|July 26, 2011
Event Coverage: Waterfest 17
By: Kris Hansen
For Audi enthusiasts, summer would not be complete without a trip to Raceway Park in Englishtown NJ for Waterfest. Always a favorite for AudiWorld staffers, Waterfest is the largest VW/Audi event in North America, and it's the only one which offers such a broad diversity of activities for attendees. With the state of the economy in the country, high gas prices and so on, we quite honestly expected a below average turnout. We were surprised however, and overall we felt that the attendance was great this year. There did seem to be some gaps in the vendor area, but the “usual suspects” were all there in full force. Software and hardware tuners were well represented, with REVO, APR, AWE, UNITRONIC, STaSIS (sharing a tent with Bell Audi) all there, as well as software/hardware vendors such as Forge Motorsport, ECS Tuning, and so on. Other vendors such as Ross Tech, Detailer’s Domain were there, as well as various other accessory type dealers. At the far end of the vendor’s area are the “swap meet (used parts) dealers, nearly anything needed for nearly any model of VW and Audi was readily available to buy.
Along with the vendor area, the exhibition lots were nicely full, and we did see lots of new cars out there. At the very far end, as always, was the autocross. We stopped to watch a little, and noticed that the participation seemed a little low this year, which was a bit sad. The autocross is usually very entertaining, and even though the 2 Miatas and 1 BMW 3’er were well driven, it would have been nice to see a VW or Audi being flogged through (and over) the cones.
Opposite the AutoCross is Raceway Park’s NHRA drag strip. Traditionally the drag racing is one of the best spectator events at Waterfest. Again, the number of competitors did seem a little thin, especially on the Outlaw end of things. There just didn’t seem to be all that many big fast cars running, unless we missed them. Nevertheless, racing is racing, and it was fun to watch! There were a few dramatic blow ups, and some pretty good fast times.
Waterfest organizers informed us that attendance was up about 1000 over the weekend, for a total of around 21,000. As we’ve come to expect, the vendor area was a sea of people. Most of the vendors seemed to be offering great deals on their products, and again, as expected, we saw huge lines at the various chipping stations, and many people carrying armloads of parts.
Every year we come away from Waterfest with a huge appreciation for the amount of organization that’s involved in an event of that magnitude. There is always enough to see and do at Waterfest to keep even the most hardened enthusiast happy, and for newcomers, it’s a little overwhelming at first. For us, this was our 9th visit to Waterfest, and as usual, the hardest part was making sure we covered the whole event photographically.
Now more than ever it seems that Audis are taking a very large portion of the show, which was originally a VW show (the water in Waterfest refers to water cooled VWs, as opposed to the older air cooled VWs). It seemed to us that the majority of the vendors had at least one Audi in their booth.
We truly enjoy Waterfest for many reasons. First and foremost, Waterfest is a family. Through the course of the last 9 years, we’ve met so many great people, both on the vendor side, and the reader side. Being that we’re mostly conversing “on line”, putting faces to names is possibly one of the best parts of Waterfest for us. We’re already looking forward to next year!!