The Heat Is On at the 2016 California Auto Enthusiast Day!
Judging by the sheer amount of traffic backed up and people that came through Anaheim Stadium's entrance, you'd think that Auto Enthusiast Day has been around far longer than four years...but it hasn't. That's right, in that short a time frame, Nitto Tire has taken its first show out from the AutoClub Speedway (with only 2K attendees) to Angel Stadium of Anaheim (7.5K in 2014 and 12.5K-plus in 2015), expanded out to Texas in 2015 with 6K (exceeding that earlier this summer with 10K-plus), to having its biggest event ever at Anaheim this past weekend with over 20K participants! It's safe to say that the California edition of Auto Enthusiast Day 2016 was a big success, and it's all thanks to you.
Though it was easily one of the hottest days of the summer, people from all walks of automotive life — import, domestic, truck... you name it — came to enjoy a few different activities. You could have participated in the car show for one of the many custom engraved trophies, cruised in for the car meet if you simply wanted to park and kick it, or walked vendor row to see your favorite import models for an Instagram or Snapchat selfie (by the way, did you get to use one of our filters?).
Then there's our personal favorite activity at AED: watching Nitto's own drift and Ultra4 team drivers put on an afternoon of killer driving demos, which included Vaughn Gittin Jr. in his RTR Mustang, Ford Performance Focus RS and the Ultimate Funhaver F150; Alex Heilbrunn in his 2JZ-powered S13 missile car; Matt Powers in his fan fav Heartbreaker S14; Shannon Campbell in the Dragon Slayer rig, Loren Healy in his Red Dragon rig and Jason Blanton in his race-winning Ultra4 rig.
We even had some cameo appearances by other pro drivers, including Cody Currie of Currie Enterprises, GReddy Racing's Ken Gushi and Feal Suspension's Odi Bakchis. GReddy also put Fugu Z out on display next to one of its R35 GT-Rs and a Pandem E36.
Over at the Driving Line booth, we carried on the tradition of having our 360 Virtual Reality demos on hand, along with copies of our latest issue and plenty of free giveaways, such as stickers, t-shirts and posters, all highlighting Nitto's own Jumpman: Matt Powers.
And a very lucky reader, Agustin Castaneda, was the winner of our raffle to ride shotgun with Powers in his Heartbreaker S14 — all it took was a simple bean bag toss (you gotta see his ride-along video on Instagram).
Our special guests included a very exclusive Ferrari 488 GTB and a Lamborghini Huracán, graciously loaned to us by our friends at Exotics Racing Los Angeles, who also helped us with our most recent 360° video projects. Lamborghini Newport Beach brought a full lineup of exotics that can be found in their showroom now, which included a few McLarens and a Lambo that's been wrapped to show that they're one of a few dealerships anywhere in the world with a million likes on Facebook.
You can be sure that Auto Enthusiast Day will be back bigger than ever in 2017, so when news pops up for either the Texas or California events, carve a day out of your schedule to be there.
2016 AUTO ENTHUSIAST DAY CAR SHOW AWARDS
Best 1/2-Ton Truck: Justin Rivera, '56 Ford F100
Best 3/4-Ton Truck: Ryan Kibbie, '03 Chevy Silverado
Best Jeep: Jeff Sprigs, '09 Jeep JKU
2016 King of California: Ryan Winner, '12 Ford Raptor
Best Import: Tina Nguyen, Honda S2000
Best Domestic: Lawanna Coplain, '70 Chevy Camaro
Best Euro: Nasser Eid, Porsche 911
2016 Best of Show California: John & Edison Sarkisyan, '57 Beck Outlaw Speedster
(Photos: Byron Yoshida, Jonathan Wong and Justin Pagtalunan)