If you’re an avid reader of Fourtitude, you’re definitely an Audi fanatic. If you’re an Audi fanatic, there’s a strong chance that if you don’t love wagons (Avant in Audi-speak), you’re at least an enthusiast that appreciates the Avant body-style over an SUV or Crossover.
Nowhere in Audi-dom is this more apparent than with the Audi allroad aficionado. Launched in 1999 to capitalize on the 90’s SUV craze, the C5 A6-based allroad (aka: ur-allroad) was perhaps the most versatile car ever to see US roads. Here we had a car with wide, durable fender flares, a 250hp twin-turbo DOHC, 30v V6, 6-speed manual or 5-speed tiptronic transmission and height adjustable air suspension. The do-it-all wagon even had optional double-spoke 17” wheels shod with bespoke Pirelli P6 allroad tires and real aluminum skid plates front and rear.
Many of the ur allroad’s features, such as the air suspension and complicated 2.7T engine, eventually became the curse that resulted in the cars becoming costly to maintain for the average consumer. Many of those who didn’t lease them quickly sold them off soon after the warranty expired. The aforementioned loyalist, both original owner and lucky second-and-third-hand opportunist, saw through the expense and obsessively loved the things that made the allroad one of the most unique vehicles ever to see North American shores.
The C5 platform was discontinued at the end of 2005, and North America would not receive another allroad in name until 2013 when the B8.5 A4 based allroad arrived. This model, nicknamed “smallroad,” was actually the same size as the first car, but simpler with no V6, air suspension or double spoke wheels.
It could be argued that this enthusiast group helped Audi establish a solidified reputation in the North America, paving the way for Audi to compete with the other German marques in the 2000’s. They also led waving the flag of the Avant body-style most ardently, and account for some of the most active forum use out there.
Three owners, who are über-users on the various Audi forums, decided that after almost a decade of making friends online, it was time to plan a get-together to celebrate their love of allroads, Avants and all things Audi. This was not just to be any Sunday get-together; it was to become Camp allroad!
Almost a year in the making, Camp allroad ended up with an iconic inaugural location of Colorado Springs, Colorado. This city was a great choice as it was in a somewhat central location, and the abundance of Audi heritage being adjacent to legendary Pikes Peak didn’t hurt either.
The planning effort for Camp allroad was immense, and the three event founders knew they’d need to rally the Audi community in order to create awareness. Seeking sponsors would be key in helping make the event affordable for all. After some outreach, Audi Club North America’s Rocky Mountain Chapter was on board, as was local Audi dealer, Phil Long Audi. After over 1500 Camp allroad tweets in the span of a week, word spread and other sponsors quickly followed: Because Bags, VMR Wheels and Arnott to name a few. One sponsor addressed a key concern of those taking the journey, dirt, bugs and filth! Elite Auto Salon opened up its detail shop for attendees to clean and polish their cars.
In the end, this inaugural event attracted over 200 attendees and 100 Audi models (mainly Avants) from all over the continent. Some drove up to 2700 miles from as far away as NY, CA, WA, MI and even a few Canadians (eh)!
Taking the long route from my home in Oakland, CA, I used the trip as an opportunity to drive my 2013 “AudiAvantProjectUSA” A4 allroad, loaded with a mountain and road bike on the roof, on 3000mile round-trip, 10-day journey through parts of the country I often fly over and have never experienced in the flesh. This led me through Southern California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and ultimately Colorado. Overnight pit stops in Sedona, Arizona and Telluride, Colorado, welcomed with breathtaking vistas, smooth roads and nicely buffed trails. Most attendees travelling from afar had the same idea, planning long routes to capture memories and scenic landscapes.
This resulted in loads social media posts showcasing what Audis do best: enabling their owners and passengers to travel far, swiftly, in safety, while offering a fun and memorable driving experience.
Camp allroad was held over a long weekend in mid-July. The initial Friday evening event kicked off with a tour of the Penrose Historic Museum. This venue showcased some racing background on Pikes Peak. It was followed by a barbecue dinner during an El Pomar Foundation fundraiser, ending the evening with a parking lot show n’ shine and extended meet and greet of cars and owners.
Day two began with prep for the Avant-heavy car show at Elite Auto Salon. About a dozen cars, (including mine) needed some final touches in order to make them presentable. A special treat that morning was a glimpse at Elite Auto Salon’s neighbor, Pikes Peak Motorsport. This firm recently prepped Randy Pobst’s Nissan Nismo GT-R for the 2015 Pikes Peak Hillclimb. Unfortunetly, Randy went off during the race at high speed, wrecking the car. Seeing the car in such a mangled state was amazing. That Randy walked away unscathed is a testament to the pros at Pikes Peak Motorsport. This is a shop to watch out for!
Held at America the Beautiful Park, the car show and picnic was what many were looking forward to the most. Being a welcoming group, the organizers welcomed all Audis and not just those of the long-roof variety. That said, an impressive 80% of them were Avants, mostly C5 allroads. The balance were made up of various B5/6/7/8 A4 and S4s, an R8, some TT’s and my favorite, a trio of “ur-S4/S6” Avants. About 200 folks in total attended the car show. Since the park was open to the public, there were more than a few awkward stares and comments about all of the station wagons around the park.
After the amazing car show, Phil Long Audi hosted one last rooftop barbecue at their state-of-the-art dealership, with chances to win raffle prizes and meet some dealership staff, swoon over new Audi models and enjoy the amenities.
The weekend finale: a 12.42-mile drive up Pikes Peak! Well over 100 cars met in a parking lot outside of the park entrance. After a brief drivers meeting to mitigate hooniganism, the group was off up the hill! The drive itself started slow, and as traffic eased, you could carry a speed-limit pace hovering between 30 and 45 mph. To imagine racing up this infamous peak at 10/10ths was nearly impossible, as many a YouTube videos show the consequences of a mis-read turn or brake failure. Looking ahead and in the rearview mirror revealed a sight to behold, a seemingly endless string of Audis ascending 7000 feet from the entrance to the summit.
Once at the top, the 100+ cars gathered for various photo ops, with some coming out like legitimate Audi of America advertisements for the A4s, S4s, allroads and Q7s that made the journey.
Many connections were made, friendships fortified and faces put to forum user names. Camp allroad is now in the Audi community vernacular.
So what’s next? The event was such as success that work has begun to see how this event evolves for 2016. The Audi Club North America noticed, and we’re hoping that Audi of America did as well.
Why? The objective was not only to introduce Audi long-roof fans from near and far, but also to make Audi of America acutely aware that there is an extremely zealous group of consumers that want to keep the Ingolstadt wagon craze alive.
This is important since continued rumors that Audi of America will exclusively focus on leveraging the SUV/SAV/Crossover craze with the hugely successful Q3, Q5, and Q7, and finding new white-space with the forthcoming Q-variants ranging from rumored Q1 to Q9.
The Camp allroad community is not here to proclaim that Avants are superior to Crossovers. Instead, they want to evangelize the joys of taking their Avants from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to Squaw Valley Ski Resort, all in one day thanks to sports sedan handling, and seating for the entire family plus their gear in a car that’s generally more efficient than an SUV. This is why we love Avants and allroads. We need to continue to make some noise to support the cause by following #CampAllroad, Fourtitude’s own #ProjectB85allroad and #AudiAvantProjectUSA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.