A little history always helps. Wookies in the Woods (WITW) is a week-long annual gathering of Golf R32 and R enthusiasts across the US of A. Held in Fontana, North Carolina every April, it is going on 14 years strong and more recently officially sponsored by VW Group of America
WTF!? Is this a Furries convention?
April is a splendid month
Not only does it usher the Spring but also a bunch of like-minded motorheads sporting Star Wars paraphernalia, who storm the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee (might as well be Endor) to celebrate and preserve a most awesome of car cultures. EV-il empire? Not welcome.
Before you call the admitting psychiatrist allow me to elaborate on this association between Star Wars and sports cars
You plan a fun weekend drive with fellow VAG company. After a full day shredding Michelins on twisty roads, you sit down to enjoy a juicy burger and ice-cold brew at the local grill. Out of the corner of your eye you catch a random dude donning full Chewbacca suit and regalia.
Grassroot beginnings from a modest assortment of Mk4 R32 owners, who formed a group called the NorEast R; a shrewd wordplay on the powerful cyclones that often bat the U.S. East Coast, just as the famed 2004 model “hit” our shores.
In 2007 a few of these pioneer Mk4’s found themselves on the Great Smoky mountains on a group trek down south. The characteristic “sweet rumble” of Wolfsburg’s magnificent 15o narrow-angled VR6 resounded through the woods and down the Tennessee valley. A match made in heaven
The migratory pattern of Mk4’s was soon complemented with Mk5’s and later iterations of the R brand. Somewhere along the years the Wookie lore was born.
Legendary R32’s with bandolier decals and supercharged Corrados with 18×9.5 BBS LM’s slayin’ the Dragon (i.e., the infamous U.S. highway 129 – a public road with 318 curves in 11 miles). Basically a free rollercoaster you may keep riding until you have an empty tank (or gut).
Four and five-pot turbocharged VAG’s, the occasional R8 V10, carve the epic roads adorning West Appalachia. Wookie costumes are icing on the cake.
WITW has been the car event for me since joining this family in 2017. Kinda like summer camp, where you see your buddies and their rides mature with each passing year. Something about the camaraderie and built-in traditions, which have become as important as our toys and playground.
It is difficult to capture over some lines of text and photos but worth the effort. Some of my favorite snippets are the pillows and mattresses in our Fontana cabins, which have not been upgraded since Ari Vatanen won his last WRC championship.
The hearted laughing and friendly roasts by the fiRepits. Dedicated Wookies making the round trip all the way from the West Coast each year. Amazing organizers with no tolerance for snobbery. Wookie cookies! Awesome stickers and the Soundoff awards (e.g., most sonorous exhaust setup – Hey Ohh)
Winning the Raffle, where WITW sponsors offer all the performance goodies we lust for. Losing the raffle, which feels just as good because all proceeds go to local charity.
What is dear to me is that hooning is shunned at WITW, who advocates for judicious and safe driving. It is called the Tail of the Dragon for a reason folks. #Keep it between the mayo and the mustard. #Don’t be a dildo.
What I love most is cell service up here is crappy enough to cure the most severe nomophobiac. And so we reconnect by disconnecting.
We recharge our batteries all while the next Tesla supercharger is miles away and all you hear are echoes of supercharged VR6’s fading into bird chirps and creek flows.
My own WITW experience can be summed up as an annual motorhead’s pilgrimage. Respite from all the tech and data that surrounds me. Real Driving and Real People who share a passion for what is pure and righteous in the auto and motorsport cosmos.
I catch a glimpse of an analog needle bouncing off the rev limiter. I well up tears of joy on the trail of some de-catted beast, spitting fireballs on flat shifts. I beg you, one more run at Hellbender, until next April.
#See you in April.
Ps. A video to pay homage to WITW 21 and the mk6 R. Shout out to Vassili Bardis for making it happen!
Photo: Ioannis Ioannou
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