While searching for that special element to create a memorable 20th anniversary party, the Audi Club North America looked no further than to one of its founding members, Frank Beddor, and the celebration of his 80th birthday. It was entirely appropriate that last September's four days of car fun and chatting it up with old friends took place at Brainerd International Raceway near the Beddor home in Minnesota, because that's where Frank was first infected by the Audi bug.
A hurricane of energy, Frank's enthusiasm for Audi cars began when his two sons urged him to drive one of their new Sport Quattros at Brainerd, which has been used so often by the Beddors that they consider it their home track. That first drive hooked Frank on Audis, and 20 years on he's still waving Ingolstadt's flag as though he were a native son of the town where Audis are built.
The organization that arose from those early days is now called the Audi Club North America to signify the growth and reach of its current membership, and a more enthusiastic group of car owners you'll rarely encounter. They love to drive, and they love to show off the technology that helped bring Audi out of the sales doldrums and make it a legitimate contender with the gangs down the road in Munich and westward in Stuttgart.
However, all the fun and games have a serious purpose, and that is to make better drivers out of every one of the club members, from the novice to those who (think they) know their way around a racetrack. Many of the meet's activities are devoted to helping new or inexperienced drivers understand the dynamics of their cars, in a controlled environment, under the watchful tutelage of expert instructors.
This approach to enjoying your car is conducted throughout the year at a series of ACNA drivers schools and safety seminars and has been lauded by law enforcement and the medical community as the best way to reduce traffic fines, accidents and the resulting tragedy of injury and death. It's a serious message but one that's delivered with a good deal of associated fun.
Club members divided their time between Brainerd and Madden's Resort on Gull Lake, which provided accommodation for many of the attendees and also hosted the awards banquet where Frank's contribution to Audi enthusiasm was feted. Audi itself sent along pro driver Randy Pobst, who campaigned an RS6 in the Speed Touring Car series this past season, and a brand new Audi A6, which Randy flogged around the track as though it were race-prepped and running on slicks. Even though there were faster cars on the track, Randy was able to keep up with the pack because of the A6's balance and the Quattro drivetrain's ability to keep the power on the road, where it belongs. At one point, Randy was rendered almost speechless (those who know him know how improbable that is) by the A6's grip and unflappable manners even when being pushed to its tires' limits.
But the real stars of the show were the Audis, which ranged from old "beaters" to pristine examples of the latest showroom stock. Frank's sons David and Steve exercised a wonderful pair of cars, the family's 1984 Sport Quattro and Frank's newest plaything, a highly modified "RS6" developed by Joe Hoppen Motorsport. Boasting twin Sport KKK turbos, MTM engine and transmission software, big Brembo brakes and 19-in. MTM wheels wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sports, the RS6 roared its way around the tightly cornered track like a pursang race machine, not a luxury sedan. Impressive!There were also several ur-Quattros on hand, an S2, a motley crew of 4000s and 5000s, plenty of A4s and a few TTs, plus one or two A8s and an assortment of alternative brands. People run what they brung and got plenty of track time, and a few even prayed for rain so they could show off their Quattro skills to greatest effect, but the gray skies never fulfilled their threat over the four days.
Credit for the success of the anniversary event goes to many but mention has to be made of the special efforts of the host chapter, the Glacial Lakes Chapter, and its president, Mark Samson. Chief instructor Larry Boyer should also be lauded for setting up such an efficient yet enjoyable body of schoolroom and racetrack teaching. Among the many sponsors who helped bring off the successful event were Ronal, Champion Racing, 2Bennett Automotive, Toyo Tires, APR Tuned, Stasis Engineering, TMTEK, ZF, Bridgestone and Audi Sport North America.
If abundant track time, informed conversation with intelligent car owners and lots of fun are your game, consider joining the ACNA, which also publishes an entertaining magazine, the Quattro Quarterly.