Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Event Recap: Bimmerfest East 2011

For those of you familiar with the West Coast European car scene, the name Bimmerfest carries a good bit of weight. It's arguably the biggest show of it's kind in the country, with plenty of outstanding cars showcased in the southern California sun, every year. 2011 marked the 11th year of Bimmerfest being held in California, but in order to address the BMW enthusiast contingent from the East Coast, the 1st annual Bimmerfest East was thought up, researched and executed. Bimmerfest East took place on August 6th 2011, in Aberdeen Maryland at Ripken Stadium. With such a large (BMW) show taking place right around the corner from where I live, I made it a point to be there.

Bimmerfest east was organized and run in the large parking lot of Ripken Stadium, home of the Iron Birds Minor League Baseball team. I've been to Ripken Stadium previously, for multiple occasions, but most recently an Auto-X event on the very same parking lot. I was curious how they would arrange the vendors, but they did a pretty good job given the number of cars that came to be a part of this brand-new East Coast event. A week or so before the show, the pre-registration count online was around 1100. Five days before the show, the count reached 1900. I'm pleased to say regardless of numbers, there was no outrageous backup to get in (I arrived at 11am) and Bimmerfest faithfuls showed up in extremely large numbers as predicted.

The cars that showed up were decent, but predictable. I've been attending European specialty car shows for over a decade, so this could be my jaded viewpoint...but I don't think so. E46s made up the largest grouping of all attendees, but there was a good blend of old and new as well; E90/2s, F10s, E30s, E21s, E31s, a lovely handful of 2002s and 1600s, as well as a quite splendid couple of E9s. Bimmerworld and Turner Motorsport brought out the trailers and their Grand-Am prepped track cars as well as some project cars with some serious engineering work. VAC Motorsport brought out race engines and a couple track toys and there were plenty of clubs in attendance. The biggest failure in my opinion was the single tent for food and drinks; you had to stand in line for an hour just to get a single soda, sausage or snack, since the show wasn't setup to serve more than one or two people at once. Also, showing cars didn't park with other cars of their own make, so the judges wandered aimlessly just to see if cars had display cards on their dashes to be judged. While cars had plenty of room to park and move around, the organization of said cars left a lot to be desired. This was a first attempt, so hopefully they learn from this going forward. I seriously doubt the organizers expected this big a turnout.

The food and drink line was a 45 minute single-file affair.
If you needed a break, the stadium was open for a chat or a better place to eat/drink.
All said and done, I'll give this new show a B. While there were plenty of cars there, the show field had too many cars spread out to find the best gems of the show. Organizers instructing the show cars to 'find a place to park' is great to avoid parking lot mayhem, but doesn't help people/judges sort through a sea of yawns to get to the good stuff; or more importantly get to the BMW models of individual interest. Thankfully I ran into another event photographer that informed me of a few cars that I had missed; I made a quick run towards the end of the show to snap those extra diamonds in the rough that were nearly impossible to locate on foot. As I implied already, the average quality of cars on the 1500+ show field were semi-beat daily driver at best. Now I understand that some of these cars see a lot of miles and/or have poor college students behind the wheel, but there should have been a better line drawn in the field between these and the cars there to be seen (if the yawns weren't showcars that is). There were a few stunners, as well as a large quantity of daily and Sunday cars who had owners with their priorities straight, and as usual those cars were shot more than others. I was happy the major players in the BMW Tuning scene were present in full force and these vendors all had cool motorsport or project car pron to ogle over. There was an extremely wide selection of BMW's of varying vintage, from all over the US, and despite protesting BMW workers union members that made their presence known to some (by no fault of the show organizers) it was an enjoyable event. I look forward to next year and the growth of Bimmerfest East going forward.

The ROTL Bimmerfest East 2011 album can be found here.

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