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BMW sets continuous drift record at 8 hours

Mid-drift refuelling of M5 enabled continuous drift for nearly 375 km

Joe Duarte
Published: January 10, 2018, 9:55 PM
Updated: April 30, 2018, 7:16 PM

BMW M5 drift refuel

A pair of BMW driving instructors have set a couple Guinness World Records drifting cars around a skid pad — a single car for almost 375 km over eight hours, and a twin drift of two cars for almost 80 km over an hour.

BMW M5 drift record setters (l-r) Johan Schwartz, Matt Butts, Matt Mullins

BMW driving instructor Johan Schwartz drifted an all-new M5 over 374.2 km around the skid pad at the BMW Performance Centre in Greer, South Carolina, in a continuous drift over an 8-hour period, breaking the previous record by 230 km.

If you’re thinking that it’s nearly impossible to drift a car continuously for eight hours without refuelling, you’re right. BMW realized this early on and partnered with parts maker Detroit Speed on a fueling rig that could refuel the drifting car on the go, in a similar manner to how fighter jets refuel mid-flight.

BMW M5 drift rear window fuel tank opening

“We knew going-in that if we were going to recapture the world record for longest sustained drift and set the bar as high as possible, we would need to find a way to keep the M5 going without stopping to refuel,” said Schwartz. “In the end, the refueling system worked flawlessly and the M5 performed as expected. It was a big win all around.”

The dry break fuel system, like the ones used in racing that vents vapours out as fuel goes in to flow eight litres per second, still required a fuel-man, though. So, five times over the 8-hour session, a previous-generation M5 entered the skid pad for the refuelling manoeuvre.

BMW M5 drift refuel

Driven by BMW Performance Center Chief Driving Instructor Matt Mullins, the car matched drift with the record-attempting M5 and Detroit Speed’s Matt Butts, tethered and hanging out through the rear passenger side window, executed the refuelling procedure.

“Although we practiced the refueling several times before the title attempt, there was very little margin for error,” said Butts. “We’re excited to have played a part in Johan and BMW recapturing this record.”

BMW M5 drift refuel

After the single longest continuous record was in the books, Mullins and his BMW joined Schwartz’s M5 for another record attempt — longest twin vehicle drift — setting the mark at 79.25 km, over one hour.