NICOfest at SR20 National Convention
The National SR20 Convention. Wow. That’s all I can say. It’s taken me over a week to recover from it. This was the 10th year the convention has taken place, but the first time NICO was a major sponsor.Let me give you a brief history of this convention before we discuss this year’s activities.
Some of you may have read the forum post that I posted back in October entitled “What is the SR20 Convention?”In it, I gave an in-depth history of the convention and how it took shape into what it is today.So let’s just take a quick look back in time on this event:
The event started out as the SE-R convention back in 1998.For 2 years, the event took place in Los Angeles. However, in 2000, it was decided to make the event a nation-wide event. That year, the event moved to Dallas, TX. Each subsequent year after, the event moved from city to city around the country. Washington, Phoenix, Birmingham, Los Angeles, Austin, New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas, and this year, Savannah. What started out as a local gathering of SE-R lovers, eventually turned into a 3 ½ day event that draws Nissan and Infiniti fans from around the country.
After the 2008 convention in Las Vegas, the future of the convention looked gloom.However, determined not to let the convention die out, NICO, along with other sponsors (GSpec Performance, Calumsult, and many others), brought back the life of the convention by promoting the event across multiple forums, and helping to bring the track day down to a price of only $99.
So there we were, Thursday night, at the beginning of the 10th annual National SR20 Convention.It was apparent that this convention would be one of the largest in the event’s history. By 9pm, we had three times more people at the hotel than were at the entire Las Vegas convention. With over 60 people registered for the track, and over 100 people registered for the weekend’s events, things were looking great. At 10pm, we started by giving an introduction to the event, and some brief rules about driving on the track.For many people, it would be their first time on a real racetrack, and of course, safety is the number one concern.
Friday morning began early; way too early for some of us.As we headed to Roebling Road Raceway, it was a beautiful sight to see dozens of Nissan’s in the pits. Broken up into three driving groups, after the driver’s meeting the advanced/instructor class took to the track. After the instructors had learned the course, the intermediates had their crack at it, then finally the beginners. All beginners got to have an instructor ride along with them, so not only were they safer, but also learned some pointers as they went out on the track for their first time.
The forecast for the day showed the possibility of rain however we were lucky enough that the first drops came down just before 5pm, so we had all gotten in a nice day of dry track time. The excitement and buzz coming from everyone by the end of the day was great. It was a true testament to us that the convention had been revived.
Friday night, in typical NICO fashion, many of us began the night at the bar. We had convinced the hotel bartender and her friend to show us a good time downtown, and they did just that. If you’ve never been to Savannah, you are missing out on one of the best bar scenes in the country. We were taken to a karaoke bar, and we had a blast there. The peak of hilarity was when forum member rushmatic (Rush) sang “Ice Ice Baby” in his Indian accent. The entire bar was cheering him on, and we thought the DJ was going to collapse from laughter. It was a great time.
Saturday’s itinerary was listed as a “free day.”This was an idea that was adopted a few years ago at the convention so that it would feel more like a vacation. The problem with typical 2-day events is that you are constantly busy. As we’ve learned through the years of doing events, the fun is being with other forum members. In fact, I’m fairly convinced that we would have just as much fun if nobody brought a car with them. Also, the “free day” gives you time to do typical touristy stuff, which is a nice alternative to an already motorsports-packed itinerary. Having nothing pre-planned for the day, the bartender and her friend from the night before invited a handful of us out to a beach house on Tybee Island. Thank you Kerri and Traci!! We played a game of Bocce Ball on the beach then headed inside when the weather started to turn for the worst. After we nearly all died from the tornadoes that were just down the street, we returned to the upstairs of the beach house, and continued to enjoy ourselves.
I know lots of other groups broke off and did their own thing also.I’m sure some people went on tours, went to the beach, or visited the beautiful parks in downtown Savannah. But just as a word of advice for those who attend future events: If you want to have the most fun, follow NICO staff members.
Not wanting to miss out on hanging out with the rest of the convention goers, we headed back to the hotel Saturday night. Because we had nearly 75% of the hotel reserved for the convention, at any point in time there were a number of other conventioneers that were in the lobby of the hotel. Saturday night festivities continued there, until they eventually moved up to the rooms.
Best Classic SE-R: Doug OliverBest NX: Joe SchintziusBest B14: Thomas ReynoldsBest B15: Rick LeBleuBest G20: Kevin RatliffBest S-Class: Cory WatsonBest of Show: Russell McMullanFarthest Drive: Rush “Baby Ice Ice” Matthew (from Palatine, IL)
The last day of the convention came too early. As Sunday began, we all made our way to Fort McAllister State Park. The weather managed to hold out to create a beautiful day. Lots of cars shined for the show.After everyone spent a couple hours checking out each other’s rides, we headed inside for lunch, awards, and raffle prizes. The catered food was delicious—true southern cooking. We started by giving awards to the nicest cars at the event. Unlike most events, this car show was judged by other participants, not but a panel of judges. We tallied the results and handed out the awards.
Raffle prizes were given away from many sponsors. Spec Clutches, Phase 2 Motortrend, Custom Steel, 240SXTechDVDs.org, and sparkplugs.com were just a few of the many sponsors that donated to the raffle. Finally, thanks were given to everyone who attended and just like that, the convention was over.
Although none of us wanted the weekend to end, we all had to face reality. You can’t have that much fun forever. It’s not healthy. We all said farewell and hit the road.
It was a great weekend that will be remembered for years to come. NICO would like to give a huge thanks to our co-sponsors, GSpec and Calumsult, the many other sponsors for the event, SR20forum.com, SR20-forum.com, Joe Schintzius for all his work into making this convention happen, Kerri & Traci for showing us a great time in Savannah, Rush for making us laugh the entire weekend, Cambria Suites for putting up with 100 rowdy car geeks, Roebling Road Raceway, and most importantly, all the attendees who made this possible. Thanks a ton! Next year, don’t forget to join us as NICO heads up the convention for the 11th year. We’ll be bringing the event to Road America next year and renaming it the North American Nissan Infiniti Convention, so make sure you mark down Memorial Day Weekend on your calendar for 2010!!
See you next year!