(From left to right: Laura Burkholder, Roadfly; Mark Solheim, Kiplinger’s; Janis Little, Mitsubishi; Fred Staab, Cruise Control Radio; Les Jackson, Roadfly Road Test Editor; Max Farrow, Roadfly Road Test Editor)
(Charlie Romero, Roadfly Publisher, test driving the new Dodge Charger Police Package edition around Pocono Raceway)
I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) annual track days event this year held in Pocono, PA. I was ecstatic to hear that all of the automakers brought the best and the brightest of their current lines, and we, the journalists had the opportunity to test them on various conditions, from the open road to the Pocono Speedway.
The first day’s festivities started with an off-road course put on by the generous folks of Land Rover. Land Rover was nice enough to bring three of their vehicles, a Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and an LR3, as well as instructors on how to handle the course and the obstacles. You were then free to hop into any of the 20 or so SUVs or trucks that were provided by manufacturers like Jeep, Toyota, Suzuki, Kia, Nissan, Audi, BMW, and Ford.
Down hill from the off-road course, were two to three cars from all of the auto manufacturers which they graciously allowed us to take for a spin around the resort and the local roads. A nice cocktail hour and dinner followed the day’s events.
The next day, everyone a bit exhausted, swarmed the Pocono Speedway for a day of pushing the cars and trucks on the racetrack. Pit row had been taken over by many of the cars from the previous day, and once again, you could hop in any car and wait for your turn to get on the track. MINI and Tire Rack also teamed up for an autocross course where the winner took home a new set of tires.
Overall, it was a fantastic first event to attend, much more relaxed than the auto shows where everyone is focused on the day running smoothly. This gave the journalists and automakers a chance to relax with each other and enjoy the fine engineering and perfect weather. It was a great chance to finally meet all of the people that you communicate with weekly via the web. We also got very nice GM swag bags filled with things like travel mugs from BMW, cd visor holders from MINI, t-shirts, pens, key chains, and calculators.