Mecca, the name of the land in which masses of Islamic followers go to and pray to their deity. A pilgrimage is made twice a year to this holy land by the masses. Now within our community, our holy land could be considered as Germany or Europe on whole for that matter. But for those of us who don't live on that side of the pond, we are limited to a few other locations that can fit the bill. The most famous of which would be Southern Worthersee in Helen, GA, H2Oi in Atlantic City, MD, and Wuste in Las Vegas, NV. However, one event that has grown leaps and bounds in the southern Gulf Coast of Florida is Euro Tripper. An event specifically catered to European cars and their owners. We've been making our own pilgrimage to the event since it's start in 2013. The event is ran by Paul Barney and his eager group of volunteers. After attending the event last weekend, we can safely say that Paul and his group have brought over a complete European experience. But not only that, somehow this event has brought back what we all missed. It's brought back the community. So here it is, our review of Euro Tripper 4 in Fort Myers, FL.
So where to start? Well our pilgrimage began by meeting up with several locals before riding out to Fort Myers. Hell we even had to pick up a good friend of ours who came down from Cincinnati, OH to check out the event. Once we all assembled like the Channel 4 news crew, we then began to sit in the parking lot known as I-4. If you're an Orlando local, you know this interstate is famous for traffic jams and tourists. But once we plowed our way through, we finally began to make good timing and got to Fort Myers at a reasonable hour. As soon as we arrived, we skipped checking into the hotel and made our way straight to the show grounds to set up our booth. In the brisk cloudy night, we couldn't really make out exactly what the entire area looked like. But this doesn't mean we weren't chuffed to bits to see what it looked like in the morning. And boy oh boy, we were not disappointed in the least bit. The morning began very early with a 7 am wake up. After making sure the swag was on point, we meandered down to the cars and set off to finalize our booth. Upon arrival our gaze shifted from the multitude of cars waiting to enter the "Mutts Nutts" section, to the gorgeous show stage that had been rooted up earlier that morning.
Now if you attended the events in the past, you'd know the stage is the newest edition to the event. It also added a very authentic feeling, as you normally see such a stage at events in the UK. The stage served as platform to showcase the Top 3 cars at the event, hand chosen as the crowd favorites. After we had finally shifted our gaze and properly set up our booth, the cars began to trickle in. Our booth consisted of a wide range of vehicles from new to old. But this was evident of all the cars that had entered, and were chosen, to park in the "Mutts Nutts" section. Now before we continue, you maybe asking yourself, "wtf is Mutts Nutts?" Well you can think of it as the cream of the crop. But not in the quality of cars, although yes there was a superb quality of vehicles in the section. No that area was hand chosen by Paul, based upon the owners themselves. A decision that we could not thank Paul enough for. It's one thing to have a quality car, yet it's another thing to be a quality individual. Yes to a certain degree cars were held to a certain standard when being accepted to the section, yet its what the owner had to say about the car and themselves that made the biggest decision in being selected. So for future reference, don't assume that just submitting photos of your vehicle will solidify a spot for you in the Mutts Nutts group. It's about the passion, the obsession, the drive that you posses to get your vehicle where you want it to be. This also shows who is actually in it as a member of the community, and not only for the recognition.
There were a ton of vehicles in Mutts Nutts that grabbed that attention of the masses. From a Liberty Walk Lamborghini Gillardo to wide range of Air-Cooled Volkswagens. A few who caught our eye go out to Arthur Berroa with his eloquently purple MKIV Jetta on Work VSKF's, Mike B and his tilted Mini Cooper, long time friend Luis Ferrer and his bagged Audi A4, James Radigan and his exquisite MKV R32 graced our eyes, Panchito Mendoza was also in attendance with his MKVI R clone, and Raul Perez with his MKI Rabbit to name a few. There was also a high amount of quality when it came to the vendors. Ranging from our friends over at BC Racing, to USP, Forge, Cloud 9, and title sponsors Simply Clean & Air Lift Performance. So even though Mutts Nutts was full of quality, it doesn't mean the rest of the event wasn't. The lot just rear of Mutts Nutts was a stable filled with thorough breads. There were exotics such as a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Black Series, an Ariel Atom V8, and even an extremely rare Alpina B3 Wagon (an E30 B3 at that, which is most rare for you non BMW aficionados). But most importantly, the highest sense of quality went to you, the attendees. We met so many of you from all walks of life. All brought together by the same passion. We cannot express our deepest thank you's to everyone who stopped by the booth. It doesn't matter if you purchased something, or simply stopped by to say hello. We truly appreciate you all.
Now then, onto the awards. Trophies ranged from Top 30 cars to best overall group. We were extremely happy for 3 of our booth cars who were chosen for the Top 30 group. That includes Christian Williams with his MKIV Jetta that also took home Crowd Favorite, Hector Mendez and his MKIII Golf, along with Daniel Otero and his MKIII Golf. Other notable winners include Omar Rodriguez and his MKIII Jetta and Rafael Gonzalez with his MKIII Golf in the Top 30 catagory, Vinny Zouain with his MKI Cabby also won Crowd Favorite along with Mike B and his Mini Cooper, local dubber and community member Corey Long took home Top 30 in his MKI Scirocco, as well as Christine Toolsie and her MKIV R32 for Top 30. Although some of the Top 30 cars were part of the Mutts Nutts group, there were others who won from different sections such as the Alpina B3 in the lot behind Mutts Nutts. Best Wrap went home to Zach Hamel, and Best Group went to fine lads over at Euro Alliance based out of Orlando, FL. Mind you that trophy has gone home to the group since last year at ET3, a big congrats to those raining champions. And an even bigger congratulations to all the winners over the weekend.
Unfortunately, the weather on Saturday decided it wasn't going to cooperate towards the end of the show. Due to a very slippery stage, the winners were unable to drive there cars across it. But it didn't take away from the stage, in fact a huge crowd gathered around it to praise those who had won. Some might have considered the stage to be an "attempt" in making the show more European in a sense and boosting the shows overall recognition. We can safely say that whether there was a stage or not, the event has successfully achieved its status as being an authentic European event. Sure the cars are stunning, but its the people and those who build them that make a show/event/meet great. It's the people that make us want to go (outside of the cars). So with that, we would like to thank Paul Barney for once again hosting an experience that we will look forward to attending for years and years to come. An enormous thank you to the volunteers who willingly decided to wake up at the ass crack of dawn to help put on one of the most organized events currently happening. A huge shout out to our booth cars owned by Carlos Quinones, Christian Williams, Hector Mendez, Daniel Otero, Spencer Barr, and the DnD Garage MKVI Jetta Wagon driven by Kelso Green. Last but certainly not least, thank you to all of our supporters and to the community itself. You all have shown that we are not dead, we are still alive and kicking. This event is currently a testament to show that we are not all about doing burnouts and getting hammered on some street as cars pass by. No, it shows that we are a family of individuals who will come together no matter the distance. Euro Tripper, in our eyes, is the event that will rebirth the community. Now if we could only have the same event multiple times in different cities? How does that sound Paul?!
Photos by Alexander Martinez and Tyler Neslon
Words by Sean O'Connor