The fifth annual Auto Enthusiast Day presented by Nitto Tire invaded Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California to bring together a group of like-minded automobile and truck enthusiasts to celebrate the joy of the machine. Nitto Tire, a performance tire manufacturer holds this event every year to gather the culture and community, whether the attendee drives a lowrider or a lifted truck, they are welcome within the gates. There was a huge line stretching—what seemed like—the length of a city block waiting for the event to begin. Once the gates were open, there was a Black Friday-style rush to enter the venue, check out the dozens of vendor booths, and the hundreds of custom cars and trucks on display.
Because tires are so versatile in the industry, Nitto Tire is involved with many facets of automotive modification and motorsport. Playing off these connections, the company invited many customer cars, top shops, and drivers that use their tires to show off their work.
Out of the total booth setups in attendance, the crowd gravitated towards one in particular, that of Vaughn Gittin, Jr. The Ford factory-sponsored driver had his Ready To Rock (RTR) Mustangs, and Ultimate Funhaver F-150 truck on display, along with a cool driving simulator for fans to try. Gittin, Jr. was one of the many professional drivers, which Nitto Tire handpicked to make an appearance and put on a driving demo later in the day.
With so many vendor flags waving in the air, it was easy for an attendee to locate the next booth they wanted to focus on. Also, due to the incredible vendor support on the grounds, there was no lack of booths and vehicles to check out throughout the day.
While the overall summation of vehicles was varied, there was a large presence of Japanese cars ranging from the iconic S13-chassis Nissan 240SX, to the newest-generation Honda Civic Type R. However, not to be outdone was the Off Road enthusiasts, whom had a big showcase themselves with Rockstar Performance Garage bringing Nic Ashby’s monstrous Jeep build. The 1983 CJ7 Jeep has dual-triangulated 4-link suspension along with custom front towers, which mount to a King Off Road Racing Shocks 16-inch coilover suspension setup. The motor is still the original motor from 1983, and pushes its power to the ground by way of the massive 46-inch tires. The custom chop-top roof and cage were also a nice touch, which gave this Jeep a sleek bodyline.
King Off Road Racing Shocks presented a fascinating interactive display, which showed how the inside of the shock’s piston and valving worked. The company had a beautiful Ford Bronco on stands with dual-piggyback reservoir shocks in the front.
The Feal Suspension booth housed one of our personal favorite cars of the day. It was a sleek black painted S13-chassis 240SX coupe with a front-end taken from an S14-chassis. This car was a showstopper, built with everything from looks to horsepower to craftsmanship. The roll cage, which even cradled the 2JZ-engine in the bay, was painted a contrasting white hue with dimple-die gusset plates throughout the interior and engine cage. The waste gate dump tubes pointed out of the hood with holes at the end to mimic muzzle brakes commonly found on rifles. Wisefab knuckles were chosen to add more steering angle to the car.
Aside from the massive vendor exhibits and cars on display across the event, Auto Enthusiast Day also features a very active driving demo throughout the day. Featured professional drivers included the likes of Vaughn Gittin, Jr., Loren Healy, Alex Heilbrunn, Cody Currie, Matt Powers, along with Sam and his wife Stina Hubinette. A couple of lucky fans even got the chance to ride in the lowered, handbrake-equipped Ultimate Funhaver with Vaughn Gittin, Jr. Hands could be seen flying out the windows of the Kibbetech-built Ford F-150, which showed the fans were having the time of their life!
Cody Currie came blasting out and hit the jump in his Monster Energy Ultra 4 racer. Currie and two-time King of the Hammers Champion Loren Healy both showed the audience what four-wheel-drive burnouts look like.
Gittin, Jr. hopped out the Funhaver, and into his RTR Mustang to burn up some more Nitto rubber. Later, his fellow drift drivers, Alex Heilbrunn and Matt Powers, appeared on the asphalt and unleashed a tandem drift session the fans went crazy for.
As the name implies, if you are an auto enthusiast fan, this event is for you. It is a one-of-a-kind festival and cannot be missed if you are in Southern California. Together with other vendors, Nitto Tire is doing their part to help unite the community around its passion for cars, by bringing together all genres of the automotive industry into one massive spectacle.