You’ll be hard-pressed to catch Alan and Pare­tauira To­gia say­ing it, but the brains be­hind event-pro­mo­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion Down­time En­ter­tain­ment have got to be very pleased with the way their an­nual Au­toFest event has grown into the mon­ster it now is — an au­to­mo­tive fes­ti­val that can be classed among the big­gest in New Zealand. From the first Au­toFest, in Fe­bru­ary 2016, through to the third it­er­a­tion just gone, 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 venue is still Waikato’s Mys­tery Creek Events Cen­tre, 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, with ex­ist­ing strengths added to and short­falls ex­pe­ri­enced in the past ad­dressed. While the queues of en­trants and show-go­ers snaking up the en­try road and onto the main Mys­tery Creek Road would have given a fair in­di­ca­tion of just what to ex­pect, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the show in full ef­fect is re­ally the only way to get

how big it is. A look within the enor­mous show hall re­veals the re­mark­ably high cal­i­bre of cars on dis­play, ar­ranged in an open and com­fort­ably nav­i­ga­ble for­mat — it is re­fresh­ing to be able to take in a static dis­play where the ve­hi­cles have a bit of breath­ing room and aren’t crammed in for max­i­mum space uti­liza­tion. We’d ar­gue this is the de­sir­able lay­out — from a spec­ta­tor per­spec­tive, at least — be­cause it is much eas­ier to check the cars out and pho­to­graph them, and it keeps qual­ity to a cer­tain stan­dard by lim­it­ing space to only the stand­out en­trants. And there were plenty of those — which you can see more of in the pho­tos through­out this ar­ti­cle — ar­ranged in a de­cent mix of V8 mus­cle and just about ev­ery­thing else. 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, and it was great to see the old hands get an idea of the way things are done these days, while the younger crowd could gain an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the more old-school train of thought — cus­tom met­al­work or en­gi­neer­ing when an off-the-shelf so­lu­tion doesn’t ex­ist. Per­haps the most telling in­di­ca­tor of this was within the NZ Lowrider Su­per Show — a sep­a­rate show hall ded­i­cated to some of the finest lowrid­ers in the coun­try, cour­tesy of clubs such as 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 gave 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, they are their own worst crit­ics and have al­ready iden­ti­fied sev­eral ar­eas that need ad­dress­ing. With their am­bi­tious goals in mind, we’re sure that they’ve mapped out a path to get there. Next year’s Au­toFest will be big­ger, and it will be bet­ter — make sure you’re a part of it.


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