BMW M1Bimmerfest 2011 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Started more than a decade ago as a small get-together for enthusiasts at a Santa Barbara BMW retailer, Bimmerfest celebrated its eleventh anniversary at a much larger venue this weekend: the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The largest BMW gathering in North America draws participants from all over the country thanks to a very active online membership in its Bimmerfest forums. As has traditionally been the case, most attendees meet up early in the morning to caravan hours to the Southern California event.

Despite unseasonably gloomy weather, there were more than 3,000 BMW vehicles on display. BMW North American brought its big rig with several cars including the new 2011 1 Series M Coupe. There was an excellent showing of E31 8 Series models, including an 850CSi (powered by a S70B56 5.6-liter V12 with a six-speed manual gearbox). We spotted plenty of E30 M3 models, several Z3 Coupe variants and an E23 745i (the gray market sedan features a turbocharged inline-six). The Nitto Tire both held the GSR Autosport Z4R, competing in the 2011 Formula Drift series with a 600-plus horsepower turbocharged S54 engine. Other notable BMWs in attendance included a race-bred M1, several sinister X6 M SAVs, and a spectacular 1972 E9 3.0 CSi Coupe – this year, we'll call that one our show favorite.

There is good news for BMW owners on the East Coast. The event organizers have announced a second North American event, to be held in early August in Aberdeen, Maryland. BMW owners, start polishing your cars now.