November 19, 2000

H20 International 3
Text and photos by George Achorn

Ocean City, MD - As one of the largest Volkswagen/Audi clubs in the USA, Club H20's own H20 International show, now in its third year running, has become a major place to see and be seen during the East Coast season.

This year's running broke from Club H20's traditional route for the event. With a new president at the club's helm, a much different influence meant for some significant changes.

To start with, the show moved south to Ocean City Maryland. Accessible easily from both New York and Washington, D.C., the small vacation town offered a significant network of hotels and nightclubs to accommodate attendees.

With timing in late October, Halloween weekend to be exact, the normally lofty prices of oceanside hotels was actually quite affordable.

The venue, a horse racetrack with large grandstands and ample fields, was also an ingenious choice. Facilities missing at most shows such as fixed bathrooms, snack bars and covered vendor areas were on hand at H20-3 and played to the perfection of the venue. The only evident downside was lack of space for an autocross as the bulk of the show area was unpaved.

In addition to the venue, much thought went into the logistics of the event as well. Jay Shoup, the club's new president, worked hard in the months prior to the event, surveying different sources within the VW community and trying to determine what other shows were lacking. What resulted were some features other shows will assuredly mimic.

Entering the show, cars were directed one of three ways. Show cars entered the judged show areas. Spectators in Volkswagens or Audis were directed into a non-judged show area, while those attending in non VW Group products parked in their own area. With the non-judged show area right next to the main event, seeing every VW or Audi on hand was a simple task.

Another different approach was the Top Dog event, showcasing the highest echelon of show cars. These cars, invested heavily upon, were showcased in a way befitting the effort, time and or money that went into them. Each car was driven up to and parked before the judges and a crowd of spectators. With Club H20 T-shirts being launched above their heads into the gathering crowd, the judges looked over each car with a fine tooth comb while the owners hovered close by, pointing out each small modification and detail. In the background the announcer reminded the owners that burnouts were optional, though with an emphasis on the word "burnout".

Meanwhile, out by the main show area, burnouts were closer to mandatory. Hordes of spectators were gathering around the main driveway leading into the facility. Where H20 volunteers had stood collecting entrance fees earlier that morning, no car could exit without a little goading for a burnout.

Spontaneous drag races began to occur, on up the main driveway of the racetrack. While tons of fun, watching spectators crowd the road in front of and behind the cars, only receding as the cars sped forward, made one ponder on the liability issues of it all.

Regardless, the show packed much to see. From spontaneous races to features like the non-judged area and the top dog event, it was surely like no other show event this season. From the racer's perspective, it may have been a little lacking, though one could easily overlook that considering the amount of effort that went into the rest of the event. Perhaps the only hard part now will be for the organizers at Club H20 to outdo themselves again next year. While not easily done, we have the utmost confidence in the organizers.

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