Calendar of Events
Cars and Coffee at Reeves. First Saturday of EVERY month at 6:00-8:30
Pensacola Oyster Run (Ends in Pensacola)
See above for details and registration information
monthly lunch meet and greet on August 12th at 11:00 AM with the location TBD.
Contact Kerry Green (Kerry@audiclubfl.org ) for more information
News and Notes
Some Final Thoughts
On the closing of the Audi Technical Center and the loss of the best job that I was never paid for
Growing up we all dreamed of becoming something, perhaps it was a policeman, fireman, nurse, train engineer doctor, pilot, sea captain, stewardess, I am sure I am dating myself here on that last profession., I bet even a few wanted to become president etc. Perhaps now a day some want to become programmers, video game designers’ astronauts, climatologists. Lawyers, news broadcasters, publicists, flight attendants, commodities brokers and many did and still wish to become movie stars, I bet a number now just don’t want to work on Wall Street but would also wish to try a stint wining, dining and trolling the halls of the Capital as lobbyists working on K Street. That just might be fun for a while at least. A few of us who were driven, and I mean this in a good way, recalling one who was driven, scholastically, school band, sports, student government etc... He wanted to go to West Point and actually received an appointment. Others in my class headed to Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan and two of the Seven Sisters etc. As to professions, there were those of us who probably changed what we wanted to be about every month or so, I bet amongst the members of the ACFL, all of us at one time or another had one thing in common, we wanted to be behind the wheel of a car and be a test or race car driver if at least for a fleeting moment. To be paid to drive a car, it did not matter what, kind of car and up until the late 70’s there were not many Audis on the road so we need to be honest here for those of us who have a few years under our belt, but then to test drive an Audi in the last 25 years, now that would have been one of the best of professions. Every one of my accelerations would have been clearly intended. No misapplication of my 9.5 D driving shoes.
For me back in the late fifties and early sixties, it was a dream of putting on some thin skinned leather helmet jump into a 4 banger big Healey (once again dating oneself on that) with nothing more than tan chinos, weejuns and a pale blue Lacoste polo shirt, the uniform of the day, as I would slide the windshield down and forward and rowed through the three forward gears, then carve through corners on some twisting road in Northern Westchester or the foothills of the Berkshires west of Amherst Mass. What a life, to be paid for driving and have folks possibly read about one’s exploits in Road and Track, Car and Drive, Mechanics illustrated or one of the other auto centric magazines some of us gravitated to at the time. What more could one ask for as one daydreamed in class gazing out of the window at the Berkshires in the distance not realizing that you had been called upon to answer some pointless question in American history class regarding Shay’s Rebellion which took place just down the road east towards Belchertown in the opposite direction.
Personally, the opportunity to test drive cars, other than when I thought I needed another one never arrived until the other bookend of my life. That was to occur after I had left the real work force and joined the ranks of those clipping coupons, had left the expense account dinners and now enjoyed the early bird dinner specials. One day at the Sebring races, Ian Bolin who a number of you may remember asked if I would like to test drive Audis. That has to be the equivalent of asking a kid “do you like ice cream cones?” in terms of speed of response, nanoseconds. Within the next week I was behind the wheel of a metallic green, utilitarian rubber floor matted Korean market Q7 test car. I was not being paid but I had the use of the SUV for two weeks, All that I had to do was keep it clean, drive as I normally do, much more conservatively now than when I was driving the cars of my college years, a MG TD, Citroen ID, Triumph Spitfire, Mustang, a Ford with a big V8 and OD or friends’ Healey’s, Alfas, Volvos, XK150’s and the like, return it filled with gas and answer a number of questions regarding its performance in day to day driving. What Audi was looking for was normal driver’s feedback on items such as engine, transmission brakes, plus a whole host of other items. As most other manufacturers, Audi had professional drivers who tested the limits of the car so taking one of these cars on the track was strictly forbidden. Though I would imagine some abused the privilege and yes a few of the test cars suffered some incidents such as an endangered owl attacking a windshield and a supposed story about a “unprovoked” beating administered to the front of an A5 at a theme park parking lot but for the most part all survived unscathed except for a little wheel rash here and there. Nevertheless, one had the opportunity, actually the privilege to drive some interesting vehicles way before they ever hit the US market. For me these included the likes of the A7 TDI, A3 TDI (some may remember her, the beautiful ice vogel blue one), RS7 Plus and so on. I can only write this now because as you read this the facility has finally been shuttered, its employees either retained at other facilities out of state or no longer with Audi. All of this being an unfortunate and possible unintended by product and fallout of the cost cutting due to the billions of dollars being paid out in the repurchase of diesels and fines to the US Government because of the diesel scandal.
From about 2008 until this year and on a fairly regular basis I would receive an email; there were a number of us in the ACFL, plus many more others who also received these emails. “Can you pick up a car tomorrow?” How lucky we were. I never knew what it was, just that it was an Audi, oh and yes a Bentley on a very rare occasion and that I would have it for two weeks. I drove those cars all over the state of Florida, to Sebring, Road Atlanta, Audi meets, Key West, Savanah, St Augustine, and Herndon and to Pennsylvania numerous times. They ranged from A3’s to A8, Q3’s to Q7’s the entire line, European and domestic iterations and always checking some new item or function. Frankly it was a privileged; after almost 10 years and thousands and thousands of miles, well over 100 Audis and many great adventures behind the wheel. Even one when an overzealous County Mounty in rural Georgia pulled two of us over one evening for doing 35 MPH in a 40 MPH speed zone. I guess he had never seen a S7 before.
It has all sadly come to an end. I had finally become that test driver I had dreamed of. It was to be the best job ever for which I received no remuneration, just mile after mile of smiles. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you, Audi Technical Center, and for all who were involved for both the privilege and the fulfilment of a dream of mine come true from so many decades earlier.