Audi, like a number of other car companies, is doing that “driving academy,” “driving weekend,” “track experience” thing where they let you flog their cars and, hopefully, by the end of it, make a few sales.
In Audi’s case, their deal is called The Audi Driving Experience and it takes place at the Circuit of The Americas, or COTA, in Austin, Texas. My initial response upon hearing this can be summed up in six words: SEND ME, SEND ME, SEND ME!!!
Come One, Come All
Look, I am not that much of a track-tard – to use the current parlance of those who spend every waking minute either at, going to, or prepping to get whatever car they can afford to the track. Then again, I am not above wanting to drive the bejeebers out of someone else’s car on a track, especially in a relatively consequence-free way. Plus, I am almost sure we have corporate insurance here at Automoblog for something like this.
The all-new driving experience that Audi of America put together in collaboration with the Circuit of The Americas is specifically for customers and fans. To me, that kinda reads like you don’t have to have already bought an Audi, just convince them that you’re considering one. Audi says their Driving Experience is open year-round to drivers of all experience levels. Meaning you can be a complete stoop of a driver with fists of ham and fingers of butter and a small, yet burgeoning career as an automotive “journalist” and still be invited (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, hint-hint).
The program is more than just turning you loose on the track by yourself though. It includes hands-on coaching from professional instructors, dynamic car control exercises, proper cornering techniques, and high speed lead and follow exercises on the track. All of which sound very enlightening and fun.
And the cars, you ask? What kind of Audis do you get to drive? Oh, that’s where things go from the ridiculous to the sublime. The vehicles featured include the Audi Q7 (yes, that would be the huge, Shamu-like SUV thing) the all-new RS 3 (interesting, yes) the Audi TT RS (potentially more interesting still) and the R8 V10 plus (which is where I stop typing and start calling the purchasing and accounting department at One Automoblog Towers and beg them for the cash).
The nuts and bolts break down into four distinct track activities: The Audi Sport dynamic experience, Audi Sport track initiation experience, Audi Sport R8 track initiation experience, and the Audi Sport R8 pro track experience. Each offer unique programs that span from half-day, one day or two day experiences, and each program comprises a classroom session followed by “a hands-on interactive experience.” Or, to put it in terms you gearhead track-tards will grok: You get to go drive!
The Audi Sport dynamic experience gets you guidance from a professional instructor, with an introduction to understanding and working the key principles of performance driving. The driving seems to take place in the paddock and features the Audi RS 3 and the TT RS.
The Audi Sport track initiation experience, which I sincerely hope does not involve goats or the full moon, is a half-day program where you get to master vehicle control and handling in the TT RS, RS 3, and the R8 V10 plus. Audi says this is through “dynamic exercises that demand a high level of coordination utilizing both the exercise paddocks and the circuit.” All I know is that I heard the phrase “and the circuit,” and stopped worrying about the particulars.
The next step up is the Audi Sport R8 track initiation experience (also sans goats et al (I hope)). This is a one-day program that gets you behind the wheel of the R8 V10 plus to “discover its full potential on the Formula 1 Circuit.” To me, that sounds like “have fun over-cooking it.” The Audi Sport R8 track initiation experience revolves around race course sector training. This allows you to get acquainted with all of the race track’s particular features before trying to string an entire, hopefully flawless, lap together.
R8 Pro Track Experience
And finally, we arrive at the summit, the Audi Sport R8 pro track experience. First you have to complete the Audi Sport R8 track initiation experience, carry a burning brazier with your forearms, and save Ra’s Al Ghul, but then you go through training with the professional instructors for two days behind the wheel of the R8 V10 plus. And, you know, to me, that sounds like a pretty good bargain, all in all. Audi says this is “designed for true driving enthusiasts,” to which I respond with a resounding “duh!”
And, of course, there are extras. In addition to the pro instructors, you also get to enjoy dedicated suites and garages along with catered meals. All this and a free lunch too!? What’s not to like?
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.