If you were involved in the Euro scene anytime since the mid-70s, you undoubtedly know GMP Performance. The family-owned facility has been building race and show cars, stocking the shelves with desirable Euro parts since it opened its doors 35 years ago.
To celebrate this milestone, GMP invited loyal customers for a track day at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC, plus an open house at its premises in Charlotte, NC.
To chronicle the occasion, I set out on a 32-hour journey from New Jersey to North Carolina and back.
Arriving in Charlotte at 8am, I was greeted by Joe and Claudia Klitzsch, the husband and wife team who founded GMP. We hopped in their Mercedes E55 AMG and headed for the shop. On arrival, we discovered a UPS shipping error left them without parts needed for the track activities. Precious time was lost chasing the delivery driver but to no avail.
By the time we arrived at Carolina Motorsports Park, the event was already underway. I met the rest of the GMP crew and drivers, while getting my first glimpse of GMP's Mk1 Rabbit restoration project. It was absolutely beautiful and looked straight out of the '80s (see full feature).
All day, cars flew past the pits, with everything from Minis to Maseratis; the track was filled with speed and excitement.
GMP spent most of the day testing its Audi S3 and Mk6 GTI projects. But the highlight of my day came between snapping photos, when Joe's son Stephen offered me a ride. I dropped my gear, threw on a helmet and climbed in the S3. Moments later, we were flying around the track, ripping through the gears, making the race-prepped Audi sing.
After a long day in the sun, the GMP team packed up and headed back to Charlotte to prepare for the open house.
Joe picks me up at the hotel in his late-model 911 on staggered RH 3.6 factory rebuilds with stainless steel lips and satin black centers. When the Klitzsch's travel, they do it in DTM style.
Thawout was a great event, and a chance for Carolina's finest to show off their projects. Visitors were treated to an authentic German lunch including Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and German potato salad.
After lunch I explored the cars and they certainly didn't disappoint. Sarah and Adam Staley, members of 864 Syndicate, brought two of the nicest cars; winning Best of Show with her bagged Audi A3, and attracting crowds with a metal widebody Mk3 GTI VR6 turbo.
The quality continued with James Jetton's Gambia red Mk2 Jetta Coupe, as well as a Mk2 GTI VR6 in Porsche Seal grey. Inevitably, both sat on BBS RS.
With the end of Thawout, I returned to the airport, but not before thanking my new friends at GMP. They say people are nicer in the south, and the Klitzsch family plus everybody at GMP truly know how to make you feel welcome. So congratulations on 35 years of success, and we're hoping for plenty more to come.