While this event might be considered one of the last shows of the season for many northerners, this is a reminder to us Floridians that our show season continues. H2O International (H2Oi) has been an event that Jay Shoup has been putting together for nearly 18 years. Yet many people do not know this event started as, and still is, VAG only event.
You might see a trend where we say, "This is one of our favorite events", when we write an event coverage. But every event we attend is different making it our favorite in its own special way.
For the past couple years, H2Oi has been the sour apple of the tree. Well that is what people are putting it out to be. We should ask who those people are, the ones bad mouthing OCPD, the ones not obeying the laws, the ones taking this event from us. Us being car enthusiast within the VAG/European automotive community. We all have friends that do not drive Europeans cars. That's something very normal, something I think every car enthusiast should have in order to understand other car cultures. My problem is, do not have your non VAG friends with their non VAG cars start doing donuts down the main strip of Ocean City. I might sound harsh or too up front, but it gets very irritating when you are having an event that has been active for the past 15 years be ruined by little punks acting like the streets are a Fomula D course. Without questions, this is going to upset some people. Don't get me wrong I'm all about doing burnouts and donuts, BUT there's a time and place for that, i.e. a location that has been closed off and given permission to do such hoonigans!
Here was a great message from Jay himself:
To the ones who think H2Oi is a “FREE FOR ALL” and no rules or laws exist while attending H2Oi and staying in OCMD, I hope to make this crystal clear; I don’t want you, the VW/Audi community doesn’t want you and Ocean City doesn’t want you! So please stay home if you cannot control yourself and act like normal, respectful adults. I have told OCPD and the Maryland State Police to ticket, impound and arrest any fool who cannot obey the same laws that I am expected to obey! If you don’t like it – STAY HOME! Again, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME!
One thing that shocked me while I was talking to a couple of friends on the subject of H20i, was finding out they had no clue H20i was strictly a VAG event. To make it worse, their main reason of going is because of all the crazy shenanigans they have seen on photos/videos. The sad reality is that H2Oi was never that way to begin with. Nor was SOWO for that matter. These shows began with a more humble beginning. Enthusiasts talking about what they love, sharing ideas or information to better others. Yes we kicked back far to many beers, yes we drank more liquor than that of the store located in Helen, GA, yes we may have part taken in a few tokes of some questionable plant (grown on the planet earth naturally might I add). But we didn't crash cars into hotels, we didn't do burnouts in front of police and then reversed down a one-way street, we didn't act like our balls hadn't drop it was we are trying to get at.
To switch paces the weather wasn't pretty by all means. Constant rain from the day I got there (Thursday) to Saturday night/Sunday morning. Then the harsh winds that made some people turn around and not attend. Honestly it was not as bad as everyone made it out to be. But then again I'm not sure if it's because I'm from the Caribbean Islands and have lived most of my life in Florida, but the weather did not scare me at all. What I did noticed that brought joy to my soul, is that it brought the community closer.
Okay so what do I mean by the not so great weather bringing the community together?! Everyone was at someone's condo or garage just hanging out, drinking a beer and enjoying each others company. I met Kyle Wilinsky (most of you guys know him from his immaculate black MK3 GTI VRT) for the very first time. Its sad that most people have the mind set that people with show quality cars are cocky/hard headed people. See Kyle was the total opposite, he welcomed me to his condo to spend some time, we talked, had a few brews, it felt like I knew him for years. This is what the Volkswagen community is all about, building a friendship, building a family, revolving around a community with individuals who are simply put... humble.
From the event perspective, Jay and his team did not let this weather scare them away. Many people thought the event on Sunday would be a bust, but that was not the case. When I woke up on Sunday I did not see an inch of rain, roads were dry, nothing like the day before. I got to the show grounds a little after 12pm, after having breakfast with some great friends that were heading home. Even with the ground still being wet and muddy, it did not stop people from coming and seeing the vast amount of quality cars.
If you have been living under a rock the past few years then by now you know every year the judges hand pick a hand full of cars a day prior to be in their Top Dawg award category. When you get hand selected for this category, it's like winning the Nobel Prize for VAG community. It defines the quality, the craftsmanship you have put into your build.
Joe's MK1 Caddy with a R32 engine swap, sitting on 1552 forged Formula wheels.
What isn't there not to love about this MK1 Scirocco? Every little touch just makes it that much better.
Another gem found in the Top Dawg category, this MK2 does not disappoint.
Are you done drooling over this MK3 Jetta coupe? This coupe has been under the knife for the past five years, last time we saw it was at SoWo 2010 when it was brown, and after that Kayla and Sean decided it was time for a change, and wow is all we can say. Us having a soft spot for MK3's, Kayla and Sean did everything a MK3 person would want to do to their MK3. Oh and they took the Top Dawg award home, job well done guys!
Mike's MK4 GTI just sits so damn pretty!
Hopefully after you read all what I had to get out of chest you still love me. Our community is not dead, but we need to help it shine like it did years ago. To end on a quick note, I had an awesome weekend with friends, loved meeting new faces and as always H2Oi (the event itself) couldn't have gone better, until next time!
Photos by Alexander Martinez and Chris Lunau
Words by Alexander Martinez