Larry's Audi TT Quattro WebSite
Southeast Audi TT Rally
April 12-14, 2000
Highlands, North Carolina
The Rally was mapped out a week or so before by Brett. The night we arrived he handed out a weekend itinerary that included the driving directions for the next morning. The drive would take approximately 2 hours in each direction with a stop for photos and then a lunch break. Brett gave nice detailed directions down to the 1/10 of a mile. From what everyone was able to read, it should be pretty easy to follow the directions.
In the morning after everyone ate breakfast Brett told us the starting point for the Rally. It was at the Texaco Gas Station down the block. We were on a pretty loose schedule as long as we arrived at the photo stop and lunch "on time" we could go at our own pace. I met Ivan/Ali, Jason/Laura and Cliff at the Texaco station. We got some water and food for the drive, then we headed out of town.
The order was Ivan taking the point with his Garmin GPS pointing the way for us. I was right behind, Jason behind me with Cliff taking up the rear.
We headed out of town on some small two lane twisty roads. I really was not able to drive and sight see at the same time, else Ali would panic that I was going to drive into the back of them! lol When I wanted to have a look around I would back off a few hundred feet from Ivan and take in the sights, which were numerous.
I don't have my trip plan in front of me so i am not going to rattle off the various names of the routes that we were on, but if you are interested and will be in the Highlands, NC area, e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. The one road that I do remember very well is the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway, it is a beautiful drive, long and fast. The speed limit on the entire road is 45mph. Some of the turns can be taken much faster and others had to be negotiated at 20 or less. We were constantly going in and out of the clouds, rain and sunshine all day on this road and that just added to the excitement of the drive.
The distance between some of the turns was 10 miles or more and we were able to drive for 30+ minutes before having to worry about a turn coming up. Brett did a really nice job of pre-running the course. The mile markers he stated were dead on accurate!
The TT was just a pleasure to drive on these back country roads. The car ate up all that the mountains had to offer and even a little bit more! I will get to that later on. There were some stretches of twisty road that were so fast and went back and forth and back again. It was just a turn of the wheel and give it gas, then turn back and turn one more time to complete the triple "S" bends. It was just a blast to drive. I enjoyed following Ivan through the turns so I was able to see what the car looked like handling the turns. it handles very well from what I was able to see. Ivan even put a wheel off one time on the right side. I wish I had a video camera of it. I was able to watch the entire thing. He took a right bend a little too tight on the inside and his front wheel went halfway across the edge of the asphalt, but his rear tire had maybe an inch or two left on the blacktop for traction. The FrontTrak pulled him right on through. It was very cool to watch. I asked Ivan about it later and he said he knew the wheel was off.
I could have done that all day long, and we did! We eventually stopped at a parking lot which was the highest point in North Carolina. I don't remember the actual height, sorry. The stop was a little too short. I was not able to take the amount of pictures that I wanted to. Ivan and I were the last to leave the parking lot. I again followed Ivan since it was easier for me to concentrate on driving and not look down at the directions. Ivan had Ali as his co-pilot to guide him. I had enough things to concentrate on as we are about to see . . .
We pulled out of the parking lot and turned right. We made a fast left turn then entered a short tunnel curving to the right. A short straight was in front of us before the next left we could see up ahead. It had started to rain lightly right before we entered the tunnel. The ground was not too wet yet so the traction was still good for me and my quattro. I let Ivan get about 150 feet ahead of me so I could take a nice run at the next set of curves. I was doing this all day and it was quite fun. It also kept me in line so as not to get too enthusiastic. I could really get used to all of these twisties and how this car handles them.
As Ivan was about 50 feet from the left turn a Blue Honda del Sol came around the turn out of control. The back of the Honda began to slide around its left as Ivan was passing it. This was all taking place directly in front of me. I began to think of somewhere to go incase the car headed towards me. i looked right and saw the shoulder was only 6' wide and then dropped off the edge with trees and bushes, not a desirable choice. To the left was the Honda heading towards me and further left was the side of a mountain! The only thing I could think to do was slow and see which way the Honda decided to go. If I had to, I would have stopped and tried to go into reverse. Thankfully it didn't come to that. The Honda lost the back end of the car and had no control at all. The driver tried to fight it, but it was no use, the car went where it wanted to. The next second the car headed up the side of the mountain. The car began to slide down and the bumper caught the grass at the base of the mountain and sort of spun it around like a top. As it spun it then began a barrel roll still in my general direction. The car rolled just the one time and came to rest after doing a spin after the It got up about the length of the del Sol, then began to turn left. The Honda came to rest facing the mountain nosed in slightly in a ditch. I had stopped at this point and got out of my car immediately to see if anyone was hurt.
The driver was a young girl named Rhonda. She was maybe 20-21. She seemed ok, but was very shaken up to say the least. Glass was everywhere. I asked her if she could move, which she could. I asked her if anything hurt and she said her back ached a little. I didn't think it was a good idea for her to remain in the car so i asked if she could move and told her to sit in my car, which I parked on the shoulder near her car. Ivan came running and so did Ali. A few of the other TT drivers stopped and so did the two men from AoA. Ali was able to get through to the Police after a short period of time. Ali helped Rhonda clean herself up with some towels that I had in my car. Ivan took one emergency triangle from my car that all Audi's are supplied with and put it at one end of the accident for drivers to be warned. Michael of AoA put another triangle at the other end of the accident. Al we could do at this point was wait for help to arrive. I decided to take a few pictures so as not to get yelled at for missing another accident!
The ambulance, police and tow truck arrived about 90 minutes after the accident occurred. We were in a pretty remote part of the road and it takes a while to get there. After the police took our statements and Rhonda was in the ambulance Ali got her phone number so we could check on her when we got home. Ivan, Ali and I then headed for our lunch!
I have since spoken to Rhonda and she is doing ok. Her back is still hurting her and she is about to go see another doctor. Her car was totaled and she is driving a rental. She did like the TT's though, she made a point of telling me so after I got her out of her car.
Lunch was hosted by Audi of America at a restaurant that I can't name right now! lol it was a very nice turkey sandwich and apple pie dessert. Everything was delicious.
After lunch I followed Mark Minor and his Dad. They drove up from Atlanta for the day to take the drive with us. I followed them for a little while. Mark decided to make a stop at a beautiful waterfall and we took some pictures. Ivan later joined us for a few more shots at the falls. Mark took off and Ivan and I followed. We got right back into the twisty roads again. We eventually caught Mark and then passed him as he let us by. Later Mark told us that he smelled something funny in his car. He either drove over some gas or the car gave off some fuel at some point. it was never determined.
Ivan and I had a blast on our drive. We each were able to push our cars as fast as we wanted to go. The accident slowed us down quite a bit, but we still pushed 100mph on a few occasions where the road opened up to a nice fast straight-away between the twisties!
I highly recommend coming out to the next TT Club of America Rally when it is near you. I will be at as many as I can possibly fit in to my schedule. I plan on being at the Maryland Rally in September, 2000. They have talked about a Rally in the Northeast which I will be at. They have a drivers school planned for Talladega, Alabama which I am hoping to attend. Check their website and they will post the events as they become finalized.
Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed driving it! Let me know.