Pomona, CA – This weekend started off the 2012 tour for Hot Import Nights, which promises to bring back the excitement of the HINs we used to know from back in the day. When I heard the event was being shifted from Irwindale to the Pomona Fairplex, I was pretty excited- the Fairplex is HUGE, and I had great memories of the HINs held outdoors at the Angels Stadium in Anaheim as well as the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego a few years ago.  Unfortunately, the reality was slightly disappointing, as the event was relegated to one (although quite large) hangar space. Driving through the vast, empty parking lot space to get there was pretty fun though. There also seemed to be a renaissance fair going on around the corner, which I briefly considered visiting.

But back to the show itself- a wide menagerie of imports, European, American, and exotics were present. I particularly liked the LowN’Slow’s crew of clean, VIP style cars. Thankfully, unlike the recent AutoCon, the “s0 hella flush my fenders look like they got blasted with rocks” look was not present here (this is editorial, I can say stuff like that). Of course, High End (most likely) steals the show with their ridiculously awesome cars; bringing out their GTR, which was surprisingly the only one there. Overall, most of the cars were clean, with a few new gems like the modified CR-Zs, but for me, the best in show goes to either the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle replica news van, the Michael Jackson motorcycle, or the time-warp Civic from 1999.

One thing I found surprising was the lack of models at the event. HIN is usually a hotbed for both new and established models to strut around, and one can usually be spotted just by turning your head in any direction, but I actually had to walk around quite a bit to spot some, which was a little perplexing. Or maybe I’ve just gotten lazier over the years. On the other hand, beer stands were readily available around the premises, which was also surprising, but in a good way.

Overall, the show was a good effort, and I really wanted to enjoy it, but there was just a certain “je ne sais quoi” missing. Most of the ingredients were there, but I just couldn’t get that “huge crazy party and everyone’s invited” vibe that I remember HIN for. Sure, there was music, there were models and go go dancers, and there were cars.. but it almost felt like everyone was just going through the motions, and not actively getting out there and having a blast (although I admit, it could totally have just been me). I’ll chalk this one up to the last minute venue change though, so I can understand all the re-preparations the HIN team probably had to go through just to push out the event.  Hopefully, as the year moves on, they’ll have more time to produce and bring back the HIN vision. We’ll probably be there again for the Manila and Los Angeles legs of the tour!

Special shout out to Tina and her friend, Sandra Wong 😛 –Dave Luong, Madlight Media

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