You’ll be hard-pressed to catch Alan and Pare­tauira To­gia say­ing it, but the brains be­hind event-pro­mo­tion out­fit Down­time En­ter­tain­ment have got to be very pleased with the way their an­nual Au­toFest event has grown into the mon­ster it is now — an au­to­mo­tive fes­ti­val that can gen­uinely be classed as among the big­gest in New Zealand.

From the first Au­toFest in Fe­bru­ary 2016 through to the third it­er­a­tion just gone, held on March 3, the growth and re­fine­ment of the show’s for­mula have been dis­cernible de­spite the fact that, at a sur­face level, things have re­mained largely as they al­ways have been.

The Waikato venue of Mys­tery Creek Events Cen­tre has re­mained, and the main at­trac­tions of a mas­sive show hall and epic burnout com­pe­ti­tion re­main at the fore. It’s all just been pol­ished and per­fected, adding to ex­ist­ing strengths and ad­dress­ing short­falls ex­pe­ri­enced in the past.

While the queues of en­trants and show-go­ers snaking up the en­try road and onto the main Mys­tery Creek Road this year would have given a fair in­di­ca­tion of just what to ex­pect, to have ex­pe­ri­enced the show in full ef­fect would have been the only way to re­ally get how big it is.

A look within the enor­mous show hall pre­sented a re­mark­ably high-cal­i­bre spec­trum of cars on show, ar­ranged with plenty of breath­ing room mak­ing it easy to check the cars out, pho­to­graph them, and by keep­ing qual­ity to a cer­tain stan­dard there was plenty of space to show­case stand­out en­trants. There were plenty of those, which you can see more of in the pho­tos through­out this ar­ti­cle, ar­ranged in a de­cent mix. That is one of the more note­wor­thy fea­tures of Down­time En­ter­tain­ment events: the lack of pref­er­en­tial treat­ment of dif­fer­ent au­to­mo­tive scenes — if you’re into your cars, there’s a place for you.

Per­haps the most telling in­di­ca­tor of this was within the NZ Lowrider Su­per Show — a sep­a­rate show hall ded­i­cated to some of the finest low-rid­ers in the coun­try, cour­tesy of clubs like

Car­nales, Old Skool Rydz, and Loy­alty IV Life, as well as im­pres­sive builds from shops like Waikato Cus­toms and Jok­ers Wild Kus­toms.

No less im­pres­sive, the Mai FM–spon­sored out­door hard­park sprawled across a sub­stan­tial patch of land and com­prised an in­ter­est­ing and di­verse range of both in­di­vid­ual and club dis­plays.

How­ever, where crowd en­gage­ment was con­cerned, it was The Rock FM Burnout Com­pe­ti­tion that took cen­tre stage. Two qual­i­fy­ing rounds and an ac­tion-packed fi­nal pro­vided a sen­sory overload of big revs and clouds as the field pushed their en­gines to make it to the top.

How will the Down­time En­ter­tain­ment crew take Au­toFest to new heights af­ter this year’s suc­cess? Well, the team is its own worst critic and has al­ready iden­ti­fied sev­eral ar­eas that need ad­dress­ing, and with its am­bi­tious goals in mind, we’re sure it’s mapped out a path to get there. Next year’s one will be big­ger, and it will be bet­ter — make sure you’re a part of it.

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