We Came, We Saw, We Conquered… Once again!
In true NICOclub style, we once again rocked the house at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With over seven thousand cars registered for the NOPI event and categories for just about everyone, there was plenty to see and do over the two day event.
For the NICO staff, event planning started months ago and culminated on Friday with setup-day at the track. Not even the remnants of hurricane Alberto could prevent the staff from setting up for the Saturday morning start. Strapped for time, we were still able to get the tents and tables setup during sporadic showers throughout the afternoon. Finally, everything was repacked prior to a wall of clouds rolled through, bringing with it torrential rains and very high winds.
Many vendors had small pop-up tents that weren’t tied down, and were easily sent on a tumble in the wind. The guys from Paul Walsh Nissan were in the right spot at the right time and were able to help one of the vendors hold down his tent, thus preventing it from rolling over their very expensive demo vehicle. This act of “courage under fire”eventually resulted in some free T-shirts from the vendor. With nothing left to do in the rains presence, we rolled out to get ready for the yearly NICO pre-event dinner.
Friday night brought out the best of the best, showing the Roadhouse Grille that NICO once again rolls deep. Seeing many old faces as well as many new was one of the best experiences for the entire weekend. People came from as near as a few minutes away, to as far as New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Wisconsin. Drinking, good food, and many laughs filled the night before everyone found their way outside to the parking lot for more chatting, laughs and viewing of the cars. The crowd thinned out as the night went on, in preparation for the early wake up the next morning would bring.
Saturday morning, many woke up and got in line at the track before dawn, getting in line to enter the speedway. If you’ve been before, you know how long the line gets and it can be hours before you finally get into the track. The staff got set up in the tent, Abby set up the merchandise table, and we dealt with the usual parking dilemmas of keeping similar cars together and probably irritating a few members along the way. With everyone’s best interest at heart, we did the best we could with the parking giving to us by NOPI this year. Early afternoon, Seth fired up the grill and started cooking hotdogs and burgers for everyone registered with Nissan. During the day, the Nopi Drift finals took place with drivers battling it out and sliding for the top spot. The NICOclub booth, however, was a top spot for all to visit. With cars including a BRE-replica Datsun 510, an LS1-swapped S14 240sx and Z32, a gorgeous black single turbo 350Z, a custom Q45 and a Skyline, mouths were consistently being wiped of drool as spectators walked in front of the tent before stopping in for some awesome NICO schwag.
The lovely NICO ladies were a big attraction as always. A few of the girls are NICOclub members who so graciously stood around with their big smiles for pictures and poster signing. Special thanks go to Lauren, Tiffany and Kailyn for supporting us! We would also like to thank Emily and Liz for coming out since our primary model we had lined up had bailed on us the day before. Boo to her!!! Saturday afternoon the girls drew a large crowd as they all graced the bed of a brand new Titan dazzled with Nismo parts from Paul Walsh Nissan and handed out posters, posed for pictures and brought in business. A big thanks also goes to Abby for running the merchandise table all weekend, she did an awesome job! The day finally wound down with many tired members hitting their hotels for sleep after a long day, but a few groups went out and ate. One of these groups involved James and Adam, and after some alcohol and general, good-mannered debauchery, plans were made for the following day.
Sunday started with setup and positioning of the NICO tent area and vehicle parking. That morning, a new addition was added to the NICOclub tent area; Vince with his Bob Sharp Racing Datsun wide-body Z. Parked next to the BRE-inspired 510 it was quite a nostalgic gathering. Seth once again took on the task of manning the grill to make sure everyone in the Nissan area had something to eat until he had to leave, when Joe took over his position as chef. Crowds were even larger than the day before and there was much to do all over the place. Many vendors had interactive displays and some of the cars in the show are just outrageous, in a good way! Of course there were also the cars that are outrageous in the ‘other’ way too.
James, Adam, and Aaron showed up fashionably late but dressed slightly differently than everyone else. James was wearing a bright yellow banana suit, Aaron a giant, foam cowboy hat and Adam wore a Viking helmet. James and his banana suit soon became an enormous sensation at the show, especially coupled with his stretched NICO model shirt he was forced into the day prior. The various models from around the show were falling head over heals for James and his suit, and we also had encounters with random fast-food chain mascots and the law, who did not know what to make of James! The escapades of Mr Banana during his walk through the vendor areas are what legends are born of. Images of his encounters, including a tag-team of models near the end of the day may be seen within show gallery #2.
Sunday afternoon was time for the NICO staff to judge the Nissan’s, Infiniti’s and Datsun’s for the NICO club awards. This is surely a difficult task as there are so many SICK cars from which to choose.We started the judging with the Best Truck/SUV category. We found our winner in Ryan Coker’s 2005 Nissan Frontier that had been modified with very tasteful gunmetal twenty inch wheels and tires, bed extender, bike rack and various other mods. In Best Sedan/Economy Car the hands-down winner was Mark Mathis with his 1968 Datsun 510 fully dressed as a BRE Datsun race car. This Dime is powered by a stroked 2.2 litre, naturally-aspirated inline four with a 13:1 compression ratio pushing 260-270 horsepower. Congratulations to Mark and Josh with their impressive entry which spent the entire weekend under the NICO tent.
The Best Z-Car/G-Coupe was quite a bit more difficult to judge. With the proliferation of both the 350Z and the Infiniti G35 Coupe the NICO judges had their hands full. An understated philosophy of NICO is function while maintaining proper form and that car manifested itself in Joe Aenetic’s yellow, twin-turbo Z33. This car had it all and we were happy to have it prominently displayed. Honorable mention in this category goes to Jon Thomas in his 2004 G35 Coupe.
The most challenging category by far was Best S-Chassis. There were many solid entries and it was the source of a heated debate for our highly critical NICOclub judges. There were S13’s, S14’s, convertibles, coupes, hatchbacks and the debate raged on as tempers flared and opinions expressed. The emerging winner was Rick Bedasse in his 1998 240SX that had an S15 engine/transmission swap as well as a full S15 interior. This 240 was incredibly clean and all mods were well-chosen and executed. Congratulations to Rick! Honorable mention for Best S-Chassis goes to Nick Krcelich for his 1998 240SX with S14 SR swap and TJ Lopata for his RHD 240SX coupe.
Our final award went to the recipient of the Paul Souder Spirit and Enthusiasm Award. This award goes to the NICO member who goes far above the call of duty in contributing to the club, helping out other NICO members and generally giving one hundred and ten percent to the greater good of NICO and its members. This year’s recipient was Joe “Dieselman” Lowry for his extensive support of members and NICOclub itself during this event and others throughout the year. Congratulations to Joe!
With all that there was to see and do, and all that’s bound to take place next year, you definitely want to start planning now to make it out, we’ll be there. Congratulations to all the winners, see you in Atlanta in 2008!