first experience of a track day, and although I have been to the Nurburgring 4 times and driven on tracks as part of supercar experience days, and done a bit of go-karting in my younger days; this was an entirely new setting for me.
The Club ran the day extremely well including an induction in the morning and sighting laps of the two circuits on offer at Anglesey (the International Circuit and the Coastal Circuit). The weather was good too, because it was drizzling in the morning which provided a wettish track in the morning, which then dried up in the early afternoon as the sun came out; allowing me to experience the car in both wet and dry settings. The drivers were very courteous (with slower cars moving over), and it operated via an open pit with roughly 60 odd cars and so there was amble opportunity get some good track time in.
The car felt smooth, especially following on from the front and rear end refresh that I had undertaken over the past couple of years. And the AP Racing brakes really stood up to the test and were absolutely faultless. I did not experience a hint of fade and the braking itself was very consistent and powerful, so much so that you really can take the piss by braking quite late into corners without the fear of missing the turn in - "Brake hard, once and late" as my dad used to say.
The car could hang with some of the quicker machinery out there which was cool and it was nice to bump into some fellow Cutters @tsinc and @M3Topperz too. Topperz didn't bring his M but brought a snazzy MX5 instead, but I must say I was in awe of Mr Sinclair's car. It's probably one of the best E46 M3 builds that I have seen in the flesh (and I have seen a fair few out at the Ring over the years etc). It sounded epic as well. Here's a short video I put together of some of the track time at the circuit (and if you listen closely you can hear Mr Sinclair's E46 M3 whizzing by).
The rest of my holiday was spent in the surrounding parts of Snowdonia. I took the car down to the infamous Portmeirion to see the village that Sir Clough Williams-Ellis designed in the early 20s and then went to Black Rock Sands Beach as you are allowed to drive on it (don't worry I thoroughly cleaned the arches and underneath afterwards). I also did the Llanberis Mountain Pass and various other sightseeing locations. I didn't manage to do the Evo triangle (but have heard it is trapped with speed cameras nowadays), nevertheless if you are seeking some fun roads to enjoy your M car then I fully recommend North Wales, the views are great too!