First of all, I must admit it feels a bit strange to only just now be sitting down to write after a little over two weeks’ hiatus due to this year’s show prep. It’s presently the wee hours of the morning but I wanted to finally get something live just as a quick intro/update ahead of the proper posts to come, covering both the show as well as the work that went into the cars leading up to it.
The show we’re referring to here – acting as if it’s not clearly mentioned in the title – is of course Driven. This is the event that many of us have always considered the kickoff, marking the true start of another car season here in Calgary. With 2022’s now behind us it’s full steam ahead into another half year of meets and events, and surely many wonderful memories waiting to be made.
With a winter build season always immediately preceding Driven, the show not only serves as a chance to see old friends in person after months apart but is the first time to see many builds following their makeovers and continued revisions; often times they won’t even have an opportunity to attend so much as a local meet prior to being brought down to the Oval so it serves as the unveiling for many new parts and projects. Admittedly this year supply chain issues may have gotten in the way for a few cars, but what build ever goes perfectly to plan anyway?
Just as the projects will be new and updated though, so too is the show. While it’s familiar overall, each year the event receives its own slight revisions as the organizers push to streamline the undertaking and keep it interesting for attendees. This year’s biggest change (as compared to the other traditional Driven events held at the Oval) was that for most of us it became a one-day event. Typically roll-in and setup would take place on the Friday with the show itself happening on the Saturday, but this year – save for a few groups setting up the night prior – everything was handled in one day and I must say, it was probably the quickest and smoothest setup I’d seen yet. I can’t speak for the earlier batch (we all received time slots to space us out) but from our own roll-in a bit before 10:30, we very quickly went from waiting on the main road outside the campus to being parked in our spots and already doing final detailing.
I can’t recall when I then picked up the camera and started making rounds ahead of the public coming in at 1, but I was keen to get the detailing out of the way and go see what had been brought out. Based on what I’d witnessed coming through the doors it looked like we’d have a good variety of builds present and we certainly did, but the big topic both during and after the show (as it is every year) was naturally in regards to the overall “level” of cars on display, on which many posts have already been made.
I will say – and I don’t think anyone will be able to disagree – is that Calgary is certainly no SoCal, though that’s obviously an incredibly high standard with which to compare. Even BC for that matter has always seemed to be stronger than us with their body of work, but that’s not to say Calgary (/Alberta) doesn’t have incredible builds. I can’t stress it enough, but the builds that were good this year were GOOD. We witnessed some incredible attention to detail, plenty of authentic high-quality parts, and custom fabrication that drew in onlooker after onlooker (leading to many long waits for photos of certain cars, and many humorous looks of “I feel your pain” shared between those with cameras, sitting in position just waiting for a chance to hit the shutter). There were certainly some exceptional, above (and well-above) average builds presented but not every car can be, because that’s not how averages work.
To be frank, along with the various ways in which Driven ’22 was fantastic it also showed perhaps the widest range in build quality yet. For every car like those above – with fantastic colour schemes, part selection, and overall presentation – there seemed to be a car that fell short. Parts that clearly didn’t fit, replica pieces (sometimes even wearing logos of their authentic counterparts – like M badges on base models, no one is fooled), and projects that didn’t seem to really have a direction – but that really comes down to our region. At the end of the day, a car show should see people bringing their A-game and demonstrating the best a community has to offer.
If we’re being brutally honest though, I think we can all agree that a wider range of quality can be used to describe the Calgary scene as a whole in these last couple of years; we’ve had some truly incredible events join the annual calendar and new groups making fantastic impacts on the community, while at the same time the lows have been lower than ever. For all of the positive progress we’ve seen, we’ve also witnessed more negative impacts and undoing of what we’ve all worked for than ever before. The two ends of the spectrum have never felt so far apart.
That range can be narrowed however, and that leads in to what stands out to me as the best part of Driven each season (to bring this post back to the show itself, before we stray too far): it’s the equivalent of a coffee mixed with Red Bull first thing in the morning…whether or not I have personal experience with that is beside the point. We come straight out of a 6-month winter break and are thrust right back into the swing of things with no real warm-up. A strict deadline gets us hustling to finish up what we’re working on, catching up with so many friends in quick succession lifts spirits, and as we walk the venue and find those jaw-dropping vehicles hidden within, inspiration and motivation to do better come flooding back in. I personally typically come into the show a bit burnt out after the preparations but regardless, always walk away with some fresh ideas and an always-in-good-spirits, “well done on your build this season, but how can I one up it with mine next time” attitude. It reminds us why we do this and why so many late nights are spent working in the garage.
That leads me on to my final note of the day though – with all this in mind, will I attend Driven as a participant next year or step back and just be a spectator (most of the fun without any of the stress)? I honestly don’t even know at this point, but that has nothing to do with the show itself. I had said back in our 2019 coverage that it would be my last Driven for a while, but car show withdrawal as well as a new project to show off brought me back earlier than expected in 2021 and when this year’s was announced I figured why not do it again? However, this was the most physically draining prep for a show I’ve ever had even though the work itself wasn’t the most extreme we’ve ever carried out (I hope we never top iMSS ’16 in that regard, but never say never). I recall the times when I could pull 3AM nights for weeks and even months on end without issue but apparently those are well behind me now as my body was done by the time Driven rolled around; friends can surely attest to just how drained I was at some points in the day as my energy would come and go. Haha
Having rested up now (although my garage has yet to recover, I need to get started on that), I’m excited to get through my selection of pictures from the day and start sharing them here. While the event has of course wrapped, revisiting it even just a few days later as I run through the photographs is a bonus hit of motivation and excitement for the season ahead of us. A few photos will inevitably be a reminder that I’m perhaps a bit rusty with the camera after the winter break but again, there’s no real warm-up. Driven thrusts us right back into things.
And I adore it for that.