V8Builds: A Great Car Show Amongst Car Shows

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The second, and far more high-profile, installment of V8Builds presented by Air Flow Research debuted at Auto Club Speedway to a sizable crowd, a good car count and numerous sponsors, vendors and displays. V8Builds had all the key interactive ingredients of what makes some car shows great, as opposed to just another typical, static “Hot Rod and Muscle car show.” V8Builds incorporated a well-attended manufacturer/merchandising midway, a competitive autocross, giveaways, pretty girls, and impressive social media and promotional support. The show could easily be deemed a great success. The cars were stellar too! Classics, restomods, street rods, low-riders, trucks and their proud owners came together in a celebration of the All-American, reliable, old cast iron, pushrod motor that has enamored so many for more than 100 years! The V8 Builds Show also exposed how far these revered old engines can be taken in the modern age.

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V8Builds, the brainchild of 86Fest and MotorMavens visionary, Antonio Alvendia, and Tim Torrecarion, the Marketing Manager at Air Flow Research, was a natural progression of what Alvendia sees as the quality trends in the OEM and aftermarket worlds. As a fresh idea, last year the inaugural V8Builds show and track event took place at Willow Springs International Raceway. Alvendia’s shows tend to attract a much more youthful audience as there are elements of a social media “flash mob” mixed well with solid promotional support that targets — and reaches — the connected audience. And they came in droves with some really cool examples of how far you can take a V8 build. 86Fest, the SoCal FRS/BRZ show Alvendia has produced for the last six years, has been a great success and viewed as the top show in that segment of the car culture. His foray into the world of domestic muscle is a new one.

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“We felt the event went really well,” said Alvendia. “Many of our vendors from 86Fest, who we have been working with for years, promoting their import car products, also do a lot in the domestic car world. Over all, about 85 percent of the companies who participate, come back to our events year after year. This show was a good vehicle for us to continue that work, while promoting their domestic car products.”

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The original idea was not his, but that of his 86Fest sponsors. Alvendia admits, he was skeptical, and a bit intimidated in the beginning, “I told the (vendors) I am not really part of the scene, I don’t have a muscle car — yet — and my audience was different. I wanted it to be authentic.” His concerns were legit as he generally executes very high-profile events with a level of interactivity and quality that those around him have come to expect. But the audience came — and it was not terribly different from the crowd he gets at his other shows. “The thing with the younger car guys is they really don’t care whether you are driving a 350Z or a Mustang. If your car is cool, then it’s cool.” There seems to be less discrimination amongst the younger crowd. When I was first getting into cars, the muscle car guys and the import car guys wouldn’t hang out together and would talk smack about each other. That has somewhat changed with a number of guys.”

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Antonio Alvendia cut his teeth in the import and drifting scene as a photographer, composing the very first hardcover book on the drifting community during his travels, Drifting: Sideways From Japan to America, published by Motorbooks in 2006. He then worked with EA Games, consulting on the Need For Speed video game and the launch of the Speedhunters brand. He has been well-known to that niche for many years and has grown and developed several branches of interest including MotorMavens.com, the home base for most of his artistry and events. But in the end, Alvendia is a genuine car guy and can make different sects work. He is still well known for his photography and his great captures.

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Alvendia continues,“But the partner companies were very encouraging and worked with us to co-promote the event. In the end, as it would turn out, many of the same types of car people have interest in both, so it really worked out well. Now I want to do my own V8 Build.” His enthusiasm matched the crowd’s passion. Numerous presenting companies boasted good sales for the day, with many new and interested prospects ogling over the cool parts and service offerings.

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The sponsors and vendors really came in droves. Big performance names like Edelbrock, Autometer, Eibach, Wilwood and Gibson Exhaust had high-visibility presence with numerous other SEMA recognized manufacturers including TCI Engineering, Classic Industries, Center Line Wheels, Falken, DBA USA, Hotchkis, and AEM Electronics, to name a few. Support also came from numerous car museums in the area including the Automotive Driving Museum and The Petersen Automotive Museum. There were many great vendors with even better ideas to make rides ever improved from the intake to the rubber meeting the road. Vendor tents and semi trucks flanked the show to reveal their latest innovations. Air Flow Research, the presenting sponsor, pioneered porting cylinder heads in the 1970s and continues to innovate in making big power gains for Chevy and Ford engines. They were especially happy with the show and the turnout, and plan to expand the event in the future.

Highlights included numerous restomods. Many remember, the buzzword at the 2016 SEMA Show was “1,000 Horsepower” in an almost secret handshake of breaking down any and all barriers of what street-legal cars can sustain. This show had many. The crazy OEM and aftermarket development of the LS, Hemi and Coyote motors were well represented in new and old cars alike. When so much mechanical development goes into a build, the overall package, making show cars, leads to wild and beautiful paint and bodywork too. For example, on one hand, there was Harry Hsieh’s beautiful custom T-Bucket street rod at the CFR Performance booth — which would be an old rodder’s fantasy, and on another, Eriberto Moreno’s 1973 Datsun 240Z with a Corvette LS1 swap and AFR heads which could make a hardened import tuner blush.

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The car count, which easily reached 300 cars, was a cornucopia of V8 power and beauty. A competitive autocross featured cars that you would be hard pressed to regularly witness cornering with agility — however modern components have made these cars handle. “I really loved the autocross as these were cars I was used to only seeing on a drag strip,” said Alvendia. Every type of V8 car and truck, including stock and modified Mustangs, Camaros, other 2+2 sports cars, station wagons, muscle cars and jacked-up 4x4s took to the tight but fast pylon lined course. The eventual winner, John Lazorack’s 1988 Chrysler Conquest with a Corvette LS3 swap, may have been the best example of power and agility as the muscular looking import with more than 400 horsepower was more road racer than many of the other entrants. Lazorack is a pretty savvy pilot too — which helped his chances greatly.

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There was something for everybody, as long as you are a somebody who loves the sacrificial burning of fossil fuels for fun and entertainment. Clearly this is a growing segment with a younger audience which could be deemed surprising to the “Old Guys Rule” crowd. The amount of investment and enthusiasm from the aftermarket companies is large. The sounds, smells and earth-shaking feel of V8 engines has begun to turn on a whole new generation of enthusiasts and those companies are betting on the continued growth of the culture. The passing of the torch needs to be in person.

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Like many of the MotorMavens culture-type shows, pretty girls, good music and parts giveaways added to the high-energy atmosphere. This was not your typical ‘park your car, unfold your lawn chair, open your hood and drool on yourself’ type show. There was far too much going on. Too much to see, too many people to chat up and just the right amount of interaction between it all. The senses were completely fulfilled. As a matter of fact, the old guys at the smaller shows would be well served to cross over and really join this scene. There is a great deal of passion and respect from the younger builders, who now have even more advanced technologies to take the classic V8 engine even farther than the previous generations. A show like V8Builds easily crosses numerous generations and incarnations of the cars and motors that make one proud to be an American…

About the author

Tom Stahler

At eight months of age, Tom Stahler sat in a baby stroller in Thunder Valley and watched Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott win the 1968 Road America 500. He has had the car bug ever since. He has won several awards, including the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and the International Motor Press Association's Gold Medal for his writing and photography. When not chasing the next story, Tom drives in vintage road racing events.
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