Though it may not have a California venue like most other west coast Shows, Waterwagens is quickly making a name for itself as one of the top west coast enthusiast events for both Audi and Volkswagen owners. Held just outside Seattle, at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA, Waterwagens draws in a great mix of enthusiasts and cars from the American Pacific Northwest, Canada’s Pacific region and even further. With such an impressive crowd, it’s no surprise that a serious mix of vendors also make the trip to Washington to display their wares at the event.
In addition to an impressive show, Waterwagens boasts multiple activities to keep attendees entertained. Event staples such as drag racing for adults and valve cover racing for the kids were joined this year by an autocross and on-site Dyno testing.
On the day before the event, Waterwagens sponsor Speedware Motorsports held a pre-event barbecue at their showroom in Redmond, WA. Speedware seems to do a little bit of everything, with a focus on performance and racing. They’re a major distributor for Recaro and the North American distributor for Oakley Racing gear according to one representative we spoke to. Their super clean shop and showroom filled with all kinds of interesting go-fast goods had us salivating.
On Sunday, Waterwagens proved to pull one of its best turnouts ever, despite rains that plagued the event. At least the precipitation was sporadic, but you have to wonder if those shows using the word ‘water’ in the name aren’t just asking for bad karma after attending this year’s Waterfest and then Waterwagens.
If Speedware was showing their eclectic clientele at the get-together on Saturday, they were waving a very impressive Audi flag at the show on Sunday. Amongst other cars, highlights of the Speedware booth most certainly were a new black RS 4 sitting next to an MTM supercharged B6 S4 Avant in the lamentably cancelled Nogaro Blue.
APR’s large booth sported some familiar faces – both cars and people. The company’s grey B7 A4 and red TT were front and center and Futrell Autowerks’ GTI also in the lineup.
The Hartmann/Achtuning! marriage was on display as Bill Hartmann rolled out several new wheel designs in a great-looking display, including the new design used on the new Mk5 Volkswagen R32 and a blue painted set of B7 RS 4 replicas on a Mk4 R32.
Speaking of Mk4 madness, Evolution and GIAC had a cool display, with back-to-back VW R32 and a first-generation Audi A3 previously owned and imported by H&R.
When it came to Mk5 chassis cars, there were many littered around the field though it was Hillside Imports who had the trifecta – with a new GTI, Jetta GLI and A3 modified with S-line grille and 19-inch RS6 replica wheels. These three were accented by a singular clean black Mk2 GTI with rare Kamei X1 body kit from SK.
Of course, the winner of the latest model to market on hand has to be Volkswagen themselves who brought out their own display as they’ve been doing all summer at various events, including the brand new EOS convertible/coupe.
Reading about the HPA New Beetle RSI turbo, converted from a lowly TDI, in Car & Driver’s One Lap coverage, we were pleasantly surprised to see the car in HPA’s own booth at Waterwagens.
Fourtitude and VWvortex’s own booth sported a red drop-top TT and the new Audi Q7 – playing DBadged, a DVD about nothing but VWs and Audis from VWvortex and the DubAudi Gruppe.
The Audi field seemed to be growing this year, with a wider range of mostly modern-era cars (B5 or newer). We were particularly intrigued by Doug Dern’s ebony pearl allroad we’d spotted last year. For 2006, this clean OEM plus allroad featured 20-inch polished A8 wheels and RS 6 brakes. Expect more for next year according to Doug, an impressive claim… especially since this car is a leased vehicle.
Our other favorite Audi on display, but outside the show field was Mike Kippen’s D2 A8. This PVW photographer and two-time Worthersee veteran shot some of the event for us last year, but this was the first time we’d seen his air-suspension equipped A8. Kippen also has big plans for the car, making us think the Japanese may not have the market cornered on VIP style luxury sedans.
The VW side of the field still dominates, and with no salt used during the winters, the older cars show in particularly higher numbers. Cars we fell in love with were almost too numerous to mention – though we’ll try.
Several Caddy’s a.k.a. Rabbit pickups came out, and we particularly liked the matte red early German-Rabbit look example, rolling on Minilites and looking extra tough. Nearby, a white first-generation Jetta Coupe on BBS wheels and with plaid interior was a work-in-progress, though still one of the most charismatic cars of the show. We also liked the blue early-build Rabbit 3-door with brown-orange vinyl interior in nearly perfect shape, oldschool gold mesh wheels and chrome roof rack. If neither of those three did it for you, a wide range of A1 cars were still there to bring you into the fold – from Rabbit and Jetta to Scirocco and Caddy.
Moving into the later generation of VWs, the mods are just as creative. We’re always suckers for the OEM plus look, so things like Mk2s with oversized chromed-rim steelies grabbed our attention, as did a white Golf 4 1.8T 5-door, with complete Anniversary Edition body kit, R32 wheels and GTI interior, including European market Recaros.
Far from OEM plus, but still cool as heck were cars like the evil-looking white bespiked and bosered Golf that even had a pointed devil’s tail, Mk5 GTI with Maybach wheels, Mk3 Jetta with female-print camouflage paintjob, and a surprisingly large selection of Corrados given the size of Waterwagens.
If you’re thinking of hitting a West Coast show next year, Waterwagens should be at the top of your list. Pacific Northwest owners are some of the most enthusiastic we’ve seen. If it’s not evident by their cars, the sheer number of clubs and wide-eyed attendees make it more than evident. Waterwagens is one very enjoyable event – not the largest on the block, but quickly growing given its quality organization, cool and layed back atmosphere and versatile venue. We even hear that Pacific Raceways is working on a new dragstrip, allowing for more spectators, and opening up the front straight of the on-site track for further road racing. See you next year.
For full galleries of Waterwagens 2006 and the Speedware Motorsports open house, follow the link to the galleries below.
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