There aren't too many import-centric events with 14 consecutive years under their belt. And while there might be a few that hold onto a longer stretch of time, they're certainly not growing at nearly the same rate as the Honda-specific gathering known as the Eibach Meet. Conjured up by Honda lifer and longtime Eibach employee, Ryan Hoegner, the recipe was always simple: set up a space for Honda fanatics to show off their project cars, talk shop and interact with one another in real life, rather than from behind a monitor or phone screen. Over time, vendors became interested and involved, the car count and spectator count multiplied in record numbers, and the once quaint little get together which fit neatly within the confines Eibach's North American HQ in Corona, Calif., swelled to a point that had organizers turning away more cars than they could accept.
Years later, with continued growth the event made its way to Irwindale Speedway, which it completely overran after selling the venue out in a matter of hours. Then it was off to Lake Elsinore at a minor league baseball field's parking lot which, for a few years, offered enough space to grow into, but even that proved to only provide temporary relief. In 2017 the event stormed Fontana's Fan Zone parking area and once again hit its largest turnout with about 1,000 cars registered. All seemed right and there was still enough room to add more for 2018. However, a new addition to the event would mean yet another move, but this time, it was less than a mile away.
2018's SoCal Eibach Meet is the first to include drag racing during the day's activities. An ode to the very roots being that drag racing was an integral part of the import community that still flourishes today. With more Honda builds than ever being assembled around the world and constantly accessed via social media, some of the newer generation might not realize just how important competitive drag racing was to not only establishing import performance but also bolstering the aftermarket. Hoegner is all too familiar, having lived through the humble beginnings and the transitional period that created what many Honda fans refer to as the "golden era." Today, three decades after the import movement's unofficial inception, Honda enthusiasm is at an all-time high.
Like every Eibach meet, the set up and roll-in begins early. Vendors, which included 43 different brands this year, begin their set up before the sun is up. Pre-registered vehicles, which tallied up to over 1,100 this year, are brought in groups at various roll-in times. Spectators are asked to not show up until 9am, in order to keep the lanes free for a worry-free morning procedure, but that didn't happen. Many fans ignored the ask and showed up in waves as early as 6:30am and the traffic jam that ensued lasted throughout the day. Even with the registered vehicles rolled in and set up, the spectator lines, which filled three incoming lanes, stretched around the massive Fontana facility and out onto the surface streets.
The Auto Club Dragway offers more overall square footage, but is significantly thinner when compared to the Fan Zone section of last year's event. This offered a new set of challenges for setting up vendors, registered vehicles and still leaving enough space for drag competitors. And while there were certainly more people on hand this year than ever before, the narrow venue seemed to shrink as the day wore on and the foot traffic increased—not to mention a sudden heat wave that blanketed SoCal just a few days prior, which checked in at just under the 100-degree mark. Nevertheless, attendees stayed busy looking over the huge selection of Hondas in the display area and interacting with vendors on hand that not only brought their latest and greatest product to showcase but also had their own display cars, many of which looked to be cover-worthy builds.
Here's a look at the morning hours as registered cars were being parked and the drag racers began prepping and getting their first runs.
From Rywire Motorsports' garage, to SEMA, to the Eibach Meet, this 2.5L, drive-by-wire converted, ITB S2000 is making the rounds and blowing minds far and wide.
A few of our favorites—Robert Romero's DB2 is the quickest and fastest second-gen. Integra around and always remains incredibly clean.
Arturo Parker's turbo LS/VTEC-powered Civic ED is as clean as it gets, and since we saw it last, changed things up with new titanium charge piping and the latest version of Locash Racing's billet valve cover. Both the Integra and the Civic use Hush Performance's three-piece front ends.
If it doesn't fit, make it fit.
The Quick n' Slick S2K put on a show for the thousands of fans in attendance.
Michael Mao's twin turbo NSX always draws eyes when it rolls into an event and Eibach 2018 was no different.
The ITR and S2000 crowd was heavy at this year's event. While the newer models get the spotlight in general media, these two icons are still very much on the enthusiast's radar.
Where there's drag Hondas, you're sure to find that innocent looking Sheepey logo. This EH hatch was slicked down and ready to do work, sporting a Sheepey Race front mount and forward facing turbo set up.
Possibly the most popular Japanese wheel on earth, Volk's timeless TE37 has only grown in popularity over the last few decades.