November 3, 2002

TT West 2002: A Gathering of Friends
Article and photos by Joe Lucchio

As the title suggests, this second annual TT-West event was as much about the people as it was about the cars. TT owners from east, west, north and south converged on the bright lights and fanfare called Las Vegas between October 24th and October 27th for this year's event. Caravans from Washington State, Arizona, Colorado and as far away as Minnesota and Illinois hit the road seeking the riches that TT-West 2002 was to offer. It was a time to renew old friendships as well as meet some new TT fanatics and put a face to that strange forum nickname.

If you've ever ventured into the TT Forum here on Audiworld you might have a vague understanding of the diversity of the crowd who owns these cars, but you need to spend a few days with them to truly find out how diverse they really are. While we all stood around admiring the cars and talked about big brake kits, chip and exhaust "mods" and failed diverter valves, it was truly the people that made this event. Don't get me wrong, the TT's still played a big roll in the event. The amount of strange looks, finger pointing and oohs and ahhs directed at the 40+ TT's rolling down the crowded Strip made it seem as if the real Elvis had just been sighted.

This years event was action packed and offered the attendees a wide variety of things to do, including two outstanding drives through locations that seemed almost surreal at times, a trip to the Guggenheim Las Vegas's "Art of the Motorcycle" exhibit, a starlit dinner cruise on Lake Mead, and an Octoberfest dinner and raffle at the nearby Gordon Biersch Brewery to wrap things up on the last night. I can only imagine the countless amount of hours the event organizers spent agonizing over the details that made TT-West 2002 such a top-notch event. Hats off to Gina Castle and company for yet another amazing event. Let's also not forget the 22 or so sponsors of the event who contributed items both large and small the final nights raffle.

We're Going to Vegas Baby!

As I pulled into the parking lot of the Marriott Residence Inn in Hughes Center (TT-West central and sponsor hotel) early Thursday afternoon, a couple things dawned on me. The first was that this location was so completely different from the previous TT-West 2001 event in Nakoma, with the almost cartoonish skyline of Las Vegas a stark contrast to the towering pines of Lake Tahoe. Second was the fact that after 500+ miles of driving I'd have to wash my car yet again! Of course the event planners had thought of everything. They had blocked off a car wash area in the parking lot (in the shade no less) complete with hose, buckets and two TT's already in it. It was refreshing to see everyone helping each other out and that no one had taken the online Zymol vs. Zaino battles too seriously.

I checked into the hotel and headed off to Gordon Biersch next door for some liquid refreshment and a bite to eat. Luckily I somehow managed to squeeze in and get my car done just in time for registration. For the next couple of hours, more and more TT's filled the hotel parking lot and it's was apparent that we had taken over as nighttime approached. Thursday night was one of the few times that there were no plans and everyone was free to do as they pleased. Several groups got together and headed downtown to the Strip for some food, sightseeing, some gambling action or all of the above.

Time to Get this Road on the Show

Friday morning rolled around and first on the agenda was the Red Rock Canyon drive. Event coordinator extraordinaire Gina Castle rallied the troops in the Hotel lobby and went over the drive directions which had been outlined in the "Drive Packet", which I have to say was an excellent play by play, mile by mile, account of the planned drive. As the herd headed out to their cars, the show finally was hitting the road.

After a somewhat traffic-snarled beginning, we got out of Vegas proper and headed off to the canyon. Although we had only driven 20 miles or so from the hotel - it had seemed liked we entered a whole other dimension as we approached Red Rock Canyon State Park. Tumbleweed filled expanses gave way to towering rock formation in grays, browns and reds. The weather was great and we rolled into the Visitor Center and regrouped in anticipation of the short drive around the one-way Canyon road. After the requisite photos and usual "mod" filled discussions - we were back on the road through the State Park.

Since most of us had spent many hours behind the wheel getting to TT-West, the short drive was just right and we headed back towards town and the Guggenheim Las Vegas's "Art of the Motorcycle" exhibit at the Venetian Hotel Casino. I'm amazed that we kept the group of forty plus TT's together as well as we did. Pulling off the freeway and down Las Vegas Boulevard towards the Venetian, it was fun watching the people walking along the crowded streets turn and point and mumble something. One of our gang even got a big thumbs up from a guy in a multi-colored, body kitted, monster winged Civic!

After lining up in the parking garage, most of us headed through the casino to the exhibit. I'll have to admit it was good to finally stretch out the legs and walk around. The exhibit was outstanding and I sure wish they had let us bring cameras in - but alas they weren't allowed. If you are into motorcycles, or even if you are not, you need to see this exhibit, it is truly something special.

By this time the group had pretty much split apart with some people going back to the hotel to wash their cars yet again or off down to other locations on the Strip. As we arrived back at the hotel we noticed quite a group had gathered around the APR trailer that made the long voyage to TT-West from Alabama. I guess several people in the group "saw the light" after the drive and decided that they needed a little something extra for the Saturday drive. It was some rare downtime before the drive off to Lake Mead for the evening dinner and cruise.

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