What can make almost two hundred thousand people gather on the lake and occupying a town with a population a hundred times smaller? The history of music and automotive festivals knows a lot of similar reasons, but the appearance of GTI-Treffen am Worthersee is, perhaps, one of the most intricate.
Traveling through Austria, you can find many picturesque places, the best of which are national attractions. The village of Raifnitz in the south of the country is not on the wish list of the average traveler, despite the fact that it is located on the shores of the sky-blue lake surrounded by amazing hills. Another thing – motorists, and more precisely, Volkswagen owners. Yet more precisely – models with a GTI index. About a hundred of such gentlemen, in May 1982 responded to the enticement of local restaurateur Erwin Neuwirth with the aim of promoting their bistros outside the tourist season. In truth, he was not really a restaurateur at all, but an actor in theater and cinema, whose career made him look at the future at a different angle.
Nevertheless, the idea of gathering GTI owners together “became a thing” and started to grow just as fast as hot-hatches very selling out of car dealerships. The five-year anniversary of the exhibition was marked by the installation of a 25-tonne block in the form of the then existing novelty – a facelifted Golf 2. At the time, Ervin had already left his bistro, but the riot of the GTI fans could not to be stopped by anything. It grew so quickly that soon after the number of participants had to be limited to five thousand – the town in question with only one and a half thousand inhabitants simply wouldn’t be able to take more. 10 years ago Volkswagen Group itself noticed the serious scale of what was happening and took the festival under its international wing. Since then, you can see not only unique WAGs participating, but also worlds latest cars, as well as concepts from the manufacturer itself.
Probably at some point one of the visitors thought to himself: “If that guy brought a Lamborghini, why don’t I bring my Maserati?” Or … “Hmm, my old BMW looks just as good as these air-cooled guys’s cars – I’ll bring it here in next year”.Therefore visiting Worthersee today is not necessarily in order to worship the German folk brand – it’s enough to just love the cars and the culture surrounding them.
And although most of the festival cars tend to be stanced, you can also find immaculate classic model specimens. Five thousand cars is a lot and the event takes four days, so the regulars come to these regions a week or two earlier.
The landscape of the surroundings Rajfnitsa is able to set you to both a relaxing cruise on a boat whilst sightseeing as well as a deep «face in the grass» type alcoholic sleep. Hanging out with the old-timers, remembering the emblem evolution of Wolfsburg, vaping, discussing bodykits, buying aftermarket goodies or starting fireworks – everyone will be able to find something for themsleves.
If Erwins Le Bistro still existed today – the lines in it would be able to contend with those from 1990, when the first McDonald’s in USSR opened its doors. GTI-Treffen am Worthersee is a story about how an attempt to save one’s own career gave rise to a grandiose phenomenon that elevated the concept of an automobile festival to the absolute.