Words and Photos by: Andrew Smith
This year we decided that Brandon and myself were going to each post our own articles since there is so much to cover over the course of the weekend. Considering that Brandon and I split a bedroom, yet managed to capture almost completely different aspects of the weekend shows just how large this event has become. This was my 7th or 8th year coming to Automotion weekend, and it has certainly grown to a size that I never imagined.
For those of you who don’t know, Automotion is technically a classic and muscle car show that takes place in the parking lot of Noah’s Ark (the world’s largest water park) located in the Wisconsin Dells. It is always the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend, and has been going strong for 20+ years at this point. Up until about 5 years ago or so, the town was mostly filled with classic cars and customs or yesteryear. However, over the last half decade, the import and modern car scene has exploded and taken over the Dells for the weekend. Add in the “Battle of the Imports” Car show, which was the first car show in the Dells over that weekend, and the city now is overrun with imports, modern domestics, and more than anything else, jacked up trucks of all sorts. Automotion is no longer just the classic car show, it is the term used for the entire weekend. To say that the muscle and classic guys are now overrun with the younger crowd would be putting it mildly. It is much more “Spring Break with trucks, turbos and 4 cylinders” than any car show you can imagine.
The weekend started Friday morning when one of my best friends Andy picked me up in his boosted 240sx. His only words of warning “Bring headphones”. Surprisingly the half gutted, caged track car wasn’t all that bad on the hwy. City streets did bring about lots of road noise and small stones kicking up into the wheel wells from the sticky tires.
We headed the sub 1 mile trek from my house to Adam and Sarah’s house to finish packing up. By the time we got there they were already loaded and ready to go. A quick pitstop for gas and proper Midwest Automotived decal applyings was obviously essential. A Red Bull, a bag of gardettos, and we were on our way to meet everyone at the park and ride for the HITM (History In the Making) Automotion 2016 Invitational Cruise.
Rolling up to the park and ride brought an awesome sight. An absolute ton of Evo’s, a few random Honda’s and VW’s, and even a few Grom’s.
One of my best friends Stephen and Krisandra unveiled their brand new build at the cruise, a beautiful BBY (Blue-By-You) Evo 8 with a full build in almost every aspect you could imagine.Of course Vicky, one of the heads of HITM and the organizer of this cruise, had to supply all of us with tasty treats. I’m sure there was a “Nobody needs to be driving on an empty stomach, we all need to be attentive” or something like that out of her at some point (We all love you Vicky! 🙂 ).Although I will admit that Vicky might not have been responsible for this portion of the “refreshments” prior to the cruise. (Don’t worry, as you can see it wasn’t tapped) One of my favorite photos from the weekend. As we all packed up and headed out, I caught this guy giving us the salute of the day. Unfortunately last I saw of him on this cruise was him struggling to make it the huge hill coming out of the Milwaukee Valley. I’m just glad he didnt get ran over by an 18 wheeler getting impatient. Props to him though, that’s a long ride on that little thing.Stephen doing his best “SRT” impersonation. Raked Evo’s FTW!
Because I was with Adam and Sarah who were towing a trailer, we hung back to give them some company and assistance if needed. But we did get passed by Cong and his beautifully simple Evo.We made it up to the cabin that we were staying at and began to unpack while everyone else began to filter in. The rest of Friday was a blur. We went out to eat, and then headed to the strip for the night. Let’s just say it got a little wild. The owner of Mt Olympus, while nice, wasn’t quite nice enough to let someone take a ride in his Aventador, while the owner and his girlfriend in the white MKIV Supra were nice enough to, all the while random shoutings of both appropriate and inapproriate sayings were screamed by parties along side the road all night long. Oh, and burnouts. Lots of burnouts.
Saturday morning came and we woke up after heading to bed slightly after 3am. A few quick photos and then we were off to BOTI (Battle of the Imports). And when I mean on our way, I mean on our way to sit in traffic for over an hour to make it a few miles. On a positive note, girls certainly do love a V8 240sx. We sat in this exact spot for almost 10 minutes without moving. I have never been a huge fan of 240’s, mostly due to the stigma that comes with them, but this was one of the nicest, subtle examples of a 240 I have seen in the area. Extremely impressed with it. Sadly I never got a chance to look at it closer. We arrived at BOTI, and due to them being a bunch of 240 nerds, found it impossible to resist parking on the grass at an angle like a JDM Fanboy.It’s cool to see a nice MR2. In no way a political photo on my part, it just made me laugh as it was parked right by the entrance to the show. The R34 got quite a bit of attention.Super clean Prelude! Seeing laundry hanging off the back always makes me giggle. I was impressed with the quality of work on this custom headunit and gauge mount. Caught one of our very own photographers Diggy parked at the show. This is one car that I was extremely excited to see. Dan’s car is one of the cleanest and most complete builds in the area. His attention to detail is amazing, from the underside of the hood to the matching wrap on the back of the seats. I had only seen it in photos up until this point, and was definitely a highlight of the show for me. Always support your local vendors and those that give so much to our community!This certainly caught my eye. I had yet to see an Altima SE-R with a huge turbo. That is definitely one bad sleeper! With all of the extremely slammed and low Subarus in the area, this more track inspired build stood out from the rest. The gold theme on the black carried out from the wheels into the windshield banner, STI decals on the front and the Subaru logo on the grill really pull the whole car together. Love seeing the Midwest Automotive sticker being represented! Another one of my favorite Subaru’s. Matt certainly has spent the time over the years to get this car perfect. I always enjoy seeing unique and not often used chassis modded and slammed. This little Subaru sat in the back but really stood out with that red paint against the green behind. Patina always is cool to me, and some of the rat rods throughout the weekend has some awesome examples.
After some Ponderosa (the whole point of the trip), we headed back to the cabin to relax for the night. Sitting on the porch is awesome as you get to look out into the Cul-de-sac and see a multitude of awesome cars. Andrew’s EvoX is one of the best sounding Evo X’s out there.
Knowing that we would be getting up early in the morning to head to the drift event, we had a relatively quiet Saturday night. Some grilling out, a short stint on the strip, and we were in bed and asleep by 1am.
Saturday morning rolled around and after checking out of the Cabins, the groups split up a bit. The other houses went to the Wisconsin Evo Owners group meeting and our small group headed to the drift day. We got there mice and early, and got good parking and began to unload.
I have had the pleasure of working with Jayleen a few times now. I initially met her when we did a shoot together for last years Street Certified car show as she was one of the models. A few times working together since then has kept us in touch, and I knew she would be at the drift day with her new 300zx. As we were setting up ourselves, I realized that Jayleen was parked right behind us and getting ready for her first track day. I couldn’t help but grab a few photos for her.This thing really stood out against the homebuilt drift cars in the pits. Some final prep before the event starts.This is the first grassroots drift event I had been to. The only prior event I had been to was a drift demo at the Offset Kings/Gridlife show last summer. It was was more relaxed and laid back that I thought it would have been, and I headed over to the start line to get a good spot for some photos. Yeah I know there are quite a few photos of only a few specific cars, but they are the reason I was at the event so they took most of my attention. And when it all goes wrong and you blow it up, those tow hooks/straps finally get used. Unfortunately something let go on the bottom end, on the very first run. Knowing that the car was supposed to drive back up to Lacrosse after the event, we had to make plans on how to get it back home. since there was a truck and trailer which brought the red 240 up from Milwaukee, we knew there was a way to get it up there. We deicded that Adam would drive his V8 240 back to Milwaukee and we would take the truck/trailer with the blown up 240 up to Lacrosse and then head back down. But first we decided to stick around to see Adam get his first run in.And the other negative of drifting, kissing the wall. Jayleen getting ready for her very first run! Adam’s first ever run. He did really well considering it was his first every time out there. The power of that V8 certainly helps when trying to get the back end to come out.
After Adam’s run, we headed out to take the car home. After dealing with some detours we finally made it there much later than we initally thought. So we unloaded the car and then started the 3+ hour trek back home to Milwaukee. The sunset in the mirror of the little Honda Fit I drove home.Overall this was one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. Over the previous two weeks I had just moved into my first house, and had been running non stop with home repairs and unpacking. This was a great chance to sit back and relax a bit. This trip was also significant because it was the last weekend that I had the chance to hang with Andy before he moves to Lacrosse. Of course I will get a chance to see him again, but it just isn’t the same as when someone is <10 mins away from your house and you can swing by to hang out for an hour. Having this last weekend of hanging out with no real responsibilities was the perfect way to end a chapter in my life. Best of luck Andy, make sure you stay in touch.