We've finally figured it out! We've been to the Summer Slam for six years in a row now and have come to the conclusion it is missing one thing: a fireworks show. You could say Old Bridge Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., has its own brand of fireworks on the racetrack, but it still isn't the same. Aside from this small shortcoming, the Summer Slam has it all.
If you have never heard about the Summer Slam you must be new to the sport compact scene, as this event draws up to 30,000 spectators. This year was no disappointment. But what has attendees coming in droves is not just the great racing. It's that there is so much to see and do over the two day event. People from all around the country plan for this event months in advance; getting their rides ready for show or race or even demolition, as was the case during the hydraulic part of the event. Englishtown has made this event so family oriented it's easy to find dad cooking up something for the wife and kids on a makeshift grill.
Added to this year's show was the Signal Auto drift team. In keeping with the times, Signal Auto was brought in by BFGoodrich to rally the fans with pirouetting autos wafting billowing clouds of tire smoke. It was an impressive display of machismo as the team would swing their cars dangerously close to the retaining walls making us realize the difference between brilliance and stupidity is only inches.
You could also thank BFGoodrich for the array of cars brought out for fans to sample. If the Nismo-tuned 350Z wasn't good enough you could try a Acura RSX Type-S or Subaru WRX STi to thrash and beat on. Most needed to be reminded the fastest way around a track is by being smooth and not slipping and sliding, which is the method we witnessed most often.
But the poor saps still trying to learn how to do a 180-degree turn the right way were missing out on the action over at the Lifestyle stage, where spectators were treated to local hip-hop artists, a sort of "ho" dance off and the infamous bikini contest. Ever since it got out of hand a few years ago, the crew running the show has been extremely careful to make sure the bikinis meet "family" criteria. Trust us-it still carried an R-rating!
Buried within the 1000-plus car show arena was another car show. Had there been stickers on the windows you would have thought the local Scion dealer set camp looking to sell its wares, but it was actually a Scion meet. This car has started a following of its own and is growing by leaps and bounds; rightfully so! The car sports good looks, a lot of character and you just can't beat the super low sticker price. And now with the new tC model coming out, Scion is sure to please most lookers.
Aside from all these things, the bottom line is the drag racing brings the fans to the stands. Not many tube frame "pro" cars were on hand, but local-boy Ara Arslanian and his Street Glow Solara as well as Manny Cruz and Carlos Montano were on hand to dazzle the fans. In typical fashion, Ara was running sub 7-second passes and managed to come out on top in his class. The cars from Team Puerto Rico were also on hand to treat the crowd.
Summer Slam was a warm-up for the Pan-Americans on July 17-18. The Starlets and Corollas were a riot to watch as 7-second passes were the norm. We can only imagine the festival that will be going on at Atco, N.J., in mid-July.
We know we say this every year, but the Summer Slam is just one of those events that should be marked on your calendar in August for next year's event. We look forward to going every year because there is always something to see or do on every single square inch of Englishtown. It's funny how work can be so much fun.