H2Oi: The Beginning Of The End

Making our way into Ocean City, Maryland last week, we all knew the risks. Being detained, being arrested, having your car impounded – it all comes with the territory when you choose to attend the unofficial party formerly known as H2Oi.

The only thing we didn’t know, was what we could get away with when it came to shooting the ‘event’. There was only one way to find out – holler at Capt. John Ludwick Jr., grab a seat in his 19-foot-long Toyota Century on Air Lift Performance suspension that I road-tripped to the seaside resort town in, and hit the Ocean City strip…

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

How much interest the Ocean City Police Department would have in John’s very long and very low Century was immediately put to test, and the initial result was promising. We made a few laps up and down the strip, and none of the OCPD cruisers we encountered (and there were many), seemed interested in pulling us over. A good result given the stories we’d heard of cars with factory performance options being targeted, let alone those with actual aftermarket modifications.

Maybe it was that the Century looks somewhat OEM (but slammed), or the fact that it would be too big for any of Ocean City’s regular tow trucks to haul off to the impound yard? I like to think it’s the latter.

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

We celebrated with a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts.

They Ain’t Playing
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

The next morning, I didn’t even walk a block before seeing an impound in progress. Within a matter of minutes, a tow truck was on the scene – they were definitely prepared this time around.

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

Before the truck’s wheels had stopped turning, an operator was out and pulling wooden ramps off the deck and onto the ground in front of the Lexus SC. Just as quickly, the car was loaded up.

Similar scenes would play out in front of me many times over the course of the next few days.

The Early Birds
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

One of my favourite reasons for visiting H2Oi is to meet up with old friends and make new ones. It’s a social event above all else, but amidst this pandemic, I tried to keep my group tight and vetted.

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

For much of my time in Ocean City, I hung out with Sam of Schwaa Films. Sam had many plans for his event after-movie, but figured that with the OCPD crackdown in full effect, it was wise to get it done as quickly as possible. Just in case.

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

The last time Sam and I shot H2Oi together, we received moving violation tickets for shooting out of a minivan with its sliding door slightly open. As we both had our seatbelts on I don’t believe we were breaking any laws, but the OCPD essentially told us ‘tough luck,; come down and fight it in a couple of months.’

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

This time around Sam wasn’t taking any chances, and the solution came in the form of a simple homemade mounting system and gimbal that attached to the tow hitch and a custom front bumper mount.

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

After knocking out some rollers, it was time to shoot a few features and prep for the night ahead. But first, a proposal…

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

A few months prior to H2Oi, a guy named Scott reached out to John and asked if he could propose to his girlfriend, Kylie, while they were taking some photos of the Century – her dream car. After what felt like an eternity of taking photos around the car and talking about it, Scott got down on one knee and popped the question. Kylie said yes!

Cue The Music
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

Thinking back to previous Thursday nights at H2Oi, it used to be quite relaxed with a low-key police presence. Those days are definitely gone now.

The Ocean City Police Department were out in full force with a plan to shut down anything and everything H2Oi related. But the OCPD and tow truck drivers weren’t the only ones slated to make money this year…

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

Local attorneys were posting advice, hosting Q&A sessions, and most importantly – offering their professional services via numerous ‘H2Oi’ Facebook groups.

And you best believe it didn’t take long for their phones to start ringing…

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523
H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

A short cruise down the strip revealed what we had suspected – any car that looked slightly modified was ripe for impounding, and their occupants, ticketed or arrested. And the event hadn’t even really begun yet.

This Is America
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

Friday kicked off with one of the most American things you could imagine – donuts for breakfast at one of the most famous joints in Ocean City – The Fractured Prune (an odd name for donut shop, I know). Parked outside, John’s Century was attracting plenty of attention as usual.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

After a bit of chit-chat and a few too many sweet fried dough rings, there was a long list of features calling my name (lookout for these in the coming weeks) before sunset and chaos erupted.

The Beginning Of The End
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

As day turned to night, John had found himself back in the driver’s seat of his classic Ford Dually. With the strip relatively quiet, we made haste with a few ‘Murica-spec rollers before heading into what was soon to be a war zone.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

One of the hardest things to capture in photos on the ground at H2Oi, is the sheer volume of traffic, something that makes it really hard to get places. For those who don’t know, the Ocean City strip is reasonably long with more than 100 blocks. Sam and I started our walk from the 72nd block, our destination being the 56th and 30th blocks where most of the madness goes down.

It soon became obvious that OCPD’s plan was to shutdown the strip – or at least one side of it – which created a massive traffic jam.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

With the OCPD having slowed down the traffic light phases and with cars backed up in all directions, the drive from 100th to 56th street was an almost two-hour jaunt. But when you made it there, you were sent out of Ocean City over the bridge (which was also backed up), around the island and back up over the southern bridge – a journey that was reputed to take four hours all told.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

Boredom obviously set in for many who were stuck in traffic and not going anywhere. Burnouts and fireworks seemed to be quite popular distractions.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

Getting closer to the closed lanes gave us a better taste of what the general public thought of the lane closures. Here’s a hint: they hated it.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

On top of this, the OCPD appeared to be using some type of mobile surveillance camera, set up on the back of an unmarked truck. No one official I talked to could tell me what exactly it was being used for, however there were rumours that it was recording license plates, while others said it capturing faces. Perhaps it was just monitoring what was going on, although there are plenty of traffic cameras around Ocean City for that.

Friends In High Places
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

Many H2Oi attendees were making lemonade with the lemons they were handed, which meant mostly hanging out on the side of the strip waiting for action.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

However, as soon as the OCPD caught wind of any gathering, they stepped in with a rookie and a side-by-side with a tank and pressure washer strapped to it. What was sprayed had a truly awful smell that left some people physically throwing up. Who knows what it was…

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

If the smell wasn’t bad enough, the police hadn’t stopped impounding and ticketing anything that caught their attention.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

Trucks, motorcycles, and even a cyclist were all targeted. And yes, that garden tractor has a matching ‘Carolina Squat’.

H2OI Day Three - Speedhunters - 23 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt-0523

As the night went on, tensions between attendees and the police only continued to build, and it was only a matter of time before all hell broke loose.

A Sign Of Things To Come
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

Despite the heavy police and state trooper presence, the shenanigans continued. In fact, I think the heavy-handed response only encouraged people to misbehave.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

At one point, police, fire trucks and ambulances all converged on one block for an unknown but obviously quite serious incident.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

With the OCPD blocking off most of the strip and now stopping all foot traffic, we ended up meeting a few new friends, including Austin who invited us up to his balcony for some snacks and a new view on the strip and the commotion below.

H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt
H2OI Day 4 - Speedhunters - 25 - 9 - 2020 - Keiron Berndt

And this is where our Friday night in Ocean City ended. After walking over 16 kilometers and seeing our fair share of automotive mischief, we decided to call it a night and save any remaining energy for what Saturday could offer…

Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt



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now imagine old crown vics slammed


No offense, but i always found large meets to be super lame. Even when I started to attend meets at 18, i quickly realized i preferred small meets of 2-8 cars because they were more intimate and controlled. We could chat, than go do some runs and come back and gain no attention since we were always smart about it. With big meets, there is just way to much random cars doing stupid crap and attracting the cops. Or people trying to prove that they are the best. So I could care less if these huge meets come to an end. Sooner or later they all will.....but sucks for those who enjoy them.


Not to mention that most of the people that attend H20i are 18 themselves. It kinda sucks to see car culture turned into a joke by a bunch of kids wearing supreme shirts doing burnouts in a a slammed (nameless car). H20i isn't a car meet, its an Instagram convention


I agree. to me, meets shouldn't feel like a convention.


No masks at all? Seriously? I expected better from hooligans flouting the law...


Masks make you unsafe. They provide no health benefit to the wearer- quite the opposite. But you knew that posting.
They encourage you to touch your face, putting you at risk. But you knew that posting.
They create false security so actual efforts to reduce transmission of a flu are ignored. But you knew that posting.
So why did you post?




That white on white LS400 is mint!!!!



I lived in Maryland for 17 years. Been into cars my whole life. Been a German car "fanatic" over 20 years. Never went to O.C. one time. Knew about H2O for a long time 'cause NGP built my motor. My buddy went and sent me some pics. There were some serious cars there. GTRs. Ferraris. Audi. Bimmers. The police can't stop people from driving on public streets UNLESS your car is in violation of vehicle laws. But if you act like an ahole, drive like an idiot, what do you expect? A few morons ALWAYS ruin it for the rest. Love the pics! I wish I was in San Diego right now!


Sorry, but this can't go unsaid, and highlights the entire problem with H2Oi now. I'm sure the author and photographer meant well with their "coverage", but H2Oi was always a "water-cooled" VW show; that's where the name came from. NONE of that is referenced here for context. No mention that the actual car show was cancelled due to covid-19. You show "maybe" 3 photos that include even the slightest shot of any VW's at all. The last year I attended was 2012 specifically because the event was getting OVERRUN by people from other enthusiast brands, and that is further evidenced here. Even though some of the VW and Audi owners participated in their own tomfoolery way back when, the actual event organizers had a pretty amicable relationship with the city, but that all changed when owners of other cars started showing up. Anyone recall the MK4 Supra slamming into the side of a hotel? I'm giving no free passes to VW and Audi owners, but this article highlights the exact reason many consider H2Oi to be a joke now. A good thing was ruined by outsiders. I have been a diehard SpeedHunters reader since the beginning, and I'm glad some JDM owners got to meet up with "old friends" but that's not what this event was ever supposed to be.


It's almost like we've done precursor coverage talking about the show and what it once was and the history behind it. Huh, strange.


An unnecessarily sarcastic quip, that only makes one look unprofessional.


Not at all. It was a correction to you who came here to trash the article. You seem to have missed learning from being corrected.


I think it's you, who needs to understand what you read. The comment I was refering to, wasn't meant for me.


And then glorify those who ruined it... Hmm... Even more strange!


Mate, even at Wörthersee the true "GTI-Treffen" is not what's considered the main event anymore. "The week before" is getting bigger than the Treffen itself.
No Vag-only mentality, just people and their (lowered) cars.

Just because an event has their history in one thing, shouldn't mean we have to oppose the other.


The funny thing is, I actually saw this bmw at a WAWA's in cambridge. Small world lmao


The funny thing is, I saw this bmw at a WAWA in Cambridge. Small world lmao


H2Oi? Didn't know what that was till a fall family vacation. First instinct triggered how pissed I was that Maryland fails Concealed Carry reciprocity!
After a walk to a restaurant, talking to people about what the heck it was about, ant joking with people about how "you dont want to mess with Grandma cause she drives a SATURN and would blow you away!" I changed my perspective. These young people put a lot of time, and cash into their vehicles. They admire the work of others, and generally have a good time.
The Group should crush those who cause destruction, block streets, and those like the idiot who threw something at cops!
On the other hand police AND THE CITY should embrace this. Set up a burnout zone for those who wish to Video, and photo.. ur own risk! Yeah it is not the normal car show, but is anything "normal in this world anymore?
This can be a total win for all with mutual respect, and consideration.


As a resident of ocean city, I wish to share a few things. First, there will never be a time that resort/town officials authorize a burn out pit or anything else illegal. Maryland law forbids it. Second, many have suggested the event be held at Dover downs or delmar race tracks (or both) - terrific, what insurance company would write the insurance rider? Third, this is in n way a car show, but rather, a show off show and has devolved into anarchy. My suggestion would be for this crowd to declare victory and then immediately find another venue. To support this, did anyone know that the largest Facebook group for H2oi has seen a complete turnover of ALL of the moderators? This is because they were all CHARGED by law enforcement, and they have lawyered up. Expect a curfew next year. H2oi in ocean city is history.


There's no money to be made in them working with the enthusiasts who come to this... For the police, this is just a free money grab.


Good riddance. A pointless waged war on a community. It's not even about the police, it's about those that live there, work there and travel.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes


Sucks that there are stupid people out there who do stupid things only to ruin the fun for everyone


This event was completely out of control. We were in OceanCity for a much needed family vacation. I’m an essential employee that has been working in healthcare. We had paid for this vacation in January 2020 before anyone had even heard of Covid 19. Even though Bike Week had been cancelled they came anyway. The first night was sleepless listening to one revving engine after another. We then spent a relatively quiet 4 days until H20i. Then traffic was completely insane. The noise, the sirens. The yelling, and screaming bad language etc. Not what you want to hear with a 3 year old in tow. Hoping we never have to experience this idiocy again. There are so many wide open places in America. I think going to Ocean City which is extremely enclosed is used to create as much disturbance as possible. I’m all for fun, but there should also be respect. From what I saw there was absolutely no respect for anything or anyone. Trying to leave Ocean City was a nightmare revving cars and backfires a Five hour drive home took a nightmarish 8 hours.

Keaton Belliston

I’m sure this’ll be an unpopular opinion, but H20i looks like a celebration of all of the worst aspects of car shows.

You got burnouts, drunks, people intentionally breaking laws to see what they can get away with, as well as incredibly overbearing police presence.

And the cherry on top? No social distancing, no masks, no precautions, and a complete Anna willful ignorance of the fact that the event was canceled because of the worldwide pandemic.

As far as I care, H20i may as well be the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally of the automotive world.


Not necessarily an unpopular opinion, but probably the opinion of someone who has matured more than others.


Nailed it dude.


We have been taking annual trips to this area for years now. Enjoying Assauteage, Berlin, OC and West OC restaurants. But this year was the last for us. Too much rowdy and unlawful behaviour. And our 4 hr. ride back home only reinforced our resolve to never return. The "tuners" had the highways jammed for hours beyond OC. We were towing a 39 ft 5th wheel camper and some of these idiots cut us off regularly as if we could stop on a dime. The worst incident was at the Delaware Memorial Bridge that had one kane blocked for construction. Most drivers ( except the tuners) were moving in a fairly courteous and common sense manner. But before crossing the bridge I could hear traffic cones being run over. Looking at my passenger side mirror I sawa white Bimmer plowing through a row of cones one after another to try and pass me on the right in a construction zone. The ditzy girl behind the wheel reached an area where she was met with larger traffic control barrels and unwilling to run them down too (I'm surprised) she decided to play chicken with the right front fender of my truck. I laid on the horn but the priviledged little snot was undeterred and I had to brake or I would
sustained damage to my truck on a bridge approach. That's the type of people that have ruined your event and drive tourists away.


For a brief moment, I thought Speedhunters was featuring Tow Trucks, instead of unique, hot cars. This article contains more tow-trucks pix that all Speedhunters articles in a year.

Anyway, keep the mask on, and keep social distancing, guys.
No point driving around the hottest car if you're down with COVID19.


Covid is a hoax. Question wherever you are getting your narrative, b/c you are being lied to on a scale you seem unable to understand. And do NOT wear a mask.


So this is what speedhunters is now? Just change the name to clickbait wannabe jail fodder.
How about a few cars or an event that had some craftsmanship to it? Meh, the photos sucked, the cars are all lame hasbeens or neverbeens, and a speedhunter can actually hunt something other than some losers that don't know how to have fun. You know, fun? Because we all know how much we love pics of a traffic jam that couldn't even start a riot with all the fireworks or (you call those burnouts?) tire wasting. Congrats to the new bride, low gal likes low cars, makes sense lol


this looks like the usual cops vs antifa only twisted metal remix


I heard there was a...physical altercation at some point. Nevertheless, given all of 2020 as a backdrop, everything wrong with unofficial H2Oi was entirely predictable. But car culture is nothing if not stubborn.

Punxsutawney Phil



These people feel the need to go completely batsh*t...THEN you’ve got all the cops with (fill in the blank) _____________complexes totally overreacting. It’s just a mess.

Yet, nothing ever changes.

Every car-related trend or event in this country is just a ticking time bomb to being criminalized.


...........am I missing some context here or is that shot from True Lies just totally random?


"The Beginning Of The End" of what? What is the point of this article?

You deliberately went there to antagonize the police, and now you revel in the aftermath. Juvenile behavior, combined with amateurish journalism equals nothing positive for car culture in general.


I love all the hand wringing and virtue signaling, please post more of these articles


I don't get it. As a European, even I knew H2Oi this year would be relentless on any modified vehicle. Why even risk going there? I get it if you want to meet with fellow enthusiasts, but why still in Ocean City?
Reading this story, it seems like people just come to make a scene and want to trash the town. Honestly, I totally get the police. Shut it down, hard. So they won't return in 2021. Make it horrible for them so the annual madness ends as soon as possible.
All in all, this seems to be an out-of-control meeting by the worst car society has to offer, with every year getting worse and worse. And that's by viewing video and photos year after year and the yearly Speedhunters stories. If I would live there, I knew when I would have my holiday planned. During H2Oi so I would be out of town for the entire week.
These kinds of meetings make the lives of other enthusiasts more and more difficult since the bad scenarios outweigh the good. People mostly remember bad things...


insane article,i really loved it.I got kawaii eyes on da red rx7

The Frothy Coffee

Not sure that publicising a event with a bad reputation and obvious flouting of the COVID rules is a good image to portray here......


Imagine having a yearly boost to your economy. But the boost comes through tickets. People should boycott Ocean City


Why even go through the effort of writing this article? Why even go to this "show", that has been absolute chaos for years, in the middle of a pandemic? OC doesn't want this to continue, yet people still show up for the sole purpose of causing trouble. How about we DON'T give these idiots the attention that they're seeking?


Do you ever watch the news? Should they not cover subjects that you disagree with because it gives "idiots" attention?


The beginning of a welcome end to whatever the hell this shit show.

Daniel P Huneault

need more pics of that red FD!!!


IF you are from outside the USA and wonder why our COVID numbers are so bad, this article pretty much sums it up in photo form. Almost every one. Unbelievable, but not surprising sadly...


God Bless OCPD :-)
Never worried about members of illegal meetings, and races - no matter how many Toyotas are wound on poles, the main thing that random people do not suffer from "skills" of illegal drivers.


Picture 70 accurately describes seeing that century in person


Ayy thats me on the grom


Why you continue to give this shit-show any sort of attention is beyond me.


There's a pandemic going on and people shouldn't be gathering in such large groups, yet, here they are. The police were discouraging their efforts, yet some just made it worse. I'll agree with those who mention that this used to be a VW event. The cover shot is a Mustang going burnouts: the ultimate car meet stereotype. I'll also agree with others who have commented on car meets: that smaller is better. While yes, there are older guys driving like fools, you see an awful lot of younger crowd doing it. They've turned into more of a social media urinating contest than anything else. Too many wanna be tough guys looking to start something. Can't recall how many times I've seen guys run their girlfriends into other guys looking for a fight. Real nice. Car culture isn't what it used to be.


This is truly the end of Speedhunters. What an absolutely senseless approach, childish pursuit, and sorry excuse for "coverage". The snarky, defensive, sarcastic responses in the comment section from the author really seal the deal. I don't even have words for how low the bar has fallen here, nor can I even express how embarrassed I am to associate myself with automotives reading this tripe.


It is unfathomable how moronic this crap is.

The town made it quite clear years ago that is doesn't want this in their city.

Everyone that goes to this is an embarrassment to the automotive community and is playing an active part in it's destruction.

It is just a shame the dingleberries are too self-absorbed in garnering 30 seconds of social media fame to realize the negative impact they are having on the community - both automotive and the people who live/work in that city.

Too bad they don't impound and take possession of the cars that show up and auction them off to owners that actually contribute to the community, instead of try to destroy it's image over childish, immature, and stupid reason.

Speedhunters should not cover this crap as it only adds to the allure of fame-seeking dumbasses.


Eroding car culture with idiocy. Ocean City has made it clear they're not wanted, but they do it anyway for "clout." They purpose show up just to aggravate the local community & law enforcement but then want to cry when they get ticketed, arrested and have their cars impounded. And top it off with zero regard for health/safety during a pandemic, the level of stupid is phenomenal.


H20i has been a mess for years. This year (and presumably the next) are the culmination of years of bullshit. I love car culture, I love doing dumb shit. Doing dumb shit en masse however is dumb, especially in a pandemic situation.


Hey that's cool, that proposal photo says DEAD END and has a DUMPSTER in the background. Way to frame the photo. I'm sure she'll be excited to see that!