August 4, 2006
Text and Photos by: Dave Kraige
The third annual Old School quattro gathering in Cumberland, Maryland was a great event in a series that gets better every year! Held at the Cumberland Regional Airport in cooperation with National Road Autosport, a local auto enthusiast club, OSq III had something to offer every Audi enthusiast. While the central theme of the event was autocrossing, there was also plenty of time for great food, meeting fellow Audi owners, and cruising through the mountainous countryside surrounding Cumberland.
The event started Friday, July 28th with an informal dinner and get-together in historic downtown Cumberland. This was a chance for those participants who got in to town early to get to know one another and share stories about their Audi experiences. With the weekly downtown festivals held in Cumberland during the summer, it was a lively place to kick off an exciting weekend.
Saturday started bright and early at the airport. The weather was warm, but there was no threat of rain, so it looked like it would be a good day to race. The event organizers set aside a nice section of the paddock for Audi parking, and the space quickly filled with a variety of Ingolstadt exports, both competition cars and spectators.
2006 was the year of the engine swap at OSq, with four participating cars having undergone heart surgery. They were Lance Russels blue 4000 quattro upgraded to 90 20V quattro sedan engine, running gear, and interior, Brian Schoonovers silver Coupe GT upgraded to a 7A 20V engine, Dave Kases silver Ersatz S2 with a 20V turbo engine, and Alan Kramers red Coupe GT upgraded to a 4.2 V8. This years event was also showed the best turnout to date of Audi Coupes, with a total of ten two-doors of various age and configuration.
During the early morning hours, autocrossers attended to any last-minute preparations necessary for racing before completing technical inspection. Once the cars were all ready to race, it was time to learn the course. Those unfamiliar with autocrossing may not be aware that walking the course is the most important part of the sport. The course is different at every event, and competitors only get a small number of timed runs, anywhere from 3 to 6. There are no practice runs. The only practice is gained by walking the course as many times as possible to learn all its intricacies. Walking the course is an art learned by experience, and fortunately some of the more experienced Audi drivers were able to help out novices so everybody would be comfortable with the course before their first run. National Road Autosport also offers ride-along instructors for any drivers looking for additional help.
The first car of the day left the starting line at about 10:40 AM. Audi drivers worked the course during the first heat, giving them a chance to see the course in action and take mental notes before driving later in the day. As usual for Cumberland, the course was very technical and challenging, but also very fast. The large taxiways allow for high speeds while still being very safe with lots of runoff room. The course design was easy to follow, and chalk outlines made getting lost on course a non-issue. National Road Autosport tends to design their courses to be simple and flowing, emphasizing driver smoothness and racing line selection, not memory or visual acuity.
After a break during the second heat, the Old School quattro drivers filled a good portion of the third heat, making an impressive showing on the grid. Performance on the track was impressive as well, particularly considering the limited autocross experience of the group, demonstrating the advantage of all-wheel-drive even on dry pavement. At the top of the Audi speed charts were event organizers Doug Macy and Dave Kraige. Doug was the fastest Audi in town, laying down a best time of 60.033 seconds in his well-sorted, track-ready 1990 Coupe quattro 20V, while Dave was somewhat slower at 62.058 in his more street-friendly 1991 Coupe quattro 20V.
Once all the racing was completed for the day, the Audi camp began packing up and preparing for the 50-mile mountain cruise that would end at the picnic put on by National Road Autosport at Mike McCaghs farm and Corvette museum. The cruise, designed by Macy, featured a nice mix of twisty back roads and sweeping turns, all while showing off the beauty of the area around Cumberland. While the drive was great fun and brought many smiles to drivers and onlookers alike, Audi owners with stiff suspensions arrived at the picnic wondering why Maryland and West Virginia roads are so bumpy!
Everybody made it to the picnic ready to eat, and the food did not disappoint! The picnics after Saturday National Road Autosport events are not to be missed, and are a great way to cap off a fantastic day of racing! Everybody left the farm with some great photographs, better memories, and a feeling of excitement for next years event.
Stay tuned to the OSq event homepage for information on Old School quattros IV in 2007!