This Saturday, while TR was griping about how the rain and wind ruined his golf outing, I drove 100 miles in a rainstorm to attended an "Audi driving experience" event at Monticello Motor Club. I'm not sure how I was deemed worthy of an invitation, but I assume it had something to do with being a subscriber to Car and Driver for almost 30 years, owning a plurality of Audis, and the data obtained from various tracking cookies.
I was the probably the youngest attendee, but for two trophy wives in their early thirties who dutifully attended with their wizened husbands. There were about 40 people total, all white, all but three male, almost all in their late 40s to mid 50s. It was like a partners meeting at a law firm, except everyone wore jeans.
The first leg of the event was a drive on public roads in an A3 and an A6. This was reasonably enjoyable, in no small part thanks to the 50-something guy I rode with, Dave. He had just bought his daughter an A3, and he used to run a BMW dealership. Now he drives a vintage 911, auto crosses a souped up Mini, and has a Cayenne S as his daily wheels. Apparently he gets invited to lots of these things.
The second leg was an auto cross course. First we drove an A3, 228i, and a CLA 250. The 228i was surprisingly unathletic. The CLA was zippy but uncomfortable and the shifter was ridiculously fussy. The A3 was the best of the group. Then we drove an A6, 535i, and an E350. We ran out of time before I could drive the Bimmer, but the A6 beat the pants off of the Merc.
Dave gave me a few auto cross pointers at the start and he laid down some great times. But it turns out that I'm fast as hell (which all the ladies already know).
Parenthetically, I'd never been to one of these types of things before but I nailed the outfit perfectly. Everyone wore a short sleeve shirt under a zip up fleece under a waterproof soft shell, neither of which were made by North Face, and a cotton twill cap that did not have the logo of a sport team. One guy in his mid forties rocked a 918 Spyder hat, implying that he did one of these for Porsche's 918 launch. Dooshey, but I was envious. I had the best kicks though, natch.
The third and final leg was what made me drive 100 miles in the rain. We drove an Audi RS5 on the big track at the race club. The RS5 is an A5 on steroids, and I'm talking Victor Conte's finest A-Rod stuff, not just the cream or the clear. The highlight is a 4.2 liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine making 450 horsepower. If you don't know much about cars, that's a lot of horsepower, more than double the output of an A5. Here's the video of my run. I ran out of talent at 3:34 but managed to keep it on the track. Unfortunately, Dave was no Claude Lelouch so the cinematography pales in comparison to Claude's.
Then we drove an R8, Audi's halo product. It's a legit supercar. It has the same engine as an RS5, but it's a lighter car with the engine located behind the passengers and in front of the rear axle. This mid-engine layout puts all the weight in the middle of the car and results in superb handling. Base price starts at $115,900 and it climbs precipitously when you add options (like the $9100 automatic transmission, for example). The one we drove was probably optioned out to about $150,000. To say it's a preposterous car is an understatement. As you can see, it repeatedly made me say "Jesus Christ" and other expletives of that nature.
I had tremendous fun and accomplished numerous first: my first drive in a 400+ horsepower car, my first drive in a supercar, my first drive on a track. All in the rain! It took great restraint to obey speed limits on the way home, and now I'm frustratingly trying to justify getting a used RS5 while remaining a fiscally responsible parent. I keep telling myself that zson will probably get a magna-tile scholarship (he's a wizard with those things) so I don't need to save money for his college tuition. zdaughter isn't good at anything yet so saving for her tuition is the reason why I can't join a track.
If you ever have the chance to go to one of these track days you should do it, regardless of the manufacturer or your lack of interest in fast cars. You'll have a blast, although you might end up resenting your kids.