If you’re a fan of horizontally-opposed cylinders, all-wheel drive, and the innumerable ways to turn an automobile into a statement piece, look no further than Boxerfest, the East Coast’s premier Subaru enthusiast festival. Presented by Subaru of America and Cobb Tuning, Boxerfest is an annual event held in Landover, Maryland at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins. Far more than just a simple car show, Boxerfest features an autocross event, tech seminars, an exhaust decibel-measuring contest, exclusive looks at new Subaru models, several car show judging classes, raffles, and a litany of vendor products for sale, from stickers and mugs to entire engines.
2017 was the fourth year for Boxerfest, and as a diehard Subaru fanatic, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of it sooner. I was alerted to its presence by Subaru of America’s Facebook page, and when I saw what exactly it was, and that it would be only an hour away from me, I knew I had to go. There was no excuse not to. So I bought a ticket.
This year’s Boxerfest was held on June 11th, which was a bright, 92-degree day with nary a cloud in the sky. I planned ahead and packed a bottle of water and an even bigger bottle of sunscreen, which I would apply religiously every two hours. I also brought my trusty Canon DSLR so that I could have souvenirs that didn’t cost anything. I threw all of this into my own Subaru and headed to Landover. My boxer-engined baby is a rusty, oil-leaking, 17-year-old Impreza hatchback with over 200,000 miles. Oh, also the air conditioning presently doesn’t work. The perfect car for an hour-long drive with frequent traffic slowdowns on a 90-plus degree day.
The fun began right in the parking lot of FedEx Field as I pulled my already-sweaty ass out of my beloved H4 hoopty. The lot was filled primarily with modified Subies as far as the eye could see, and I hadn’t even gotten to the event area yet. This one in particular caught my eye, mostly for the touching tribute to a departed fellow Subaru fan emblazoned on its hood:
I found my way across the immense parking lot to the event entrance by following the unmistakable chorus of boxer rumbles permeating the humid air. When I arrived, what I can only describe as some sort of engine loudness contest was being held in a fenced-off area near the entrance. I wish I could have gotten some good photos, but there were so many people crowding the area, I would have needed a ladder. One by one, a Subaru would roll up to a line, and at a signal, the driver would rev the engine as much as he or she could. This would ostensibly release a cacophony of low guttural growls, deep reverberations, exhaust crackles, and the occasional chirp and hiss of a turbo blow-off valve. The crowd erupted in cheers every time. When each driver was finished their flat-four symphony, a judge would read out the decibel level they had achieved. I think it got up to 117 dB at one point!
I then checked out the official Subaru area of the show, where the company had four very exclusive cars on display, each with their own information placards: the new 2018 WRX STi Type RA and BRZ tS, a JDM-only 2002 Impreza STi S202, and Petter Solberg’s WRC Impreza S12A from the 2007 Monte Carlo Rally.
It’s worth noting Boxerfest is where the STi Type RA and BRZ tS made their American debut, as a testament to how much Subaru cares about their performance enthusiasts.
And then there were the vendors. They had everything for sale. If it had a Subaru logo printed on it or if it would fit a Subaru, they had it, up to and including entire engines and front clips. Many of the vendors were sponsors of the show, and included local Subaru-oriented performance shops such as Subimods, LP Adventure, Subaru Parts For You, IAG Performance, Just-N-Tyme Performance, Billetworkz, and much, much more. Most had heavily modified cars on display to show off their products.
The autocross event was set up in a blocked-off area of the parking lot, and a course was set up with traffic cones. People interested in autocrossing their cars signed up for it beforehand when they bought their ticket, and came to the show early to learn the rules and do a tech inspection. There were several car classes for competition with prizes for each. I didn’t get to see much of the autocross, but I recorded a couple BRZs doing a time attack:
But my favorite part of Boxerfest, as it is with any car show, were the privately-owned cars on display. There weren’t a whole lot of them—maybe only around 100—but they were all interesting. I love seeing how others modify and customize their cars to reflect their interests and personalities (it was funny to see just how many have their Instagram handles stickered on their cars). Subaru enthusiasts are rather diverse in their interests, with some building show-queen bagged and stanced cars, some making potent drift machines, and others creating rugged overlanders. Most owners were pretty easy to talk to and loved to go on and on about their car’s specs and history, as I’m sure most car enthusiasts are.
There was however a distinct lack of historic Subies on display, which was a shame, because that’s the category I’m most interested in. I’d say about 80 percent of the cars were Imprezas of various model years and trims, with a few Foresters, Outbacks, and Legacys smattered about for good measure. There were a couple BRATs, a Leone GL wagon, an SVX, and perhaps most intriguingly, two 1970s VW Beetles with Subaru engines stuffed in their backs. I was hoping to see some XTs, Justys, or maybe even a 360! But there probably aren’t very many of those left in the Mid-Atlantic region.
All in all, Boxerfest was a fantastic time, despite the heat. If you live in or near the Mid-Atlantic—or even if you don’t, I won’t judge—and you’re a Subaru fan, you’ll love it. Bring your car and show it off if you want.
Especially if you have a 360. Seriously, I want to see one of those before I die.