Eye Candy: 2018 Nitto Auto Enthusiasts Day

Modifying cars is an automotive enthusiasts way of expression,  it becomes a unique extension of themselves. To celebrate the relationship between a true enthusiast and the vehicles we love, Nitto Tire held the sixth annual Auto Enthusiasts Day, June 30 at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California. The free event attracted over 26,000 people making it the largest AED to date.

All the Eye Candy 

The celebration had everything from show cars, to race cars, off-road trucks, new builds, and the classics we continue to love.  The variety of cars blended together was one of my favorite elements of the event. Its not very often you will see an old-school Mercedes-Benz parked next to a Focus, with Jeeps,  and classic Mustangs mixed in.

Many of the industry’s top companies were scattered throughout the show and featured vehicles that embody “power and performance.” One such car was the Auto Factory Realize R32 Skyline sedan at the OS Giken booth. I’ve seen this Skyline a few times at different drift events and am absolutely in love with it.

One of my favorite show stoppers was the Off-White Rocket Bunny/Pandem E36 M3. The M3 is a killer chassis to start with, add the Rocket Bunny/Pandem body kit and its crazy, but what puts this build over the top is that it’s an Off-White tribute Pandem E36.

Burn out for What?! 

Noted Mopar fan and professional wrestler Bill Goldberg was on hand at the event with his Dodge Demon. He told members of the media he was ready to “test out the line-lock for the first time.”

It looked like he and his passenger had a great time shredding the tires.

We are all here for the Smoke Show 

Ultra4 drivers Loren Healy and Casey Currie were at AED launching their trucks through the air and getting fans fired up. Its rumored the space was also going to showcase a news-worthy jump, but it was canceled after an off-road truck bumped a K-rail and knocked it over. It took a forklift and a sizable amount of Nitto Tire and Formula Drift employees to get the K-rail back in place. The incident was enough to cause a delay in the schedule, but once corrected the drivers gave ride alongs to fans brave enough to hop in.

All Show and All Go

Nitto Tire also brought out two Chevrolet Silverados to test the latest tire, the Ridge Grappler Hard Metric against the Ridge Grappler LT. I drove each truck on a small autocross course. The key elements were a set of large rumble strips setup at the end of the straightaway. Following that were a series of twists, bends and a chicane set up as a test of agility.

As soon as I rolled out onto the course in the second truck I could immediately feel the difference. It was a bit softer, and more comfortable than the other truck, but I really felt the difference when I hit the rumble strips. The first Silverado was chaotic and felt unstable through the rumble strips, the second was noticeably more comfortable and less unsettled.

The standard Ridge Grappler LT has been Nitto’s daily-drivable light truck tire for a while now. The LT rating means that the tire is slightly more off-road geared than road-ready while the Hard Metric tire is more geared for day-to-day road use. 

While the LT and Hard Metric look the same, the difference is in the compound. The Ridge Grappler Hard Metric uses a much softer rubber in the face of the tire. This allows for it to have more give, and better soak up road imperfections. All of this improves the ride comfort. So, with the new Ridge Grappler Hard Metric, buyers get the rugged looks, and general durability, but with a softer, more comfortable ride.

Who doesn’t love Drifting?

Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chelsea DeNofa could be seen ripping around in RTR Mustangs during AED.  The pair was joined by YouTuber Adam Lz in the Pennzoil RTR, in addition to Formula Drift drivers Matt Powers and Alex Heilbrunn.

Power & Performance ’own producer Dimitri Lazaris, was able to get his first-ever drift ride along. Lazaris is an avid vintage drag racer and emerged from the Pennzoil RTR piloted by Adam LZ with a smile and a new goal: learn to drift and build a drift car. He shared that he anticipated the experience would be more violent and the car would jerk around more but the experience was surprisingly smooth and he felt as though the car was floating.

AED had a strong sense of community and the vehicle variety offered something for everyone to enjoy. I believe its events such as this and the next car enthusiast holiday, Collector Car Appreciation Day – set for July 13 – that help keep the community vibrate by exposing different car cultures to others.

AED2018

Check out our interview with Alex Heilbrunn at #AED2018

Posted by Power and Performance Magazine on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Photography by Nicole Ellan James 

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About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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