If there’s one premier Volkswagen track event of the entire year, it is without any lengthy consideration Fastivus. Eugene Lee has been putting the event on for more than a decade and there isn’t a better, safer, funner way to expose your VW to the track. After spending a few years out at the Willow Springs complex, Fastivus returned to the location of Fastivus 2009, Fontana Speedway.
Back in ’09 we ran the infield configuration, which definitely benefits all cars with a slight preference towards those set ups that favor handling over power. This year? The Roval. With the promise of banked NASCAR left turns, always left, and peak speeds in the 130+ range for cars that could handle it, Fastivus was definitely taking things up a notch. Preregistrations tripled, and social media buzzed as tantalizing tidbits began to leak. In addition to the Roval configuration, Volkswagen of America intended to bring Tanner Faust out for a drift demonstration, and the heap of prizes grew to $54,000.
We spent the weekend at Fontana not long ago for Bimmerfest, and the two events couldn’t be more different. Where Bimmerfest focuses on static displays and a massive history of cars filling every parking spot imaginable, yet a small percentage of attendees attempting the track, with this years event being the first at a track with a track day. Fastivus has spent the last decade plus compelling owners to take their cars out under the yellow flag.
Many of the drivers we talked to were tracking their cars for the very first time, tons of them were strictly casual track day sorts who only manage to track at Fastivus once a year. Less professional weekend warriors and more every day owners. The result is one of the most down to earth and generally happy paddock environments we’ve experienced at any European event.
Stroll up to James Strawson and his E85 powered MkIV .:R32 and he’ll gladly provide you line advice. Ask Tyler Setterstrom about that crazy 2,800 lb MkVII GTI and he’ll walk you through every bolt of the stripped interior. It is a one of a kind event that USA VW fans are very lucky to have as their own.
Run groups went off mostly without a hitch. Speed Ventures did a fantastic job of separating folks by ability and speed. Each initial session received a download after where anything unusual was corrected and subsequent sessions saw the benefit of a pre-grid to help eliminate traffic on the infield. There was a few instances of contact with the wall at speed, a few blown engines, but those total less than the fingers on your hand and are a remarkably small number given 225 plus cars participating.
Heading into the vendor area we were captivated by the sheer diversity of cars. A VW Fast Back truck conversion with American V8 power in the bed, the RWB Beetle, all those incredible MkI golfs still soldering on today as a testament to the most successful german car of all time. Volkswagen brought out all four generations of the .:R32/Golf R as well as a Amorock twin turbo which pretty much no one even realized. Sure tons of us were stoked to see the Amorck, it’s an incredible truck, but who actually noticed this example was powered by VW’s twin turbo 2.0 TDI putting out over 300 lb ft of torque and over 30 mpg on the highway. Basically it’s VW’s version of the Hilux.
At lunch everyone mobbed the infield to watch Tanner Foust tear through set after set after set of tires in his 900 hp drift Passat. Each tire change accompanied with a passenger change for those folks who were chosen at random for a ride along. We had the chance to chat with Tanner in the cold pits while waiting for our run group to start and he was incredibly personable and generously provided us guidance on our driving lines. In addition to the drift demonstration, Tanner also took folks out in the MkVII Golf R during several run groups. If you were passed by a brand new blue Golf R with “Golf R” on the rear plate, that was him. Hopefully you followed his line for a lap like we did to really learn how the experts do it.
At the end of the day we were delighted to see so many folks we know up on the stage receiving trophies for best in class driving, like James Strawson who was the fastest VW around the track at 1:54.865, and many others winning prizes from that insane grab bag of goodies. If you missed the event this year you’ll need to make sure you add it to your calendar for 2016 the moment Eugene sets a date. You can be certain BIG EURO will have it added to our calendar!
The camaraderie is without compare, you won’t find a more affordable or frankly safe introduction to track driving for the first time, the prizes are the most incredible for a raffle who’s only entry cost is bringing a VW and parking it, and where else can you actually walk up and talk to the decision makers at a major German car maker about what plans they have going forward. Fastivus is an event without equal for casual or nutty Volkswagen owners and we cannot wait until next year. Saturday went by way too fast!
Rilber Li brought his RilbertyWalk widebody Audi A4 Avant to feature with BIG EURO / iLOVEeuros.com. Definitely drew a crowd.
Check out full photo gallery below by Paul Chan