Daytona Beach, Fla. - Traffic and decibel levels picked up here at the 24th annual Spring Break Nationals, where attendance grew to more than 14,000, the number of supplier and retailer booths grew to 50 from 30, and two world records were broken in an IASCA dBL competition.
Traffic at the consumer/trade event "is starting to ramp up in a big way," said Harman Consumer's Christopher Dragon, whose JBL brand exhibited at the March 13-14 event at the Ocean Center convention center. "We saw an increase in consumers looking for ways to make their cars sound better and not just checking out the cars.
Event producer Paul Papadeas said, "We had a significant increase in trade exhibitors and regional dealer participation this year." These companies "realize the importance of exposing their brands to stimulated consumers," he said.
Exhibiting manufacturers new to the event included AVI Electronics, Rainbow, VMAX, and Addictive Audio. They were joined by returning exhibitors Sony, JVC, Orion, Polk Audio, Crossfire, Audiopipe, American Bass and Beyma, who Papadeas said did not participate during the years in which the Ocean Center was undergoing construction and expansion.
The event featured custom show cars from Florida car audio dealers, including a dealer from Puerto Rico who shipped two vehicles through U.S. Customs, and more celebrities.
Celebrities included Funkmaster Flex and his stage show featuring emcee Ray DeJean and artists Trina, DJ Khaled and Dorrough performing to the audience. TV's Will Castro of "Unique Autosports" showed customized vehicles in the JL Audio Booth and signed autographs.
Other events included bikini contests, Papa John's pizza-eating contests, and car audio prize giveaways by Lars of Mars and DJ Billy E, who spun some of his newly released bass beats.
The IASCA, MECA and dB drag racing competitions attracted about 400 competitors, with two world records broken in IASCA's IdBL competition. One contestant hit 155.5dB in the Stock 1 class, and another hit 182.4dB in the Ultimate 2 class.
On Saturday night, a block party and concert were held.
For next year's silver-anniversary Spring Break Nationals, Papadeas will expand the event to three days, March 19-21, to accommodate a trade-only day on Monday following two weekend days of mixed consumer and trade traffic.
Papadeas promised a "well-focused 12-volt trade event, affordable for Eastern region 12-volt dealers" now that the Ocean Center has been expanded. "This has been a dream of mine for well over a decade that couldn't come true until the venue could accommodate it."
Last year, the Ocean Center expanded by adding 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and 23 dedicated breakout rooms to its 60,000-square-foot arena.