Georgia is known for its breathtaking scenery and world famous peaches, but not so much for its Volkswagen show. Yet Southern Wörthersee sees VAG fans literally takeover the Bavarian-themed town of Helen in northern Georgia. They enjoy each other's company and get a small slice of what the original Wörthersee show in Austria is all about.
Now in its seventh year, SoWo rumbled into town as fast as the late spring rain clouds arrived. Fortunately, a little precipitation didn't deter the show's largest attendance to date, with approximately 5000 cars and 15000 bodies descending upon Helen, GA.
We were side-by-side with fellow SoWo fans in the mud, rain and humidity, enjoying everything this awesome event had to offer. Impromptu burnout sessions, late-night parking lot parties and, of course, the cars that united everybody for the weekend.
Trying to take in a show of this magnitude can be overwhelming but we highly recommend you add it to your vacation plans next year. Getting there requires a little more dedication but we promise it's worth the effort.
Most people make it a road trip and we bumped into Robert Rodriguez from Dallas, who had a great story to tell. He had managed to stay ahead of tornados in his rearview for most of the journey. It's just as well because he'd packed his Mk5 GTI with the entire family and weekend provisions. Doing it on air and with a set of clean CCW C5 wheels just added style while out-running Mother Nature.
Tuning house HPA brought a rare gem to SoWo - a European Scirocco. But rather than keep it behind a velvet rope, they wrapped the car in matte white and asked everybody in attendance to step up and make their mark. Not only were fans allowed to doodle to their hearts content, but HPA was accepting donations on behalf of the American Cancer Society. In fact, they managed to raise more than $1000 from generous people digging into their pockets over the weekend.
The Forge Motorsport display turned up James Sokol's incredible GTI. The alien matte green Mk6 was packed with performance mods courtesy of AWE and Forge Motorsport, while Air Lift supplied the hardline air suspension, and fifteen52 milled Formula Classic wheels to clear Porsche GT3 brakes. This was definitely one of the hottest cars on Instagram and Facebook (follow us on Instagram@europeancarmag).
The Mk3 Jetta and GTI has never left the spotlight and there continue to be some incredible builds on this affordable classic VW. James Hatto's '98 Jetta TDI is used for day-care transport but was selected as a Top 50 finalist. And while the custom single headlight front-end and polished Tarmac wheels plus tan primer paint made it stand out, it was the basketball orange leather interior with laser-straight topstitching that earned him Best Interior from the SoWo judges.
However, Best in Show was bestowed on Blair Peterman's well executed 1.8T-swapped '78 Audi Fox. Considering the car traveled more than 1200 miles to participate in SoWo, the coveted Forge Motorsport-sponsored beer stein and SoWo Best in Show trophy were well earned. Who said classics can't compete against modern rollers?
There were plenty of party crashers at SoWo. Examples of BMW, Volvo, Mercedes, Mini and even Lamborghini decided to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, with Air Lift displaying a particularly cool Volvo V70R.
However, one of our favorite displays was found in a GTI trunk, where a moonshine distillery or at least pumping legal versions of the booze from one pot to the next. Either way we enjoyed the dedication to the theme.
You don't need a detective agency to figure out where the SoWo parties are at. Just listen for the screaming tires, cheering in the distance and, of course, the wail of police sirens. To put it mildly, you're bound to run into a parking lot gathering at almost every inn, tavern and restaurant. Since we were in the heart of the mayhem, at the Helendorf Inn, we were treated to a front row seat, with crowds of people chatting about their cars, who drove from the furthest distance and who could down the most beer. The random burnout sessions and attentive law enforcement kept things interesting.
For full information about SoWo and details of the 2014 event, visit southernworthersee.com