Words and photos can't fully express H2O International. You have to be there to understand its awesomeness. Upon arriving in Ocean City, MD, there's a chill that creeps up your spine and makes it difficult to hold back a smile. The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday at a horse track outside the coastal resort. But in the days leading up to the event, the sensation of being surrounded by thousands of VWs and Audis overwhelms you.
Every other car you see is a modified Dub. At every stop sign, intersection, parking lot and gas station you give a nod or thumbs-up to a fellow enthusiast. This is H2O International and it has some of the best show cars, enthusiasts and camaraderie the North America Euro scene has to offer.
We should warn you, Ocean City isn't the most accessible destination. It's about three hours from DC and 2.5 from Baltimore. There was barely a soul who drove less than two hours. In fact, most Dubbers we spoke to had nothing short of a three-hour drive. Several had ten-hour drives and some made road trips from places like TX, IL, FL and Canada. The long distances didn't deter anybody from H2Oi, because most had been anticipating it all year.
It's hard to put into context the size of H2Oi, but perhaps the number of registered show cars is a good measure - 1250! This doesn't account for the number of spectators and vendors. Perhaps more than triple that number was present throughout the weekend.
And the highlights? H2Oi is becoming the show where car builders debut their new projects. And while a shaved engine bay, customized wheels and wrapped interior were still popular, the most prevalent craze was air-ride suspension.
As you'll see throughout these pages, air-ride was king. If you weren't low enough to scare ants off the road, you might as well go home. The theme even warranted its own gathering, called Air Affair, where 125 bagged cars congregated at a local restaurant. There was even a limbo contest to see who was the lowest. Of course, the car with the lowest roofline would ultimately win and we tip our hats to our FL snapper, Ryan Meloy and his Mk1 Audi TT for taking the crown.
Besides checking out the air crowd, there were plenty of other GTGs. Each car marque and club had its own gathering throughout the weekend. And in between was the cruising.
The great thing about Ocean City is it's basically a long strip. We talked to some car owners who would put 50 or even 100 miles a day driving the main street! It was a beautiful sight with the harmonics of turboed VR6s and big-turbo 1.8Ts echoing through the city. For those not eager to participate, hundreds dropped onto lawn chairs and checked out their favorite cars from the sidewalk.
The 12th annual H2Oi still consisted of the usual great elements such as a judged car show, Top Dawg challenge and quality vendors including Black Forest Industries, NGP Racing, C2 Motorsports, Induktion and NA Motorsports. We also can't overlook the insurgence of clothing companies that introduced countless styles of Euro-inspired apparel.
So if you haven't yet been to H2Oi, what are you waiting for? This is the real deal. And don't say it's too far, because enthusiasts flew in from Germany and England to experience it! But if you're like us and have been there but can't get enough, see you next year.