I wanted to title this feature Why Car Friends Are Better Than Normal Friends: The Secret Audi Bunker, but unfortunately, Paddy said the title was too long. Fair feedback.
Also, I realised that should some of my non ‘car friends’ read the piece with the proposed longer title, they might find out that I don’t like them as much as they thought I did. Anyway I digress. Car friends being greater than normal friends is particularly poignant right now.
I should preface this short introduction before you view the photo gallery by saying that I am a complete and utter idiot. I’m perpetually grateful that I’m almost always surrounded by people way more organised than me. Why is this relevant to this story? Well, last week (when I wrote this story) I drove my Peugeot 106 Rallye to the Nordschleife for the fantastic Destination Nürburgring track day. It was a two-day affair and, at the end of day one, I lost the one and only key to my car. At the time the Peugeot was parked right outside the Devil’s Diner. That’s the cafe near the barrier arms where you enter and exit the track.
Solid work, indeed. Idiot level 10 firmly unlocked.
Which brings me nicely to Part 1 of Why Car Friends Are Better Than Normal Friends.
I was with Mark and Ryan, who are rational human beings. They gave up some track time, didn’t complain (well, not to me anyway) and we all looked together in vain for a lone black Peugeot key. It was never to be seen again. A WhatsApp message to Michael Grassl at Manthey Racing, based just up the road from the stranded 106 Rallye, got me some much needed storage space whilst I worked on this problem. The bad news is that the key needs to be coded to the car by someone with the right tools for the job.
What’s the good news? These photos, that’s what. Whilst I was looking for a digital copy of the 106 Rallye’s logbook on Dropbox so that I could order a new key from a German Peugeot dealer, I came across this gallery Ryan put together from 2017.Why Car Friends Are Better Than Normal Friends – Part II
Rewind to just over a year ago, when the 106 Rallye wasn’t a problem at all because I didn’t own it. Sometime in September of 2017, Brian Henderson from Rotiform emailed to say that he was going to the Frankfurt Motor Show and we should meet him there. It would be fun, he said. Not one to refuse a trip to see new cars and stuff, I booked a flight and Ryan did the same. It was at Frankfurt that Brian introduced us to Dr. Rouven Mohr. As it turned out, ‘The Doctor’ has some pretty cool car friends, too.
A short phone call by Rouven and we were in touch with Timo Witt. As well as being a proper down-to-earth dude, Timo is the Head of Historical Collection & Events at Audi Tradition, and is also the man with the keys to the secret Audi bunker. What followed was an impromptu trip to Audi DE, courtesy of Brian and Jason allowing us to ride along in their Rotiform rental. Fortunately, Ryan was organised enough to bring his camera so he took these shots. Some are from the regular Audi Museum, and some are from the Secret Audi Bunker place – I’ll let you work out which are which. It’s safe to say the ’90s was a wonderful time for DTM.
Car friends are better than normal friends because everything is an adventure. They turn your problems into slightly better problems. Problems like stranding your French hatchback can be turned into really good problems that involve flying back out to the Nürburgring to collect your freshly-coded Peugeot key. This new and improved problem means that you must squeeze in some more laps before the TF season ends in a few weeks.
Without car friends like Michael Grassl, you can’t store your 106 Rallye in a safe place. And without friends like Brian and Jason, you don’t meet the Doctor and you can’t get a ride in a rental to meet people like Timo. Most importantly, without mates like Mark and Ryan, you can’t get a lift home to the UK. And you can’t find these forgotten photos. Maybe losing the Rallye key wasn’t so bad after all?
I guess I should throw a thanks in here to Paddy, as well, since I’m currently on a train and the internet connection is too poor to put this post together. So thanks to the Irish guy, too. Basically, thanks to everyone.
If you have any questions about the beautiful cars above, then be sure to drop them into the comments section where Timo will be glad to respond. As always, this gallery is best viewed in presentation mode on a desktop device. Alternatively you can view it on your mobile phone, whilst sat on the toilet. Enjoy.
Photos by Ryan Stewart