At the onset of 2020, the world has faced challenging times that halted many things, including the automotive enthusiast’s show world. Car show hopefuls like myself came out of winter looking forward to showing off our builds, but that was put on pause. Throughout quarantine, we all patiently waited to jump at the first possible car show. For some of us, that was the second annual Atlantic City Enthusiast Summit (ACES) held at the Showboat Atlantic City in New Jersey.
The car scene is full of many different types of shows. Bringing something new to the table is a way to keep it alive and well, and that is what ACES have achieved. When thinking about throwing a successful car show, you can’t be one-sided. ACES embodies every style the car scene offers. Everything from tuners and classics to exotics and trucks with anything custom in between can be found within its confines — it’s a real melting pot. The idea behind ACES was drawn up by two top event producers in the scene, Brad Hoffman and Shawn Baker.
Shortly after the pair’s first ACES event, Shawn tragically passed away. He was one of the most respected people in the community, a true OG in the car scene, and knew how to bring people together. The whole ACES event staff was heartbroken, but that was not going to stop them. Brad and the entire team backing ACES wanted to keep this show going year after year to pay tribute to Shawn, and that is what they did in 2020.
For an event that is only on its second go-around, they sure have found a way to throw a well-rounded and appreciated show. The venue of Showboat’s casino floor makes for amazing media content and a unique experience for all involved. I mean, imagine being able to say you parked your car inside of a casino. Many indoor shows are typically in a convention center with white walls and grey flooring, lacking engaging backgrounds. The Showboat is such a cool venue because it creates a scene for the car to stand out. The bright lights and casino games make for some pretty cool photo ops.
The week before any car show is preparation time, which consists of washing, detailing, packing, and putting any last-minute touches into the car to get it show-ready. Once Friday came along, the trip down to Atlantic City started. Some enthusiasts drove their show vehicles to the venue while other trailered cars. Vendors and car owners lined up outside of the Showboat to unload their cars and get placed in their corresponding spots for the weekend. It’s nice to have roll-in and set up on Friday night, so there is no time wasted on Saturday morning.
I woke up Saturday, knowing it was showtime! The doors of the show area opened, and spectators started entering to see the variety that the ACES event offered. As the show promoted beforehand, attendees could see everything from Jeeps and BMWs to Hondas, trucks, and even minivans. There were a lot of impressive vehicles that caught my eye throughout the weekend.
Two standouts were Antonio Collazo’s pair of imported right-hand-drive VIP-style wonder rides, each equipped with custom three-piece Leon Hardiritt wheels. One was an uncommon 2008 RB1 Honda Odyssey, while the other was this vibrant red 2000 Toyota Aristo. Both of these cars were head turners and great conversation pieces due to their style and rarity in the US.
Walking up to Charles Finch’s 2003 Ford Excursion changed my perspective on off-road trucks. I’m a pretty tall guy, but this truck made me look tiny! This thing is fully loaded and off-road-ready. It’s equipped with everything you would need when off-roading a beast like this, and it was one of my favorites.
Another build that made me stop in my tracks was Kyle Devaney’s matte white 2008 Subaru WRX. It carefully tucks a set of Heritage Wheels in its fenders thanks to an air suspension setup. I have never seen this style from Heritage before, but man, do I love it. After speaking with Kyle, he notified me that this build is in its second phase, and will be taken apart this winter for the next iteration — we can’t wait for that.
Next up is Jake Miller’s static 2007 BMW 335i with three-piece Work Meister S1 wheels. Jake knows how to make his car the lowest it can be while still being able to street drive the car. This thing’s ride height with coilovers is still lower than half of the bagged cars I see — it’s insane.
The last car I want to speak about is AJ Bills’ 1999 Subaru RSTi GC8. This monster is running a built EJ207 engine with a Precision 58/58 turbocharger. In my opinion, it’s the best RSTi on the East Coast. Custom from top to bottom, it showcases the rally-style that you want with an RSTi, and it looks like this car came straight out of the video game Rallisport Challenge. If you like this RSTi stay tuned to our website, we will be doing a full feature on this car shortly.
Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, ACES was unable to execute some features of the event that they had previously planned. Programs such as Treads in the Sand and the Race Track weren’t part of the show, but that didn’t stop it from being a significant success nonetheless.
ACES created an original show, but with the Lucky 7, they also revamped the entire way judging for awards and trophies is typically done. This process begins with the top seven cars of each genre being chosen, but this is where it gets interesting. Following that, each of the seven car owners is then responsible for judging the others to decide who will take home the Best in Show award — in honor of Shawn Baker. The idea of taking the judge out of the equation and letting the Lucky 7 judge themselves was creative. Further aligning with the casino theme, the show’s creators also thought of the ACES Wild, highlighting the honorable mention Lucky 7 top-quality builds that deserved credit. For 2020, the Lucky 7 winner of Best In Show went to Chris Tedtsen with his 2016 Volkswagen Golf R. Congratulations to Chris and all of the award winners.
ACES has a lot planned for 2021, and we are excited to see what the future holds for this event. Shout out to the entire ACES team (Brad Hoffman, Jut Imes, Korey Davis, Amber Fox, George Anderson, Megan Matter, Denis Dewar, Jaabarrr Mills, Ajaysa Rivas, Bryon Cintron, Beau Harrison, and Shawn Baker — their guiding life force always with them) for throwing another fantastic Atlantic City Enthusiast Summit. For more information on ACES, visit www.aces-ac.com, and follow them on Instagram.