|September 20, 2007
TT-East 2007: Charleston, SC
Historic and beautiful Charleston, South Carolina played host to the 2007 TT-East event held September 7-9. The annual gathering is now in its 7th year, and has matured into an exceptionally run event. TT-East organizers seem to think of everything and every day's schedule is packed full with interesting and fun things to do, places to go, scenic drives, tours and more. That said, this year proved more difficult tha in past years for organizers to put together the type of activities that TT-East has come to be known for.
Two primary examples of missing activities: the ever popular autocross and the equally popular parking lot hangout. Organizers were disappointed that no suitable location materialized for the autocross, but without the right kind of large, open paved lot there is no way to stage on safely. A charity car show to benefit a local Children's Hospital was planned as well, but unfortunately it fell through as well.
Adding to this the city location meant that hotel parking was atop a 6-level garage, which was rather hot, humid and poorly lit at night.
But rather than focus on negatives - and to be clear they were minor in the context of the overall event - let's look at all the great things about this well-executed gathering of die hard Audi TT owners (and former owners). Headquarters for the event was the historic and beautifully restored Francis Marion Hotel right in the middle of downtown Charleston. This location made it easy to access walking tours throughout the city, get to a local winery where a tour had been arranged or make a scenic drive to the beach.
Another excellent activity that was attended by the vast majority of those at TT-East was the visit scheduled to the USS Yorktown/Naval Museum and the boat ride and tour of Fort Sumter on Saturday morning. It is clearly impossible to spend time in an area as historically relevant as Charleston without reflecting on some the major conflicts that ultimately shaped our great country.
Interestingly enough, the only part of Saturday's scheduled activities that involved the cars was a drive from the Francis Marion across the spectacular RT17/Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge - the longest cable supported span in the world - to the USS Yorktown tour at Patriots Point.
This phenomenon did not go unnoticed by most attendees, who freely acknowledge that TT-East has become so much more than just a car weekend. Rather, many see TT-East as a primarily social event that happens to have a common theme with the Audi TT. All agree that the friendships which have formed are real and lifelong, and therefore don't necessarily require TT-centric activities to keep the bonds active. Sure, most would have loved to participate in an autocross or spirited drive in the country, but that just was not in the cards this year. And, like usual, there's always next year for those things.
Instead, folks were inclined to mill about the vibrant city, taking in the sights and visiting with old friends as well as making new friends. Topics like cars, modifications, trips and the like usual found their way into the conversation over a meal or a drink. Most seemed happy to relax and enjoy what the Charleston area had to offer.
This turn of events did not hinder the ever present need for folks to keep their cars clean. From our hotel room we had a great view of the parking lot where we spied people doing requisite cleanups in the morning. The owner's pride was very evident, and there were no two cars that were turned out in the same fashion. Lots of different wheel choices, engine modifications and other mods were on disply.
If the daily events seemed low on car content, the final evening's dinner and prize raffle were just the opposite. Thanks to exceedingly generous event sponsors, there were piles of great prizes to be had. REVO was personally represented by North American sales director George Osmun, who was an active participant in TT-East. George joined up with the AudiWorld crew for several events to keep us company and was offered significant discounts on ECU flashing and demo flashing. 42 Draft Designs provided a sweet Downpipe/cat combo which was picked up by a VERY happy winner. AWE, Stoner, Modshack, the TT Club, Forge, Meguiars, Stoner, Detailer's Domain, Bentley Publishers, TT Stuff, Audi Car Club of America, California Car Covers and Langka all provided items for the raffles and giveaways.
Another traditon at TT-East is the group photo of all of the TT's in a scenic location. This year two prime parking spots at the front of the group were made availible to attendees. The first was given away in the raffle, while the last one was auctioned off with the proceeds going to the aforementioned Children's Hospital. The success of this auction just further shows the true spirit of TT-East and the attendees.
Here's looking forward to next year!