In the past five years, the NOPI Nationals has become the biggest show in the South East. While NOPI has started doing other shows across the United States and continues to hold smaller shows locally in its home state of Georgia, the mother of all NOPI shows is the NOPI Nationals at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Atlanta. On the third weekend in September, thousands of custom vehicles and tens of thousands of spectators converge on the speedway for what is an all-you-can-eat buffet of phat rides.
Huge shows usually mean a couple of things. First, incredible vehicles from all over the country will converge, and NOPI had them, in addition to some from Canada and overseas countries. Second, you can always expect some big time sponsors; NOPI had them as well. X-Box was on board as this year's title sponsor. Other big sponsors included Falken Tire, APC, AEM, Pep Boys and NOS, just to name a few.
By the time we arrived to the speedway on Saturday morning, the line of contestants waiting to get in wrapped around both the front and the back of the speedway, with more arriving every minute all day long. We were stoked to see the amount of custom rides, but not to see the long line. Luckily, our press credentials got us through the back entrance where the line was considerably shorter. Once inside, we quickly turned our attention to sifting through all the rides and getting shots of the best on hand. NOPI is a big show for the imports, but trucks make their presence felt as well. Everything from huge lifted trucks to the door-dragger variety in a myriad of custom stages were on hand for inspection. One of our favorites was Ernie Camp's yellow "Unfadable" Mazda, which has been sporting some new touches since its feature. New graphics, wheels, and interior pieces made it a definite crowd pleaser. Another jaw dropper was Jimmy Boykin's Nissan Hardbody/Frontier crossbreed sporting 20s on all fours and laying body that made last month's cover spot. Top that with the 35 colors of paint and you can imagine the gawking. Domestic trucks were represented as well. Wicked Kustoms brought out a square body style Ranger that was clean-shaven, tweaked, and l-o-w!
Need an arm prop? To help you visualize how many people were at this show, imagine this: Around 4 p.m. on Saturday, we left the speedway to get some food. On our way out, the line of contestants to get in was still more than a mile long.
Besides the buffet of phat rides represented, there was a long lineup of vendors on hand: MA Audio, American Racing, Motegi Racing, Kenwood, Alpine, HKS, Drop 'Em Wear?, Godfather Customs, Visionik, Endless Fabrications, and the list just keeps going. If you picked any custom product vendor's name out there out of a hat, it was probably on hand at the NOPI Nationals. Some of the vendors were even hauling products out to people's vehicles if they were too big or heavy. Most vendors even had free samples of products. Don't even forget about the eye candy vendors bring. That's right, hot chicks barely wearing any clothing were available to pose and take pictures with grinning guys all day long, all over the place. Cold shower anyone?
For those who desired even more than the rides and vendors, there were hydraulic hopping and dancing competitions, airbag hopping and dancing competitions, burnout contests, a sonic boom competition, bikini and body building competitions, a NOPI Chic Model search, and a hands-on X-Box tent full of stations where spectators could play the latest games. BFGoodrich even set up a hands-on driving experience in one of the speedway's front parking lots. Here you could test drive any of the four cars it had around a coned-off test track. Smiles were across the board as these events took place.
In years to come, NOPI may become an all-week event. At the rate it's growing, it may not be long before that happens. Until then, we look forward to next year's show and hope to see all of you there. Don't forget to bring your walking shoes because Atlanta Motor Speedway is huge! For more information, contact: NOPI, (800) 277-6674, www.nopi.com.
One last note: we'd like to thank the good people of South Honda for letting us have use of its golf cart for the weekend.