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Vendor Row At NA Heroes is An Important Reminder of BMW’s Tie to Aftermarket Community
BY Mike Maravilla //
March 15, 2024
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Photography: Pit+Paddock
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  • “Grid Icons” remixes the traditional car show concept to focus on quality over quantity and highlights standout marques in the automotive world.
  • The third Grid Icons event, called “NA Heroes”, takes place on Saturday, March 23, and partners Pit+Paddock with BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA) to celebrate naturally aspirated BMW M machinery.
  • Industry partnerships from Akrapovič, AST/MOTON, H&R, and ST Suspensions, along with several exhibiting vendors, add to the Grid Icons effort and will help elevate the experience for BMW enthusiast attendees.
  • BMW’s tie with the aftermarket community has always been critical, allowing BMW M owners to personalize and add performance to their Ultimate Driving Machine.

When I was 16, I didn’t particularly appreciate owning a BMW. I loved them in the years preceding my early driving years, but cresting that hill welcomed a very different reality. A lot of my friends drove JDM cars of the era—Integras, Civics, Eclipses, S2000s—and were modifying them accordingly. That part of car ownership, the personalization, and quest for more performance, was intriguing. But I felt like it was a part of the car world that was sequestered from me. That is until I found out that you could also modify BMWs.

THE EARLY DAYS

Not knowing that you could modify everything under the sun sounds like a fairly outlandish thing to say in today’s world. Magazine aisles at mainstream bookstores were full of sport compact selections—Import Tuner, Super Street, Modified—but the equivalent Euro magazine (Euro Tuner) was just getting started. I remember having to hunt for the US circulation of Max Power in obscure magazine sections of music stores. It was a strangely alienating time to be a young BMW fan.

The moment I found internet forums changed everything. It introduced me to a wealth of information, helped me get my hands dirty, and unlocked a local community that set me on a trek to make the aftermarket industry into a career path. The more I read, the more I realized how entrenched BMW was with the subculture of modifying them. And I fell in love with the brand all over again. It wasn’t long after that I decided to join BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA). It, like many of the brands that advertised within it, was an aspirational marker for what I’d strive toward for years to come.

IRL EXPERIENCE

So when the idea of creating a BMW-focused Grid Icons event came up, it was immediately exciting. That sentiment widened when we honed our focus onto BMW M’s glory years—the naturally aspirated era from the late 80s into the early 2010s). The event, in fitting partnership with BMW CCA, would be an opportunity to unite decades of BMW enthusiasts, from old heads like me to curious youngsters who are wading through exciting new waters like I did decades prior. While I had to experience the shock and awe of modified BMWs through magazines or over 56K internet connections, NA Heroes will bring those feelings to life, in real life. My long-time computer wallpaper hero—Jon Sibal and his utterly matchless E36—will be there along with Mike Burroughs and others. The tie between BMW’s street cars and motorsport achievement will be recognized, too, thanks to BMW NA’s generous help in bringing an E92 M3 GT and Z4 GTLM to the show.

COACHELLA FOR CARS

Grid Icons has already established itself as a standout car show from its first two efforts: GT-R and VW/Audi. For our third, we wanted to bring another element to the mix. The list of industry-leading attendees is complemented by a long list of Grid Icons sponsors and vendors. Akrapovič, AST/MOTON, H&R, and ST Suspensions—most of whom were foundational in steering the BMW aftermarket industry decades prior—made the entire event possible. Vendor row will allow BMW enthusiasts to get face time with each manufacturer to ask questions, meet the faces behind the brand, and see what’s in the works. That experience has largely gone dormant in an era of YouTube and social media, but it’s something that can create real impressions within the young, or next generation, of enthusiasts.

The four main sponsors will be joined by LIQUI MOLY, Nankang, Gates, Mackin Industries, Sparco, Long Beach BMW, Motorsport Hardware, SoCal Drivers Club, and Enthusiast Auto Group (EAG) across a generous spread of turf at our Long Beach location. BMW CCA and GarageWelt, who teamed up with us for a very special capsule collection, will be amongst the ranks as well. The entire lineup—between cars, owners, and vendors—reads like a music festival, but to be fair, there were a lot of names that were excited to be a part of this.

The eager response was a testament to Pit+Paddock’s timing. In only a few years, we’ve worked hard to supplement the online magazine with agency capabilities. It’s a duality that continues to be a taste-making strength and a tie that binds generations of enthusiasts with our own accrued industry experience.

TICK TOCK

The main event is rapidly approaching next weekend. Sign up today via our Eventbrite page before it’s too late. Thank you to our official industry partners—Akrapovič, AST/MOTON, H&R, and ST Suspensions—for supporting this effort and we can’t wait to see you all in Long Beach soon.


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