L’OE Show 2022

When it came to topping his first L’OE Show held in 2021, Jamie Orr knew he had a challenge. As a YouTube personality who’s attended enthusiast shows all over the world, Jamie had a certain level of expectation for his own performance when he implemented a mall takeover in his hometown of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The mall format was wildly successful but large crowds swollen through an inside space during a pandemic weren’t exactly optimum. Fortunately for Jamie, Pottstown is also home to a monthly car gathering that shuts down its entire main street. As he pondered his next iteration, the solution became obvious quickly. The model was already in place.

Okay, that didn’t exactly make things easy. While the town elders were familiar with the concept and could see it go down with regularity, Jamie’s idea was slightly different. He’d need the street closed all day of the show and his vision for L’OE as a weekend was a bit more of a grandiose multi-day affair. Plus, getting the utility companies to allow a giant sign celebrating L’OE to be hung over the main street wouldn’t be a walk in the nearby park.

Another focus was integrating businesses. This came in two forms.

When Jamie took over the mall, he’d approached shops and food vendors already there to prepare for the crowd by offering specials and investing in inventory. This time, he hit Pottstown’s main street and encouraged the same. He engaged bars and pubs to hold after party events, a local biergarten to support with food trucks, and a cool downtown car club located in an old factory, to open its facilities to show off a few select star cars. With a focus on reinvigorating its downtown, Jamie could see that Pottstown was all in as he teleconferenced into a township planning meeting from a now forgotten European airport lounge en route to a humanitarian run delivering food and supplies to displaced Ukrainians out of the back of his built-for-SEMA VW Atlas Harlequin.

Where last year’s mall had empty storefronts, key brands in the enthusiast community had created pop-up spaces. Rotiform, FCP Euro, Solo-Werks, New German Performance, PeopleKars, Audi collection, and Audi Club were just a few of the many who took over the space. On Pottstown’s main thoroughfare, this would happen again in a slightly different way. As many suburban downtowns can be challenged by empty storefronts, many of the same lifestyle vendors filled these spaces with even more extravagant pop-up placements. Rotiform took over an empty Wine & Liquor store, embracing the choice with gag T-shirt designs. Automotive pin designer Leen Customs filled out their own shop, dropping limited edition pin sets with fans who’d lined up down the block most of the weekend. FCP Euro made a clean space that was a tribute to their motorsport efforts, while Solo-Werks suspension chose to not only show off their coilovers, but also screen print t-shirts directly from the counter tops in their store.

Vendors that didn’t take storefronts made space under tents in the street. Audi collection, New German Performance, Unitronic, Liqui Moly, B2B Fab, NERS6T, Audi Club, and more filled the space. Even the Volkswagen brand showed up, not only taking up central space by the main stage, but sharing the world reveal of an anniversary edition Golf R. That’s all before you consider the attendees cars.

Shutting down the main street for a fair number of blocks with four lanes of traffic made for an impressive show field. With a main stage in the center, a cross street of vendors and a dedicated fire lane lest anything go awry, privately owned cars were open to distribute themselves across the city blocks. The casual nature of the placement allowed friends to stay with friends, and clubs to stay with clubs.

The area near the center stage was focused on Volkswagen, Rotiform, and Jamie’s own impressive mix of cars including former Volkswagen SEMA cars, plus a MK3 Golf A59 and MK8 Golf TCR design study fresh off the boat from Germany and that have also recently found their way into Jamie’s stewardship.

Audi Club managed the four ring presence with a dedicated city block specifically earmarked for Audi entries. Here, cars ranged from a new Q4 and several of the latest RS 6 Avants thanks to support from NERS6T, and on down to the oldest of vintage including a C1 100 LS.

As the day progressed, the space swelled with people much like the mall the year before. Leen Customs wasn’t the only shop with lines out the door. Swarms of people could also be seen lining up outside the official event store in the front of a local dance club and the Rotiform “Wine & Liquor” store. Inventories of product on their shelves were exhausted by mid afternoon.

Solo-Werks’ Glen Messinger put it best as he stopped for a breather from his own crowded shop. Glen highlighted how gratifying it was as a digital entrepreneur to hang a sign out above a shop on a street. It’s substantial and the community gets that too. You could see it in the curiousness and the delight as guests circulated into each of the shops and around the cars.

There’s no doubt that Jamie Orr has tapped into something with L’OE Show. There’s an energy and an air of freshness in his model. It takes the familiarity of a small downtown city center and melds it with the format of a car show. This mashup of an unlikely pairing of experiences offers a surprisingly fresh take on the car lifestyle event genre. At a time when mainstream new car auto shows are failing, manufacturers and enthusiasts alike are seeking something different that still lists the car as the star but is more welcoming and experiential. For manufacturers, that often takes the form of a Monterey Car Week (pp. 28-31) or the Goodwood Festival of Speed. L’OE though is something similar yet different, a bit more approachable, a bit more urban and definitely more diverse, reflective of a younger generation. It’s a juxtaposition to the ultra-luxurious events such as Monterey, so unique in the space it has taken.

Like many enthusiasts, vendors and brands, Audi Club will be back next year. This is one not to miss.

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