January 24, 2014
Audi Driving Experience. Click image to enlarge
Article by Jacob Black, photos by Peter Bleakney and courtesy of Audi
“Hey Jacob, what date is your wedding again?” Senior Editor Jonathan Yarkony asked, a big grin on his face.
“November 1st, why?”
“Oh, well you won’t be able to do this then, it’s too close to your wedding. I’ll assign someone else,” the grin got bigger.
“Oh, just an Audi driving experience at Mosport – nothing big, it’s three days before your wedding so you can’t do it.”
I don’t think I’ve ever dialed my wife’s number so fast, and, proving yet again that she is far too good for me, she gave her permission without hesitation. And that’s how I found myself, three days before my wedding, listening to the very, very talented Canadian Scott Goodyear explain how the day works.
For many Audi customers and enthusiasts, it works like this: An autocross/slalom school in an Audi TTS, a lapping class behind one of the several talented driver coaches in, say, such rigs as the A6 TDI, and the elegant yet sporty S5 Coupe. For Torontonians, this all takes place at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (nee Mosport).
The best way to describe it is, awesome.
Two sessions are available; the first is a half-day session for $395, the second a full-day session for $795. Both courses have an in-class theory component and an on-track component. The in-class theory goes through the elements of vehicle control right from seating position and steering-wheel adjustments through to a treatise on oversteer/understeer and how to respond to them. The key takeaways? Be smooth, look way ahead, be prepared, be smooth, look way ahead, be prepared, and also be smooth.
The instructors are not lightweight either, they’re the real deal. Leading the bunch is former IndyCar driver and race winner Scott Goodyear, and it’s he who delivers most of the pre-driving theory. Alongside him, Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Richard Spenard, veteran coach Jeff Boyce, young gun Daniel Morad, and on this particular day, Canadian Rally royalty Frank Sprongl, he was there in his epic Group B Audi Quattro – some of us were even lucky enough to do hot laps in that fire-breathing monster. It was a visceral experience to say the least.
Audi Driving Experience & Daniel Morad, Frank Sprongl, Jeff Boyce, Scott Goodyear, Richard Spenard. Click image to enlarge
My group’s first hit out was on the slalom course in some sexy little red Audi TTS coupes. After some further tips from Daniel Morad, we’d race against each other around twin tricky cone circuits, the fastest of all of us over three runs would be allowed to race off against Daniel. The TTS was nimble, but the temperature was hovering around zero degrees and understeer was in full effect.
It was easy to see how a course like this could charm a “potential Audi buyer” into a “full-on Audi fanboy/girl”. The TTS looked fantastic, and felt for all the world like a race car as you hustled it around the tight slalom course. Braking performance was excellent, and the engine note delightful. After two frustrating runs I had Daniel join me in the passenger seat to point out my errors. He immediately pointed out the places I was putting in too much steering lock, and where I was letting the revs drop away too much. After that, I went around as his passenger, and feeling the car dance under his deft management I became enamoured with it. By giving customers and loyalists a demonstration of what a car like this can do in the hands of a skilled professional, Audi hopes to elevate the relationship their customers have with the brand.
After that, we swapped into S5 Coupes for a session touring the full Canadian Tire Motorsport Park layout – led around by an instructor. And, like you, I thought “lame, why don’t they let us go out on our own?”, and I was wrong.
Riding behind the lead car gave us plenty of opportunity to put into practice the concepts we’d learned in theory and even in the slalom. That point was hammered home following one of the other cars around later on – the flashing brake light, jerky movements and incessant tire squeal demonstrated the difference between someone who was following the lessons, and someone who was trying to do it their own way. For what it’s worth, the person doing all the histrionics was holding up even the slowest of the rest of us (read: “me”).