story and photos by Ray Alexander
I recognized one car on a social media photo of the Houston LX group leaving for Springfest ’11. It had been to several of these spring meetings. The scene evoked this thought about the different levels of automotive passion: in some it is but a mere stream, in some it is more akin to a flash flood, and in some it is a deep, steady-flowing river.
The event was moved to Angle Stadium, where the California Angels attempt to play baseball. I think I saw news where the amphitheater was being replaced with housing. SpringFest was assigned a large slice of the parking lot nearest to I-5; there was not an excess of space after all the cars were parked. David McIntosh was able to get California Challengers together and he said the number was over 300. It was abundantly clear that the Challenger dominated the population.
There seemed to be few FCA executives in attendance this year, and no products were introduced other than the new Go Mango color. Attendees were given a free shirt if they would take a tour of the new Pacifica minivan; by early afternoon the crew realized 2,000 shirts would need to be repacked. To mitigate some of that sting, they drove the van through the crowd, giving away cards that could be presented for the shirt. No one with a Hemi wanted to admit an interest in a minivan unless it was a 10 second model at the drag strip.
Weather predictions have been accurate lately. Rain was forecasted for Friday, so I went lightly on exterior cleaning. The day broke nice and sunny, but deteriorated in the afternoon, raining very hard for short period. At one point the building across the street could scarcely be seen. The car detail service packed up and left. The buffet offered by the hotel moved into the lobby and continued nicely. As always, the DoubleTree did an excellent job with this event.
Some fun was had by someone with stick-ons that appeared to be a California personalized license plate. A fellow with the last name of Stoner had his Arizona personal plate “Stoner” covered by “I heart Meth.” A Plum Crazy Challenger got “I Am Gay.” Another Challenger wore “I heart Fords” for several hours.
This year, an alternate hotel was announced early, and it reduced the crowd at the Double Tree. Parking had been a problem in previous years, this year prime display spots were readily available. I heard estimates of thirty cars at the other hotel. I also observed a lot of non-event guests. What was up with the Bently convertible parked in the back lot? It had Michigan plates, like the FCA cars.
Four cars and drivers were set-up to give thrill rides, two Hellcat Challengers and two Vipers. I heard the wait was two hours, and people said it was worth the wait. I recently rode in a Hellcat Challenger and it was impressive. I am not much of a rider, so I have better things to do with two hours, like finding Trish Allen and get my yearly hug. Participation as a driver is needed, even a poker run the day before would be fun, no insurance or permits required.
Jeff ran a personal best of 9.1 at MATS 2016 in the Red Baron, above; it is naturally aspirated.
A group of Canadians were conspicuously absent: Hitachiman, where are you, are you coming to Mopars at the Strip? It has been renamed to generate more attendance; it is now Musclecars at the Strip, retaining MATS. Some things can’t be renamed, for instance Laguna Seca will never be Mazda Raceway and Sears Point will never be Infineon Raceway.
The Arizona LX Club was represented by about 30 cars. Doit and Julia Miller have new Chargers with a matching paint scheme. His is a Hellcat and hers, not so hellish. I asked him if he drove with the red key or the black key. He replied, “Red key always.” Several of the AZLXers are attending MATS, some for the car show and others for racing.
The food was catered by the stadium and it was pure ballpark fare. It looked as if they had taken lessons from White Castle. There were tiny cheeseburgers and some decent hot dogs. I didn’t have breakfast and I liked the food. The stuff that was previously served as barbeque was horrible.
I talked to several first timers, and attendance was up. SoCal LX is already advising, “make your plans for SF12.” It would make it easier for some if there was more advanced notice for the date.
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