NOPI Motorsports served as the host of the NOPI Southeast Mini Truckin' and Sport Compact Nationals, which began on July 11 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.
The MT staff arrived early to get first dibs on shooting the trucks that would show up for the event. We were surprised to see a whole bunch of vendors setting up for the event on Thursday and most of Friday, but no more than a handful of show hopefuls had blown into town early to get a good spot. By late Friday afternoon, the show area still didn't exhibit a whole lot of promise, but back at the hotel, things were beginning to take shape.
Friday evening, our hotel filled up fast. By fast, we mean there wasn't a single open room to be had in the place. Custom minis and compacts were parked everywhere you looked - even in the fire lanes. Most hotel owners would've freaked out with so many crazies staying at their inn, but this particular manager was all for everyone having a good time. He even played waterboy Saturday night when everyone did burnouts in the reception drive-through. Although some guests at the hotel may have complained, the hotel management wanted to provide everyone with a fun place to kick it all night after the evening dragging session was over.
At the show the next day, we found a bunch of custom minis, but there was also an overabundance of compact cars competing in drag racing and showing off in the event's show 'n' shine. The custom minis that came to the event, however, were top-notch quality. We spent plenty of time on Saturday hanging out with the mini-truckers. The only thing that we found depressing about the show was the fact that, like most shows this season, we didn't really see a whole lot of first-timers hitting the scene. There was a bunch in attendance from last season, looking even more polished than the last time we laid eyes on them, but just not the usual amount of new blood that keeps everyone astir with enthusiasm. We're thinking that a massive number of new customs will be hitting the show circuit very soon, and we can't wait.
The event had more than just drive-through show 'n' shine judging, and that's the main reason why so many compact cars showed up. Since the event was being held at the Bristol Motor Speedway, side-by-side drag racing was on all day, with cars, trucks, and supersport bikes giving it a go. This was fun to watch, especially if you just wanted to sit in the grandstand for a while and do nothing but laugh at some of the pitiful ETs posted by those running on the track.
Next to the dragstrip was one of the largest vendor rows we've seen at any show. Just about anything you could want or need was to be found for a much lower price than you'd find it for in a store. There were performance goodies, apparel, toys, interior and exterior accessories, and far more than you could possibly imagine.
By the time most showgoers had perused the show, the track, and the massive vendor area, it was pretty obvious that the Tennessee summer heat, and the huge area that the event was being held on, was taking its toll. Around 4 p.m., many of those at the event took their leave of the showgrounds to head back to their hotels for a shower and dinner with their friends.
Early the next morning, everyone found their way back to Bristol Motor Speedway for the second and final day of the event. All the attendees were looking forward to the trophies for the show 'n' shine that were handed out promptly at 5 p.m., just after the second day of burnout contests and the bikini contest finals finished. The show staff managed to begin the trophy awards and still get everything finished up by 6 p.m., which is now a mystery since the MT staff was well on its way home by the time the last award was handed out. For information on next year's event, check out www.nopi.com