The alarm on my phone begins to ring at 5:00am. I'm 95% asleep but manage to turn the alarm off and begin the slow process of waking up after getting a mere two hours of sleep (felt more like a nap than anything). I kickstart my morning ritual by scrolling through my Instagram feed, then checking messages on my Snapchat. Yup, my friends are still out enjoying their Friday night, while I'm preparing myself for work; however, to my satisfaction, work just happens to be attending one of the largest car events in North America known as Import Alliance.
I doublecheck the schedule: vendors are allowed to roll-in at 6:00am. Shit...I'm already running late. The time is so early that the lovely Hampton Inn I'm staying at doesn't even have its complimentary breakfast ready yet. I skip food and head straight to Atlanta Motor Speedway. Barely awake and still pitch-black outside, I arrived at the NASCAR venue to find an insanely long row of taillights that spreads the length of the property. It has to be at least a few hundred modified cars long. This is my second time attending Import Alliance and I could already tell; it was going to be much bigger and better than I could have imagined.
It's been over a decade since pbskids has had a physical booth at an East Coast event (maybe even dating back to the NOPI days), so I was very stoked to setup shop and let the South know we're still alive and kicking. I shipped over 20 boxes of magazines to give away; after the first few hours of the gates opening, all the mags were gone. Import Alliance is an utterly massive get-together and, according to lead organizer Don Napier, they estimated close to 10K vehicles in the vicinity of the Speedway for the event. What I found great about the South is people aren't afraid to drive the distance, book a hotel, and make a weekend experience out of it. Many folks I talked to drove 4-6 hours while a handful I met drove 8+ hours!
What's even more enjoyable about Import Alliance is that there's no car show or competitions, no one fighting for awards. It's a mere celebration for the community. Fans are able to check out all the wildest car builds that they've been dying to see from social media. There's also a drift exhibition for those wanting to get their fix of smoking tires and tandem collisions.
As a West Coast guy visiting, I noticed immediately the diverse styles of the South. People get more creative, take on interesting DIY projects, and they're not afraid to try new things (sometimes good, sometimes questionable).
I'd like to say thank you to everyone who stopped by the pbskids booth over the weekend. We haven't been back on the East Coast in a long time and you can be sure that this won't be our last visit. A special shout out goes to Tyler Powell and Sam Morris. It was an honor for us to have the two cover cars on display at our booth, and to add to the great showing of the mild to wild builds of Import Alliance. Moments like these make this a trip I'll always remember—not to mention, makes it worthwhile for me to wake up at 5:00am, on only a couple of hours of sleep.