Hold The Water, Ocean City Has Enough

Ocean City, Maryland is an American coastal town that’s not all that different from others across the United States.

It’s a bit of a tourist trap where the stair runners are slightly worn, and the beaches sit somewhere on the scale below spectacular but above subpar. The local haunts have character, the food likens to home cooking, and the drinks flow cold and steady.

But what Ocean City may lack in uniqueness it makes up for in location; it’s not too far of a vacation destination for much of the United States and neighboring Canada. It’s also got a nine-mile stretch of road that’s perfect for cruising. These two details make Ocean City a popular venue for concerts, beer festivals, boat shows, marathons and more.

Ocean City also hosts a few car events every year, most of which are welcomed with open arms. One event that’s welcomed not with discount rates, but warning citations and complimentary tips to the drunk tank is, or more accurately was, H2Oi.

Keiron Berndt - H2oi - Overall Pics - Speedhunters-8501

Before 2017, H2Oi took place in Whaleyville, a town about half an hour outside of Ocean City. As a show, H2Oi has always catered strictly to Volkswagen Auto Group (VAG) vehicles, and it’s well known among the modified European car community as one of the best of its kind. To this day, top honors at H2Oi are hard to earn and highly coveted.

Ocean City, being the closest town, is where most people would hang their hat for the weekend.

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As the years went on, and the show grew so did the number of people staying in Ocean City for H2Oi. Friends came to support friends, and often those friends drove cars outside of the VAG umbrella. The outcasts began to hold their own meets during the off hours of the show, and fairly quickly the casual gatherings on the strip began to overshadow the actual show.

From about 2010 on, it wasn’t at all uncommon for people to head to Ocean City in the last weekend of September with absolutely no intention of attending H2Oi.

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Each calendar year the strip festivities continued to grow. At its peak, the nine-mile drive across Coastal Highway could take upwards of an hour due to the sheer volume of cars traveling this way and that.

The Great Divide
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In 2016, after earning the unofficial title of The Most Ticketed Car Show In America, H2Oi organizers were put in a difficult position. They were left holding the proverbial bag for a community beyond their control, and in 2017 H2Oi was cancelled.

Unsurprisingly, people went to Ocean City regardless.

Early this year, H2Oi event organizers announced the show would return, just not to Ocean City. Collectively, the community that went for the strip, not the show, laughed at the idea of moving out of Ocean City. At this point it was quite clear, the H2Oi had nothing to do with OCMD.

Long Live The Strip
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If you’ve been following Keiron’s trip with MustangKyle, both here and on Instagram, then you already know that Ocean City was far from quiet this year. The official show was replaced by both pre-planned and impromptu events held in parking lots across the strip. While some property owners don’t want anything to do with the ‘OCMD’ crowd, many have embraced the fact that for better or worse the crowd is here to stay.

Keiron Berndt - H2oi - Overall Pics - Speedhunters-9693

Running now under a mind of its own, it will be interesting to see how the event evolves in the years to come. Particularly who will be held as the scapegoat when things go wrong.

What Happens Next?

If 2018 proved anything in terms of OCMD, it’s that neither side is backing down. The risk of infringement notices and impound ever present, people made the trip anyway. Some even trailered their cars just in case they blew through their allocated ticket budget for the week/weekend.

Keiron Berndt - H2oi - Overall Pics - Speedhunters-8390

Personally, the last time I went to Ocean City was in 2014. I stayed on the strip and went to the show. I had a great time at both, however I’ve yet to go back. The increased police presence quite honestly rubs me the wrong way, especially because much of the same automotive shenanigans goes un-ticketed the week following. If I’m going to spend my hard-earned cash, it’s going to at least be somewhere with consistent adherence to the law book.

I’m also totally willing to admit I may have aged out of the H2Oi crowd. With each passing year, witnessing drunken debauchery among a large crowd loses more and more of its luster. Grumpy old man perhaps, but these Crocs and socks sure do feel good.


However, in a bit of hypocrisy I found myself following the event on social media the entire week. Pangs of jealousy hit when I caught an Instagram story of a relaxed night outside a restaurant where friends brought together by a love of cars casually caught up away from the chaos.

The same can be said when my interest was piqued by some of the more unique cars that somehow managed to fly under the radar of the local law enforcement. It’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out trapped behind a desk.

This leaves me a bit at odds for the whole ordeal: Is it good for the community? Is it good for the culture at large? Does it matter? The answers to these questions vary greatly from person to person. For me, I hear Michigan’s Woodward Avenue offers the variety I seek without the debauchery and the tickets, so I might check that out instead. For others, however, Ocean City is simply irreplaceable.

Keiron Berndt - H2oi - Overall Pics - Speedhunters-8513

What side of the coin favors you best? Is OCMD/H2Oi/H2No something you want to visit, or continue to patron?

Or is it just another example of an event ruined by those damn millennials with flat bills and stretched tires?

Dave Thomas
Instagram: stanceiseverythingcom

Photographed by Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt

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I have a very good friend that lives in Berlin..a town very close to OC.. We spoke about the car show the other day and his take is firstly that OC is like La Jolla San Diego on steroids. The locals don't like to be bothered by too much..The local businesses don't like the fact that the visitors dont spend money in their businesses on top of the fact that some can be, dare I say, "rude". The locals complained to the city and the city lowered to speed limit from 40 to 30 MPH.. Its way to easy to exceed that! And so there you have it. Just this last week was a gathering of older Tommy Bahama wearing boomers that spend lots of dosh on booze and consume lots of food at local restaurants and are very welcome by the local fuzz...


I can definitely say that I spent upwards of $200 at local businesses while I was in town. I also spoke to many local restaurant managers and they actually like the event due to the revenue generated and I quote "I love the show, it isn't my cup of tea but it is by far my busiest weekend of the year".


I used to be ribbed about being a grumpy old man in my teens. Drunkenness is straight up irritating to me. I prefer sandals over crocks and socks though.


I'm a local. I love this show and really look forward to it every year. Cops are begging for respect, but then let their horses shit all over the sidewalks. They wouldn't dare do that in season. I'd take an H20 show over Senior weekers, every single day. I never found an H20 kid shitting in my back yard or having sex on my deck.


It's nice to hear a local perspective. I wasn't really able to get that when I went cause everyone I met was from out of town.

Have you ever been to any of the other car events that pass through. How are they in comparison?


I really have to wonder about this whole post, since this kind of thing (cars/young people. cops, local business distaste) has been going on FOREVER. Yeah, a lot of rules that used to keep those people (cops/businesses) happier have been relaxed or ignored, but it is not like you CAN'T get ticketed for anything an officer's current disposition towards you merits...whether legal or not.
I used to "cruise the loop", a local thing in those days, when I was a kid and every time out there were dozens of tickets given, and constant Po-Po surveillance and harassment. Hell, even the last cruise I went on about 10 years ago ended up with cops hasselling one of our younger guys who had somehow not gotten his plates up to snuff (front tab not displayed) and the cop wrote him up HARD even though he had the paperwork, with all of us watching.
It's a game that will never end, and egging them on with cars like MustangKyle's definitely is what they are looking (and hoping) for.


The white M3 on slicks in the wanted list is jordan @RKTUNES 1000+hp F80


Spent a short time with Jordan, that man is nuts!


I think that people used to go to these shows for the cars and to interact with other gearheads, but now its for attention. When people are desperate for attention they will do stupid things. That is the biggest difference between older generations and this new one. When I was young and dumb we at least knew enough to go outside the city limits and find areas without civilians to do stupid things. These days they take pride in driving like idiots with as many witnesses as possible. Somebody that wants nothing to do with the show will end up injured or killed.


Every generation has its jackasses.


yup, and these are far more prevalent and dangerous, hence the city attempting to ban that particular group.


Dave, great words! I think any car show has the potential to attract the cops, but they tend to focus on the ones that are higher risk of property damaging incidents. Wasn't there a mustang that flipped this year?

On top of that it is much easier to target the younger crowd as they are more likely to make bad decisions and less likely to fight said tickets. It also looks better to residents who are in the older crowd as they are usually the ones who vote as well.

"good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions" - i have no clue who said it.


A Shelby did indeed flip this year:



I wonder how long people will still show up to OC though the show has been moved to Atlantic city




I went to a local food spot and while I was sitting employees were talking about how they police chased everyone out of their parking lot. The then added that the remaining cars were getting towed off the lot. I went outside and there was a tow truck backing up to my car to tow it away. Had another issue that same day a local called the police because I was washing my car in the parking area of the condo I was staying in for the weekend. I was greatly disappointed in how the locals treat the event.


I was in dough roller when exactly the same thing happened to me!


Sounds like Pigeon Forge in the late 90's and early 2000's . We use to drag frames up and down the strip. The cops shut that down too. It was alot of fun, until it wasn't


I will start by saying this: I have never been to this event and I have the utmost respect for the law enforcement. However, it seems like this all could have been avoided. It seems like the city and law enforcement have always been 100% against this show. Maybe if they would have been willing to work with the show organizers to control and manage the chaos, it wouldn't have come to this. (Maybe they did try and it didn't work, i don't know). This is kind of the result of the phrase "when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force". I think it's a big opportunity for the city to generate lots of revenue not in the form of tickets/arrests.


They absolutely did try to work with the organizers for the longest time. I have been attending H2Oi in OC for the last 10 years until they stopped having the show in/around OC and things got way out of hand. The VW/Audi (german) cars became the minority...I understand we all have our own taste but I honestly feel that everyone else ruined it for the guys that were actually there for a show...then the shenanigans started, then the cops were disregarded and almost over run. Its nothing that the cops did, the spectators let it get to this point, there is no one else to blame. The cops just stepped it up a notch, because the spectators did...then everyone got butt hurt and wonders why lol


People I talked to seemed shocked I even went to the show when I did. The strip certainly attracted more people than the show in the later years.

Now with no official organization body to work with I feel like things are going to get way worse before they are better.

Immovable object, unstoppable force analogy works well.


I think we should ban drinking and dancing next.


I really appreciate this article and appreciate you guys differentiating what happens in OC is no longer part of H2Oi. I really do miss cruising the strip with all of my friends over the last 10 years but it got out of hand..I was in AC this year and for anyone that misses how it use to be (at the downs) this is where you need to be next year. The atmosphere is so much better, its laid out in a 8 story parking garage (watch wuste videos if you want a reference) with a beautiful hotel to stay in, all centralized in one spot so you can drink and hang out with your friends...I will continue to be in AC unless somehow OC accepts us back...chill times are always better than chaos in my books.


Long live the Strip.
Long live the Strip.




But h2oi is at an entirely different strip now.

If it was h2oi forever people would have gone to Atlantic city.


Or is it just another example of an event ruined by those damn millennials with flat bills and stretched tires? Seriously ? I thought speedhunters is about accepting every build ? that was mentioned in speedhunters live.


Hmmm, if you can't tell that was definitely in jest, perhaps the internet isn't for you. Aren't millennials triggered easily too? Just sayin'...


I interpreted it as being tongue in cheek. FWIW, each of the Speedhunters are their own people and are perfectly entitled to share their own opinion and our opinions are all quite different for the most part.


Same can't be said for the users who are attacked by mods here. Mob mentality is dangerous...


Can you please point out the instances of mods attacking users?


That bit was in jest.


I feel like there are a lot of people that can relate to this article. Two cities that I have lived in used to have meets where it was a collective group of automotive enthusiasts who were respectful to the law and property owners where gatherings happened. All it takes is one bad apple to ruin things for everybody. In this day of social media, I feel like a lot of people glorify public street drifting, burnouts, getting tickets/impounded in order to gain more attention, likes and followers. A lot of other people seem to just gather at a friends house to wrench and hang out or to go on a small cruise. It sucks because the actions of a small part of the community make the entire community look bad


ok thanks for clearing it. I just got it wrong after reading the speedhunters live then seeing it.


As much as i like to recommend people come and visit, as a local to Michigan, i can assure you the Woodward dream cruise offers nothing like the level of variety that most of these other congregations offer. You may get a few unique rides but there isnt a whole lot of variety outside of the domestic scene, but if american cars are youre thing there are tons of them, both good and bad haha.

also if you do come just stay out of Royal Oak, its a legal cesspool just like OC