|Pros:||Great looks, much improved heel-toe|
|Cons:||Some required hardware not supplied|
|Cost:||$159.95, plus options, from BMP Design|
A popular after market accessory among Bimmer owners is a racy looking pedal set. Most offer a cosmetic advantage only, but a pedal set I saw in BMP Design’s catalog, called the Pro-Road Racer Pedals, offers real practical benefits to drivers who pride themselves on their expert high-performance driving techniques. Unlike most sets I’ve seen, BMP’s Pro-Road Racer Pedals offer an optional heel-toe extension they call the Fast Track. In addition there is a matching dead pedal, also an option. The Pro-Road Racer set costs a not insignificant $159.95, while the Fast Track heel-toe extension is $69.95 and the dead pedal is $75.95. All are CNC machined billet aluminum, the heel-toe extension black anodized while the other pedals are in brushed finish.
For those not familiar with heel and toeing, a brief explanation. The technique is employed when entering a corner to simultaneously brake and downshift in order to put the car in the optimum gear to accelerate through and out of the corner. Smooth downshifts require raising the revs as the shift is made. With one foot on the brake and one on the clutch, a third foot would be useful to “blip” the accelerator! If you don’t have a third foot then the best you can do is to use the right foot to operate both brake and accelerator. At one time racing cars placed their accelerators between the brake and clutch and it was practical to brake with the toe while pressing the accelerator with the heel, thus the term. Now, a true heel-toe motion would require a clumsy, uncomfortable twist of the ankle. A more workable technique on modern cars is to brake with the left side of the right foot while blipping the accelerator with the right side. Assuming that you can physically span the gap between the brake and accelerator here’s how it goes. Place the left side of the right foot on the brake pedal with the right side poised over the accelerator. Depress the clutch pedal with the left foot and blip the accelerator with the right side of the right foot as you downshift, then release the clutch.
Most cars I’ve driven are almost impossible to heel and toe because the brake and accelerator pedals are too far apart and/or because the relative heights of the two pedals doesn’t permit the necessary gymnastics. Apparently BMW engineers have heel and toeing in mind when they determine pedal placement because I’ve never driven a Bimmer which wasn’t fairly easy to heel-toe. As a matter of fact I learned to heel-toe over 30 years ago on my 2002. Still, it would be helpful if the brake and accelerator on my M Roadster were closer together and if the accelerator were just fractionally closer to the same height as the brake pedal. BMP’s Fast Track heel-toe extension does both jobs.
Installation of the pedal set is straightforward. The BMP pedals are attached using provided machine screws and nuts after removing the rubber brake and clutch pedal covers and drilling the factory pedals. The clutch and accelerator are plastic and easily drilled, while the brake pedal is steel and takes a little more effort. The dead pedal is attached to the car’s plastic dead pedal cover using power-drive screws…no drilling required. It turns out that the machine screws provided with the Fast Track heel-toe extension are not long enough to pass through the Fast Track, aluminum accelerator pedal, and plastic accelerator so a quick trip to the hardware store was required. Note that the Fast Track can be installed without the aluminum pedal, if desired, and then the machine screws would be the right length.
Once installed, the new pedals really do the trick. The aluminum brake and clutch pedals are about the same thickness as the stock rubber pedal covers. At the same time, the combined extra thickness of the accelerator pedal cover and the heel-toe extension raise the height of the accelerator to just the right level for easy heel-toeing without a clumsy twist of the ankle, and the increased width of the Fast Track places the pedal right under the right side of my sole. To my eye, the new pedals add a racy new look to the foot well, though I wouldn’t spend too much time looking down there while driving. Meantime, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the heel-toe technique, honing my lost skills by doing heel-toe downshifting even at low speeds. At first I was pretty clumsy, but after a few weeks practice it’s become second nature. Even if you aren’t planning any racing activities, it’s one of the skills which add greatly to the sports car experience. Let the fun begin!