Another incredible weekend in Atlanta. For the prior 3 years, NICO has dominated the scene at the NOPI Nationals. This year was no different. It wasn’t called the NOPI Nationals this year, but instead the Motorsports Nationals. Regardless, we now have a 4th trophy for club participation to add to our inventory.
There was much confusion this year regarding the show. First NOPI announced that the show, along with all other NOPI events for the remainder of the year had been cancelled. Word spread like wildfire. How could NOPI cancel the largest Sport Compact car show in the world? Only a few short weeks later, J-Bird, the voice of NOPI, had begun putting together a replacement show to please fans. The only downside was that the “NOPI is canceled” message seemed to spread much faster than the “Nationals are back on” message. Because of this, the attendance was severely threatened, and we had little hopes of it being a successful event.
However, we always have a great time in Atlanta, and determined to give it “one last chance”, we were about to be in for a surprise.
Friday we headed to the new venue, the Georgia International Convention Center, to set up. This venue is much smaller than the previous year’s location, the Atlanta Motor Speedway. And when we were there setting up for the show, we still had little hope of it being a success. There was practically nobody there.
Friday night continued our disappointment. We headed to our annual Friday pre-meet dinner at the Roadhouse Grill. Embarrassingly, we had a reservation for 50-75 people, and only about 15 showed up. We still had a great time, but we were starting to become even less optimistic for the show than before.
Saturday we began our day at the convention center with a slow start. It wasn’t until about noon that traffic started to pick up—and boy did it ever.
There was plenty of activity to draw the crowd to us – NICO members brought out some awesome cars. Torry had every episode of Top Gear playing on the LCD big screen in the NICO booth, and of course the hottest girls at the show modeling for NICO.
NICO Spokes models Rachael, Tara and April were a HUGE hit, and they charmed the crowd with their fantastic smiles and their infectious energy… The most impressive part is that two of them work for Nissan. You can bet on seeing them at future NICO meets.
When the girls started signing posters, the line started to form, and it never died. We had to cut off the line at one point just so the girls could take a break for a quick bite to eat. We had people stopping by all day asking about the club, buying shirts, stickers, calendars, watching clips from Top Gear, and checking out the cars.
The NICOclub display included a very diverse collection of Nissan’s, which included a couple nice 240SX’s (2 of which had V-8’ swaps), some G37’s, a beautiful example of both an S12 and S30, FIVE generations of Skyline models (KPGC10, R32, R33, R35 and V36), and two brand-new cars—an ’08 Altima Coupe and ’09 Maxima, both of which were modified and brought to the show by Paul Walsh Nissan. In fact, many of you may remember seeing a very clean Altima and Titan at last year’s show. Paul Walsh Nissan trumped themselves this year, with the Altima Coupe being a near-G35 clone, and having what is probably the first lowered ’09 Maxima in existence.
The NICOclub crew was excited to see Rex Birkmire, the original founder of NICO. Rex arrived unexpectedly and spent the day catching up with the old-timers and meeting the new members.
Towards the end of the day, we managed to get the three NICO models into a photo shoot by Reggie at BeautyandSpeed.com. We remember him from two years ago at the NOPI Nationals when he so graciously let us borrow his equipment to shoot the infamous NICO poster staged on the starting line of Atlanta Motor Speedway. When he said he’d do a shoot with the NICO models and the R35 GT-R that was there, and under professional lighting, we couldn’t resist taking up the offer. After all, Reggie is a top notch photographer, and this was a rare opportunity. Just wait until we debut the next run of NICO posters!
Saturday’s show traffic slowly dissipated as the evening went on. By the end of the day, we had decided that we will do another show in Atlanta because the day had been much more successful than originally anticipated. We were hoping for the same on Sunday.
Sunday came upon us quick, and despite the crowd Saturday, the second day was a bit of a disappointment. The show was pretty quiet on Sunday, at least in comparison to the previous day. Not always a bad thing, as it gave everyone an opportunity to meet the owners of the cars, spend some quality time with good friends, and relax amongst the scenery.
However, highs outweighed the lows over the weekend, and we won the Club Participation award for the 4th year in a row. Being part of a new show series from the beginning will be fun. We look forward to future years with the Motorsports Nationals!