There is no disputing the magnitude of the summer’s premier water-cooled Volkswagen/Audi event known to the faithful as Waterfest. The event, held annually in July at Raceway Park in
Englishtown, NJ, is much more than a car show. It is an institution, a sort of subset in the “drivers wanted” sub-culture that is founded on notions such as public intoxication, stretched tires, turbo-power and BBS rims. It is an institution with a host of devotees that are no less fervent than English soccer fans. So infamous for debauchery is the reputation of this show and its partakers that the local police ratchet up their patrols and area hotels require all guests to sign damage and noise waivers.
What happens at Raceway Park is only part of the action. During the show weekend, long caravans of VWs and Audis can be seen weaving their way toward New Jersey from such far off locals as Ontario and Florida. These caravans, called cruises by those partaking, are not unlike long-range tailgate parties, and are often organized by various VW/Audi clubs or aftermarket-tuners. And, though toned down in recent years due to an increased police presence, spontaneous hotel and parking-lot parties always offer circus-like shenanigans that often border on criminal mischief.
With this much energy and enthusiasm involved, it is hard to imagine that any true VW or Audi enthusiast would choose to miss out on Waterfest. However, in protest against how established and commercial it has all become, many enthusiasts elect to stay home to participate in local, anti-fest events in much the same way that nerdy kids go to anti-proms because they can’t get a date. Of course, this only validates the significance of Waterfest in the world of Volkswagen-enthusiasts.
Last year, Waterfest--which features events such as drag racing, auto-cross racing, burn-out competitions, concours, a swap meet and much more--drew in more than 20,000 spectators and 2500 registered participants. No surprise, this year there were more cars, more vendors and more VW nuts running around than ever before. It seems that each year the cars get faster, the crowds get larger and the spectacle of it all becomes more intoxicating. And now, for the photo gallery. First, I have to apologize. I am an oldschool VW fan and the majority of my pictures will reflect this. If you can't stand the sight of Mark I and Mark II VWs, better steer clear.