Advance Exclusive: SoWo 2013!

Advance Auto PartsEvery year, thousands of car enthusiasts swarm the small town of Helen, Georgia, filling the air with the mechanical sounds of pro-tuned engines, open headers and blow-off valves.

This isn’t your average weekend car show. This is SoWo 2013.

“SoWo” is short for Southern Wörthersee, a car show specifically for VAG (Volkswagen Automotive Group) enthusiasts. VAG cars include the following: Volkswagen, Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, SEAT and Skoda, among others. So, if these kinds of cars appeal to you, then this is the show for you. The name of the Georgia car show comes from the Wörthersee Tour in Reifnitz, Austria, an event that draws the largest group of VAG fans in the world who come each year to see the newest innovations. Because the town of Helen, Georgia has the same quaint Bavarian feel as Reifnitz, it is the perfect location for the United States tribute to the VAG car show. The 2013 show just took place on May 17th-19th, with free admission to all activities. This year, a special emphasis was placed on the Volkswagen/Audi vehicles.

Arriving at SoWo 2013

The Helendorf Inn was already roaring with activity as SoWo 2013 kicked off. Car enthusiasts from as far away as Japan traveled to Georgia to show their cars during the three-day festival, which included two vendor areas and an expansive showfield. Registrations for the event sell out quickly, turning the town of Helen in a showfield of its own. The Helendorf parking lot alone featured spectacular examples of creativity and originality.

Cars in the spotlight

Some people simply attend the event, while others register a showfield spot to highlight their vehicles. For the latter group, every night and weekend during the months leading up to the event was spent planning a build and working on their cars. For SoWo, owners try to think of something that hasn’t been done before such as an impossibly low suspension setup, a new vehicle vinyl wrap or an improbable wheel / car combo.

Hotel and cabin reservations are typically made eight months in advance (which means that, if you’re thinking about attending  SoWo 2014, then you should start looking for a room over the upcoming summer months). SoWo threads on Internet forums buzz with activity as veteran attendees share stories of the Lowdown Showdown at Bigg Daddy’s or inside tips on getting a free bar glass from Forge Motorsport.

While competition is high for a SoWo top 50 car show award, most attendees make the annual trip to Helen for a different reason. They come to see their friends.Advance Auto Parts

While SoWo is essentially all about cars, it’s the friendships that are made during this spring weekend that attendees remember most. Year after year, new friends and old share meals and drinks, form large convoys for spirited mountain cruises and/or circle chairs in the Helendorf Inn parking lot to just talk.

While 2013 is now behind us, planning for SoWo 2014 is already well under way. Armed with new ideas and fueled with inspiration, enthusiasts have already started their next build, even if it’s only in their heads.

A car show award for placing in the top 50 would be nice. But, for most, the 50 new friends they’ll make is even better. See you there in 2014?

Editor’s Note: If you’re looking to trick out your ride, text “Spring” to 36898 for a hot deal now. Up to 5 messages per month; message & data rates may apply.


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