words: Susan Monk, photos: Audi Club Georgia Chapter and Dragos Media
May is a great time to be in north Georgia! Yes, of course, there are the Blue Ridge Mountains, beautiful flora and fauna, lovely lakes and picturesque towns, but the real reason to love it is quattro de Mayo! This year’s Audi drivers’ gathering attracted no less than 161 Audi enthusiasts and 95 cars to The Ridges Resort and Marina in Hiawassee, GA.
The event begins Thursday, with check-in where participants pick up their goody bags including t-shirt, commemorative glass, key chain, sticker and other swag items. Everyone is next grouped up for drives to four different locations for dinner, some destinations being a quick drive while others offer a taste of the great twisting roads that north Georgia has to offer. One group even experienced first-hand the power of Mother Nature as a road that was clear on the way to dinner was blocked by a fallen tree on the way back.
Yes, Mother Nature did try to play havoc on the weekend as the group experienced rain for most of Thursday and Friday. Given the cars in question were quattro, this wasn’t much of a concern… even on the sinewy tarmac of north Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
quattro de Mayo 2017 offered nine different drives for participants to choose from on Friday, and nine more drives on Saturday. Routes included the ever-popular run to the Tail of the Dragon, scenic drives, destination drives, and spirited drives for those looking to explore at a faster pace. Each drive leader planned and drove their routes in advance in order to verify road conditions, parking, lunch destinations, and timing.
Drive leaders competed throughout the weekend for the most creative drive photo award. They also had giveaways to share with lucky participants. Routes with names such as Bud & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Dragon Hellbender, Hangover Drive, Over the Hills & Through the Forest, North Georgia Curves & Falls and 1000 Years of Georgia History point towards the diversity that offered a little something for everyone seeking to hit the roads. And, for those who didn’t, there was even an option for a spa day on Saturday if you wanted to relax.
Staging nine drives each morning, as you can imagine, presents some challenges, which required clockwork production including one or two drive groups leaving every 15 minutes. Organization, volunteers, and clear instructions are the key to the Audi Club Georgia’s success in these matters.
After a day of driving and socializing, the planned Friday evening cook-out was converted to a “cook-in” due to heavy rain. Even still, the precipitation didn’t dampen the enthusiastic comments on the day’s drives, banter among friends old and new, or competition for fabulous raffle prizes.
Tom Carter from Michelin gave a very informative talk on the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. The tire manufacturer’s continued support for the quattro de Mayo event is critical to its success, though it was also nice to be joined by Tom and his wife Suzanne in their Audi A4 on Friday Waterfall drive.
New for 2017’s running was a first-ever Friday night fireworks spectacular over Lake Chatuge and sponsored by Audi Southern Region. Despite the cold and rainy conditions, it made for an incredible display. Everyone got into the nighttime festivities by sporting their very own glow-in-the-dark necklaces.
Saturday morning dawned with brilliant blue skies for the annual quattro de Mayo photo shoot including each of the vehicles and the attendees. This was no small feat when you consider the number of cars needing positioning for the photo.
Saturday afternoon brought the various groups home to the resort just in time to rest up before evening festivities. During the happy hour sponsored by Eurofed, strategic battles were waged over raffle items and decisions made on just when to place that final bid on a much desired silent auction item.
Of course, there’s also a charitable element to quattro de Mayo. Each year, the event collects donations for the local Meals on Wheels program. With host resort locations always in rural Georgia, North Carolina or Tennessee, there is substantial need and the resources can be stretched thin, so giving back to the host community in this way is very rewarding. Thanks to the generous donations of attendees and a $1,000 donation by the Georgia Chapter from raffle proceeds, the group was able to present a gift of $2,538 to the Towns County Senior Center for Meals on Wheels. Two representatives from the Senior Center joined the event for the presentation dinner and one of them is a volunteer who actually delivers the meals in her Audi Q5!
Good food, laughs over stories shared of drives over the weekend, and prizes won from the raffle and silent auction were all part of our Saturday’s evening event. All told, the quattro de Mayo closing event offered nearly 200 raffle/silent auction items supplied by the event’s generous sponsors, with one of the most hotly contested items being a piece of original art made from car license tags representing the 17 states of our participants.
A final first-time addition to the event was a Sunday morning Show-n-Shine event. Like most any aspect of quattro de Mayo, it proved popular and is expected to return again on next year’s event calendar.
Given the continued success of quattro de Mayo, the Audi Club Georgia Chapter wants to note that it couldn’t do it all without the support of its presenting sponsors Audi Atlanta and Audi Marietta. These two dealerships continue to be critical partners for the chapter throughout the year, and have supported this event for the past seven years. Also critical to the event is the chapter’s quattro de Mayo organizing committee. Eric King, Erica Dailey, Blaine Zartner, Talia Spain, Katie King and Alex Girrbach spent untold hours preparing for this monumental event. To them we say: WELL DONE! BEST EVER!
So yes, we gathered again for the twelfth time, thanks to a small group of Audi enthusiasts from Ohio who took a trip to the iconic Tail of the Dragon in 2005. That group’s trek spawned this most exceptional tradition. While that may mean another quattro de Mayo for the history books, planning has already begun for 2018.
This story originally ran in the Summer 2017 issue of the Audi Club North America quattro quarterly print magazine. In order to subscribe to quattro quarterly, join the Audi Club North America HERE.