|August 25, 2008
urq 25 North America Event: "We're Making History Here"
It is easy to read about history. It is even a simple task to look up historical facts on the internet. However, how often do you get to actually live it and KNOW you are living it? It is an amazing experience to be a part of history in the making and that is exactly what a select group of people experienced in Glenwood Springs, CO on August 9-10, 2008.
The historical event in question was a fantastic celebration of the 25th anniversary of the original Audi quattro landing on our North American Shores. Call it what you want (Turbo quattro Coupe, urq, urquattro or just "quattro"), but make no mistake that this all-wheel-drive, flared fendered, grand touring sports car enjoys cult status these days. As word spread about a grand celebration of this momentous occasion there was palpable excitement.
As it turns out that excitement was well deserved because the event was simply spectacular. I know that word gets thrown around a lot, but the unbelievable beauty of the Colorado Mountains and the perfect weather couldn't have been ordered up any better. The lucky few who descended on Colorado were treated to the greatest gathering of quattros in North America since the vehicle was introduced 25 years ago.
Friday night was the official start of the festivities, but Saturday was the first time we all got to see the cars gathered together in one place and in the light of day. I was one of the first to arrive at the designated area and I can not tell you how magnificent it was to watch each flared fender'd urq make its appearance. Some arrived in groups and some made singular arrivals, but time seemed to stand still as the German iron rolled in.
At this point the party shifted gears as people started to put names with faces and cars. Some of us had been trading e-mails and posting on discussion forums and lists for better than a decade, but had never met. The collection of cars and the camaraderie of the assembled owners was pure magic!
The range of cars represented was as expansive as the mountains surrounding the gathering. A 1981 model with EFI all the way up to a bone stock 1990 factory 20v car was represented; daily driver "beaters" to amazingly perfect "garage queens" and everything in-between. Did I mention there was a genuine Sport Quattro? How about an ex-rally car? 2 Bennett Audimotive even brought a wide body car that was completed so shortly before the event that you could smell the paint continuing to cure in the heat of the sun.
After lunch was served it was time to take a journey through the stunning back roads of the Roaring Fork Valley to the predetermined location for the "official" group photograph. This would be a 40 minute drive on some of the most beautiful roads Colorado has to offer and wouldn't you know it, the sun started to disappear behind the clouds and the temperature started to drop. It was as if the Audi Gods were smiling down with a little cool air to keep all the intercoolers nice and chilled. As with many group drives it proved impossible to keep all the cars together as a group, but I suspect each and every person had their own version of a perfect drive.
The group photo was something like a large family reunion gathering with an overwhelming task of getting every car arranged in an organized manner. The underlying goal was to get them all in the frame of the picture, capture the mountains in the background and convey the importance of the occasion. There was a lot of "you go here", now you go here", "no, no, back up 3 feet", but no one seemed to care. A quick look around the lot revealed a smile on EVERY single face. We were all there to enjoy the car, the people and the moment, so it just didn't matter that we took some extra time to make sure everything was as perfect as possible. The end result was a traffic-stopping (literally), historical moment reflecting 32 quattros and 1 Sport Quattro in an awe-inspiring photo. "You had to be there" might be the understatement to end all understatements, at least in the last 25 years.
After disbanding we all took a breather and got cleaned up for the banquet at the Hotel Colorado. Entering the banquet room we are greeted with an unbelievable array of goodies that had been donated by the sponsors for raffle, silent auction and live auction. Attendees were busy purchasing long strings of raffle tickets and making the rounds to stuff tickets in jars for the chance to win various prizes. Guests were also marveling over the Aluminum radiator, Nokian Tires and leather quattro briefcase all standing by for the live auction after dinner. Drooling over the goodies was put on hold though because dinner was then served!
After the meal the group (having grown to 130 strong thanks to spouses and children) was treated to an unbelievable presentation by the organizers featuring Karl Baehre. Karl moved to Colorado from Germany as a young man and quickly became the service manager at one of the leading Colorado dealerships. He was fortunate at that time to have connections at the factory that went all the way to the top. As a result, Karl received and tested the VERY first quattro stateside because Audi AG executives thought that Colorado was "quattro country". The next hour and half included stories about the history of the quattro, the 5 cylinder engine and the good old days which thoroughly captivated the crowd. We even got to see some photos which clearly were not available to the general public. Living quattro history was right there in the room with us.
As good as Saturday's festivities were, Sunday was the proverbial icing on the cake. The event moved that day to the Aspen Motorsport Park, which is so close to the town of Aspen that you can see the ski area chair lifts from the track paddock. This impeccably maintained facility is a country club style track and very few "common folk" ever get the privilege of even seeing this facility, let alone the chance to drive it.
After a little early morning coffee and a driver's meeting, we are all lined up for a few parade laps with all the quattros. Many people have been involved with parade laps that become a little faster and more intense than organizers anticipate, and this was no exception. The chance to put the assembled Audi magic on the track got everybody a little overexcited and we all enjoyed pushing a little harder as a result. Following the parade lap the track time was organized into various run groups with Audi's glorious 5-cylinder providing the "music" for the day. Truth be told, there was a large varity of cars there running on the track (all invited by the organizers), as well as free access all day long to the neighboring Go-Karts. Still, nothing at or around the track was nearly as exhilarating as the 25-year legacy of the quattro.
After a wonderfully long day, hand shakes were exchanged and the crowd started to thin as we watched quattro after quattro file out the gate for the drive home. For some, that drive home meant Toronto (Canada) and for others it meant a short trip back to Glenwood. Wherever attendees were returning to we were all grateful for an amazing weekend and people universally agreed that the trip to the event was well worth it.
This event recap started with the notion that at the urq 25th Anniversary event we were living and making history. All in all event organizers confirmed that there were 35 quattros and 1 Sport Quattro gathered in Glenwood over the weekend. That means that in the last 25 years there has never, ever been more quattros gathered in North America in one place at one time. That, folks, is history!
The organizers of the event wish to thank all the sponsors, a list of which is available on the official event website www.urq25.com. Additionally, a HUGE thanks go out to all the owners who came to be a part of this very special gathering. Without the enthusiasts bringing their cars and their passion the event could have never been held in the first place.