Earlier this year, it appeared H2O International 2010 was in jeopardy. A date hadn't been set and construction work at the Ocean Downs Racetrack venue in Ocean City, MD meant trouble was afoot.
Fortunately, Jay Shoup and his merry band of helpers saved the day. They announced business as usual, with only a small area of asphalt lost to the bulldozers. As a result, most of the vendors were relocated along the access road, with VW and APR sharing the asphalt apron with the Top Dawg contestants.
The hardworking marshals got everybody parked in the correct areas and H2Oi '10 went off without a hitch. A couple of brief rain showers during Sunday contrasted the heat and humidity of Saturday but did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of visitors.
As usual, Saturday featured live bands and a chill atmosphere in preparation for the car show judging on Sunday. The "best of the best" were again invited to participate in Top Dawg - an invite-only event where the top cars at H2Oi are corralled for separate judging. The winner receives $1000 for their efforts and bragging rights for a lifetime, since this is probably the ultimate prize in the North American VW scene.
Saturday night saw the third annual Air Affair - a gathering of air-ride fetishists in a small shopping-plaza parking lot. The event has grown each year and the lot was soon emptied by a fire marshal who felt we were a danger to ourselves. It certainly indicates the strength of the movement and perhaps the need for a dedicated air-ride show...
We'll have a report from Air Affair in next month's issue, along with features on some of our favorite rides from H2Oi '10, including a good portion of the Top Dawg competitors. In fact, we were delighted to discover we had featured or photographed 70% of the top competitors - not bad for our little rag!
The deserving winner of Top Dawg was our own Derek Baker with his stunning Mk2 Jetta VR6 featuring a cream-colored shaved bay and matching RS wheels.
We first featured the car in et 1/08 but its due a return visit since he's done a lot of work since.
It amazes me that people complain that "a shaved bay and RS wheels" is formulaic. As if when you've seen one, you've seen them all. Do you know how hard it is to build a car of this quality? Do you remember the US VW scene ten years ago when a rear wing on a Jetta was considered show-worthy?
People, we've got to stop hating. If you don't like the trends, create something new. Don't attack the people who are out there having a go.
The same goes for air-ride. We admit we were air-skeptics at first, but the scene has great momentum and it's being used intelligently to create awesome machines. Of course it's not the best way to build a track car, and yes it's cheating a bit, but it brings diversity and new energy to the scene. Let's embrace it and see where it goes.
In second Top Dawg position, taking home $300, was Joe Adams with his Mk4 GTI VR6 from et 10/10. Angel Vargus received $150 for third with his 20AE that will appear next month.
In addition to this show report, which will eventually appear at eurotuner.com, we'll also have a gallery of more than 100 cars online. So if you were at the show, or want to see more of the Dub goodness, check out the site. You'll also find our H2Oi video there as well as at youtube.com/eurtuner
The one element of H2Oi we didn't capture fully was the incredible sense of community the event engenders. Groups of enthusiasts pop up all over the city, lining the main strip to watch the continuous procession of finely-tuned rides.
If you weren't a VR6 fan, you'll leave H2Oi wanting one after listening to the six-cylinder chorus all night. I don't care who you are; eating dinner outdoors on a arm evening with friends, serenaded by the sound of VR6 drivebys and blow-off valves, is as good as it gets.
And as far as VW/Audi shows go, H2Oi is as good as it gets.
With visitors from across the US and Canada, and people flying in from verseas, what's you're excuse for not being there in 2011?