July 23, 2008
By: Kris Hansen
What would late July be without a full weekend dedicated to nothing but Audis and Volkswagens? Thankfully that’s not something that east coast enthusiasts have had to ponder for quite some time now, particularly with Waterfest now in its 14th season.
For AudiWorld this marked the 8th straight year that we made the trek to Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ to attend what is the undisputed king of Audi/VW shows in all of North America.
Waterfest has many distinctive facets to draw people, and keep them interested. Drag Racing, Autocross, dyno pulls, a huge vendor area, a full on car show, a monstrous lot dedicated to show and shine style exhibition and more. There is literally something for any Audi or VW enthusiast to be found at Waterfest.
For some reason we sensed that turnout this year may have been a little off, though this was an illusion. The folks at WaterFest tell us that the actual attendance was identical to last year at 21,000 for the weekend. The numbers for Saturday were up vs. 2007, while Sunday compared to last year. The extreme heat on Saturday (and also Sunday, as it would turn out) may have kept people home or at the beach (the ‘shore’, as they say in NJ). It was near 100 degrees both days and the only saving grace was that humidty levels weren’t off the charts too. The most popular relief around was a row of misters that Raceway Park had installed along the fence at the back of the park. They were very popular!
As hot as it was outside, there were also a corresponding number of hot cars on display. The show and shine areas were as full as ever with folks trying to stay cool hanging out under Their quick set tents.
Drag racing was busy as we have come to expect, although the high temperatures seemed to be a factor leading to more mechanical problems than in years past. Elapsed times were also off the pace that we have come to expect.
Given the current economic climate we had wondered leading up to the event how vendors would fare. Spots checks both with attendees and with vendors themselves showed that, at least at this event, enthusiast interest (and dollars) are as strong as ever. There was certainly no lack of activity in the massive vendor area given their spacious (and relatively cool) tents.
We’re starting to see more recent Audi models being represented these days at Waterfest, but it’s mostly the big V8-engined cars rather than the 1.8t’s of yesteryear. The B5 A4 and S4 are still the most common sight. That said we also saw a lot of RS4s, and B6 and B7 S4s and A4s as well. There were more than a few nice A6s, allroads, one AWESOME S6, some TTs, and some nice old school rides. One C4 S6 was VERY impressive on the drag strip!
In the vendor area, there were a handful of R8s and S5s (inluding the AudiWorld sled, in Sprint Blue, which was a real head turner). In fact we saw just about every model of Audi made in the last 20 years. There were obviously more VWs than Audis, but only by a little. It’s clear that Audi is well engrained into Waterfest and that Audi enthusiasts are embraced there.
The only thing that would have made Waterfest 14 any better was completely out of the hands of organizers since they cannot control the weather. Thanks to Waterfest organizers and staff for another amazing job, to the attendees who make it what it is each year and to the many AudiWorld fans we spoke to over the weekend. We’re already looking forward to Waterfest 15!
- Photo Gallery: Waterfest 2008
- Official Site: www.waterfest.net
- Waterfest Discussion Forum
- Previous Coverage: Waterfest 13, Waterfest 12, Waterfest 11,