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Auto Enthusiast Day 2018

The 5th annual, all-inclusive enthusiast gathering does not disappoint

Luke Munnell
Jul 13, 2018

You no doubt recognize the name from seeing, using, or hearing about their performance-centric tire lineup, and for years Nitto has put much of the brand's emphasis on the very cars you obsess over, taking aim at the enthusiast rather than the SUV crowd.

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So it makes sense that one of the best places to find a diverse and impressive range of vehicles suited for all these performance applications would be at a Nitto Tire-sponsored event, right? Enter the brand's Auto Enthusiast Day: a one-day celebration of all things performance automotive, in the center of U.S. automotive culture, now in its fifth year.

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Nitto may be a brand of a Japanese company, but it's headquartered right here in Southern California, just down the street from ground zero for Auto Enthusiast Day: Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

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Likewise, while we may know the brand best for its DOT-compliant drag and road-racing radials, they've got a wide and growing range of truck and off-road applications as well. Auto Enthusiast Day brought out a bunch from both sides of that spectrum.

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We'll keep the focus on off-road content to a minimum (since we've got the Off-Road group to handle that), but Monster Energy's Ultra4 machines and friends/family turned even our diehard JDM heads, along with plenty more.

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As for that JDM stuff, there was plenty of it. Auto Factory Realize's BN Sports-clad R32 Skyline and OSPS Motorsports' Castrol-themed R32 GT-R became two of our instant favs.

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Evasive Motorsports' FK8 Honda Civic Type R, Fernando Delaroas's newly re-camo'd Evasive Evo IX ...

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... And Phong Diep's AE86, are just a few more among a huge group of key cars that left us wanting to see more.

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And that was only counting the vendor side of the event. What might be called the general admission show brought out plenty more clean, modified rides to satisfy any JDM craving.

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Is JDM only part of your obsession? You'll be happy to know the enthusiasm of Auto Enthusiast Day spread nearly equally to European and even some domestic makes as well. After all, clean turbo/AWDs are fast no matter where they come from, as is modified late-model muscle ....

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... And even the odd flared, turbocharged, track-prepped Fiat 500.

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As much static displays and hard-parked machinery as there was to take in, it was all only part of the Auto Enthusiast Day recipe. The rest consisted of Nitto-supported drivers and friends/fam tearing up some tarmac on the event's proving grounds.

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Before a crowd of onlookers packed shoulder to shoulder, a few rows deep, along hundreds of yards of fencing, things got really real. Ace drifters Vaughn Gittin Jr., Chelsea DeNofa, and YouTuber Adam LZ manned a trio of RTR Ford Mustangs for some tandem drifting, demos, and ridealongs ...

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... Along with Matt Powers and Alex Heilbrunn in their retired (Powers) and current (Heilbrunn) Formula D competition vehicles.

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Drivers Nick Nelson and Loren Healy in the no. 40 and no. 64 Ultra4 machines also tackled demo duties, adding a launch ramp and some sweet two-wheel Maverick driving in the mix.

One of the coolest moments came when each Ultra4 driver demoed with Vaughn Gittin Jr., jumping over his RTR Ford Mustang demo car as he slid underneath of them ...

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... And then rolling smoke and staying at times door-to-door with him for some truly awesome tandem drifts and donuts. Who woulda thought?

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So whether you're looking for a place to see the far-reaching effects of Nitto Tire's mission of putting automotive enthusiasts first, or you just want to check out some of the cleanest modified JDM, Euro, domestic, and off-road makes all in one place, and catch some performance driving demos in the process, Auto Enthusiast Day might be your best bet for finding all of that in one place.

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Check out more from our lenses in the gallery below, and join us next year for another great day.

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By Luke Munnell
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