July 18, 2005

Waterfest 11
Text & Photos by Jason Teller and Jon De Jong

In 2005 the legend of Waterfest grows (or diminishes) depending on your perspective. Waterfest is, of course, the annual gathering of thousands of VW and Audi crazies in Jersey. Over the years what started as more of a swap meet for old school v-dub'ers has grown into a bona fide powerhouse show. Enthusiasts from up and down the eastern seaboard - as well as across the country for that matter - make the trip for a few days of cruising, show cars, vendors, partying, drag racing, autocrossing, dyno'ing and fun.

This was our fourth straight year at Waterfest and we now have enough perspective to say that there are definite ebbs and flows in these big shows. What makes any gathering truly hot is building anticipation leading up to the actual event itself. Since we're all car freaks, that anticipation has a great deal to do with what the mother ship - the German one producing VW's and Audi's - is up to at the moment.

Unfortunately we think it's fair to say that we've all found ourselves in a bit of a lull at the moment. Gone are the heady days of one tuner pushing (and punishing) the next by tuning the venerable 2.7T powerplant. In 2005 there were no just-released 337's or R32's or S4's. Nobody's really figured out a bona fide supercharger solution for the Audi 4.2-liter V8. And so on and so forth. We are waiting for our next superstar; we are waiting for the next big thing or battle royale to appear.

It'll come, and Waterfest will undoubtedly be right there in the thick of things. Don't get me wrong, Waterfest 11 was not a big letdown. The products out there in the market just didn't have the charisma to carry things to new heights this year as in year's past.

Before turning to the surreal and the disturbing, how about a quick rundown the big positives from the weekend? The folks behind the Waterfest show once again did a fantastic job of organizing the event, ensuring a healthy mix of vendors and booths together with many different events. Raceway Park is an excellent location in terms of the available space, layout for the show and amenities. We saw more AudiWorld readers in our own booth this year than any year in the past and we witnessed first hand - both on the show days and during the evenings - people having a great time. There is something truly intoxicating about caravanning down the highway with thirty other vehicles!

Speaking of the booth, we were very pleased with how things came out this year. In addition to our Project B6 S4 which was immaculately detailed by Philip Yiu of Mirror Image Detailers in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, we featured a stunningly built Audi TT by AudiWorld reader UNeekTT, an A8L W12 courtesy of Audi of America and an A6 4.2 and A3 2.0T from Riverside Audi. Sales of our new "Four Rings Pilsner" Audi t-shirt were brisk (look for them in the online catalog soon) and this year's raffle of products from GIAC, REVO, Tirerack, customgermanplates.com, AWE, H-Sport, Lidatek, Achtuning and others was a huge success!

The real bummer of the weekend turned out to be the fierce weather on Sunday. Waterfest has seen its share of off and on thunderstorms in the past, but probably nothing as dramatic as what happened this year. There were news reports of 8" of rain falling in one 20 minute period in and around the area of the show resulting in a very soggy late afternoon and some excruciatingly slow drives home. Reports of flooded and hydrolocked cars were aplenty.

The rain and lightening were also thought to be major contributors to an airplane crash in the vicinity of the show around 4:15 on Sunday afternoon. A twin-engine Cessna Citation 525 plane owned by Hertrich Aviation Inc. of Seaford, Del., sustained heavy damage when it overshot the runway at Old Bridge Airport and came to rest in a grassy area nearby. Initial reports said that there were no injuries, but at least one person who witnessed the crash said they saw a passenger emerge with head injuries.

Truly disturbing was the fact that multiple Audis were stolen this year. Despite New Jersey's reputation as being one place to avoid leaving a nice car sitting out, we don't remember ever hearing about cars being stolen from local hotels during the event. Unfortunately, 2005 will be infamous for the gall and audacity of the thieves who stole S4's from good folks who had made the trip to the show. In some cases the thefts even happened during broad daylight. For Waterfest 12 there will undoubtedly be a more robust security regime established. Our condolences to any owners affected by thefts.

Despite some less than stellar events, we do want to re-emphasize the fact that Waterfest is and continues to be one of the highlight shows of the summer season. We all know that it takes some lows in life in order the make the highs seem all that much better. While Waterfest 11 won't go down as one of the best in recent history (for many things clearly outside their control), Waterfest itself is an established and oft-copied event. With AudiWorld's 10th Anniversary coming up in 2006 we are already planning for Waterfest 12. We hope to see you there.

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