Having previously survived running a stock car at Rockingham, North Carolina, I accepted an Audi invite to drive their winter test track in the Alps near Innsbruck. Knowing how cold the Alps are in early January, the Mrs. wisely says no thanks to the offer to attend with me. So, I am “U.S. Erred” to Munich to join up with the other 29 Audi gearheads to transit to the Ingolstadt, Germany factory and then on to the Falkensteiner Hotel and Spa in Seefeld, Austria near where the test track is located.
The family having exited Bavaria in a bit of a rush in 1765, they do not seem to recognize me in the Bavarian capital of Munich, the third largest city in Germany. Although it is the most expensive city in Germany, it is a great town to visit with lots of the classic charm of old Germany. Headed into the cold (so cold it is even off season for skiing), I grab my yellow Gore-Tex Ski Jacket and load my gear into it. Even though I know the European black/grey attire drill, I just forgot. In the masses of people on the Munich streets, I stand out like a moving lighthouse and get the stares. One older German lady even points to me explaining to a Spanish couple that the bus tour beside her is in English. At least she did not point and say I was from West Virginia.
Big Yellow (hey, it was cold and snowy and I forgot) and I crossed town on foot to my favorite tourist spot, the Hofbrauhaus House. The very first food regulation law came about to make sure the beer was good in Bavaria, and it still is good and healthy some 420 years later. Drunks and lit pipes burned down early Hofbrauhaus versions and the current new building only dates to 1897. I do not have the reserved table or locked stein storage status, but I do sit at my regular table for dinner and a tall stein. It is 41 years after my first visit there and I note some big changes. The older women in dirndls carrying six steins are gone and there are very new Germans serving. As you see across Europe and the Caribbean, eastern block workers are now faux bar servers not looking at all German, but still dressed in old style German attire. Other changes jump out in the busiest room in the house when I observe that the unique porcelain troughs in the men’s room have been replaced by the Unimat 4000 individual pods with self-flushing photoelectric eyes. I went back two times just to operate them again.
These visits inspired me to work on my next get rich plan. Yes, I admit my plan for duplicates of all Victoria Secret underdrawers, made exclusively in warm flannel, just did not catch on. But charging a Euro to use a clean bathroom is rampant in Munich. You must pay to sprinkle. Admittedly that is an issue if you must first put on your geezer glasses, make change, and then figure out how to use the fee required machinery when you take blood pressure diuretics. I’ll make a fortune in Morgantown, West Virginia on game day if I can overcome the clean bathroom for a dollar concept that the dollar is to buy. I am pricing the Unimat 4000’s in gold and blue. I am going to be rich.
Speaking of tailgating in Morgantown, West Virginia and walking downtown Munich, I think of fashion. With a Mrs. and two daughters-in-law in the fashion consuming business, I am attuned to this area. For example, I recall the day mini-skirts came in vogue and the day the music stopped. Two seasons ago, the ugly Uggs boots were worn with any weather combination on game day. One year ago, it was rubber rain boots despite the lack of any rain. The past fall, I saw a definite leather boot trend. What a bell weather Morgantown is. Munich is awash with leather boots (4 out of 5 women were wearing) and most are riding style. I doubt most of these women had ever seen a horse. I saw only one lady in heels and I do believe she was headed to the local opera, or never got the memo.
We left Munich by coach (a bus in West Virginia) for a tour of the Traditions car building where every Audi ever made is kept. We were treated to a visit by world famous Audi driver Walter Rohrl at the Audi plant. He politely posed for pictures with his winning cars. The biggest snowstorm to hit the Tyrol Region of Austria closes roads and trains, but we eventually get to Seefeld, Austria. The Audi instructors (Oliver Rudolph; Marco Werner; and Rolf Vollard) provide us classroom instruction first. I learn that horsepower is how fast you hit the tree and torque is how far you move the tree thereafter.
We take to the ice on the track in 15 new S-5’s with studded tires and learn drills and procedures doing things to these new cars that our parents would have grounded us for. It is a wonderful adventure. Graduation night includes a sleigh ride to the garage. The instructors (one a 2-time, 24 hours of Le Mans winner and another a 7‑time Rally cross winner) put us in as passengers and scared the nightlights out of us on the ice. I changed underdrawers twice.
I survived my training and spent a lovely twenty-six (26) hours in transit back to my home base of Charleston and arrived in the middle of the night in an ice storm. Being an ice graduate, I slowly drove home like the driver of a Jazzy in the mall.