Some may think that H2O International suffers from being the last large show in the season. But once you attend your first, it’s easy to see nothing could be farther from the truth. H2Oi, as it’s come to be called throughout our forums, doesn’t boast so much about what it has, but more about what it doesn’t have.
The first thing you’ll notice about H2O is that being at the end of the season, it doesn’t seem to have the attitude that earlier shows may have. Long gone are the big reveals, first showings, and hype, as everyone knows who is running what by that time. The result is a very laid back feel, more akin to a large get together than a full-blown show. Sure there is a vendor row and “Top Dawg” competition, but they seem to take a back seat to the act of just simply hanging out and catching up with like-minded enthusiasts.
Calling it simply a large get together may give the wrong connotation, however, as that gives the impression of it being a small event. Nothing could be further from the truth though, with attendance, and the show field, growing every year. “Vendor’s Row” even had to have a makeover this year, as the event coordinators try to accommodate more and more companies selling their wares.
What H2O also lacks being late in the season is the unbearable weather typical of shows in the summer. While Saturday was unseasonably warm this year, it was at least accompanied by a late-summer breeze, undoubtedly assisted by the show’s proximity to the ocean, which took quite a bit off the edge off of the heat. And while other shows can suffer from an all-day summer downpour, Sunday saw some showers in the morning, with a pleasant day afterward, with only brief periods of rain the remainder of the day.
You’ll notice the cars are different, too. H2O seems to attract some of the older generations of VAG products, with a formidable first-generation Golf and Jetta class, as well as a good amount of Audi 90s and Coupe Quattros showing up as well. In fact a new class was added this year for aircooled Volkswagens, which was very well received, and reflects the interest in the older cars, as well as the expansion of the show, perfectly. That’s not to say the new stuff wasn’t well represented though, with sixth-generation Golfs dispersed throughout the show field, already sporting plenty of modifications, especially for such a new car.
Air ride seemed to be the theme of the year, which proved to add an interesting element to the show especially during roll-in down Vendor’s Row on Sunday morning, the soundtrack. As cars passed, among the usual burble of a carefully selected exhaust, the whirr of compressors and adjustments to bag pressure added to some percussion to the string of cars rolling by. One stroll past the DubKorps booth was more than enough to see how much the dynamic suspension has worked its way into the scene. One of the finer examples, though not a VAG product, was a completely rodded-out M5, deemed “Rusty Slammington,” featuring gold Ronals and a Flying Tiger livery on its rust-laden body. But the car certainly lives up to its name, rolling about a half-inch off the tarmac.
But really, what makes this show so special is the reminder of the great people that are in this scene. As the season winds down, and we go into hibernation to recover from the season, or stow away in the garage for hours — or days — working on what to bring out next year, it’s great to have a reminder of why we do it, and who we get to spend the summer with. And really, what other enthusiast group would search out the owner of a lost brand new turbo and make sure it gets back to its rightful owner. That is what makes us so special, and that is why we at VWvortex got into the game some thirteen years ago, right when H2O International started, in fact.
If you’ve never been to an H2O, it truly is something you should do. While it may lend itself to the belief of just another show at the end of the season, it proves itself to be anything but. The show definitely has developed its own personality, and we certainly couldn’t think of any better way for the show season to take its final bow. Until next year.
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