photos: George Achorn, Tim Enders and Anthony Garbis
Worthersee, the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, DTM at Brands Hatch, SoWo, Mille Miglia and Carlisle. To say the calendar for Audi fans overflowed last weekend might be a bit of an understatement. Fourtitude’s own team of staff and contributors was spread out over multiple states and continents in order to try to cover it all, though Carlisle remains our home game – an important one for Audi enthusiasts in the northeastern U.S. and one that was just a bit overflowing in its own right.
The sprawling Carlisle Fairgrounds in the small central Pennsylvania town by the same name is known for car shows. The summer calendar includes events for nearly every automotive interest group you can think of, and mid-May means the Import Festival – a mix of really anything imported and also some kit cars. Needless to say, the event is eclectic, but the eclecticism doesn’t make it insignificant. This one event likely marks the biggest gathering of owners for marques such as Saab and Volvo, while the Audi presence here is growing rapidly, attributable to both the local club and the local dealer. Nearby Audi Mechanicsburg helped make much more of an Audi owner weekend for owners planning to attend the event. This being also Fourtitude’s local show, we pitched in on the effort to push it even further.
Carlisle weekend begins Friday. Normally a day mainly for the most ardent or simply for those choosing to approach the weekend Le Mans style and camp on the fairgrounds to find a good spot to pitch a tent. This year Friday also offered even more activity as the show moved to integrate itself more into the Carlisle city center.
Friday morning a technical trailer from Audi Sport Team Joest rolled into the downtown. Inside the 50’ trailer were two cars from Audi USA’s vintage collection including a 2005/2006 R8 LMP1 racecar and a 1984 Sport quattro. Both joined Fourtitude’s own 4 Season Audi R8 on display for the Audi R8 Race/Road display on a prominent spot within the town square.
Throughout the afternoon the cars worked as outreach for the event, gathering interest from locals and also from many travelling to the show from Washington DC and points south.
By evening the crowd had grown and also changed to a heavy mix of car enthusiasts. Streets were lined with vintage import vehicles and car buffs gathered around the Audi display as a local Fox station broadcast live, the anchor sitting in a seat once reserved for Allan McNish.
As evening fell, much of the crowd wandered to the nearby Carlisle theatre where an screening of Truth in 24 II was held. R8 owners enjoyed exclusive parking in front of the theatre while many enjoyed walking the red carpet and posing for photos just as Audi’s winning team had just weeks before in Los Angeles.
Special guests at the movie included Audi of America marketing boss Scott Keogh and Audi Sport engineer Brad Kettler, both of whom stuck around after the movie for a Q&A session where fans who’d wanted to know more about the race or the movie-making could pose their questions to two key players in those fields.
By Saturday morning the group had moved to nearby Audi Mechanicsburg and their impressive store roughly 10 miles from town. The three display cars from the day before joined AWE Tuning and their S4 development car plus nearly 100 more Audis and guests at the dealership. Attendees were able to take a closer look under the engine cover of the racecar and enjoy a hearty breakfast as they prepped for the main day of the show. Within the crowd, we ran into Audiworld editor Kris Hansen who’d made the trip down from Vermont in a new Audi A7. Both Kettler and Keogh had also stuck around since the night before, casually chatting with guests throughout the morning.
At 10AM, the crowd moved to the Carlisle Fairgrounds en masse. Last to leave was the Audi Sport Team Joest truck with its cargo of expensive cargo bound for the show field.
Returning to the fairgrounds, Audi enthusiasts were greeted with a record showing. More four-ringers graced the field than ever before, and the crowd thickened even more when the 2005 Le Mans winning R8 LMP1 was wheeled from the Team Joest trailer.
The Audi field at Carlisle continues to impress with its eclectic mix of cars. Always core here are vintage cars, though the usual daily-driven 4000s and the like are beginning to give way to pristinely restored ur quattros and turbo-swapped sedans. Ur S6/S4s are everywhere, though now they’re joined by new cars wearing the same names and more exotic Audi offerings like TTs and R8s – even a twin-turbo V10 example of the latter.
And as much as it is about the cars, Carlisle is just as much a social event for the regulars. There’s a tight-knit group who’s been coming here for years and there’s almost a science to their presence. Gone was a four-pronged beer bong spotted in previous years, but that’s been replaced by a refined communal hospitality approach that sees a grille going all day with plenty of food for all who’ve registered – cleverly marked by red and white Lance Armstrong style rubber bracelets. The revelry goes into the night, with those camping on site seemingly partying all night long.
Though open on Sunday, the show tends to lose some momentum by this final day. The regulars seem to be stricken with hoarse voices and a strong need for greasy breakfast at a nearby diner paired with a healthy does of Ibuprofen. There’s talk around of a cake that’s turned up that **may** have come from the hyper organized Saab fan area. It is evident that, for the fans, Carlisle is as much about the social experience as it is about the cars.
Carlisle Events themselves tend to plan for this exodus. A live band coaxes people to stay, as does a Sunday afternoon car giveaway where a lucky winner holding the right entry ticket might drive away in a new-to-him/her car. Perhaps it is the collective hangover or perhaps it is the fact that the giveaway car – not an Audi but a Fiat X-19, isn’t exactly an offer these people can’t refuse. The group seems to be disappearing with regularity.
By afternoon, those of us working around the R8 LMP1 and the Sport quattro have some time to reflect. Certainly this year marked the most successful Carlisle event to date for Audi fans. Thanks for that goes to the Audi Club and its organizers, to Audi Mechanicsburg for generously hosting two events and to Audi of America for trusting us to display their irreplaceable automobiles in a town square where our first visitor, haggard as she was, informed us that the Le Mans-winning R8 was a nicer car than Elvis’ own ride. Final thanks also go to Scott Keogh and Brad Kettler, whose presence amid their own severely busy schedules underlined their commitment to the Audi brand and those fanatics amongst its owner base.
See many, many more photos from the Audi Weekend at Carlisle in our photo galleries including the R8 Race/Road Display in the city center, the Truth in 24 II screening, the Audi Breakfast and the show itself all linked —->HERE.