EVENT COVERAGE – IMPORT EXPO NC 2017!

Wow, it truly has been awhile hasn’t it? I haven’t been updated this site in so long, partly because I had no motivation to and mainly because I’ve just been devoting most of my time towards school. I remembered I wanted to start up this site to bring back the idea of “reading” event coverage and to give my personal opinions on things related to photography and car culture. That perspective of mine is still there, but instead of trying to mimic a lot of the bigger sites, I’d rather just do everything within my own style and not be so pressured to have a “professional” outlook when it comes to posting. I’ll write an update on what has been going on as of recently with MR along with the new content contributors, but for now, let’s talk about ImportExpo Charlotte.

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This is ImportExpo’s first year in North Carolina, and with big names behind the planning of the event like Trendsetterzcrew, Royal Republic Crew, and SoTrendy, I was extremely excited to see what would make this event stand out from the rest. I’ve always seen ImportExpo pop up from time to time on my Instagram as they further expand to other states, and it seems that they’ve always had a good turn out when it comes to not only the amount of cars but quality as well.

In short, I was both right and wrong. I was right in the way that a majority of the cars that they had accepted were on extreme quality. I was wrong in the way of not only was the turn-out a lot smaller than I had expected, but also there were a few questionable cars that were there, and if you haven’t been living under a cave, you would know exactly what I was talking about BUT let’s not get into that. To be honest, I don’t blame the organizers at all for accepting cars that literally lied on their application to get in and sending false photos of their cars “built”, or even the small venue size. After all, it is their first year here so I’ll give them a break.

Anyways…

The event itself was great. Lighting in the venue made it an absolute pleasure into taking photos. There wasn’t any green/purple lights that would totally f*#k up the photos, and for the most part it was all bright lights so I didn’t have to bump up the ISO too high to shoot.

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There was a lot of amazing builds at the show, and while there were only a few booths at the show, Fr3shnation happened to have the biggest booth there.

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Their main booth cars were Caymen Sans’ 350Z and Misfits Motorsport’s RWB NC#1, which was highly impressive. While they didn’t get their cars setup the way they had wanted to, they still had an amazing line up of cars, mainly from Trendsetterzcrew.

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Jarett Ewald and his dad brought out their cars for the show as well. These are some of the cleanest and most quality S-Chassis builds that I’ve seen from NC so far, but what made it even more impressive is that they do everything to their cars on their own in their garage. Everything from paint to bodywork to engine swaps, everything except for wiring. That is something that I can really appreciate since they know every single detail  (good and bad) of their cars and not just simply reading a list of modifications a shop has given them.

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As a former LS400 owner myself, I can’t really help but to say that this was on my top list of favorite cars at the show. Beautiful execution all throughout the car with proper style. Nowadays, everyone just assumes that every “build” is bagged, but not this one. Fully static. Now that is impressive.

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Austin Bell brought his FG2 Civic SI out of hibernation. I think this might be the first time I’ve seen his car in person oddly enough. Looks so good in person!

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Chris Mason’s SRT-4 along with Josh Guillot’s Crossfire SRT-6. Pretty different platforms that are done well!

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Jon Nguyen and Brian Henriquez (aka the Hotboys) also came out to the Import Expo show. If I’m not mistaken, this is their first show together, so they were pretty excited to finally get to showcase their cars. Which team are you on, red or blue?

Throughout the entire show, I realized that the cars that I was most amazed by were the Hondas. It’s rare to find Hondas built with authentic parts now that replica parts have become the norm because of the price, not hard to find, and the mindset of “no one can tell the difference”.

Jon Guadalupe’s DC2 Integra GSR is such a favorite of mine that it is my inspiration for my future Integra build. I can talk about this car forever, but I’ll just lay down the facts real quick; He is the ORIGINAL owner of this Integra, in which he bought it new back in 1996. Everything inside and out is authentic Mugen parts and it’s swapped from the standard B18C1 that the car came with to a K-series motor. Funny thing is, I searched up his name on google to try to find any recent features of this car (for fact-checking purposes) and I found an old super street article back in 2000 of one of the MANY stages of his car.

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Photo by Super Street Magazine

I remember reading up on his car back when I was a kid, so no wonder his name sounded so familiar! What a transformation and I’m glad that he is still in the scene today.

John Nguyen’s (not hotboy Jon) DC2 Type R and DC5 fairly impressed me as well. Both with boosted motors in which the Integra is supercharged and the RSX is turbo’d, and both built with genuine parts. Apparently he’s going to tear down the RSX into making version 2 of it. I absolutely can’t wait to see what he has in store for it!

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Jonathan Scott’s EK hatch hasn’t made much progress within the years that I’ve seen it, with the only additions that I know of over the past two or so years have been the new Work CR01 wheels along with the Walker Japan front bumper. Sometimes, good things don’t need changing. Simplicity is key!

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Out of all the wheel setups, this is my ALL TIME favorite. I remember falling in love with Sprint Hart CPRs after watching a 360 Video DVD, and I told myself one day I would own a set. That dream is still there and I plan on getting a set soon for the future Accord and/or DA9 build, but for now I’ll just admire them on Ivan’s EM1.

Alright, I’m pretty sure I’m boring you guys with Hondas and if you can’t tell, I’m a huge Honda fanatic. Now let’s move on to some other builds…

As I get older, I start to find myself leaning away from the “stance” scene when it comes to events. Don’t get me wrong; stance is cool and those who execute it properly definitely make their car eye-candy, which is why I continue to shoot them at events, but MY personal preference has turned away from that into more of a “functional” stance and overall simplicity.

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This Voltex-equipped Evo IX is an absolute beauty. I haven’t met the owner to talk about his car yet, so I don’t know much on the build. Usually when writing these articles, I would try to find build threads or Instagram of the owner in order to find details on the build (and to check on my accuracy), but I haven’t been able to find information, so I’ll have to spare the details on this Evo for another day…

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Oh surprise! More Hondas! Anyways, I really don’t know how to explain it when it comes to these cars. “Flow” comes to mind, but its really difficult to explain what I mean by that. I guess what I’m trying to say is that everything works together well, with the color of the wheels matching the side Airtekk banner on the first Accord to the simple “monochrome” look with the details of the red centercaps that makes it pop on the second accord. These two owners definitely execute it well.

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I still think the Infiniti Q50 is a fairly new platform, but the owner of this particular Q50 definitely has taste, pushing the boundaries of the platform with custom BBS RS’. Executed perfectly and the wheels look right at home.

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It’s no surprise that Bret Zheng of Team Emotion (also owner of ImportExpo) brought his 1991 Acura NSX out to the event. Knowing that he’s in Team Emotion, I knew the build was going to be high caliber in quality, and I wasn’t wrong. Full Sorcery Widebody kit, 02+ NSX headlight and taillight upgrade, Endless BBK, etc. Really high quality stuff!

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Let me go on a small rant here (that is not related to the photo above or any photos that I post after). There was so much diversity within the event, from full-on high quality builds to lesser-quality budget builds, but there were also multiple times during the show where I had to step back and think “why the hell is this car in here?”. While I may not agree with Importexpo’s decision on letting certain cars in, at the end of the day, I have no say in it. I just chose to ignore those cars in general, mainly because I had no interest in them.

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Here’s the thing; if I shot all of the cars at the events, it would be take much SO MUCH LONGER to go through and edit the photos and do coverage of the show. Even if I ended up shooting everyone’s cars that got accepted to the show, would taking photos truly be something that I would still enjoy, or would I just be doing it for the sole purpose of “exposure”?

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After awhile, I came into the realization that “exposure” could only go so far, and I would rather do photography based on my sole purpose of self-improvement and enjoyment rather than exposure.

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From my viewpoint, you can view the event in two ways. One way is that you can see it as unification of the car community where we all find inspiration for our own builds and talk to like-minded enthusiasts alike about car culture in general. The other way is to view that either Importexpo, North Carolina, or a mixture of both are lacking when it comes to quality of builds or execution of the cars. I rather not view things negatively but a lot of car enthusiasts do, in which I understand why.

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I made up my third way of viewing it, which is not only seeing it as a unification of enthusiasts, but also being able to reunite with the people that you’ve met from the same stupid money-wasting hobby. I also view it as “workshop” for photographers, which is why I still shoot car events. I do it not only to provide coverage, but to also keep improving on my work as a photographer and to learn how to deal with difficult lighting situations, figuring out new angles, and most of all, inspire and help others to become better with their work.

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With that out of the way, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was great and even though the venue was smaller than Tuner Evo’s venue, I truly do hope they come back next year for another show. Hope you guys enjoyed my coverage on Importexpo! I’ll try to update this site more regularly this time in order to keep the site alive. There is a lot of things that I want to write about and even if no one reads it, at the end of the day it gives me something to look back to years from now to remember and reflect on both my writing and photography.

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More photos from the event can be seen here.

Hoang Pham
contact@midnightrush.media
Instagram: @midnightrush_hoang

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