May 31, 2000

The Audi Quattro Club Drivers School and Safety Seminar
Text and photos by John Stahmann and Steve Sherwood

Driving by one hotel, the parking lot was full of Hummers. Driving by another hotel, the parking lot was full of Audis. What was going on April 7-9 in Pahrump, Nevada? Well, if you drove a Hummer, you were there for the Terrible Herbst 250 desert race, but if you drove an Audi, chances are you were attending the Audi Quattro Club Drivers School and Safety Seminar.

The Pahrump event is one of 17 official Audi Quattro Club Drivers Schools and Safety Seminars held at different locations throughout the USA this year. These events are held to provide a way for Audi owners to become more familiar with their cars, handle their cars at speed, hone their driving skills, and have fun -- all in a safe, controlled environment. Sixty four drivers participated in this event, driving an assortment of Audis and other automobile makes.

The event was held at the location of the Bragg-Smith Advanced Driving School. The Bragg-Smith school is the official GM Corvette/Camaro driving track that is owned and operated by Rupert Smith. The track is a 2.2 mile road course with 10 turns, which made for some fun driving.

The Instructor's clinic started off the weekend on Friday. Most drivers showed up sometime on Friday afternoon, checked in to their hotel, and started running into other Audi owners (not literally). On Friday night we all got together for Hors d'oeuvres and to find out who our instructors would be. Each participant is assigned to an instructor, and each instructor is only assigned to 2 or 3 participants of different skill levels in order to give very personalized attention to each driver.

Saturday morning we all met out at the track as the sun was coming up. All drivers met where we reviewed the track rules, received some instruction, and then the driving began! The advanced group were the first on the track, while the less experienced drivers participated in threshold braking and slalom exercises to help become familiar with the handling characteristics of our cars. Once on the track, each driver has an instructor that rides along, helping the driver to understand the correct way to drive the track - looking ahead of you through the turns, taking the correct lines, braking and shifting correctly. Safe speeds and following distances are maintained, and all drivers were very courteous.

Later that night we all met for a dinner/auction put on by Ronal Wheels and Pirelli Tires. Each driver received a crystal wine glass marking the event, courtesy of Pirelli, and, courtesy of Ronal Wheels, a 'Certificate of Completion' - a Goldgraph by the the world famous artist, Raj L. Champaneri, who provided similar Goldgraphs to this year's Grammy Awards winners. The highlight of the evening was the auction, where we were all able to bid on items donated by various sponsors with all proceeds going to the Audi Quattro Club. Some of the sponsors and items were:

  1. Ronal Wheels USA: Donation of a set of 17" R-7 alloy wheels and track rental fee.
  2. Pirelli Tires: Donation of a set of "just released" NEW Pirelli PZero Rosso tires, 225/45/ZR17 tires.
  3. Dick's Audimotive (TAP-Total Audi Performance)--Donation of any type of Chip Upgrade.
  4. UUC Motorwerks--Donation of their popular short shift kit.
  5. SmarTire--Donation of a complete set of Wireless Air Pressure & Temperature Sensor Kits.
  6. Nology--Donation of a complete set of hi-performance capacitor spark plug wires and Beru Spark Plugs.
  7. Commonwealth VW/Audi: Donation of a new set of Shocks for the A62.7T
  8. Neuspeed: Donation of a set of Springs
  9. Mothers Wax and Polish: Donation of a wide array of exterior and interior car care products.

Gary Allison of Ronal Wheels was the auctioneer and the bidding was fast and furious. One of the best deals of the night went to Robert Zeller, who purchased the set of Ronal R-7 alloy wheels and Pirelli PZero Rosso tires for a steal at $1100 to go on his A4.

Sunday we met at the track again and the groups took turns driving on the track. Most drivers took advantage of the opportunity to ride along with an instructor, which was not only fun, but was a great way to see how the more experienced drivers drove the course. Riding with Rupert Smith, the track owner, in one of the Corvette's was one ride I won't soon forget, as well as riding with Sharon in her Imola Yellow S4. What fun!

Most Audi models were represented at the event including several new S4's, A6 2.7T's, A6 4.2, TT coupes, A4 2.8's, A4 1.8T's, 90's, 4000's, 5000's, S4's, Coupe quattros, etc. Some of the other non-Audi vehicles that were there included a Dodge Viper, a Honda S2000, Porsche 911 Cabriolet, 2 BMW Z3 Coupes, and a Daihatsu.

To cap off a great day, Rupert Smith in one of the Corvette's literally ran circles around Todd Serota and his 911 Cabriolet.

Thanks to the Audi Quattro Club, Rupert Smith, Ronal Wheels, Pirelli Tires, Mother's, and all the other sponsors and instructors who made this weekend event possible. There are more Quattro Club Driving and Safety Seminars this year. I would highly recommend attending one.

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