05-02-2004, 10:38 AM
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Location: Santa Barbara
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From this morning's newspaper...........
|Classy conveyances converge |
Bimmerfest brings together BMW lovers
By HILDY MEDINA
NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
The Acuras, Hondas and Fords were in the visitors parking lot at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Saturday -- out of sight and out of mind at the fifth annual Bimmerfest, where some 1,000 BMW enthusiasts came to talk shop and show off.
Terry Kennedy, a former dot-commer, traveled from New Jersey, and like many other attendees hoped to meet face to face the car enthusiasts he has gotten to know through BMW chat rooms on the Internet.
"You pretty much ask for their handle and you're like, 'I know you,' " said Andy Brady, an 18-year-old San Jose High School senior. "Mine is BradyTopaz330."
"They just keep rolling in," added Mr. Kennedy, 45, who couldn't wait to show off the aftermarket features on his 2003 325 XIT wagon, including a European fire extinguisher, illuminated cup holder and an MP3 player that holds music equivalent to several thousand CDs and announces the artist and track.
Bimmerfest is the first major car show at the showgrounds since the Norcal vs. Socal auto show.
After that event, several hundred auto enthusiasts denounced the stepped-up police presence outside the showgrounds and claimed that they were being unfairly singled out for having souped-up cars.
Heated criticism spread like wildfire on auto enthusiast chat rooms, and organizers of Saturday's festival had considered moving their show someplace else until Mayor Marty Blum told them by e-mail that she would be looking into the enforcement matter.
Police said they were unfamiliar with the other show's promoters, which led them to call for added enforcement.
There was no visible police presence outside Saturday's event, although there were numerous patrols keeping a watchful eye on a 300-plus BMW caravan headed to the Santa Ynez Valley.
Jon Shafer, founder and one of the organizers of the one-day event, said he was relieved that he did not have to move Bimmerfest from the showgrounds because of the controversy. For the last four years, the event had been held at Cutter Motors.
He first thought of having a BMW car show in the mid-1990s. At the time, he was running Cutter Motors, and people kept telling him they heard about the dealership on the Internet.
"Back then the Internet was very primitive, so I went on this one Web site and I thought, 'Whoa, what is this?' " said Mr. Shafer.
He logged on and gave information and answered questions about the cars.
"They had an anti-dealer mentality at first, but I dedicated every minute I had to answering questions," said Mr. Shafer.
What he also found was that the typical BMW drivers aren't the Calvin Klein types or 50-something professionals seen in the car catalogs. Many of them are computer geeks "who live, eat and breathe BMWs."
"There's a much younger demographic (for BMWs) compared to other European makes," said Mr. Shafer. "A lot of them work in IT (information technology), are 20 to 23 years old and make $60,000 a year."
Bimmerfest, he says, brings the BMW community together to show off the cars and meet up.
"That's the whole spirit of this event."
RYAN HAWK / NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS Don Meyer of Santa Barbara shows off a 1938 Sbarro 328 BMW at Bimmerfest 2004. At top right, Andrew Brady, left, appears awed by the aftermarket features Terry Kennedy has installed in his 2003 325 xiT. At bottom right, the winner of the classic car division was a 1979 320i, owned by C.J. Viola.
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