After a successful 2015 event, BimmerFest East returned to Raceway Park in central New Jersey's Englishtown for the 2016 running. Taking full advantage of the facilities in E-Town, this year's event occupied the final two days of July instead of last year's single-day happening.
Anyone who has attended WaterFest, the annual VW/Audi festival held every year on the same spot, would have recognized the format. Or at least the planned schedule, which included drag racing, autocross, and a low-key show-n-shine on Saturday, followed by more drag racing, a burnout contest and a judged show on Sunday.
However, this being New Jersey in the summer, plans are always subject to change based on the weather, and that's exactly what happened. In a virtual repeat of Waterfest just two weeks prior, rain showers rolled in mid-afternoon on Saturday and rinsed the site of practically all activity. The threat of a second day of storms forced track officials to preemptively cancel the drag races and the burnout contest on Sunday. The show, however, went on as planned.
East Coast enthusiasts showed just how willing they are to take a brand new BMW and go to work making it their own, with new M4 coupes and M3 sedans dominating both the show field and the spectator lot. Naturally, E9X 3-series are still popular as well. Bold color statements ruled the custom scene, including some uncommon body/wheel combinations. This show also proved that a plastic engine cover makes a great blank canvas for self-expression, even if it's as simple as color matching.
A smattering of clean classic BMWs were also on hand, but this is clearly not the venue to impress anyone with your perfectly original Pastelblau 2002. Or even a bone-stock E30 M3, if we're being honest. BimmerFest East is a custom/tuner show, and the few original classics on display served as a reminder that this isn't a BMW CCA concours event.
In addition to the show and track activities, trade vendors and swap meet dealers were on the scene with wares to sell. A handful of major aftermarket companies showed up again this year, including BBS, Ohlins, Bilstein, Spec Clutches and others, but local area BMW dealers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania largely populated the vendor field. BMW North America arrived with a collection of BMW Performance accessorized vehicles for encouragement, as well as a cadre of motorcycles.
The decision to bust out into a two-day event may eventually work for BimmerFest East. The track, after all, has a lot to offer enthusiasts of all interests. This year's running makes it tough to judge that decision, and there's nothing you can do about the weather.