Waterfest 20 Details:
The VW enthusiast scene has changed a lot since 1995 when Rapid Parts organized the first Waterfest, an uncommon (at that time) gathering exclusively for watercooled VW builds. Originally held in a community college parking lot in New York, that inaugural event quickly blossomed into the largest VW event in the country, becoming an annual pilgrimage for many. This past weekend saw the 20th consecutive installment of what remains, in many ways, the highlight of summer for many ‘Dubbers.
In the 20 years since its inception, Waterfest has not only witnessed every major trend in the tuning scene, it has often been the incubator for such trends. The scene has shifted gradually from tweeked-up 16-valves and G60s to monster VR6s and overboosted turbos. Where body kits and Euro-spec parts once ruled, today’s show-stoppers have upped their game with super-clean engine swaps, smoothed-out engine bays and bagged suspensions.
“Stance” is still the dominate trend, abundantly on display in every corner of the Waterfest showfield and vendor lot. Slammed to the ground on airbag suspensions and with wide wheels poking out beyond the fenders with loads of negative camber, the look is all about attitude. More attention than ever is also being paid to VW / Audi interior modifications as well, with acres of leather and alcantara commanding attention.
Of course, there’s a little something from every era, and some of the best cars never seem to make it into the Waterfest show. A walk through the parking lots can provide just as much inspiration, especially if your interests fall outside the trend du jour. Some seriously gorgeous VW / Audi cars sit virtually ignored on the dusty gravel outside the show.
Waterfest is more than just a static show, however. Now held at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, it has long included drag races and autocrossing, as well as spectator favorites like the burnout contest. Swap meet vendors and major aftermarket companies also attract a large number of people looking to score rare project parts or snag a good deal on a show special. This year, as in years past, larger tuners have brought their shops to the show, performing ECU tuning and even hardware installations on-site while owners enjoy the show.
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Judging from past Waterfest experiences, attendance at this year’s show seemed to be well off the event’s peak of nearly a decade ago. Nevertheless, it remains the largest gathering of watercooled VWs (and Audis) in America, and we have no doubt that Waterfest 21 will be every bit as important next year.