Editor’s Note: The following column is penned by Dutch Mandel, editorial director for Autoweek, chronicling his association with former Airstream and Thor Industries Inc. executive Dicky Riegel over the years and the pending launch of Airstream 2 Go – the only factory-authorized Airstream trailer rental company in the U.S.
I met Dicky Riegel about 10 years ago. I’d been wandering the halls of the annual Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) convention in Louisville, Ky., and Dicky was completely blocking the doorway of a bright and shiny Airstream trailer. I wanted in.
At 6 feet 7, Dicky blocks a lot of passages, but opens up many more. As then-president of Airstream Inc., he afforded adventurers a chance to see the world, one iconic aluminum tube at a time.
When we found out what each other did, neither of us could stop asking questions. Dicky is a car fanatic — a nut of the finest order – and from an early age, he consumed car magazines, including Autoweek, like oxygen. As I’ve an interest in design, the open road and a cool, hip life I envision leading someday with an Airstream on my bumper and miles of roads ahead, it was an ideal match. For days, stories and vodka gimlets flowed.
Over the years, I visited Dicky and right-hand-man Bob Wheeler — an unassuming engineer the ladies adore at their Jackson Center, Ohio, headquarters. We did projects together: When Autoweek competed in a human-powered Red Bull Dragster event, we promoted a righteous Airstream SkyDeck motor home. Every successful race team needs hospitality, right?
In time, Dicky moved from Airstream to parent company Thor Industries Inc. (and Bob became Airstream president, a position he still holds today). That was the beginning and the middle of this story … that gets better.
Move forward several years, and Dicky wants to do something on his own. He conjures up a brilliant plan.
Understand that the only way anyone could experience the Airstream lifestyle was if they went all in and bought one. It was a commitment to be part of a life enjoyed by many and envied by more.(Who among us, upon seeing a summer sun glint off that shiny carapace, has not breathed the sigh of a beckoning road?) Until now, there’d been no way to rent an Airstream to live this fantasy.
Dicky started Airstream 2 Go, the first and only factory-authorized Airstream trailer rental company in the States. He raised capital, bought a squadron of trailers and a fleet of GMC Yukon Denalis, and created a mobile destination getaway we all can enjoy. (Its soft launch is this month, but he’s booking clients for May already! Go to airstream2go.com to learn more.)
He’s made it simple — a concierge will plan stops, coordinate your adventure, plot your path and, of course, make reservations. Before you go, a full-blown ground school will walk you through how to care for the trailer. Or you can fly in, rent the rig and off you go. The level of engagement is customizable and fits every customer.
Have you dreamed of a roll through America’s purple mountain majesty? A 23-foot Airstream could fill your needs. A family of six can vacation to the Grand Canyon or the Pacific Ocean in a 28-footer. Each model is fitted with air conditioning, power awning, backup camera, lawn chairs, gas grill, available bike rack, generator, bathroom with shower, kitchen with refrigerator and microwave, duvets (!) and flat-panel TV.
You could float down a river, spelunk a cave or lie on a beach, but until you’ve enjoyed the openness this country offers, you’ve not lived. Dicky, like I said, has opened up America to many, and I can’t wait for my Airstream vacation.