We've got to hand it to the folks over at Nitto. They've hit it out of the park with their Auto Enthusiast Day. "Park," in this case, being Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where for six years Nitto and friends have brought home the grand-slam combination of vendors and top-flight display vehicles (a LOT of them!), drifting demos, off-road shenanigans, an enthusiast meet, and all the associated fun and good times that seem to come with all that.
Auto Enthusiast Day has proven a seemingly unstoppable success, and one that's perfect for Nitto's 100-percent enthusiast brand. No ancillary business of manufacturing fleet tires or boring all-season radials here—just a varying range of sticky-ickies for us track/strip/street heads, and some seriously gnarly rubber for those off-road dudes. This year's show once again brought out some of the best of both worlds.
Nitto's roster of partnered drivers also shows this dichotomy. We're all well familiar with Vaughn Gittin, Jr., Chelsea DeNofa, Ryan Tuerck, and Matt Powers on the drift side of things, but they also have a heavy hand in off-road disciplines like Ultra4, with drivers like Loren Healy and Nick Nelson. In past years we've seen them engage in all sorts of debauchery at AED, from multi-car tandem drift demos to truck jumps, fan ride-alongs, two-wheeling, JR jumping Ultra4 rigs—you name it.
But when a late add to the Ultra4 competition calendar, and a separate commitment for Matt Powers, popped up after the date for AED had already been set (and with a venue as large as Angel Stadium, that meant the date was pretty much cast in cement), most of the guys couldn't attend, and things looked a bit dire. But enthusiasts did what enthusiasts have always done: they found a way.
JR and Powers may have been out, but Tuerck and Chelsea were definitely in; Tuerck in his turbo-four Papadakis Racing demo car, and Chelsea in his personal drift Mustang. Good friend Tommy Roberts took to the wheel of Matt Powers' venerable V8 S14. And then there was Ernie Fixmer and his JDM "R334" R34-front-end-swapped R33 Skyline.
Throughout the day this fantastic four offered sacrifices of roasted NT01s to the gods of drift, switching off on the "party paddock" with Nick Nelson and his Ultra4 rig, which not only conquered the event's jump over and over, but also roasted his share of rubber as well—in this case, their Trail Grapplers.
Elsewhere, Nitto invited out many of the heavy hitting vendors of the tuning scene, both from sport compact to late-model and some vintage domestic, to the off-road and truck segment. Some of our favorites were Air Runner's gang of Lexuses, OS Giken's Nissan S-chassis (and Mama G!), and Proper Trends' collection of Italian exotics (and Brooklyn Haley!)
It was also great to see Turbosmart give a nod to the street scene and bring out LA street racer Driver B and his "bone stock" Civic hatch, as well as Titan 7 and Remark exhausts, and their always clean crop of performance-styled JDM and European machinery.
And of course, Nitto's own two rigs only helped strengthen the show, with "the voice of Formula D," Jarod DeAnda, highlighting the day's more impressive machinery on the mainstage, as well providing their usual pit area for drift and Ultra4 demo drivers and vehicles.
And around all of that were the show cars, race cars, project cars and daily drivers of thousands of dedicated enthusiasts, either within the show gates or located nearby in bordering parking lots. Some of our favorites are below:
We being your absolute, hands-down, world's best authority on import and sport-compact performance (with a little Euro love thrown in), we've profiled mainly our favorites fitting that profile here. But one of the coolest things about Nitto AED is how it brings together so many parts of the greater tuning spectrum. Truth be told, we like a little of all that, as well. So check our gallery for more of everything, and follow Nitto for more of what's on their calendar this season:
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