Wekfest Miami 2014 Coverage…Part 1…

Ahhhh Miami…what a beautiful city….

Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought that I’d some day end up in Miami, Florida for a car event. The Wekfest tour has granted me a lot of great opportunities to travel, but Miami was always a place that I thought I’d maybe end up at for just a regular vacation. You just don’t hear that much about the Florida car scene in 2014. I remember when I first got into cars over ten years ago, Florida was a prime destination. The car community at that time consisted of the four corners which served as the powerhouses of our scene; California, the Pacific Northwest, the Tri-State area, and well, Florida. Over the years, it seemed as if Florida sort of “fell-off” so to speak. You didn’t hear as much from them and the surrounding areas flourished. The South grew along with Texas and the Mid-West. Texas is now a major player in the community and Florida is still around, but you just don’t hear that many great builds developing down in that area. I don’t know if it has to do with theft being really bad down there or what but I’ve always been interested to see what Florida had to offer, especially now as we head into 2015. When I found out that Miami was the newest on the Wekfest Tour, I was genuinely excited…

I don’t know a lot about Florida so I had no idea what it was like in December, but I imagined it would be a lot like California, just with a different ocean backdrop and a stronger Latin influence. I was pretty much correct in my thinking except I didn’t consider the humidity, which was high. With so much going on in the past few months, I almost forgot about Wekfest Miami completely. I literally woke up that week and was like “oh shit, I gotta go to Miami still”. I packed my bags, made the trek out to the other side of the country with the Wekfest crew, and boy was it a blast. We got a lot of foodies in this group so exploring different cities and eating all the food there is one of our favorite things to do on every stop. I’ve had Cuban food a number of times but it was awesome to finally experience some “authentic” Cuban food. Those of you who follow me on the tour understand all the random things we get into so I’ll save that for the photos below so you can see for yourselves…

Now, back to the topic of the cars… I liken Wekfest Miami to Wekfest in Texas a couple years back. There are some great cars but for the most part, the community is not as developed as say, California or Texas currently. There seems to be a particular style that they are into (stance, stance, stance) and many of the cars stick with that look. Texas was the same way in the beginning where many of the enthusiasts are younger and build around current trends. In 2014, the whole stance “movement”, if you will, has slowly died down and many are beginning to appeal to a different look which calls for detail-driven, more traditional look. You can look back at Wekfest Texas 2-3 years ago and compare it to WFTX in 2014 and you’ll easily spot the differences just from looking through the photos. I can say confidently that Wekfest in Miami is not comparable to the Wekfest events in other cities…and that’s completely okay. It just isn’t quite there yet. This is the first time that Wekfest has hit this part of the country so no one really knew what to expect. There is a gradual progression that will come over time and I see a lot of growth for the Florida car scene. Of course there were some really, really, great cars that just stood far above the rest but the grouping as a whole lacks consistency. Stance-heavy builds are strong, along with luxury-themed “faux-VIP” builds, but the intricate Honda builds are few and far between. I’ve always seen really nice Nissan S-chassis builds come out of Florida and that didn’t disappoint, but I know there are still a lot more floating around that weren’t at the Wekfest show. Obviously, Wekfest Miami isn’t indicative of all Florida has to offer but to helps to gauge what is out there. I know some of you who are new to the site will say that I am judgmental but guess what I do on the Wekfest Tour? I am one of the main judges so it is my job to judge, haha…

With that said, I had a great time in Miami. It was great seeing the cars and meeting all the great enthusiasts out there. It was a pleasure to finally see some of these cars in person for the first time and being introduced to the many hidden gems that the Florida car community has. I look forward to returning next year because I know it’ll be bigger and better than this inaugural year. Today, in Part 1, you get to see some of the randomness that we got into before the start of the show. Enjoy the photos and please make sure to read through all of it…

Oh and please, if you decide to re-post these photos, can you not be a fucking asshole thief and crop my watermarks and use them as your own? I work hard and travel all over to capture these photos on my own dime so please have some respect. If you guys are so intent on starting lame Instagram accounts to peddle your shitty merchandise, can you at least take YOUR OWN photos with YOUR OWN camera? It is not that hard. I’m not out here to help you sell your shit and I don’t force you to do the same. Leave my photos alone or at least provide credit where it is due. There is enough technology in your phone alone to take your own pictures. The cars are already there, you just have to put some sort of fucking effort into taking a picture of them. Thanks!…

And now, our feature presentation….

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We arrived in Miami, FL around 10 PM so the first order of business was to get settled into our hotel and grab some dinner. One of the great things about South Beach Miami is that everything is open pretty late so getting a good meal in is definitely not a problem. We cruised around town until we ended up at a local hole-in-the-wall spot called La Playa Cafe or simply, “Playa Cafe”. This is one of those spots that is quintessential Miami and offers some great late night, traditional, Cuban cuisine. Not everyone in our group had tried Cuban food before so this was the first of many meals we would have in Miami….

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Spots like this are anything but fancy and seem to be more catered to locals. Service was great and there were plenty of photos for those who hadn’t eaten Cuban before…

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“When in Rome” as the old saying goes….you gotta have a Mexican Coke in Miami. These 355ml bottles of coke are more traditional in look and also in taste, as Coke intended for Latin countries are said to be made with cane sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup. This gives it a more “natural” taste and the old glass bottle delivers that nostalgic feel compared to typical bottled Coke in the U.S. This is not to be confused with “Colombian Coke” however, which is completely different and should not be openly asked for in public places….haha….

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One of the Wekfest staffers started off the night with some soft tacos……

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…and then followed it up with some Chicharrons over Yuka and cabbage….

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I myself got the Palomilla Steak Breakfast. My sleep schedule is all screwed-up normally anyway so why not eat breakfast at night?…

After dinner, we just cruised around to check out South Beach before returning to our hotel. We decided to get some rest and save the exploring for tomorrow since many of the Wekfest staff had to be up early to help set up for the show…

The next morning, we grabbed some Cuban Cortaditos (Cuban Expressos) and headed to the venue where the show was to take place. Since Miami was a new city for us, we had to learn about the many rules and regulations that went with putting on an event inside the Miami Beach Convention Center. Their set of rules differed slightly from the norm so the staff had to measure out the spacing for each car to ensure that we followed their fire code…

While that was going on, a couple of us walked off to explore. Unknowingly, we passed by a random botanical garden before stumbling upon the Holocaust Memorial of Miami. This was our first time in Florida so we really had no idea that such a memorial existed….

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This giant sculture amid a floating pond was the first thing that really caught our attention. Seeing this place in person really sticks with you. The imagery from the sculptures in this memorial help to tell the tale of the terror that the Jewish people experienced during World War II…

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Seeing the memorial is quite haunting to be honest. The sculptures evoke sadness and fear, pulling at the hearts of all who look-on…

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“…then in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart” …Anne Frank

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You know a place that you visited stays with you when you feel the same emotions as you look back at the photos later….

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The names of many who were lost during that period of terror, immortalized in stone on the walls of the memorial….

We didn’t stay very long but it was a really powerful place to stumble onto, and I imagine, a place you really only need to visit once. You just never forget what you see when you go to some places and this place is intense….

After that, we headed back to the venue to reunite with the others. They were finishing up with the set-up process and we prepared to go grab some lunch. We wanted to get the full Miami experience and since we had already hit up a local Cuban spot, we decided to get fancy and hit up one of the many tourist traps by the beach. Enter “Ocean’s Ten”, where food and drinks are overpriced but masked in the allure of South Beach Miami… I think I spent $80 here….on just a sandwich and some fucking drinks, I swear…

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Everyone seemed to be incredibly happy to drink these big ass drinks but boy were we not ready to pay the price. The deal is that you order one of these big ass fucking things and you get one free. The only catch is that one drink is $45 and they are like, literally impossible to finish on your own and are meant to be shared…which is an important detail because they don’t tell you this….

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We tried our best but man, we struggled a bit. Luckily the place isn’t a total rip-off because you can take the second drink to-go. It wasn’t going to be anything close to this size but they sort of give you the drinks and then slap you on the ass on the way out, thanking you for the money they took from you and sending you on your way… Ocean’s Ten is the epitome of a Miami tourist trap, and we all saw it coming. It was like sodomy with consent while not knowing the physical size or impact of the sodomizer….

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The only thing I could take away from that place was the fries for good. $80 later AND THE FRIES WERE GOOD….

After getting reamed mercilessly, we walked across the street to the beach to see what the Atlantic Ocean looked like. Though it was late December in the heart of winter, Miami was 81 degrees and filled with beach goers. You wouldn’t even think it was winter and that is one of the many awesome things about Florida….

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Elissa wasn’t feeling very well after we arrived in Miami. She was a bit under the weather but seemed to be getting better while soaking in the sun on South Beach. Mojitos definitely help I guess and well, who can really feel sick with this as your backdrop?….

We did so much that I’m honestly drawing a blank as to what happened after this. Maybe I drank too much or something. I want to say that we ate more Cuban food and that is probably what happened but I don’t recall where. Seeing as I don’t have any photos from that evening, it wasn’t anything wild or worth forgetting/remembering. Instead, let us fast-forward to the early morning of the actual Wekfest event. One of my favorite things to do on the tour is to capture the cars as they are coming into the event. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to take photos of the cars when the show is actually happening but I feel like the coverage is much more dynamic if you include what goes on outside. Seeing the cars inside a convention center can get pretty monotonous after awhile so it is better to see the cars outside in a more natural environment….

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One of the first cars that I spotted that early morning was this VW Bug. It was certainly one of the better builds of the Miami event and a stand-out throughout the day….

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There has got to be a better way to show that you have good wheel fitment without having to sacrifice the fit and finish of your car. This is not good….to each their own though….

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Christopher Garcia’s Subaru BRZ with Lux Motion Design widebody kit and concave WatercooledIND wheels…

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Had to get a shot of these two GTRs together. So much history between these two chassis’ and it was so fitting that both were white on gold wheels….

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The most interesting tidbit about this duo is that the R32 Skyline GTR wasn’t originally even meant to be a part of the Wekfest show. Junior from Wekfest spotted the R32 at the Wekfest Pre-Meet the night before and offered him a spot in the show. Not only that, it was asked to be the Wekfest booth car…

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This is what I like to call the “Generation Gap”…. Though the R35 is probably the most refined production Japanese supercar of all-time, the R32 is quite possibly the most adored of the GTR lineage….

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At the other end of the spectrum is perhaps the most unwanted Skyline chassis of the line, the R30 RS-Turbo. Sure it isn’t nearly as powerful or endearing as the others, but there is just something so awesome about 80’s Japanese sports cars. I myself have always been a fan and can’t help but admire these cars. I’m a big car nerd that likes non-traditional platforms so this is right in my realm of “cool” cars that aren’t really considered “cool” by conventional standards…

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Two very different styles of execution for the S2000 platform; Matt Hamilton’s circuit-themed AP2 and Ahmad Hassan’s custom street sweeper on bags…

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Gotta give it up to Bradley Lafayette’s J’s Racing carbon widebody S2000. It seems like he’s been to every Wekfest tour stop this year. The guy definitely puts forth a good effort to represent and I got nothing but respect for him for making those long treks out with his car….

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I absolutely love OEM JDM Type-X aero on the RPS13 bodies. This one is just perfect sitting on aggressive Work Meister S1 wheels….

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The driveway leading into the Miami Convention Center wasn’t the most forgiving, as you can see Hamilton’s carbon rear diffuser resting on the ground as he drove up…

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There are a lot of little cool things about Hassan’s S2000 that aren’t immediately noticeable unless you are an S2000-owner. Notice that little round hole that appears to be a cap for an antenna? Well, that is actually a gas filler cap from a Harley Davidson motorcycle that has been grafted into the rear quarter of this S2000. He just uses his fingers to un-thread the cap and then he can fill his tank….

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The front frame section under the front fenders have been chopped to allow for further wheel/tire clearance. It’s not a mod that is popular with everyone but guys just really want to be as low as possible these days….

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Nice to see some new additions to Lafayette’s S2000. For WFMIA, he showed-up rocking front and rear J’s Racing big brakes along with a set of L.E.D. taillights from Car Shop Glow…

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The Miami car crowd is still very much into the stance and camber trend….

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Inside the building, I caught a glimpse of this Lexus IS with JDM Altezza body components and a set of Work Rezax I wheels….

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Hamilton’s S2000 once again with a surprise appearance from Matt Tucker…

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Wekfest really pushes the idea of variety so you’ll often see rat rods lurking in a sea of imports…

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Bradley’s S2K is looking much better with some bigger brakes to help fill-out that wild widebody…

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Adam Holt’s J’s Racing-themed Integra Type R parked at the J’s Racing booth….

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Wekfest Miami introduced me to this Acura 1.6 EL with a full K-swap and individual throttle bodies owned by a guy named Xul. Really cool build on one of Honda’s less-popular Canadian platforms….

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Nax Whitmore’s LS430 from Fortune Minds had a ton of custom bodywork. One of the smaller mods that really caught my eye for his custom-fitted door handles….

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One of less than a handful of Nissan Quest vans in the U.S. with a full JDM Nissan Elgrand front end conversion…

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It sounds like a straight-forward swap but it definitely is not. I believe the Elgrand face has to be chopped and lengthened of it all to fit correctly…

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Purple Evolution 8/9 with some Voltex bits and pieces….

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This RPS13 featured wide blistered rear quarters and deep-dish Leon Hardiritt Ordens…

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Flat black Z33 on reverse-mounted WatercooledIND wheels…

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Miami was the first event where I got to see K3 Projekt SB6 wheels in person. Interesting wheel design for sure….

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One of my immediate favorites upon seeing it at the Wekfest event that morning was this Vertex widebody S15 Silvia on ISS Forged wheels. Loved everything about it really, from the colorway with the black and grey, down to the bright green contrast pieces….

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When it comes to execution of style it doesn’t get much better than this. The fender mirrors look a bit off on the car but overall, pretty awesome stuff….

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FD3S RX-7 on Advan Racing wheels with a more traditional show car appearl. Nothing over the top; just custom paint and good parts selection without sacrificing good work to fit overly aggressive wheels or crazy aero…

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This digital camo-themed RX-7 hosted a beefy GM LSx turbo set-up with an intake manifold that made having a hood virtually useless…

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Really liked how this Porsche 964 looked on Rotiform wheels. Not sure what the owner was thinking here. It looked like he was midway in the process of figuring out if he left the milk out that morning or not….

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This slammed S2000 was from the appropriately named “Stance Miami” crew….

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Lexus 2GS bagged on WED’S Kranze Bazreias with a TTE front lip. For those unaware, TTE is basically the TRD of Europe….

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One of the more fascinating builds at Wekfest Miami was this Toyota Celica build from Jamasco Automotive. Much more on this car in Part 2 where I have more detailed photos of it…

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Along with photos of the Celica above is a much more detailed look at the car that I pretty much knew was a lock for the “Best of Show” award at Wekfest Miami; Will Tetro’s FD RX-7. I’ve been doing this a long time and sometimes, you just know when something special pulls into the building and well, this car is one of those special builds. Stay tuned….

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7 thoughts

  1. It was a pleasure to finally meet you. I’ve been following your work for years.
    Thank you for coming to Florida and showing the scene how the west coast does things.
    It’s been stancefest for far to long down here. Hopefully the Wekfest spirit rubs off.

    I know the feeling of getting pics jacked with no credit. Happens all the time, I feel your pain.
    I’m the guy taking a picture in the background of the R35 & R32 “duo” shot 🙂

    Again Thank You!

    Steve

  2. Thanks for attending and doing this write up. I’m the owner of the S15 with the Vertex kit above. I thank you for the compliments and for hopefully inspiring local car guys to step up and concentrate on full builds instead of just stanced themed cars. Thank you and Happy Holidays.

    • Alex, loving the S15 and a super clean build. I was wondering what is the finish on lip of those ISS design wheels, black chrome?

  3. Pingback: Wekfest Miami 2014 Coverage…Part 3 of 3… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  4. You know what, I feel you on a couple of things. The Miami scene just isn’t on the same level as the rest of the country. My words not yours I know but as a Photographer coming out of there and moving back to the Pacific Northwest and documenting both scenes, I have realized that it really comes down to the outlets that South Florida enthusiasts have. There isn’t really a place or that many photographers on the right level to give South Florida the exposure that it should have. Yeah sure, we see a couple magazine features here and there and a ton of posts of the same cars circulating Instagram but FL isn’t truly on a national level in my own opinion anyways. A part of that may be, as you already said the Miami scene is about “stance, stance, stance”, and you can’t be more accurate than that! Me being a huge fan of circuit I just didn’t get my fix living down there. FL is out out tune with the racing side of our community and it’s way easier and appealing to most to just get some wheels, coils, and just tuck them shits as far in the fender as they can!! The best times I had in the FL scene was at Homestead Miami Speedway on race days! Sometimes I miss that a lot but the scene is way too great here in Seattle to even look back! In South Florida’s defense though street racing is very well and alive there and I’d prefer to be apart of that life there than here in Seattle. Just for the pure thrill of it and every now and then your sure to see some crazy builds/swaps. FL needs to really get up on it’s grassroots man!

  5. Yo I really would like to know what camera you use I am very tech-savvy (really dislike that term) so, fancy wont hurt. Please let me know if you can thanks for taking anytime out of your busy schedule to answer that thanks again. AGENT SIX signing oFF

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