The China Festival of Speed promised so much, at least on paper. A few tell tale signs that the event wouldn’t be up to expectations came via their official website, parts of it were still under construction come opening curtain time but the organizers were active on Chinese social media circles, busily promoting the event to super car clubs, car clubs, manufacturers and media.
As a first Festival of Speed it seems to have got the idea right, but the execution was a little off. The site choice over in Jiaonan City was quite a drive from Qingdao City Center but that was a quick drive thanks to the world’s longest oversea bridge and also the world’s longest undersea tunnel connecting either side of the Qingdao bay with each other, even better was the lack of road tolls thanks to the central government lifting the fees for the Golden Week Holiday. So you have a holiday week, no road tolls and a picturesque site next to the beach, the site should be crowded with consumers and car fans? Not quite.
The site was huge but it was not quite the traditional car show I was expecting, Ive been to hundreds of similar events in the West, car owners come and lift the hoods of their cars showing their modification and car maintenance skills. It seemed that some car clubs parked their cars on site, but didn’t hang around or get the message about sharing their car innards. Beijing Auto Parts show has a modified car section that seems to have a stronger car culture, China Festival of Speed was focused on the big boys – Porsche, Lotus, Cadillac etc, but all of these were represented by the local dealer rather than the central China HQ.
It wasn’t all doom though – the organizers had put a lot of effort into organizing simultaneous events: drifting competitions, , tire changing competitions, Porsche experience, Harley Davidson experience etc, as well as some unusual cars were out on the turf. Allard launched in China several months ago, but this is the first time that we had actually seen a real model, Morgan were out for their third China auto show this year, showing their commitment to getting the brand out into the open, Lotus NYO has only recently set up shop in China so they were eager to share their wares with the locals, even West Coast Choppers and an electric Volvo managed to make an appearance.
For a first show, the organizers didn’t do too badly, the crowd may have been poor on the opening day which often made it feel like their were more security guards than attendees but the foundations are set for an even better event in 2013, plus it was the perfect opportunity for Jiaonan government to show off their locality, and the place really shines compared to my last visit in 2004! Mountains, pine forests and beaches all within spitting distance of the China Festival of Speed, and all for a short drive and a 50RMB entry ticket.