As compared to years prior, in some ways Driven 2021 felt new and different but at the same time also brought with it a feeling of familiarity, being a return to something we had all dearly missed last year. For this specific event the time of year and venue were new – being held a few months later than normal and at Southcentre Mall – but the endless stream of familiar faces and the buzz and atmosphere surrounding the whole thing made it feel just like things did before.
Now, a show of this size (and one that had to adapt to a brand new location no less) was bound to have a few hiccups and sure enough, setup had a few challenges: the parking lot was an absolute gridlock, cars had to be relocated with no notice, and for some reason the team found out they didn’t have the entire lower floor of the parkade for the show even though they were meant to. Eventually though the traffic cleared, cars were parked, and somehow it all fit together.
Leading up to the event, I think it’s fair to say that excitement, hopes, and expectations were high. We were all looking forward to returning to a major show, some important debuts were set to take place, and many were bringing some seriously well-built vehicles to compete. Long nights and a lack of sleep were prevalent though I think Jesse and his team would take the award for longest nights and least sleep – and perhaps one for “largest crowd around a vehicle”.
The girls meanwhile continued their momentum – following up on the huge impact Redline has already made since its inception last season – and took home 4 awards in total including Best Team!
Our three cars all made it to the show in completed form (with parts going on to Pepper and Dijon the night before, naturally) and their respective Driven debuts all went amazingly well. In the morning’s shuffle we actually found ourselves winding up next door to Redline, N/A, and across from our friends with their Marauders which gave us plenty of chances to visit and catch up with all of them, in between the almost-countless number of visitors the rest of the day.
It’s normal for Driven to be the chance to catch up with friends in person, for the first time after a winter hibernation, but this time around the interval had been longer and number of visits considerably higher. It was literally a few hours before I ever wandered further than half a row from our cars as more and more familiar voices would call out “Bill!” and come over to check out the cars and chat. In some cases it was even the first in-person visit we’d had since 2019, and with the lower level of the parkade being shaded and cool we could talk endlessly without the sun and heat destroying us. Incidentally, Mark reported that the Red Bull booth went through 2000 cans in about 90 minutes. Also, I wouldn’t recommend a combo of Red Bull and Quaker snack bars as a lunch but hey, I’ve always prioritized visits and photography over eating properly at events.
Mark and his team were able to pull off another massive show and bring together some incredible builds both from Calgary and other areas around the country. The approaching deadline had been some welcome motivation for many of us to get work carried out and projects pushed to the finish line, while the promise of a 2022 date – back at the Oval – will keep us going over the winter. But let’s not think about that just yet…
With the cars now complete and garage tidied up after the chaos, it’s time to run through all of the photos from the show and get them edited for the blog. Even looking through them now – just a day and a half later – is already getting me excited for the next event, and there’s still the coverage from Jason and others to come too; not to mention the annual setting of a new coverage publishing speed record by Jason, surely destroying me yet again.
Driven 2021 summarized: it was good to be back.