Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What to watch this Labor Day weekend (Sept 1st - 7th)

  • Formula 1 - Grand Prix of Belgium; from circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Race. Friday @ 1:30pm - 4pm (SPEED/SPEEDHD) replay for everyone who had the hurricane ruin their dvr-ing
  • What's My Car Worth? Season 2 marathon. Saturday @ 9am - 8pm (Discovery's HD Theater) replays
  • Chasing Classic Cars. Marathon. Saturday @ 8am - 8pm (Discovery's HD Theater) replays
  • American Le Mans Series. Baltimore Grand Prix. From the Inner Harbor street track in Baltimore Maryland. Saturday @ 4:15pm - 7:00pm ( replay Sunday @ 4pm on ABC/ABCHD
  • WRC - Rally Germany. Days 1 - 3. Sunday @ 11:30pm - 1pm (Discovery's HD Theater) not a live telecast - preview starts at 10:30am
  • IndyCar Series - Baltimore Grand Prix. From the Inner Harbor street track in Baltimore Maryland. Sunday @ 2pm - 5pm (VS/VSHD) live
  • Top Gear America. Season 2 - Episode 7; Beat Tanner. Sunday @ 10pm - 11pm (History Channel/History Channel HD)
  • Top Gear (UK). Season 17, Episode 3. Monday @ 9pm - 10pm (BBC America/BBC America HD)
  • The Car Show with Adam Carolla. Prove it. Wednesday @ 10p - 11pm (SPEED/SPEEDHD)
I was looking up shows for this post and realized we haven't been listing Top Gear America for the past few weeks ha. Don't take this as us hating the show, it's actually much better this season now that they've cut back on the dialogue in studio. The chemistry and banter last season was terrible, but it seems to be a bit more genuine this time around. The adventures are entertaining enough, but they still managed to screw up a few things, like bringing the crowd onto the track for episode 5's SIARPC segment with Arelene Tur. Either way it's improved and it's showing every Sunday at 10pm on History Channel. Go to to get torrents of old episodes, including UK's Season 17 and Australia's Season 4 which just started last weekend.

And last but not least, if you didn't notice the theme of the U.S. motorsport action listed for this weekend, it's all going down in Baltimore. As you read this post, ROTL will be representing itself as official media for the Baltimore Grand Prix. It's an honor to participate in a racing event this huge in an area that so many friends, family and myself call home and a place to work. We'll do our best to give some sneak peaks on the fb page over the weekend, so be sure to 'like' us on fb to get updates in your personal feeds. There's going to be a lot of editing going on over the next couple weeks, so stay tuned for a full article on the event and a sprinkling of related material. You gotta love national exposure.

Have a great and safe Labor Day weekend ladies and gents.

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Event Recap: VAG Fair 2011

The 5th Annual VAG Fair show in York, PA was another successful outing that I was happy to be a part of. Plenty of cool cars in great variety, a larger turnout than last year, and more of the same laid back fun with friends and associates as the day went by. This was the longest scheduled day since the inception of VAG Fair, 10am-5pm, as the first show was 12pm-5pm. There is a reason for this evolution of course; this show is growing at a significant rate and it was time for VAG Fair organizers to see what was needed to address the 1300+ entrants' needs going forward. It's no surprise that next year will be VAG Fair's transition into a two-day event.

Unlike my typical sleep as late as possible modus operandi, I found myself up at 9am and enjoying some orange juice and good conversation at my buddy's parents house in York. My friend Dave and I made a two car caravan, arriving at the York Fair Grounds around quarter to 10am. Getting to places early is great sometimes; barely a line to get on the grounds and barely a line to register the car and buy a t-shirt once parked. VAG Fair's organizers and employees were in great spirits as usual and the sun was shining bright. Then the clouds rolled in ha. There was light rain for about an hour starting around 11:15am, then everyone went out to wick the rainwater off their cars. The sun peeked out here and there, but it was overcast for much of the afternoon. This wasn't all bad, as the breeze was cool and everyone was still enjoying themselves.

After drying the car off, I started making my rounds. For those of you who know me, I'm a long time VW Mk3 guy (13 years and counting). No sooner than two years ago, you could go to just about any VW/Audi show and see some prime Mk3s in a variety of configurations. Unfortunately times have changed and the good looking Mk3 population has taken a turn for the worse. Thankfully there's a new group of decent Mk3 regulars, beginning to emerge in the Mid-Atlantic, who are picking up the slack. I hope they continue to give a sht about their cars going forward. Many other VWs, Audis, BMWs and Porsche's were also in attendance. There were a couple of cherry 944s in Row 2 that were worth a third or fourth look.

The Midway Madness cars inside of the vendor area were decent, but the star of the 'High Five' was Alexi's porcelain blue four door Mk3. I've heard of the car making the rounds in the New England show circuit all spring/summer and I was eager to see what condition it was in, along with the modifications that were performed most recently. The car, while it had some pieces completed, wasn't in it's full glory and that's perfectly ok with me. It's a project car on the way towards it's next variation and I was happy to see that it made it's way down to the York Fairgrounds. The tent by his car was setup to sell Alexi themed apparel to fund completion; feel free to find out more at Foundation-Blue. Word on the street is the restoration will be picking up steam over the next year, so keep your eyes peeled around the web for news (and donate a few bucks if you're so inclined).

The afternoon came and the cigar-toting cowboy auctioneer got to work. The VAG Fair auction for children's charities has been a tradition for some time now. Vendors provide goodies from their shelves and the crowd gathers to bid on them, with all proceeds going to a good cause. While the auction was winding down, around 4pm, the clouds rolled in wasn't a light rain this time. Rain started off moderately then increased, the wind picked up and next thing you know vendors were bracing for the worst. Soon afterward lightning made and appearance and a partial exodus began. I was shooting until the 8380Labs tent I was taking refuge in turned into a convertible...then my equipment had to retreat like Starscream in his late 80's prime. We worked together to get merchandise boxed up and got the hell outta dodge. Ironically by the time we made it out of the fairgrounds, due to the line, the rain had calmed down pretty significantly.

Look under the tent.

BFI hanging in there.
It was a great show, albeit a wet one, in 2011. Keep an ear to the VAG Fair fb page, but tentatively next years show will be August 11th - 12th (2012). VAG Fair is one of the can't miss shows on the East Coast. The ROTL VAG Fair 2011 album can be seen here.