Once again the streets of Downtown San Pedro would be transformed into something exciting. Once again the streets of this quaint, little area have set the stage for one of the most exciting events to come to Southern California. Hot Import Nights has once again returned to the Los Angeles area, and this time, we would be in for a real treat. This show would not be the first, nor the last in the Hot Import Nights (HIN) set for the year, but, it would without a doubt be their biggest.
With its perfect setting (and even just as important, is its fantastic weather) of antique stores and local dive bars, Downtown San Pedro is a nice place to visit. It’s quiet and kept very well. Not to mention, for foodies such as myself, the famous Ports O’ Call is located about a block or two from the center of downtown. There you can find some of the best seafood (as it is shipped in daily and fresh as can be) in Southern California. Right next to that, you have a US Navy battle cruiser (and museum) of the USS Iowa. It’s an impressive sight to see, and a great place to be at and even better if you are hosting an event. And, in this case, that is exactly what the organizers of HIN have done. No matter which direction you look, there is something that you’ll find interesting. With that in mind, who would have thought that just a few years ago, this behemoth of a show didn’t even exist. I mean, just the thought of a street car event is pretty crazy. The cost, the organization, and even getting everyone on board (from the city to the vendors that line the event), is quite an undertaking. Just across the bay from San Pedro you have the annual Long Beach Grand Prix that does just the thing. While this event is huge, the amount of cooperation between institutions makes this possible. So, just the fact that this show exists shows the level of commitment that the producers show. Add in the fact that the show is free and open to the public, and it’s enough to make you lose your mind. But, if you know anything of the crew from HIN, then, you’d be pretty accurate in predicting that only a group of car enthusiasts such as them could pull it off.
When this show rolls around near the beginning of Autumn, it is at the perfect time for fans of the genre to come on out and see what’s going on. Summers in Southern California have become brutal over the past few years (we are after all in one of the longest running droughts in Cali’s history), and any show that goes after August (which is usually our hottest month of the year) is always welcome. The beauty of this show lies in the name of the show itself. Hot Import Nights is a car experience unlike many of the others that take place throughout the year. Part of that reason is that it isn’t so much a car show, but an Automotive and Import Lifestyle event. Much more than just cars, this one gives the audience a chance to immerse itself in the goings on of it. It also helps that the show starts a bit later than others. For a weekend show, starting a little later allows a wider audience to participate in it. Gone are the shows that start at the crack of dawn (I’m looking at you Cars & Coffee), and replaced with a show that starts a bit later and runs through the night. As a night owl myself, this has always had a great appeal to me. I mean, if I can go to a show later than normal, and prevent adding to my already embarrassing farmers tan lines, than, I’m all for it. But, placing this show after the summer, and making it at night, and in the middle of Downtown San Pedro. Well, you have yourself a winning recipe for an event. Even if no one showed up, and I was the only car in town, I’d be very happy to be in that area. Hot Import Nights provides the venue and the time for everyone in the car scene to come together and check out what this show is all about. And, that’s a big reason we wanted to be a part of this show.
Last year was our first outing to a Hot Import Nights show as our brand (Spektrum Magazine). While we had done a few shows throughout the year before this, we, to be completely honest, were unprepared for the chaos that would come out of this San Pedro show. While that may sound like something that is a bit off-putting, it was in reality, one of the most spectacular shows that we had ever been a part of. The cars were amazing, the women were beautiful, and the amount of smiles we saw at every turn was impressive. There was a lot going on, but, there was a bit of something for everyone. I had been to Hot Import Nights shows in the past (and for several years), but, this one had a really different feel to it. Not being confined to a convention center, and having the entire thing walled in, gave an open-air feel to the show a very unique sense to it. Giving the audience the freedom to come and go as they please is an accomplishment not seen very often in car shows, let alone coming from a series that could have easily charged entrance fees for it. That is perhaps the real beauty of this show. It wasn’t until we had come to that show last year that we saw how powerful that idea really was. The beauty isn’t so much in letting people in to the show free however. While that is a benefit that a lot of fans definitely enjoyed, I believe that the beauty of the San Pedro show lies in the fact that people, who might not have had the opportunity or just didn’t know about the import car scene (and the things related to it), could be exposed to it. Setting the stage to make new fans and educate people about the import lifestyle is above and beyond what most shows can claim to do. I think it is great that everyone, young and old, foreign and domestic can come to this location and experience what many of us already do. It is as exciting as anything we could have hoped for, and something we were definitely excited about.
If this was going to be anything like last year’s show, we were sure to be in for a treat. The weather was expected to be a lot cooler than last year (which was going to be a big bonus), and the talent that was going to be there was fantastic. The enormously talented Jeri Lee would be rocking the mic, and would be joined onstage by Jargon. Those two always have great chemistry, and it showed throughout the entire night. It always helps to see two hosts feed off of the energy the other has, and it was organic. But, beyond them, we were also really fortunate enough to be joined by DJ Tessa Lizz. For myself it was really nice to get to see her again. I had worked with her on a photoshoot years ago, and hadn’t heard from her since. I know she had gotten married, and if I remember correctly, had also moved to Vietnam. But, to hear her name, and to see her DJ at HIN was incredible. The talent list also included many more DJ’s, the HIN Go-Go Dancers, and even the new HIN models. There was never a dull moment on the stage, and that level of pacing helped to keep the crowd amped up. It was nice that every few minutes there was something going on. We were fortunate enough to be right next to the stage, so, anything that was going on there, we were primed for it. The beats kept coming throughout the night and we never felt like it was more than what it had to be. Just like Goldilocks and her quest for the best porridge, this part of the show was ‘just right’.
The real draw to Hot Import Nights though is the cars. Hot Import Nights has a long history of attracting some of the finest vehicles around. While the focus is primarily imports, there are plenty of domestic cars around, and in this particular show, there were also quite a few exotic and supercars on display. All of the cars are awesome in their own way, and having this location to show them off is superb. I mean, where else can you see a Scion converted into a truck (yes, you read that right), to a McLaren supercar wrapped in Los Angeles Rams colors. Indeed, the gamut runs wide, and for fans of these cars, it only gets better when the sun goes down. Unlike most shows that are held earlier in the day or indoors, Hot Import Nights skates its show hours in between the sun being up and down. Because of that, many of the cars at the show really come alive when the sun sets. LED and fluorescent lighting paint the streets all the hues of the rainbow. Music begins to blast a little louder, and the colors echo that. In a lot of ways, when the sun goes down, the show becomes a different beast. The cars become a reflection of the things going on around it, and it makes me excited just thinking about it. It isn’t often you get to see a collection of cars the way you see them here, and walking around the show you can see fans and whole new families enjoying the scene. It was also nice to see quite a few tourists check out the show. They may have come for some seafood, or just to see the sights, and were probably surprised to see the commotion going on. The smiles on their faces showed us all that HIN not only appeals to those in the know, but, to anyone willing to check it out.
That is the real draw though to this San Pedro show. This is a show by the fans, for fans, and everyone else in between. It brings together all walks of life, and allows people to partake in the things that many of us already take for granted. If I would have known as a little kid, that there would be car shows like this, especially down the street from where I used to go with my parents (the Ports O’ Call to eat some food), then I would have begged to go check it out. I think it’s nice to see the one show in the circuit, be the one show that the most people can enjoy. And, to make things even better, it’s in a great location. This year was fantastic and felt like the planets aligned for that one night. I am sure the people enjoyed it as much as us, the vendors and show guests enjoyed it. If this is an indication of where HIN could be going, then it’s going to be incredible. The only problem is that it can’t come soon enough. Let’s see what the next show and 2017 bring with it.
Words and Photos By Daniel Navarrete
For more information on Hot Import Nights check out their website at Hot Import Nights
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.