DISCLAIMER: I am about to present my opinion on an event that I was given complimentary access to. Normally I do not do this type of thing when it comes to events. The typical procedure is to give a short recap on what happened and direct you to a gallery of photos. However, based on my experiences this time I felt compelled to share my thoughts because I think you would want to know. So I warn you now, what you read below is a collection of my experiences, thoughts, and opinions on Hot Import Nights Los Angeles. If you went to the show I am sure your experience probably varied from mine and you may agree or disagree with what I say below. I can only write about my experience and try to be as honest as possible.
Over the weekend I was graciously invited to Hot Import Nights at the LA Convention center. Admittedly it had been a while since I have been to a Hot Import Nights event. In fact Pomona was the last one I attended and due to some last minute re-arrangements that show was downsized a bit. I was glad to hear that they would be returning to the LA Convention Center and I had high hopes and expectations for the HIN team. Unfortunately not many of those expectations were met and overall it was a bit of a let down in my opinion.
Things got off to a bad start when I arrived at the venue. It is typically common practice at car shows (especially Hot Import Nights) to allow media into the show an hour before doors open to the public so that we can start taking pictures before the crowd gets in and more importantly, before the lights officially go out. However this time that was not the case. I showed up at the convention center just before 2pm (doors were supposed to open at 3pm) and the first thing that struck me is that there was absolutely no signage outside of the convention center whatsoever. For a moment I actually thought I might have had the date wrong, I even double checked the flyer! But sure enough I had the right day and place but no one would know it from the outside. Anyhow I made way way into the lobby and saw nothing but a few security officers, a young man, and a few walk-through metal detectors.
I asked the young man about the event and where I could find will call. He told me will call would not start until 2:30. I was a little miffed that I missed the memo on that piece of info but I waited in the lobby along with a group of other media and models who also missed the same bit of info. To be fair, an email was sent out by HIN the night before informing media that will call would not be open until 2:30 but I did see that email until I had already come back from the event since it hit my inbox after 9pm that Friday. Anyhow, 2:30 finally rolled around and will call was not set up yet and by this time there was a healthy group of online ticket holders wondering what they were supposed to do to redeem their vouchers. Security finally created two lines: one for ticket holders and one for media/models. However, that was about as organized as things got as the staff intermittedly bounced around between checking in ticket holders and media. All the models were let in first.
Despite getting things started really late, to their credit the staff did allow media go to through security first and get into the venue before the ticket holders. Although security itself was a bit, excessive. I was forced to take off my belt and roll up my pants before I was allowed in. Now, at some shows security does not check media at all which I think is a mistake, but forcing me to remove my belt, hold up my pants with one hand while trying to roll up my pants leg with the other hand was way too much. I imagine that is why there was such a slow trickle of fans coming into the event if every single one of them had to go through something similar.
When I finally got inside (after 3pm) the first thing I noticed once I got inside was how small the event was. Despite Hot Import Nights taking place in the south hall (which is the biggest hall in the convention center) they did not use the entire space and of the space they did use not much of it was occupied with cars. I hate to make comparisons because I am not trying to favor one car show production team over another but to give you an idea of the car count. To the eye it appeared that there was maybe about half the cars at HIN that were at Motion Auto Show in Long Beach earlier this year.
Upon seeing the amount of cars inside the show all I could think of was how people outside were paying $25 and in some cases $30 to get in. At a casual pace a person could have seen all the cars in the venue in less than an hour. There was a lot of potential space that could have been used for more cars used for other things, like a ring for luchador wrestling to promote a Mel Gibson straight to DVD movie, and a sizable area for people to sit and watch what appeared to be a starcraft video game tournament. Really? Wrestling and gaming tournaments?
I understand that it is always good to have other forms of entertainment at car shows just to provide some variety and make sure the show goers get their money’s worth, but there was entirely too much real estate given to things that had nothing to do with cars, and at a car show that is a bit troubling.
Even though things were a bit disorganized and the priorities were all mixed up, there were some redeeming qualities about the event. Despite a low car count, there were a few really nice quality cars on hand that I had not seen at other shows. Although the operative word here is “few”. There were way too many cars that were near stock. A “clean” car is one thing but when a car is 98% stock save for a set of wheels then I do not think it should be in a position where people have to pay to look at it.
I really wanted to come back from this show and tell you that Hot Import Nights is back and it will be worth your time and hard-earned money to visit the show when it comes to your town but I cannot do that this time. In their current state I cannot “recommend” you check out their show but I would not discourage anyone from seeing it for themselves and coming to their won conclusions. Although from my point-of-view it seems as if HIN has not abandoned the gimmicks, high ticket prices, and low quality show cars that were part of the organization’s downfall several years ago. However, even after saying all that I will also say that I have not given up hope on HIN yet.
I think HIN can be saved if they take a good hard look at themselves, their past, and what the people really want. The LA show over the weekend may have been more acceptable a decade ago but things have changed. If you look at the shows that are really popular now Cannibeat, WekFest, HellaFlush, OneOfOne, etc. those shows are all small and are typically not in big marquee locations. Yet due to their quality and fair priced tickets people still line up in droves. If HIN can figure out a way to keep some of their flavor but make some adjustments that are more suited to what enthusiasts want today I think they can make it.
But for now they are not quite there yet…
The good news is that, like I said before, there were some pretty nice cars there and I did in fact shoot pictures of them so feel free to scroll through our Facebook gallery. While it is a smaller gallery this time around I think you will still enjoy it.