The problem with waiting all year for your favorite show is often trying to anticipate every eventuality. Tales of Waterfest woe can include flat tires and blown engines en route but for us, coming from LA, we were at the mercy of the airline industry.
The mayhem began soon after entering airport security at 5am. “Ladies and gentlemen, your flight has been delayed five hours due to a crew change,” blah-freaking-blah.
That sentence caused paralysis; almost as if we’d collected a speeding ticket as the motor simultaneously overheated on the freeway. New Jersey would have to wait to wow us.
Pulling into the hotel parking lot, we were greeted by our first tailgate party. This was what we’d been waiting for all day: Waterfest 18 had begun and we were finally at the party.
The following morning, we rendezvoused with photographer Josh Brown, AKA “our Waterfest guru”. Walking through the vendor area we found more parts than you’d uncover searching the internet all day. Making sure nobody had to worry about installing the parts, vendors were happy to fit everything from a full exhaust to ECU flashing.
In fact, flashing seemed to be the pre-eminent occupation of nearly every booth. Started by APR, they ruled the roost with a series of lifts to fit hardware on site, plus a tent for flashing, surrounded by a collection of its modified cars and Grand-Am racers.
However, Revo and Unitronic weren’t far behind. In fact, Revo was also busy flashing all weekend, offering its Signature Series Software for the first time outside of the Audi dealer network. They also found time to introduce new K04 turbo kits for the 2.0T, showing it in both a Mk6 GTI and Golf R, with the latter also getting fully switchable software.
Throughout the day, people were raving about the nightlife; the usual stories of wild parking-lot gatherings, tailgating and rock ’n roll-style hotel mayhem. As darkness fell, we decided to start at Chili’s. Strike one. It was cleared out by the police within 30min of our arrival. Strike two: TGI Fridays was also cleared by the po-po. Strike three: even Applebees was vacated long before we arrived.
All that remained were the inevitable hotel parking lot tailgate parties, but even these were cleared out. Three hours passed and we couldn’t find a single event to stake a claim and regret in the morning.
Even our own hotel fell victim to the crackdown. Just minutes after ripping the e-brake in frustration, Johnny Law descended on our small gathering with his zero-tolerance policy for this year’s festivities.
Show day arrived with a full compliment of drag racers settling into the pits, and exhibition cars pouring into every available space.
Walking the rows, we noticed R32 drivetrain swaps were more popular than ever. As well as hoodless engine compartments displaying meticulously shaved bays. Wheels continue to reach new heights, with color combinations and detailing setting new standards.
We were pleasantly surprised by the classic VW/Audi presence. Some vehicles had received the same attention to detail we’ve only previously seen at a concours d’elegance.
Waterfest 18, like any sizable event, inevitably attracts its fair share of haterade. Nonetheless, the true fans keep coming back, with vendors outperforming previous years and show cars setting new trends. No matter what you hear, this show is big, maintaining its rightful place as a “must attend” event for any VAG enthusiast. Who knows… maybe the police will lighten up next year and we can again report on microwaves flying from hotel windows!
As the day progressed, we enjoyed the breeze atop the grandstands at the historic Englishtown Raceway Park. The Outlaw class drag racing has become a highly anticipated spectacle at Waterfest. Pitting some of the fastest highly modified VAG cars against each other for bragging rights and a small cash purse.
The quickest cars were reaching into the mid-9sec quarter-mile times, giving everybody in the stands something to cheer about.
This year’s winner was again Todd Pavics, from Livingston, NJ. His ’94 Golf set an impressive 9.860sec at 150.98mph to beat Tim Muller running 10.015sec at 155.51mph in his Mk3 Golf.