86FEST II presented by Turn14 Distribution took over Auto Club Speedway and attracted more than 240 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZs, 40 AE86 Toyota Corollas and over 4000 enthusiasts. 86FEST wowed its attendees with a massive vendor village, consisting of over 80 companies offering the latest advances in aftermarket performance parts and accessories, which were prominently featured in aftermarket performance Product Showcases.
While lots of spectators gathered trackside to watch their friends participate in the 86FEST autocross experience, most attendees were busy shopping for parts and participating in the 86FEST Parts Raffle. For two years running, the 86FEST Raffle has definitely remained the most popular element of the show, providing attendees with the opportunity to take home well over $15,000 in performance parts and accessories from top name brands like Hawk Performance, OEM Audio Plus, HRE Wheels, HPS Silicone Hoses, WinMax Brakes, RS-R, Cusco, Innovate Motorsports, Vortech Superchargers, Koyorad Radiators, Greddy, Jackson Racing, Mann Engineering, Depo, Essex Motorsports, JPM Coachworks, Raceseng, MTec Industries, Apex’i USA and Whiteline Suspension.
Daryl Sampson, Marketing Manager at Turn 14 Distribution, one of the nation’s largest performance parts wholesale distributors, recognized that 86FEST offers a unique opportunity for brands to connect to enthusiasts, taking a great deal of interest in 86FEST and the popularity of the 86 platform.
“We were really excited to brand our company (Turn14 Distribution) within the 86 community and show support for our vendors – all the speed shops all over the nation who sell parts for these cars.” By supporting 86FEST in its mission to connect parts manufacturers to 86 owners, Turn 14 Distribution was able to establish several new relationships with popular speed shops on the West Coast, providing them wholesale access to hundreds of popular aftermarket performance brands.
Sponsors and vendors were impressed not only by the event’s scale and magnitude, but also by the deep-seated passion shown by the fans: “The show is fantastic,” mentioned Sampson, “It’s a really great crowd. There are a lot of knowledgeable enthusiasts who really define the lifestyle behind the car, but many are also getting involved in motorsports for the first time, creating the opportunity for companies to facilitate that experience.”
Representing the Official Brake Sponsor of 86FEST, Cody Currie, Marketing Manager at Hawk Performance noted, “We knew we had to be involved (with 86FEST). This is such an enthusiastic crowd – real car people – who understand the need to upgrade their brakes to improve their car’s performance.” Hawk Communications Director, Carrie Fisher added, “We have so many applications for the FR-S, BRZ and all the older Toyotas that are popular with this growing market segment. We felt it was very important for the Hawk Performance brand to be involved and support this type of enthusiast event.”
Like the inaugural event, 86FEST II presented by Turn14 Distribution captured the passion and spirit associated with Toyota and Subaru’s new joint 86 platform. With a price point starting in the mid-20s, the new 86 platform is affordable and very attractive to many new car buyers from many different walks of life.
Thousands of prospective owners attended 86FEST with the sole purpose of experiencing the culture surrounding the car, researching the latest parts offerings for the car and talking to current owners and members of the community. Of the hundreds of owners who attended, many showed off their cars and participated in the autocross, while others purchased new upgrades for their cars at appealing show-only prices.
The industry presence at 86FEST told us one thing – the new platform remains an aftermarket tuner’s dream. “Few cars available today offer an attractive price tag plus an almost perfect starting point for building a competitive autocross, time attack, or drift car,” explained Robert Fuller, a well respected race car builder who is recognized as a maven of racing vehicle dynamics.
“Given that the vehicle is a lightweight, rear wheel drive, sports car powered by a Subaru boxer motor, it has an insanely low center of gravity,” explained Fuller, who piloted his black Robispec Scion FR-S (pictured above) to multiple 1st place wins in every time attack series that operates in Southern California.
If you couldn’t detect how popular the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S platform is by the number of magazine covers it has appeared on over the last year, then you might discover it by the sheer number of parts and accessories already available for a car that is barely a year old from every major company in the aftermarket industry. This is not likely to stop any time soon, as more and more companies are attracted to the platform and seek to establish themselves as serious players.
One of the latest contenders in the FR-S/BRZ market is a company called Raceseng, which debuted its high performance racing line of products and accessories at the latest 86FEST. Raceseng had also been engaged by the 86FEST team with the task of designing and producing this year’s 86FEST trophies. Between the Raceseng product lineup and the 86FEST trophies, it was evident that the company invests significant design and manufacturing time into every one of its products, making something as generic as a shift knob look like a piece of art, attracting a lot of 86FEST followers along the way!
Interest in the older AE86 Toyota Corollas is also on the rise with the famed 86 moniker adorning the bodywork of the Scion FRS and its equivalent in Japan – the Toyota 86. The 86FEST team continues to make strides to cater to legacy 86 enthusiasts and this year was no different. Taka Aono brought out his Megan Racing sponsored Formula D competition AE86, drifting it in the 86FEST Dynamic Driving Academy presented by WinMax Brakes and RS-R, and showing the next day at 86FEST.
While some auto makers complain that young owners lack the interest in cars of years past and spend all their time staring at smartphones, 86FEST demonstrated how companies can engage this audience by harnessing the power of modern technology and the rabid enthusiasm for the Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, and AE86 Toyota Corolla through a variety of social initiatives and marketing opportunities connected to the event.
Attendees shot tons of photos and videos, uploading thousands of Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Tumblr, and Twitter posts to their social circles. (The gentleman in the green shirt pictured above is Jonathan Wong, Editor in Chief of Super Street Magazine. The photos he posted from his iPhone at 86FEST reached Super Street’s 946K followers on Instagram and 222K followers on Facebook.)
This gave the rest of the world glimpses into the world of automotive influencers in Southern California while challenging the speed of the Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint cellular data networks to keep up. Many of the sponsors and vendors who have been catering to this market offered their own social contests and leveraged the 86FEST raffle opportunities.
Valued at approximately $3000 dollars, the most anticipated and coveted prize given away during the 86FEST Raffle certainly had to be the brand new set of HRE FlowForm Wheels, shown on the car above. The new FlowForm line of HRE wheels is created using a high-tech low pressure cast flow-forming process that provides the quality and strength that the HRE brand is known for at a lower price point than the rest of their lineup.
It is well known that the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ is an incredibly balanced car that handles well but leaves some power to be desired. Possibly equal in popularity to the HRE Wheels raffle prize was the opportunity to win steep discounts on complete supercharger kits from the industry’s leading forced induction companies.
Innovate Motorsports used 86FEST as a vehicle (No pun intended. Ok… well, kinda.) to showcase its recently released twin-screw supercharger system, and enthusiasts got the opportunity to experience the differences in torque by taking ride-alongs in the company car.
More than half a dozen enthusiast FR-Ss and BRZs in the car show featured Vortech Superchargers while the company was on hand, displaying its new centrifugal supercharging system, explaining the various custom tuning options, and providing ride-alongs on the autocross course.
Jackson Racing officially debuted its Rotrex Supercharger system and gave us the first look at the latest forced induction option from another established company in the industry seeking to support the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ platform.
One of the leading performance and racing brake part manufacturers in Japan, WinMax Brakes made its debut in the US at this year’s event. The 86FEST Dynamic Driving Academy presented by WinMax and RS-R provided drivers with the opportunity to experience their cars in a safe, controlled environment designed to highlight the car’s performance, handling, and braking capabilities.
WinMax also equipped the Cusco FR-S with WinMax high performance brake pads to showcase the increased stopping potential of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ over the factory braking setup. A few lucky participants got to take control of the WinMax equipped Cusco FR-S, driving it around the course at different times of the day.
Event founders Antonio Alvendia and Kevin Tidwell knew that when Toyota and Subaru introduced the new platform, 86FEST would be popular, but they had no idea it would become this popular this soon.
An owner of several AE86 Corollas himself, many of Alvendia’s readers at MotorMavens love nostalgic Japanese cars – and modifying them. Kevin on the other hand, is deeply embedded in the Subaru community as the owner of several of the largest Subaru related forums on the internet and a passionate Subaru enthusiast himself.
Last year, when the two decided to collaborate on a car meet exclusive to this niche, the idea became a behemoth: “Compared to its inaugural year, 86FEST has grown a lot. This time around, we were able to spread the event out a little more, so people weren’t as closely packed in, and that has worked well. We wanted to spread the cars around so the car owners could easily interact with all the vendor that set up booths. I have been to automotive events all over the world, and our event has more (FRS/BRZ) than I have ever seen in one spot.”
“We also began collaborating with Club4AG and are very thankful for Moto Miwa‘s involvement as well as the contributions from the rest of the Club4AG team,” said Kevin when discussing the decision he and Antonio made to grow the team between the inaugural and second event.
The 86FEST Team did not rule out the possibility of taking 86FEST on the road in 2014, but strong dealer sales of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ in the Southwest region of the United States undoubtedly make it the spiritual home of these cars in North America – and possibly the perfect setting for this event, so if you want to see 86FEST in your region you should ping them on 86FEST.com.
Despite of the distance, many cars came from all over the United States (see the AE86 from Rhode Island and the FRS from Iowa above), including all the SEMA FR-S/BRZ models, race cars, track cars, show cars, and enthusiast cars–and all had amazing examples of the latest aero kits, performance upgrades, audio systems – leaving the attendees with many options to dream on.
Literally hundreds of FRS and BRZ models came together along with the best examples of the older AE86 Corollas, providing a point of heritage that continues to excite enthusiasts. 86Fest was not only North America’s largest gathering of the ZN6 FR-S and BRZ platform, but also of the older AE86 marque.
Alvendia remains wowed and yet humbled at how the rabid enthusiasm for 86Fest has formed not only from FRS/BRZ/AE86 owners – but from professional drivers and popular import models. “There are a ton of famous pro drifters and well known import models here at 86FEST today,” Alvendia smiled, “We didn’t even have to twist anyone’s arm to have them come out. They gladly came to hang out because 86FEST is FUN – like a big industry party – and we love that!”
Beyond the cars, vendors and models there were the racing stars. Formula Drift pro driver Ken Gushi, the poster boy for Scion’s FR-S campaigns on TV and in print, was here for the second year in a row and commented, “Last year we really didn’t know what to expect and in the end, the result was really overwhelming and we decided to plan a greater presence this year. The crowds were great and we saw the overall support of the community for the FRS/BRZ twins. So we knew that coming back to 86Fest this year would be that much bigger.” Gushi’s team, Greddy Performance, had a great display as they brought out his race car and personal street car.
The success of 86Fest II presented by Turn14 Distribution means that it can no longer be referred to as just a car meet, becoming something that even general enthusiasts of Japanese cars look forward to year after year. The comparison to last year’s show already reveals a preparedness and expert execution from lessons learned. Alvendia gratefully acknowledged, “We look forward to growing this event and thank everyone for their suggestions, feedback, and participation in making 86Fest a success this year and for years to come!”
:: Tom Stahler
Photography by Danny Nguyen, Terry Pham, Andrew Bohan, Mike Kim, Kenny Truffin, and Antonio Alvendia