Where to start? I guess, by backpedaling over 42 years ago for my first experience with an Audi. As a young kid (24), I was a Banker and I financed the new Audis for the local Audi dealership…Green Oaks Porsche/Audi. Front wheel drive…100LS…and the stark Audi Fox (who remembers that?). Go forward a few years, where I had resigned from the bank and started a Porsche/Audi service business. I had been racing Porsche 911’s for several years with very good success. I was hired by Bob Bondurant to help with a “Ride N Drive” program, highlighting the Mercury Merkur at Green Valley Raceway. The “competitors” were the BMW 320i, Saab turbo…and the Audi 4000. Lo and behold…I found the Audi superior to all of the cars in brakes and handling!!
My SCCA racing led me to fabricating other race cars. I got a call from Jo Hoppen at VW Motorsports, asking if I was interested in race prepping (also driving) a 1982 Quattro Coupe for a 24 hour race at Mid-Ohio. With Elliot Forbes Robinson as the lead driver and Indy car owner Jim Trueman (who also owned the Mid-Ohio race track), and car owner John Schneider…I set about the task. The resulting story upon request!!
Fast forward past my Porsche 924 and 944 Firestone Firehawk racing history (along with a few formula cars) to my IMSA , Grand Am, and Pirelli World Challenge days, building and racing several Audi S4’s, TT’s, and then the first racing TT RS in the country. Oh, and a few VW GTI’s thrown in also.
One setback was a health issue…a quadruple bypass right before the start of the 2013 racing season became just a blip on the screen. I was back in the race car (missing two races) in three months driving my extremely fast TT RS. But…mid season of the 2014 season, and after a few disheartening starts…I decided to hang up my helmet. Sold was my wonderful TT RS. Sold was my 53′ Audi Sport tractor trailer rig. Sold was most of my race refueling equipment, etc. Time to concentrate on my Porsche/Audi service business, and the real estate business I was building…..and retire from racing. My race career spanned 37 years….a lot of wins and podium finishes…with some dnf’s (and a few crashes) along the way.
BUT….never say never. After an invitation from Scott Keogh, President of Audi of America, I attended the Audi Sport Launch in New York this past April. The Audi bug and ownership had never gone away. I already had my new TT RS on order straight from Audi…and…an opportunity came up to be the Audi Sport Specialist at Audi Grapevine….brand new building…42 bay service shop…massive showroom….Wow! Duties…selling R8’s, TT RS’s, RS7’s…all the Audi sport cars…plus…working to bring together the Audi performance community in having an Audi dealership that…cares about performance…has someone knowledgeable to speak “Audi”…and has the background to make it work.
My special tours (thanks to Stephan Reil) of several Audi manufacturing facilities, including the massive Gyor engine plant and the R8 LMS and TT RS race shops, and several stops at Audi headquarters in Herndon, Va….as well as the Audi Sport facilities in Ohio…were items that swelled my Audi resume’. Tristan Herbert, Brad Kettler, Andy Sattler…all of Audi Sport…were instrumental in what was to happen next.
In June, I was invited by Audi Sport to participate in a test drive of the new TCR race car, the RS3 LMS. Let me just say this…I am glad of the phrase…”never say never”. Two ½ months later…I have a brand new Audi RS3 LMS race car sitting on the showroom of Audi Grapevine. Fabulous…superbly built…exciting…throw any adjective you want in here! Now…the search is on for sponsors and a well sorted and funded co-driver for the 2018 IMSA TCR Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race series. While certainly not new to endurance racing…the 4 and 2 hour race formats provide plenty of excitement and very close racing.
One thing very dear to me is sponsorship I have just received that will allow my team to once again partner with “The Arc”…an international organization that is an advocate for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilites. Each track we race on, we will get 20 or so individuals with Downs, Fragile X, Autism…etc…to be “Honorary Crewmembers” on our race team for the weekend. We did it for two seasons, and the resulting smiles and handshakes will last a lifetime!!!