This past fall, the guys at NOPI Motorsports hosted the 14th Annual NOPI Nationals at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Atlanta. With the World Trade Center attack happening only four days before the show started, most feared it would be canceled.
With a show the size of NOPI, however, it would be very difficult to cancel only four days before roll-in. With this in mind, the promoters decided to go ahead with the show to demonstrate that the American spirit was, and still is, very alive. Donation boxes were set up throughout the show all weekend long. Sponsors, event staff, show-goers, and competitors all gave willingly throughout the weekend to help raise money for the American Red Cross and the Fireman's Fund, as well as other relief organizations.
On both days, at exactly noon, all events stopped as the National Anthem was sung. As you looked around, wherever you were, you could see people stopped, heads bowed to show respect. Plenty of red, white, and blue could be seen on display in many different forms everywhere. Many of the show's competitors even had flags attached to their vehicles.
This year's NOPI Nationals brought out a huge number of competitors with more trucks in the mix than we've seen in recent years. With more than 300 classes, everyone had a class for their ride. Categories were also added on an as-needed basis. Besides the show competition, there was also a Sonic Boom dB competition, a Highest Horsepower Dyno contest, World Body Building for both men and women, two burnout contests, two days of hydraulic hopping, and the always-popular North American Swimsuit Nationals.
If these weren't enough to keep you busy, there were rows of vendors in and out of the Atlanta Motor Speedway's garages that were selling just about anything dealing with custom automotive parts you might need. Sony Electronics was also on hand with a whole semi-tractor trailer full of PlayStation 2s for people to try their hand at the latest games. When it was time to take a break from walking or checking out the vendors, you could stroll over and listen to the live band playing throughout the weekend.
Some things we noticed this year was that a lot of cars are starting to get more of a mini-truckin' influence to them, with body mods such as shaving, molding, wild paintjobs, and the fabricating of parts from different vehicles to make one wild ride. On the flip-side, we've seen more trucks that are running nitrous, doing motor swaps, and basically making something that's capable of dragging on you, then leaving you tasting the dust and road as they scream off. The old theory that you can't have both is slowly fading away. We think this new trend of customizing across the board will bring people closer together than ever.For the die-hard mini-trucker, there was still plenty to look at.
Some of the trucks that stood out would be Eddie Pritchard's Isuzu, which made you look for its door handles for a few minutes before you realized that you have to almost touch the ground to open the door. Then there's Ernie Camps' lemon-peel yellow Mazda that tucks 19s all the way around, or Jimmy Brown's celery-green Ford Splash, with its bright graphics that draw your attention as you walk by. Whatever kind of truck you fancy, there was a good variety to look at. For those that like the under-construction vehicles, there were quite a few of them as well.
Whatever you like, there was bound to be something you couldn't help but stare at while attending the NOPI Nationals. Make sure you set up your show attendance to include the NOPI Nationals next September. For more information, contact: (800) 277-6674, www.nopi.com. Mini Truckin' extends a special thanks to Motegi Racing and American Racing for the use of its golf cart over the weekend, and we also thank Drop 'Em Wear? for a pair of Drop 'Em hats so our melons didn't get too toasted by the Atlanta sun.