Last year our team made a little road trip up to the Bay Area. It was the first time that we were going to do an event on the road and one completely out of our area. While we have done a lot of shows down here in Southern California, we had been wondering what it was going to be like up there. It’s a bit of an undertaking to make a trip our to an area that we had never been to, so, we took a leap of faith and made the long trek up there. The show was Hot Import Nights, and was one we were pretty familiar with. Every show we had worked with those guys had turned out awesome, and they have been so helpful to my team and I that we knew when we decided to go up that way that we would be in good hands. As it turned out, that show ended up being one of the funnest experiences that we would ever have. It was an all new area for us, and we really wanted to see how they partied up in the Bay. I had no doubt in my mind that it was going to be fun, but I never expected that the experiences that we had on that weekend over a year ago would carry over to the next show a year later.
A few years ago I had the chance to go to Hot Import Nights in the Bay Area. The show took place in a town called Pleasanton, and as far as I can remember, it was the first and only show that they ever did there. A buddy of mine and I made the trip out there to see what it would be like compared to the shows we were doing down here (in SoCal). I knew at the time that HIN (Hot Import Nights) always knew how to throw a party, but, I didn’t know how it would be up there. By the time we got there we knew we were going to be in for a treat. There were a ton of people, cars, models and even some big name acts. It was freaking nuts, and proved to me that anytime HIN had an event, that you were sure to have fun at it. But, that was 2009, and as crazy as it seems, I had never been back to any shows up there since. I was thinking that things may have changed a lot since then, or, that since this show was going to be in San Jose and not Pleasanton that things might be a little different. So, when we decided to head that way and set up shop, we went in with little idea as to what we were going to see.
All of our worries went right out the window once we got to the show. If you have read our article from the show in San Jose, then you know that the show was a load of fun and one that we will never forget (read that article here ). One of the things that I most remember (and cherish) were the new friends we made at the show. When we were a the show last year our booth happened to be next to two motorcycles and a few people manning the booth there. One of the people at the booth was someone that was pretty hard to ignore, especially when we found out who she was. The person there was a gorgeous girl named Lupe and one of those motorcycles was hers. Lupe is an advanced motorcycle rider who not only owns and rides her bike, but, she tracks it and is pretty damned good at it as well. At HIN her and her friend were there showing off their bikes and were also repping a company named Wrench Works. We knew when we saw her that we just had to go talk to her and find out more about her. I was really impressed when I saw some of the photos that they had on display were of her zooming around Laguna Seca and a few other tracks. It was awesome and from that day forward we kept in contact throughout the year. It also helped seeing her on our Instagram feed (of which I recommend everyone follow) and seeing her adventures in the moto world and being beautiful.
We also had a chance encounter with a guy and girl before that show had even kicked off. I remember waiting for our team members to arrive and we had about an hour before the show was about to begin. It was in during that downtime that a pair of show go-ers came up to our booth. They told me a story about their friend that was a car enthusiast and driver who was working on building a track car. They gave me a spec sheet with some of the mods that had been done to their friends’ car and what they were planning on doing in the near future. I have always been a fan of people turning their own wrenches (when it comes to doing their own maintenance and performance mods) and especially this time around knowing that this person was also tracking their car. Sadly the owner of the car and the friend that they were there to promote wasn’t there that day, but, I never did forget the conversation we had. Not long after the show I ended up looking up Suzy (who is the driver that I am talking about) online and kept in contact with her. I think even if I hadn’t been introduced to who she was I would have been interested in following her pages. I loved seeing her dedication to her craft and how intricate her build was becoming. It was awesome, and I was a fan from the get go. You don’t see too many female drivers on the track (a trend I think should be changed), and I was intrigued to see where her enthusiasm was taking her.
It was these two chance encounters from last year that would carry over to the San Jose 2017 show. We are very fortunate that we get to do shows, and even more fortunate that we get to work with the folks at HIN. This would be the case once again when our team would make the trip to the Bay and once again take part in the show that we had been to a year before. We were so excited for this show that we were planning for it months in advance. This time we would be going up with a few more team members and we would also know what to expect at the show. It was always going to be a party (and especially when our team is partying together), but doing it on the road and with our friends from last year it was going to be epic. Yup, you read that right, Suzy and Lupe joined us for this show and we couldn’t contain our excitement. After a year of talking and communicating, both of them came out to HIN and set up shop right next to us. Man, oh man, I thought that they were awesome before, and I couldn’t have predicted that they would be even more of a joy to be around the next time around.
This show started out with us leaving up to the Bay on Friday afternoon. Five of us would be making the trip to HIN this time around. That included Brandon “Gee”, Brandon “B” and our two newest members Teresa, Kena and myself (and in the background our sponsor 360 Products, of whom we cannot thank enough for their constant love and support). Our trip started out crazy (with me having to work that day and with everyone converging from different places to my house) and could be a whole story unto itself. Maybe one day we’ll go over that, but, I’ll have to save that for my memoirs in the future (haha). Let’s just say we hit a lot of traffic, and a drive that should have taken us a little while to do, ended up taking us a lot longer. We arrived at our hotel around 2am, and were a little worried about the next day. Thankfully, this is Hot Import Nights that we were going to, and unlike most morning car shows (which are really hard to do for me), we had a little extra time to get ready in the morning and prep for the show. You would think we would be a little groggy from that long drive, but, that wasn’t even close to the case. Being around our team, I am always amped up, and knowing that we would spend the day together at a show is something that we had been looking forward to. You have to understand that we all come from completely different counties and areas, and so, for us just to be together is always a huge undertaking. That was especially the case this time around, because we were nearly four hundred miles away from home. We don’t go that way very often so it was exciting for us to be in a new place.
That morning we had a simple breakfast at Micky D’s (not a gourmet breakfast by any means, but, when you want something quick and simple, and it’s next to your hotel, why the hell not) and took the fifteen-minute drive south to the Santa Clara Fairgrounds. We expected the scene to be crazy, as it normally is at most shows and were anticipating a barrage of cars and people. I don’t know what it is about this show in San Jose, but, the last time we showed up to it, it was something that we did not expect. Unlike pretty much every show we go to the roll-in was smoother than a babies bottom. I mean, it feels so weird to get there at the time of check-in and see tons of cars and people, but, everything goes really smooth. All of the vendors are able to get to their spots quickly and within a reasonable amount of time, and all of the show cars get to where they need to go with little to know fuss. I can only speak for us, but, when you see everything going smooth, and no one stressing out over getting to where they need to, it’s incredible. That is great for us to, because I always like to do a quick walk-around prior to the show to see some of the cars that are there. That makes it easy to shoot also when you have some room to move around in.
We were excited from the moment we got there, because at the near moment of us getting inside the show, Suzy had showed up. She had arrived with a truck and her car on a trailer. When she pulled up, I remember seeing a huge smile on her face and her enthusiasm for being there was just really heartwarming. I was especially excited seeing her car on the trailer. After a year of hearing so many things about it and seeing the progress the days leading up to the show, I couldn’t help but be enthusiastic to see it in person. Having Suzy there (and her friends as well, who showed up to lend their support and companionship) to introduce us to her car was a real treat for us. I have to say as well, while we had spoke for a while, and I had only seen glimpses of her online, I never expected her to be so nice and so charming. I’m not saying that I expected her to be anything less, but, the way we saw her around us and with her fans that day could not have been more fun to witness. Not to mention, for any girl to be turning wrenches and getting dirty, and look as beautiful as she does, she made all of us look bad. haha. We helped her to get the car into the show floor and line up at our booth. We opted to move it as much as we could without starting the car, but, ended up having to do so to get it into final position. But, whether we wanted to or not, we had to fire up the car and move it. You could not imagine the look on Suzy’s face when we said we had to do that. The look of joy and the glassiness in her eyes made me smile like no other. What a lot of people don’t understand is that there are a lot of cars at shows that are still have finishing touches going into them all the way until the point of the show starting. That was the case with Suzy’s car, as it was earlier in the wee hours of the morning that her car had finally fired up for the first time in months. The joy she was showing us was the joy of not having had her baby completed until the moment of, and hearing it wail (and boy, what a sound that thing makes) was something that made all of us take notice. In fact, it sounded so awesome, that in the two times she fired it up that day, everyone withing a mile radius turned their heads just to see what was making that sound. Pure sexiness.
Then came the start of the show. If you have never been to the beginning of a show then you wouldn’t know just how crazy it is. The set-up and building of everything you see, including the show car parking is the most dynamic and busiest of all the moments at an event. The only time that rivals that is the moment of show start. Like a tsunami hitting the coast of an island, the wave of people coming through the doors of the main hall is something that has to be seen to be believed. Within minutes of the main gates opening, people start to pour in through the multitude of doors, and all around you, there are car enthusiasts ready to be wowed. I love it. I love seeing people going over to their favorite cars, models or even food booths/trucks and just dive right in. The music starts to kick in around that time, and all around us there is an audio/visual feast for your senses. Maybe that’s the thing that I love most about HIN. I love seeing just all of the things going on at every turn. If the main hall doesn’t have what you are looking for, then the main stage should grab your attention. If it isn’t that, then maybe it’s all of the multitude of cars on display, and if it isn’t that, then maybe it’s the various food trucks. There is a lot going on, and for someone that is attending for the first time, I recommend that you just soak in the scenery and enjoy it. That’s what I try to do now when I go to shows. Yeah, we may have had a booth there this time around, but, if you don’t at least sit back to enjoy the moments, then what is it all about? As a longtime fan of the scene, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.
Words and Photos By Daniel Navarrete
For more information on Hot Import Nights and any upcoming Shows check out their website at http://hotimportnights.com/
This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.