Words and Photos by: Andrew Smith
I met up with my two best friends around 4pm to begin the trek down to the McCormik Place for the return of Hot Import Nights. Being my first HIN since 2007, I had no idea what to expect. The scene has gone through so many changes, I wasn’t sure exactly what time period it would be stuck in. I remember body kits, neons, huge sound systems, and a multitude of attractive scantily clad females signing posters and taking photos with just about anyone who asked. The show personified exactly what The Fast and the Furious gave to the world, the wild crazy night club like experience of the import tuner culture. It was fun, an experience to remember. However, it wasn’t what the majority of the import scene was actually like. Of course there were many cars running around with stickers and vinyl plastered all over their vehicles, but the majority of the cars were owned by people who had a limited income and had to slowly build up their vehicles. In addition to that, import car shows were still quite rare around the Midwest, and being in high school at the time, getting to any of these shows were even more rare for me. Going to HIN the summer after I graduated High School was like seeing a whole new world, one that I saw every month in the pages of Super Street and Modified Mag, yet only ever dreamed that I would ever actually experience.
Now I sit here, almost exactly 8 years since I went to my very first Hot Import Nights, writing a story for my very own website that focuses on the car culture and the scene that I have been obsessed with for over 10 years. I had some ideas of what to expect when I went to this year’s show, but wasn’t sure if it would give me that same feeling that I got 8 years ago. As I paid my $30 entry fee, I walked in excited to relive my youth. I began to look around, and it just wasn’t the same.
Now, let me clarify. The show was still well put together in my opinion. There was a very nice flow to it, and cars seemed appropriately placed and spaced out. The show was definitely smaller than it was in 2007, but that is to be expected as they are just coming back after years down from financial problems. There were still some outrageous looking body kits and graphics, but the majority of the cars were subdued compared to the “good old days”. Now, the caveat is that I am MUCH more involved in the scene now that I was in 2007. I have seen many of the cars that were at the show in person before; hell I have even shot a few photos of some of the cars. But overall the show just did not give me the same feeling that I had at my first HIN.
To be fair, I don’t think it was as much of the fault of HIN or their show, I think it was mostly my experiences and how far I have progressed in the current scene. That both excites me, and saddens me. The thought that you might never have those same feelings ever again makes you long for the past; however, thinking how far you have come and what might happen next is extremely exciting. If someone would have told me on the way home from my first HIN 8 years ago, that I would be a professional automotive photographer and writing a story for my own website, I would have told you that you were crazy. Yet here I am, planning my next few stories.
Now with that out of the way, here are the photos from the night. I tried to enjoy the night instead of focusing on photos, but I made sure to capture the feeling of the night.
What’s Chicago without a little bit of urban culture?
Walking into the show, this is the sight that greeted us.
Bobby’s Genesis always gets a lot of attention.
Always cool seeing these. Wish there were more around.
There were a number of Skylines in attendance. The one on the left below was at the King Motorsports Dyno day last year.
This FD got a lot of attention.
Sound Performance brought out a number of Supras.
There were a number of photographers photographing the models throughout the show.
There were a few drift RC cars running around.
Thanks for looking! Feel free to leave any comments you may have below.