What is your definition of a car enthusiast? Is it someone that spends all of their free time working on that project vehicle knowing good and well that it will probably never truly be finished? Or is it the die-hard racing fan who plans their weekends around the next Formula Drift or off-road racing event?
Whatever your automotive passion might be, Nitto Tire believes that by putting the car enthusiast first, it creates a unique bond between car and driver that lasts for generations. And for the fifth year in a row, Nitto Tire took over Angel Stadium, in Anaheim, California, for its Nitto Tire Auto Enthusiast Day.
The annual event brought together some of the biggest names in the aftermarket automotive world as well as some of the largest car clubs in Southern Califonia and beyond for an event that truly rewards and acknowledges everything that is car culture. Over 130 vendors were on hand to talk all things automotive on a picture-perfect day in Southern California.
The completely free event included a variety of car-culture activities, including professional Formula Drift ridealongs, Ultra4 team off-road demonstrations, a Project Cars 2 VR simulator and much much more. And this year’s event saw the largest turnout in its five-year history, as over 24,000 fans were in attendance this year.
We were lucky enough to receive an all-access pass to this year’s event, so keep reading for a recap of an action-packed day that was full of cars, music, and of course, some highly anticipated, tire-shredding action!
Show and Go
One thing that makes Nitto Tire Auto Enthusiast Day unique is that it features a free car show for enthusiasts to show off their rides. The cool part about the car show is that it’s located inside the actual vendor area making it easy for car fans to enjoy both the activities at the event as well as the car show.
Many Southern California car clubs were in attendance and this year’s event was so popular that tickets for the car show, available via the Eventbrite website, were completely sold out. Over 1,000 cars were on display inside the venue. For a free-to-enter car show, that’s a lot of cars!
Because the car show was at max capacity inside the event, enthusiasts still wanting to show off their rides were allowed to setup outside the closed off event as well. There were over 200 import and domestic vehicles outside this year’s venue and we found some really cool project vehicles on display.
Ask any Nitto Tire employee, and they will tell you this annual event celebrates not only the hardcore modders, but their families and friends as well. And, for Nitto, ensuring this event is family friendly was at the top of the list.
We are here to celebrate all things that are awesome in this automotive world. — Vaughn Gittin Jr., RTR Motorsports
In addition to celebrity racers making appearances throughout the day for the fans, Driving Line had a killer vendor display that gave fans the chance to win a ton of free prizes.
“We are here to celebrate all things that are awesome in this automotive world,” Formula Drift driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. said. “One of the coolest things about Auto Enthusiast Day is that it is free for everybody. Nitto is all about enthusiasts. Auto Enthusiast Day is a celebration of just that.”
As expected, Nitto Tire brought out the big guns to Angel Stadium. The tire company had two big rig display areas at this year’s event. The impressive display areas not only gave fans the chance to learn about the entire Nitto Tire lineup but also featured celebrity autograph sessions from professional drivers as well as the Nitto Tire girls. There was even a closed off, Formula Drift VIP viewing area that was setup on top of one of the big rigs!
The second display area was what we like to call the tire-changing station. Throughout the day, fans could get up close and personal with the Nitto team as they performed tire changes in between drifting demos. We also witnessed a couple lucky fans walking away with their favorite racers’ used tires after the event as well.
The company had its new flagship performance tire, the new NT555 G2 on display as well. Designed specifically for contemporary high-performance cars, this tire has been an instant hit. The Nitto NT555 G2 summer UHP tire tread pattern pays homage to its predecessor with an aggressive directional look and steps up the performance of the NT555 on every level with regards to dry/wet handling, braking, and acceleration.
In addition Nitto’s own displays, Driving Line had an impressive vendor display that gave fans the chance to win a ton of free prizes. An official Ford vehicle display was also at this year’s event with its Spin 2 Win game giving fans a chance at winning a cool $500 in cash.
The vendor midway was also jam-packed with a wide variety of off-road, street, and drift displays. And, once you were inside the event, Smoke ’n Sams BBQ was on hand for the entire day providing food and drinks.
One of the most popular events throughout the day had to be the drifting demonstrations. The drifting experience, sponsored by Formula Drift, gave fans the chance to jump into the passenger seat for a ride around the drift track with some of their favorite professional drivers, like Vaughn Gittin Jr, Matt Powers, and Loren Healy. These few drivers were on hand at this year’s event, and we had a hard time not recognizing a bunch of different celebrity drivers.
And, of course, the Nitto Tire girls were on hand to take pictures and chat with the fans from the two large Nitto Tire trailers that were driven out to this year’s event.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. brought out no less than three of his personal vehicles to the event and even had a Project Cars 2 VR racing simulator outside his display area for fans to race and battle for the fastest time around the track.
In between his drifting demo duties, Vaughn could be found catching up with fans and checking the racing simulator scoreboard to see who had beaten his best time.
The Monster Energy display area was our personal favorite because not only was it was setup in a prime location at the event, but it also had a nice collection of Ford Performance vehicles on display as well.
Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Mustang and F-150 were also staged in this area in between drifting demos so it gave the fan’s the chance to get up close and personal with the viral vehicles.
In all, whether you are a fan of modding, drifting, or just admiring vehicle craftsmanship, AED 2017 was a day that brought the car culture together to celebrate everything that makes our car culture so great. Nitto will undoubtedly host another event next year, so stay tuned to the official site here to get all the details for the next Auto Enthusiast Day.