Marqued Man: The Next Generation

A couple weeks ago, Audi dropped a video of Lia Block meeting up with Michèle Mouton in San Remo, a “passing of the torch” and way to show off the Audi S1 e-tron Hoonitron featured in Ken Block’s second Electrikhana that also dropped earlier this month. The video is a touching passing of the torch in a lot of ways.

I find Lia Block inspiring. 2023 began with Ken Block’s passing, a tragedy felt by the entire car community, but nowhere more than with Lia and her family. And while Ken Block’s sudden departure has been so impactful this year, so too has Lia’s maturation as a personality and driver in her own right. In less than 12 months, she nabbed the two-wheel drive category championship in the American Rally Association series, landed a seat in the Extreme E global electric rally series and another seat in the Formula 1 Academy grid. Lia was always a rising star, but Ken’s departure and the enormous shadow he cast placed the spotlight intensely on her, where she has so authentically and effectively shined. So, when Michèle Mouton tips her hat to Lia, or Brian Scotto hints at Lia’s possible Gymkhana future or she hints at a possible open wheel future… it all sounds so entirely attainable. She’s ready to take the wheel in her own story and the entire community is ready to support and follow along.

The transitionary theme 2023 has represented for Lia is also familiar to me. I lost my own father this year and having had a wonderful 52 years to enjoy with him, I can only imagine what it’s like for her now at just 17. I turn to see my own kids who are the same age as Lia and coming into their own… and the generational shift is palpable. This year of high highs and low lows has helped me realize that it is so easy to get comfortable at the top of your game, at the risk of missing the privilege of encouraging the raw talent of those coming up behind you… or what they may offer if given a hand at the wheel themselves.

I’ve been driving Audi Club for a few years. We’ve made great leaps and had setbacks. We faced the pandemic, reconsidered what it meant to be part of the club or part of the community. We’ve added new faces and welcomed a new generation of Audi owners into an ever expanding tent. I’ve garnered a few vocal critics, because you don’t make change without acquiring a few… but hopefully with a mutual respect. This club has set into motion a new user experience that drops soon, with an app to follow that will reset what Audi Club is to the enthusiast community. That’s nearly here and having driven this far I believe it’s time to hand off the wheel.

The highly capable Chris May is up next. Chris joined the team earlier this year as Director of Operations, coming from a seat on the national board, the Audi Club Carolinas Chapter Board and starting his own Triangle Audi Group before all of that. He’s a worthy successor who has authentically and effectively prepared himself for this moment.

As for me, I’m not exactly leaving. As Executive Director, I was pulled into a lot of things that distracted from tasks for which my skills are best suited. Now, I’ll focus on the creative – quattro Magazine, the new website, branding and a few other roles. I’m willing to advise, but only where that’s helpful or desired. And, I’ll do this as a contractor, because the entrepreneur in me also seeks freedom to take on my own projects and to focus more on my family.

Something Lia or my daughters can also teach us is the value of fresh perspective. For them it may be the changing semester or a new racing season. For me, it’s a fresh direction inside and outside the organization, with a revitalized outlook and reinvigorated energy. It’s an exciting time at Audi Club and I’m ready to see where this next chapter takes us.

As I make this change, I’d like to extend special thanks to the Audi Club crew who supported me in my time – Joanne Angeli, Bill Cho, Talia Pakkala, Leanne Kopras, the board, countless magazine contributors and club volunteers. I count you all not just as colleagues but as good friends.

— George Achorn

Editor’s Note: This column will run in the upcoming Q1_2024 issue of quattro Magazine. Due to the timeliness and nature of the message, it’s being published in alignment with initial arrival of magazines to bulk shipment recipients.