This past March 21, 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of the Spring Festival of LX’s, also known as “Spring Fest” for short. Almost every modern Mopar owner and enthusiast on the face of the Earth knows of this event. Every March for the past 10 years, thousands of Challengers, Chargers, Magnums, 300s, Grand Cherokee SRT8s and other various modern Mopars flood the streets of Irvine, California for the biggest modern Mopar party out there.
Originally started as a group of SoCal car enthusiasts getting together to hang out, their first meet in 2004 consisted of only four vehicles. The next few meets in 2005 quickly grew to approach 100 vehicles. Starting in 2006, it was kicked up a notch and surpassed 300 vehicles with participants from all over the US and Canada. This event has grown every year since! As a community and enthusiast event, Spring Fest has the tremendous support of Chrysler, Dodge, Mopar and SRT.
The event has had many executives in attendance from both the local Irvine office as well as Auburn Hills such as Ralph Gilles (previous CEO of SRT, now Senior Vice President of Design for Chrysler) and Mark Trostle (Head of Design for SRT, Mopar and Motorsports FCA). Gilles has always been a fan favorite at this event with many driving thousands of miles just to meet him.
In fact, most of the cars seen at Spring Fest were sporting Ralph Gilles’ autographs somewhere on them! Unfortunately, Ralph couldn’t attend this years event. We were told he had to attend an important meeting down in Brazil called by the CEO of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). However, everyone was in good hands with Mark Trostle being on site at the event signing autographs and chatting with fans about their cars.
Directly Connected Magazine got the opportunity to speak with him a few times that weekend and must say, he is truly one of the nicest and down-to-earth car guy you will ever meet.
“We have the best owners in the world, they inspire us and they drive us. Our designers, our engineers, our product planners feed off of this event,” said Jason Stoicevich, Director of the California Business Center, FCA US and Vice President – FIAT Brand, FCA −North America. “Proof is in our latest full-size offerings: the heart-pounding Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats and Scat Packs from Dodge and the bold new 300 from Chrysler, products inspired by our owners. We view this event as an extension of our corporate family and truly look forward to hosting it every year.”
The past years have always been a free to attend event. This year though, the organizers decided to set up a $10 entry fee for all participants. All proceeds for the entry fees would go directly to help funding of programs at Ocean View High School and Orangewood Children’s home. With over 1,000 cars registered this year with over 1,500 people showing up in attendance, the total amount raised for charity was over $12,000!
The kick-off event took place on Thursday night at Fuddruckers Burgers (replacing the previous kick-off location at Beach Burgers, which is now closed). A hundred or so vehicles showed up in the parking lot to hang out, chat and enjoy great food. The next day, the party moved to the host hotel- the DoubleTree Irvine Spectrum.
From early in the morning until midnight or so, the parking lot at the hotel was constantly packed in every corner with beautiful Mopar products as show participants slowly rolled into town for Saturday’s event. The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic and it felt like a giant block party. A dozen or so Scat Pack Chargers and Challengers sporting Michigan manufacturer plates driven by various press personnel cruised in and out a few times however they kept to themselves and didn’t really speak to anyone.
Saturday morning starting around 8am, hundreds of cars started rolling into the huge parking lot at the Verizon Amphitheater. This is the second year of the event being at the Verizon location. Before that, the show took place at the El Toro Air Force Base just around the corner. Once everyone cruised in and parked, you received a commemorative show T-shirt and an entry into a contest to win $45,000 towards any new Mopar vehicle.
Lunch was included free with your event registration too with catering being done by Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. Petty’s Garage was on-site selling parts and show-goers were treated with the chance to meet the King, Richard Petty who was there signing autographs between 10:00 and 12:30. More than a dozen other vendors including TruFiber, AFE, Edelbrock and Magnaflow were also on-site offering event sales and product demos.
Mopar has always gone all out with the event and never disappoint with what they bring each year. Over the past few years, they have put on drifting demonstrations, had a line up of SRT vehicles for participants to test on a closed course and other various events. For this year, with the launch and hype of the new Hellcats, Dodge did a closed course “thrill ride” event that had showgoers riding shotgun in either their choice of a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat or a 2015 Dodge Viper GTS.
Driven by SRT personnel, the participants riding along got to experience the full power of the vehicles unleashed with a short side-by-side drag race pinning Hellcat Challenger versus Hellcat Challenger and Viper versus Viper. Once both sets of cars got to the end of the track, they would then do a high speed slalom course back to the starting line. The only down-side to the whole thing was the steady hour long line-up to get your ride.
Thankfully, Dodge supplied tents so everyone stayed cool and out of the sun while waiting. The wait was definitely worth it though, we must say. Even though the ride itself was only about 45 seconds long, it was well worth the wait! Every single participate got out of the vehicles at the end with a giant smile on their face.
As the event drew to a close, cars slowly started trickling out and cruising back to their homes with next year’s event in mind already. The party continued Saturday night back at the DoubleTree however in a smaller fashion versus Friday’s happenings as most just chose to hit the road straight after leaving the Amphitheater. Next year’s event is sure to be just as awesome and we’re looking forward to seeing what the organizers have in store! Every year always offers something different so it’s going to be quite the treat. From what we understand, planning for next year is already in the works! Hope to see everyone at the 11th Annual Spring Festival of LX’s in 2016!