By Kris Hansen
Another Waterfest is in the books, and from what we could see, it did appear to us that this year’s show was a great success. The show was very well attended, and well represented. Waterfest has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a small local show based around the Rapid Parts business, held at the local community college, to becoming the largest VW and Audi show in North America.
Curiously, the name Waterfest is still confusing to some, even after all these years. The name refers to the fact that there are 2 kinds of VWs – the old air cooled cars, and the newer WATER cooled cars. To VW enthusiasts, this is a massive distinction, and seldom are both variants of VWs combined in the same show apparently. This really doesn’t apply to Audi of course, but nevertheless, as cousins to the VW brand, we 4 ring fans were invited to participate in this great event from the earliest days.
Held again at Old Bridge Township/Englishtown NJ’s Raceway Park, Waterfest combines multiple car related elements into one gigantic lot. The main focal point at Waterfest is the massive vendor area, where everything from chip tuning, exhaust installs, body parts, wheels and tires, lighting parts, and everything in between can be found for sale.
As always, vendors at Waterfest do brisk business, witnessed by long lines of cars at the various install bays waiting for their new treats, as well as people walking through with armloads of new parts for their pride and joy. In many cases, Waterfest is the only show where people can actually shop many of these vendors in person, and walk home with their purchase, instead of waiting for the shipment to arrive. It’s also an opportunity to put a face to a name, something which is invaluable in customer relationships.
If there are no new parts to be found for your car, be sure to check out the swap meet at the far end of the lot. Basically whole cars are laid out in pieces for the buying, and if you have an older VW or Audi, chances are you might be able to find things to fix lingering issues you might be having.
The show and exhibition fields were overflowing this year, and for the first time since we’ve been going, it looked like they were running out of room in the back exhibition lot as cars were lined up 3 rows deep on the gravel extension. The relative cool temperatures (mid 80s both days) and glorious sunshine certainly increased the enjoyment factor.
We also saw more Audis than we have seen in years past. From bone stock A3s and A4s through a highly modified twin turbo R8 5.2, which was featured in the AudiWorld booth on Sunday, through no less than 4 Audi race cars (3 R8 Grand Am, and the historic R8 LMP1). There was a huge group of A5s and S5s that came in and parked together. There were many nicely turned out Audis, and even some cars that were heavily influenced by the VW scene, with airbag suspension, ultra wide wheels. Quite honestly, while not everyone’s cup of tea, it is nice to see people trying different thing with Audis, instead of the same old thing.
We were thrilled to see some very hotly contested races on RWP’s NHRA ¼ mile drag strip. In the Stevebilt sponsored Outlaw class were no less than 6 competitors, and the winning time of 9.45 at over 150 mph was one of the fastest runs we’ve seen at Waterfest. The strip was never really still throughout the weekend, and many quick cars were seen running at various times.
From what we’ve seen, this was a banner year for Waterfest. We enjoyed conversations with many Audi enthusiasts, and put faces to many AudiWorld screen names. We were happy to see the Audi brand so well represented this year, and we’re already looking forward to next year.