Recently, a friend (Harvey Sherman with the Aurora) informed me of a group of people who enjoy a good drive, the Northwest Drivers group on Meetup, regardless of what is driven. So I decided to check it out.
The founder of the Northwest Drivers group, Marko “Wolf” Wollschlaeger, has been part of the Jaguar and Porsche owners clubs in the area, but found that they weren’t too much into actual driving.
“So I was like, I’m going to found my own thing so that anybody can join. The main purpose was any brand or make, it doesn’t matter what you drive,” said Marko “Wolf” Wollschlaeger, owner of a 2014 Porsche Boxter S.
The drive started at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of a QFC in Redmond Ridge. So, I got up early (for me), put caffeine in my belly and headed out in the Acura TLX I’m reviewing (more on that in another article).
Arriving with several minutes to spare, I pull the TLX into a space next to a Porsche and, I’ll be honest, there seem to be doubters about my choice of car – me included. I hopped out of the sport sedan and started schmoozing with the owners of Nissan GTRs, Fiat 500 Abarths, a ’90 Miata from the Miata Club where I purchased my own MX-5, and more.
There was a car for everyone, or near enough that it makes no difference. One duo came from as far away as Port Angeles just to come and drive with other car enthusiasts on nice roads.
“We don’t really have too many people into car culture out there, so when I found this group online I thought it would be a fun trip out to Seattle,” said Dallas Derma, who drove his 1999 BMW 328i from Port Angeles. “I was pretty surprised. I was just really surprised how many cars there were.”
Derma came out with his car-loving buddy, Brandon Meyers; both are 16-year-old high school students.
“I’ve never seen this many cars like this in one area, usually the car shows in port Angeles have one or two really nice looking cars, but this is really good,” Meyers said.
What a great way to start the weekend.
After a quick drivers’ meeting, the group of around 40 split up into three driving classes: Cruise, Normal and Spirited groups. Now, that’s not by car, but by how a driver wishes to drive; cruisers were out for a leisurely drive, normal drivers were out for something quicker than leisurely, and spirited drivers were out to have a little bit of fun on the upcoming curves.
I stepped out on a limb and chose the spirited class. I figured, “Hey, I’ve got a V6 AWD Acura with ‘Sport+’ mode. Let’s do this!” complete with a mind-sized Joe Swanson from Family Guy.
I couldn’t have chosen better. Also in the Sport speed group was a Mitsubishi Lancer, a VW Golf R32, an Audi S5, the first Porsche, a Nissan GTR, two Honda S2000s, a Lotus Elise, another Porsche (targa), an Aston Martin Vantage, a Corvette, the Acura, and behind me a Porsche Cayman S.
What a train of cars to be among!
“I love to do the drives… I love meeting new people and driving my car,” said Joe Macri, 2009 Porsche Cayman S (driving behind me). “…A little spirited, [but] I’ll come back. I thought it was really fun and, going with a lot of people and meeting new people is really fun too.”
The drive was sporty and fun. I was the tallest car in the group and, between a Corvette and Macri’s Cayman S, I looked seriously out of place.
But, the dual-clutch transmission (DCT) manumatic in the Acura was responsive and clean in the corners and on acceleration, so I didn’t make Macri in the Cayman’s drive dull.
People were safe; not taking things too quickly, but still at a very nice pace.
“We’re a bunch of guys [and gals] trying to have a good time, trying to be safe,” Wolf said.
Brakes would be applied into the corners and then, upon exit, a chorus of climbing rpms rose to the sky. On the hairpin corners, taken at an unbelievably careful pace given the powerhouses under some hoods (complement, not complaint), the reward was a cacophony of engines as drivers stretched the cars-legs upon exit, the engine vocals resounding in my heart.
The Aston Martin Vantage’s belting out a monstrous growl, the Lotus Elise pouring a high-pitched scream into the air and the Acura TLX’s V6 gave me a smile at every gas pedal tap. It may not have had the same tone as those around it, but it was still a blast to hear (and drive).
It sounded glorious. The other cars sounded glorious. The roads were glorious. All around glorious.
So glorious, that I wished it was longer.
Luckily for me, and all the other enthusiasts out there, this wouldn’t be the only time they gathered. The Northwest Drivers group is open to all people with all makes of vehicles – cars, trucks, whatever your flavor of wheels – and only requires that one likes to drive.
“Join, by all means. We have been very lucky so far, we haven’t had any idiots or any people that are rude or unfriendly,” Wolf said. “There were a couple [of people] we had to say, ‘hey take it bit easy’ and they did and it was fine.”
The next event has an added bonus of starting at the end of the June 6 Exotics at Redmond Town Center and heads up into the Cascade Mountains for a bit of Bavarian fun at the end.
The Northwest Drivers group has also gone up north to Lummi Island, out west to Lake Crescent, down to Mount Saint Helens, held track days at local motorsports parks and more. Because: Why. Not.
“I’m tickled, obviously, it’s nice. The community aspect is a big part of it, for me, and I love all the cars,” Wolf said. “While I am biased toward German cars, being German, I love them all.”
So, until next time Northwest Drivers, thank you for the wonderful drive and the earful of fantastic car sounds.