Nitto Tire threw its annual Auto Enthusiast Day in the parking lot of Angel Stadium a handful of wekends ago, a car culture fan-fest with seemingly something for everyone. AED in past years typically left spectators and drivers in the blazing summer heat, but thankfully the 2018 edition, still under the intense Southern California sun, allowed for a bit more moderate temperatures and a cool breeze—the main difference between an event in June and an event that was traditionally held in August before this year.
AED's format has remained unchanged over its lifespan—free admission (minus parking fees), plenty of vendors, food, driving demos, and a car exhibition showcasing all walks of life in the automotive space. With all the different types of cars that were on display, it's the renegade drifting community and its fun-having agents that are generally among the crowd favorites. While having some demonstrations put on in front of the audience, many drift spectacles were quietly parked alongside their corresponding sponsor or racing program's vendor booth. These are their stories:
Pro-am hotshoe Meliton Villamor and his 2JZ S14 was spotted at the Moto IQ booth representing The Drift League, a Pro-Am drift competition held at Irwindale Speedway in which the season winners are funneled into the Formula DRIFT Pro 2 division.
The Auto Factory Realize R32 was seen parked besides the OS Giken booth. This sedan, driven by Teddy Dahn, packs a RB25DET under the hood, rocks an aggressive BN body kid, and has been spotted at various local track days at Willow Springs Int'l Motorsports Park and Grange Motor Circuit.
Top Drift driver Andrew Atalla's LS powered BMW E46 was posted up at the Advanced Fuel Dynamics booth. Atalla is pumping E85 into that beefy V8 pushing even more power to the wheels than the previous I6 did.
Adjacent to Advanced Fuel was Javier Martinez's matte purple S14 sitting proudly at the STR Racing booth. This 240 packs an RB20 under the hood and can be found participating in the Top Drift series.
Formula Drift Pro/Pro 2 driver Ryan Litteral displayed his RB-powered S14 in front of the HPS booth directly center of the vendor midway. This car's paint POPS. Sunglasses are suggested standing around this thing on a bright summer day. Ryan recently debuted this car and livery at Voodoo Bash and Gridlife Midwest.
We can't forget the demo drivers! Ford brought out the RTR Mustangs piloted by Vaughn Gittin Jr, Chelsea DeNofa, and Adam LZ. The three would play games of tandem in the turnkey drift machines that RTR builds.
Underneath the Nitto canopy were some familiar faces as well. Alex Heilbrunn in the supercharged LSE46 was the only driver to bring out a competition car. Matt Powers was the exception, as his demo car was previously used in Formula D competition. These five drivers had three exhibitions in front of the crowds in between the truck demos and autograph sessions.
Auto Enthusiast Day has proven to be a popular stop for a summer weekend with the family. You can't go wrong with a free event, and like we mentioned, there is usually something there for everybody. If you happen to be around for AED 2019 you definitely need to stop by and experience the festivities for yourself.