I have been personally attending “import” AKA “tuner” car shows ever since the very first Hot Import Nights that was held right in my hometown of Long Beach. A lot of things have changed since then. Car shows got bigger, more publicized, and well far away from their humble beginnings. Car shows started to become less “a show of cars” and more of an all out “entertainment event” with concerts, video game tournaments, dance crew battles, DJ battles, bikini contests, “fashion” shows, pretty much anything that was eye and ear candy was thrown into the mix to try and add value to the growing prices of admission to offset the growing venues.
At first it was cool. Each car show was like going to a rave. There were thumping beats, crazy lights, and increasingly elaborate displays for cars and vendor booths. Things just got bigger, brighter, and louder. However, like most bubbles the scene eventually popped. Blame the economy, the over commercialization, judging controversies, or maybe a combination of several things but at some point the car show scene fell off dramatically, mostly.
Now “mostly” is an important word because despite what was happening with all other car show series, there was one that stayed consistent through the ups and downs and never really lost the respect of enthusiasts. I am referring to Import Showoff by Mainstream Productions helmed by Ken Miyoshi. You may not know his name if you are younger than 25 but he has been an important figure in our culture for the last 20 years. He pretty much created the concept of the “import car show” as we know it and exposed America to drifting far before D1 came to Irwindale so many years ago. He is a humble guy but incredibly driven and cares deeply for the car culture and putting together a quality show. When things got big bright and loud he didn’t really buy into it even though those big shows started to take away from Import Showoff’s attendance.
He stuck to his roots and kept things all about the cars and the culture and never strayed too far beyond that. It may have hurt his series for a while but eventually things changed. One day we all kind of figured out that we wanted more substance than flash, more culture than commercial, more sunny days hanging out with our friends than flashing neon lights in a dark convention hall. Then we remembered that there was a show that had been providing those things all along: Import Showoff.
These days Showoff is mostly condensed to a few shows a year: Chinatown Showoff and Nisei Week showoff and to this day many veterans of the scene will tell you that Nisei Week Showoff is the best show of the year. Its small, and typically held during one of the hottest times of the year but the quality of cars on deck makes it all worth it. Also with the recent team up of Mainstream Productions and StanceNation, the quality of cars has only grown exponentially. That is why I urge you, if you have the chance to come out to the Nisei Week Showoff next year. Make a trip out of it, trust me when I tell you that if you love import cars it will be worth it.
Anyhow, that’s enough of my lecturing about how awesome things used to be. I went to the Nisei Showoff over the weekend and put together a pretty killer gallery of over 300 pictures! Check out our Facebook gallery below! Thanks again to Ken Miyoshi for inviting us to the show and for keeping it real all these years!