Event Report: Avantoberfest West

By: Neil Gjertsen, photos: Gene Pascua

Editor’s note: This originally appeared in the Q1_2021 isue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.

Mammoth Lakes, CA

There is so much to say about this event out west. First off, the nervous feeling of making it happen on a coast I was so unfamiliar with, during a global pandemic… and wildfires! This led to a few people I now count as good friends. They came through, believed in the event and in me.  We made this happen.

That Saturday morning, we met at the Ontario Mills Mall.  With so many COVID-19 restrictions, we just could not find a location that would open and host us. Public mall parking was the next best thing.

Fifteen cars met us that morning. After breakfast and registration, we headed out to Mammoth Lakes, a   5.5-hour drive with breathtaking views sometimes obstructed by fire smoke.  About an hour into the drive, the group paused at a dry lakebed to investigate the overland concept for upcoming events.  Perhaps surprisingly, everyone with the group was able to make the 3.5-mile journey out to the dry lakebed via washboard dirt roads.

After arriving in Mammoth Lakes a few hours late, the group met up with the last six cars to complete the journey to Mammoth Mountain.  At the top, we were greeted by a stunning smoke-filtered sunset.  There was time for a quick “hi” and “hello”, then off to Mammoth Brew Company for a dinner and some laughs about the epic journey up from Los Angeles.

Sunday morning, we woke to clearing skies and southwest winds that helped move the wildfire smoke out of the picture. We traveled up and around Mammoth Lakes, out to and around June Lake, where we got a glimpse of the iconic yellow Aspen trees in the fall.

Out on location, there were photo shoots and laughs, lunch with some raffle items and then the finish of the planned weekend. A few planning to remain until Monday set out to find place for a sunset cruise… and ended up arriving at Minerate Vista.  After waiting patiently taking in the views, the sun finally set.  This was the best way to close out such an amazing weekend, with new friends and an even larger Avantoberfest Family. Next year, a second run to Mammoth is a must do event, and we are already planning it!

For me, this West Coast event has left endless smiles and thoughts of when I can go back again!  For 10 years, I saw a lot of the same faces on the East Coast, with some only seen that same weekend every year. But, to meet complete strangers and interact and converse like we have been friends for a lifetime says something about the West Coast car culture. It all proved to me that, even during a global pandemic, people needed to get out and be socially distanced, but still enjoy the cars we love so much.  There is no better way to be socially distant than driving hours upon hours, and enjoy a weekend of driving with strangers who became friends and family.