ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin –Automakers and journalists once again descended on Road America this week, which has become home to the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally. An annual favorite, the two-day event draws top journalists from the across the country where they’re able to experience approximately 100 of the industry’s hottest vehicles. This year not only marks MAMA’s 15th Spring Rally, but also the association’s 25th anniversary.
Nearly 100 media and more than 60 manufacturers and affiliate members attended. The first evening, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) sponsored the traditional Wisconsin fish fry dinner for manufacturers and out-of-town journalists. This event has become an annual favorite “warm welcome” that reunites industry colleagues and friends.
The first morning opened with a breakfast hosted by GMC where the brand introduced the 2016 Yukon SLT Premium Edition – a chrome-trimmed special model offering a premium, personalized appearance on SLT models.
Following, CGI Motorsports hosted a track safety talk and then rally-goers were cut loose to take on the track and street drives. Following two hours of hot laps and test drives of Family Vehicle of the Year award contenders, Nissan sponsored a “farm to table” themed lunch where a brand executive provided detail on the LEAF. The lunch ended with a fun surprise for guests – Nissan treated everyone to smoothies made in blenders powered by the LEAF.
More track and street driving occurred, with go-karting (sponsored by Kia) closing out the afternoon. A quick attire change later, members were back at the Osthoff Resort for dinner, sponsored by General Motors and MAVEN Mobility. During the dinner, the Chicago Auto Show presented its “Best of Show” awards: “Best Exhibit” to Chevrolet; “Best Green Vehicle” also went to Chevrolet for the Volt; “Best All-New Production Vehicle” went to the Lexus LC 500; and “Vehicle I’d like to have in my driveway” went to the Ford GT. The night, per usual, concluded at Siebken’s Tavern (known as the “best bar on the racing circuit”), libations sponsored by GM and MAVEN.
The second morning kicked off with a breakfast hosted by Chrysler. This venue provided Chrysler the opportunity to highlight the all-new Pacifica and encourage those who haven’t already driven the family hauler to take it for a spin.
Back at Road America, journalists could partake in an off-road course, sponsored by Land Rover North America, or street driving. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, the autocross portion – sponsored by Toyota – had to be cancelled. However, plenty of fun was had on the off-road course and driving vehicles members didn’t have time to test out the previous day.
By noon, everyone was hungry again and, thanks to ZF North America, MAMA members had a hearty sendoff lunch of traditional German fare before returning to their respective states. Rally-goers know to stay until the very end as MAMA raffled off a series of prizes provided by the automakers and some affiliate members. In addition, MAMA gave away four Amazon gift cards and a pair of iPads to sweeten the deal.
MAMA thanks additional sponsors who helped make the event memorable: Cars.com, Ford, Mazda, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo as fuel sponsors; Honda for WiFi; Hyundai for the Snack Oasis; Mercedes-Benz for keeping members safe on the track with helmets; G. Schmitz & Associates for Vehicle Playcards and stickers; and G. Schmitz & Associates and Drive Shop for event logistics. Finally, this featured event couldn’t come together without the hard work of the MAMA Rally Team; the MAMA Board of Directors thank all for their help.
The next MAMA event to look forward to will be hosted by Honda for a “Day at the Park!” Honda will have the all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline loaded with cold refreshments as members enjoy a BBQ lunch and vehicle presentation. That event will be held on June 21 at the UIC Outdoor Picnic Grounds from noon to 2 p.m.
Members should also save the date for the 2016 MAMA Fall Rally which will be held on September 28 at the Autobahn Country Club. Following the track day, MAMA will also host a 25th anniversary party to honor the association’s heritage and success. Stay tuned for more details.