Event: 2023 Audi Club Nationals – The Carolinas Experience

photos: Chris May, Eli Pastura Parallax Collective, Jose Mercado – Merc Racing If you’re going to come back after being gone for a few years, you may as well make it bucket list. Perhaps that was the thinking when Audi Club Carolinas raised their hand to take on the mantle of Audi Club Nationals host for the first time since pre-pandemic years and placing the event at the foot… or rather tail…of a Dragon. Shortly before the pandemic, Audi Club Carolinas went through a reorganization. In that time, a freshened leadership team as seen an even broader mix of enthusiasts step up to get involved. In that time, Carolinas has also built, reestablished and/or grown a healthy mix of recurring events for their members. One of these was their annual Treffen, which they decided to open up to the national Audi Club organization, moving it to western North Carolina’s Fontan Village resort that. Virtually around the corner is the popular bucket list driving road Tail of the Dragon, not to mention other even more intensely satisfying routes with names like Cherohola Skyway and Hellbender. Audi Club Carolinas planned a multi-day flexible schedule with constant activities Audi owners and enthusiasts could sign up for, or leave open in an effort to choose their own adventure. The group took inspiration from the long-established “Wookies in the Woods” event that focuses non-exclusively on VR6-powered Audi and Volkswagen models. In the case of Carolinas’ Audi Club Nationals event, the focus would be a non-exclusive focus on anything Audi. Like Wookies, Carolinas’ Nationals event was based at the Fontana Village resort. With an expansive grounds and range of housing options, Fontana Village is a popular destination for automotive groups headed to the area. That it’s about a mile from the Tail of the Dragon and popular hangout spots like the Killboy shop, home to the original Tail of the Dragon photographer where you can park, grab a drink, ogle other Dragon veterans’ cars or pose for photos by welded sculptures of dragons festooned with stickers slapped there by car enthusiasts and the occasional conspiracy theorist.

During the day, the Carolinas team, augmented by volunteers from nearby Georgia and Florida chapters, led lead-follow group drives on the most iconic driving routes around. Drives were geared towards varied interests such as spirited driving, destination drives and sight-seeing. Mealtimes were when most attendees would come together. Morning breakfasts also served as driver meetings and gathering points where groups would prepare to head out for the day’s adventure. Official Audi Club insurance provider Amica provided the initial welcome, reminding drivers to be safe and underlining that point by donating a substantial monetary gift to the event’s chosen charity that is is responsible for accident support throughout the Tail of the Dragon region, a job that can be challenging given the lack of mobile phone connectivity amidst the remote mountain backdrop. In the evenings, dinners gave way to gatherings around large fire pits, or cocktails in the lobby of the main hotel. On Saturday, early drives gave way to an afternoon car show. Here, members parked their cars at various spots around Fontana’s meeting lodge and athletic fields, strolling around the space, chatting with other owners or checking out the cars that varied from an early box-era Audi 5000 to a healthy mix of the latest models from Audi. Mingling with the eclectic group of owners was made even more interesting with the presence of several key invited guests and Audi Club sponsors that are also part of the enthusiast community. Noted YouTube personalities Brian Scotto, Jamie Orr and Charles Shackleford known as “Humble Mechanic” mingled with guests, and were joined by Dave Pecoraro (formerly Hoonigan Racing Division, now Integrated Engineering) to act as celebrity judges for the member’s car show. This grouping was augmented by additional guests from ABT Sportsline, GMP Performance and Integrated Engineering.

On Saturday night, Hoonigan founder Brian Scotto was the key speaker at the final dinner, a gala themed around the 1920s to celebrate the moonshiner car culture that took root here in the Carolinas mountains and ultimately gave root to stock car racing. On the final Sunday morning, breakfast included a Q&A session with Jamie Orr who walked members through the ins and outs of European car importation, not to mention a few memorable stories he’s experienced in his time becoming one of the foremost experts on the subject. Followed by a photo shoot at the nearby Fontana Dam, members packed their cars and hit the mountain roads one last time on their way home. Audi Club aims to return the Audi Club Nationals event to the schedule as an annual occurrence, and if Audi Club Board member Brian Scotto has his way, it may evolve into something even more unique. Watch this space and be sure not to miss it next year.

Editor’s Note: Audi Club North America would like to thank Audi Club Carolinas for hosting event, bringing back this long-held tradition in such a memorable way. Credit also goes to generous Carolinas members, as well as members from other nearby chapters who dedicated their time making sure other Audi owners traveling in for the event had an unforgettable experience.