Personal Focus: Leanne Kopras

words: Leanne Kopras, photos: Rob Mains, Brandon Locket

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q3_2023 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.

If someone would have told me when I was younger that owning an Audi would change my life forever, I would have laughed. I probably would have rolled on the floor laughing and pointing at them for how crazy that sounded. I was the Super Bowl dancing prom queen and cars weren’t in my career path. Boy, was I wrong.

Growing up I had little interest in cars. My Audi connection was my Dad who owned a 1989 5000. It was essentially the same Audi driven by Ferris Bueller’s dad. My next connection to appreciating cars was in high school, my senior prom date picked me up in his dad’s ‘68 Corvette, which I absolutely loved. I had gone to a couple of drag races with some friends in my late teens and was shocked at how fast the cars were and how much people put into their cars to make them go ungodly fast.

My husband, Jarrid, had been into cars his whole life. He’d always be watching car TV series that I eventually started watching with him – Monster Garage, Overhaulin, Extreme 4×4 and even American Choppers.

We attended many car shows with Jarrid’s Viper or the ‘69 Camaro SS that he’d restored and built up to 800 hp with upgraded fuel injection and supercharger. I enjoyed the social side of the shows and pointing out parts of the car, like the size of the tires, the custom wheels by Boyd Coddington and the firewall with airbrushed flames on the wall (it was much cooler back then). Most of the time I felt ignored and I didn’t like the invisible feeling. Women were missing at shows and I had stopped attending.

In 2016, we decided to treat ourselves to a car that we could both share and enjoy. Our requirements were 1) a convertible, 2) something fast and 3) something safe. We landed on the Audi R8. Since then, we’ve had three other R8s including our current B. Rogue Built twin-turbo 2018 R8 Spyder. It caught the eye of UK YouTuber Jamie Sonuga from Officially Gassed who ended up shooting a video of it at TX2K23. We’ve gone on drives with the club and other car enthusiasts, displayed at events in California and with LCE Performance USA. We always enjoy hearing a “Booooya” shouted while driving the car. I now have the itch to drag race the car myself. I love that car, it is so choice.

A friend and car enthusiast, Peter Volny, told us about Audi Club North America and we joined that day. Disappointed with lack of activity in Arizona at the time, two other members and I stepped in to help. Audi Club AZ had about 110 members then and it has grown to over 320 today. Arizona became the fastest growing chapter and most active with over 50 events in a year. We worked hard considering we had no knowledge of what was available from the national organization. We learned far into our success about the offerings we were missing. That got me thinking that the organization needed someone to help other chapters and provide direction for these regional groups.

During the chapter’s success, I was honored to be chosen as the 2019 Member of the Year. Shortly after, George Achorn challenged me to run for the national board, and I was honored that he thought I’d be a good fit. I was elected to serve a three-year term in 2021.

I enjoyed being on the board, helping chapters and improving the organization. I was appointed to Secretary during my first year and made positive changes for the club and its chapters. I represented ACNA at shows like Big SoCal Euro and supported “Club Days” hosted by Hoonigan. There I met Brian Scotto, the Hoonigan crew, the guys from LCE Performance Germany, photographers and Audi enthusiasts from all over.Serving on the National Board, I felt respected. I felt like my voice was heard and mattered. I felt valued; people wanted to talk with me and do events together. I was asked for my opinion and my help. I was no longer being ignored. This was a great feeling that I had not experienced in over 20 years in this community and other parts of my life. I joked with my husband that people would start calling him “Mr. Leanne” due to others knowing me and not him.

My three-year term was cut short when Audi Club offered me a position as Director of Dealer and Chapter Relations. I felt honored and appreciated of the work and dedication that I gave to the organization. Unfortunately, working for Audi Club meant I had to resign from the board, leaving Melisa as the only woman on the board.

In my first year working for the organization, I worked incredibly hard and long hours alongside three wonderful people, often times it felt like a family. I feel guilty with the lack of time I have for Audi Club Arizona where I’m still active and serving as Vice President.

I got to see and take part of some incredible things that I will hold onto forever. The staff attended the Amelia Island Concours in Florida. I visited Philadelphia for the Vintage to Voltage event, visiting three states in one day. I met with executives at Audi of America HQ and attended Monterey Car Week where I assisted the Legends of the Autobahn show. We worked and had meetings during the week – no junket for staff – but the best part was attending the Monterey Historic races when Audi invited the team to join press on track in RS e-tron GTs led by nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen. The bonus, besides riding in an RS e-tron GT down the corkscrew, was when my driver, Timo Witt from Audi Tradition, got to pass Tom Kristensen at Laguna Seca! Who can say they passed Mr. Le Mans?

I saved the ultimate experience for last. Hoonigan and Audi Club Board Member, Brian Scotto, invited me on set for filming of Electrikhana in Las Vegas. To see Ken Block introduce the Hoonitron to Vegas and the world was spectacular (see quattro, Q1_2023, pp. 26-29). Seeing how he handled and maneuvered the cars on TV is shocking, but seeing it in person is just inconceivable. After every take, you exhale and can’t help but laugh and smile from what you just witnessed. Speaking to Brian, Diego, Ron, Dave and others, I see why the crew enjoyed working together. I was happy to see women working on set, like newly promoted Production Designer, Melissa Baker, and Stunt Coordinator, Eliza Coleman.

I also met some of the team from Audi Tradition. Timo put me to work by pushing a couple of the historic Audi R8 LMPs into position. Unfortunately never got to introduce myself to Ken, though I did meet Lucy Block in passing (pp. 28-31). Thank you to Brian and the Hoonigan Team for sharing this amazing moment I will hold on to forever.

I am still shocked how buying an Audi has changed my life. I have a new career and a newfound confidence that has allowed for personal growth in other aspects of my life. I have reached many goals since starting with Audi Club Arizona, moving to the ACNA board and now the club staff. I’m constantly learning more about this industry and bringing new ideas to the organization. I’ve met outstanding people with networking and have meaningful friendships with many.