It had been ten years since the last time I attended a Volkswagen car show. The TDIFests in 2009 and 2011 are noteworthy exceptions, but they cater only to the TDI crowd. “BugOut” is for all Volkswagens and has a long history that likely started when only classic, air-cooled Volkswagens were featured. BugOut may have been among the first of VW shows to unify the air-cooled and water-cooled scenes. Somehow, attending VW shows became stale for me after years of regular attendance. I was autocrossing or bicycling most weekends, so I had plenty to occupy my time. Still, I’ve had an urge to go back. BugOut is relatively close to home, so it’s an obvious choice for me to attend.
“BugOut 34” in Dinwiddie, VA in 1996 was my first taste of VW showcars and VW drag racing. Years passed before I attended another VW show. I joined a VW club in 1999 and kept in touch through their website (I was isolated from VW enthusiasts at the time). Eventually, I decided to meet them at a show near Dallas, TX. I entered my car to show for a few reasons: 1) to support the event, 2) to get a great parking space, and 3) the periodic detailed cleaning is great for the car. I entered my car in the stock show class since it had no noticeable modifications. Little did I know that I was a contender; the name of the game when showing a stock car is to make sure it is clean, CLEAN, CLEAN. Mine was clean enough to take the class win. Not bad for having driven over 700-miles to attend the show. My competitors all had fancy displays; I had just the car. I eventually added displays over the years, as shown in this photo from BugOut 61.
Fast-forward to BugOut 80: My display was slightly more than just my new car, but still very modest when compared to the competition. I had forgotten how much work it is to show a car! Some might say, “It’s 2017 and your car is a 2017… How hard can it be?” My car has over 28,000 daily-driven miles on it, including a winter with a few snow days and salted roads. Sure, I wash the car regularly and have even waxed it once. But car shows are for cleaning every nook at cranny, places on the car that most never think about, but stand out at a show. On modern VWs, that includes plenty of little “boxes” in the engine bay that catch tiny pieces of debris. It’s tough to explain in writing, but you see the difference between one that is clean and one that’s not clean at a show. Fully-preparing a daily driver for a show is time-consuming.
Here is my regimen for this show: 1) Clay bar and waxed two weeks before the show (my first time to ever use a clay bar). 2) Created my displays one week before the show. 3) The day before the show was rainy, but I still managed to detail the interior and the engine bay. 4) After the rain and when I knew I was done driving for the day, I removed the wheels for cleaning and then detailed the brakes/wheel wells. I didn’t finish until 9pm, working outside in the dark with a flashlight. That task was a lot easier when my body was ten years younger. HAHA! 5) Awoke at 5am the day of the show, washed and dried the car in the dark, loaded the car, then drove 100 miles to the event. 6) Ran into wet roads along the way, so that meant I got to do more cleaning once I parked and registered the car. UGH! It wasn’t too bad. Thankfully, the Mk7’s engine bay is sealed quite nicely, so my engine detail was not ruined. But re-cleaning the wheels and wheel wells put some burn into my body! Those with garaged-kept cars, alternate commuter cars, and trailer queens have it made! 😉
I didn’t talk with as many people as I could have or should have. I was focused on re-cleaning the car when I arrived, then I was beat from all the leaning and squatting. Because of my somewhat minimalist approach to the show, I didn’t pack any chairs or shelter; nor did I think to bring a cooler (rookie mistake). It wasn’t terribly hot, but I still found myself frequenting the concession stand for water. I took cover in a few shaded areas to relax, but it would have been way better if I had brought a chair and some shade. I’ll be more prepared next time. I did talk to a few folks, so I wasn’t a total hermit. 😉 An electronics engineer who liked my trunk display started a discussion about how far communications equipment has come in 30-40 years. I also talked with the driver of my car’s “fraternal twin” and a Facebook acquaintance who lives near me (red Golf R).
My most interesting conversation came after the awards presentation. I had entered in the stock class. My car looks mostly-stock and easily passes as a stock car. The electronics package can be considered more of an “accessory” than a “mod.” I won second place in the 2015+ Stock Class. The class favorite and veteran who took first place congratulated me and shared some pointers for improving my display. I had seen his car and knew he was favored to win, but I have to admit that I didn’t really take a close look at every aspect of his car. It was a pleasure to chat with him; he seemed to genuinely welcome the competition. His daughter had a beautiful entry that took third place in our class. Perhaps my daughter and I will get the Mk3 cleaned up and bring father-daughter entries next year. 🙂
I’ve shared some photos below, starting with shots of my car, followed by the rest in the order in which I walked the field.
Worn-Out and Tired, But I Have a Plaque! 😉