In 2013, Sam moved to Salt Lake City. Some of his best friends were in college there, so this was his chance to get out and see something new. He would find a BMW sales job and more car detailing work there, but also an entirely new landscape with which to backdrop his car photos. That’s when his focus paid off, when his talent really blossomed. That’s when BMW took notice of his work.
- Adam Hurly
- Sam Hurly
I remember being disappointed in my younger brother when he dropped out of college in 2010. And again when he did it a second time, in 2011. Sam said it felt like a waste of his time and money, especially since he wasn’t sure yet what he wanted to be doing. Instead, he moved in with our parents – something I did for a year after college, too, with tens of thousands in student loan debt, and no interest in my diploma. (Maybe he was the smart one.)
He took a few odd jobs around Sioux Falls, SD, and also purchased a camera. I wondered why he was spending his savings on hardware when he should have been saving to move out. Sam started teaching himself the rules of shooting and editing, and his favorite subject was cars; since high school, he had been detailing cars as a part-time job, and it grew steadily into a passion. Within that passion, his focus turned to a specific brand – BMW.
“I realized that the M4 understood my needs, and that it could turn on a hair if I needed it to, or brake in an instant.”
At the end of spring this year, BMW NA invited the two of us to drive an M4 down the West Coast Highway (wow, my brother was legit!); Sam would capture photos and video, and I would be his driver. I was also assigned with documenting the excursion after the fact, as BMW NA would create an Instagram™ account for this endeavor – and future ones –under the handle @bmwroadtrip. (You can head there for the full story, plus some videos.)
And of that M4: I had never driven something so responsive, so confident, so powerful, and I really got acquainted with it on those shoots. I got to push the car to its limits – and well past my own – as I wrapped Mt. Tam’s corners at 70 mph or sprinted down empty stretches of pavement along Highway 1. (We chose a weekday for that reason.) This car, with its beautiful coat of Yas Marina Blue, was built for thrill, and for safety within that thrill. At first, I didn’t trust it to hug those corners at high speeds, but with Sam’s encouragement – from his perch on a hill just around the bend – I realized that the M4 understood my needs, and that it could turn on a hair if I needed it to, or brake in an instant.
All of this proved useful a few minutes later, when an unsuspecting deer pranced in front of us. And, later in the trip, when we autocrossed at Bimmerfest outside of LA, my trust in the M4 would help me get a sub-minute track time. (Sam still beat me, and nearly everyone else, by a few extra seconds.) Days later in Palm Springs, we pushed it even harder with the help of professional driver Emile Bouret, doing burnouts and donuts and giggling like teenagers after each rubber-peeling stunt.
Along the way, we met with a bunch of Sam’s “car friends” – the Garagewelt™ and Stanceworks® teams, some guys from BAVSound™ in San Diego and Renown USA in San Francisco, plus a few other enthusiasts. They all shared a love for this brand, and they all knew each other from meetups despite being spread across the state. (And in Sam’s case, two states over.) One friend, Dylan Leff in Escondido (near San Diego), had owned and refurbished 49 BMWs in his life. He is 27. Every one of these people spoke Sam’s language, and for the first time in my life, I got to understand the culture and community that fueled his interests and career.
I had two goodbyes within a few hours on that 13th and final day. One, the M4, our trusty, beloved steed, who connected the two of us – sometimes at 120 mph, sometimes in rapid 360-degree hairpin turns blanketed in clouds of smoke. The other, my focused, talented and debt-free little brother. My pride for him swells.