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07/23/05 HOT DOWN SOUTH

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Aug 5, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

07/23/05 HOT DOWN SOUTH

By JOHN GRAFMAN

I can see Paris Hilton fitting in real well here. Okay, maybe she wouldn't, but her tag line ("that's hot") does seem to capture the spirit of this summer afternoon in San Diego.

This is one of those days where you can fry an egg on a sidewalk. It's sweltering in the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium, but I don't mind too much. The Hot Import Days affair is more than a few miles from our normal stomping grounds. It turns out the grueling traffic and a half a tank of gas are a small concession for the hours with tuner cars and so much more.

Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. I didn't really look at the agenda to get a handle on what would be taking place, but I know that Vision Entertainment, which puts on the Hot Import shows, has a good reputation. This event has all the trappings of a good time.

I do seem like a fish out of water at the gate, asking what the event has in store for us. Wandering about, I feel like a kid in a candy store - uncertain as to which direction I should go to first. Everywhere I turn, there is something worth checking out.

The parking lot at Qualcomm is loaded with every sort of tricked import in various levels of finish. It is quickly apparent which tuners have the experience and which are still working at it. The quality level varies in everything from the paint, to interiors, motors, accessories, and presentation.

I do notice that it seems that there is a formula that most of the cars are following to one degree or another. On the top of the food chain lie the cars with tweaked engines that have been chromed and supplemented with nitrous. The suspensions have been dropped and the fattest rubber that can fit is shoveled underneath. The interiors have been fitted with slick race seats and surfaces are revamped in new materials. The dash is set with additional gauges.

Of course, a deafening audio system is absorbing any available trunk space the nitrous bottles haven't already called their own. And the obligatory video screens are randomly placed in areas that provide good viewing of all but those inside the car. While there are those that are maxed out with all these goodies, most of the cars in attendance are a limited variation of this in some way, shape, or form.

To think that this event is just about the tuners would be a mistake. Roaming around, I run into numerous vendors that are showcasing everything from Toyo Tires, Al and Ed's Autosound, to the U.S. Marine Corps (I'm not joking).

All of this is what I would have expected, but I start to get distracted by a number of other displays that add to the festivities. The extreme motorcycle riders that perform in a chained and barracked pen are wowing everyone. These guys are pulling off every trick in the book, and then some. Unlike some watered-down attraction, these guys are taking risks and some even went down trying. Wheelies on the front wheel and riding on the handlebars are some of the nearly unbelievable stunts.

On the edge of the parking lot is an area set up for drag racing. As the races are timed it really made very little difference as to which cars were pitted up against one another. It seemed like if it has wheels, there is a division for it. Scorching the blacktop are muscle cars, imports, trucks, and motorcycles and about the only thing I didn't see is a sports utility vehicle. The constant burnouts and racing left a definite scent of rubber in the air and a chorus of motors roaring all day, a gearheads nirvana.

What kind of event would this be without a bevy of ladies competing in a bikini contest? This is a family environment and as such this is a pretty tame show. That doesn't mean that the girls aren't pushing the limit of spandex. A stage full of young women does catch the attention of most guys. The other exhibits did thin out as the Mazda stage is overrun with hotties.

San Diego is known for being a bit on the cool side, weather-wise. Evidently, this doesn't apply on the one day of the year Hot Import Days invades town. Now is this due to the cars and girls or just a local high-pressure bubble? We'll need to check out a few more Hot Import events before we can draw a conclusive decision. Either way, I'm sure it'll be smokin'!

For more information please go to www.hotimportnights.com

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