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Hot Import Nights - Atlantic City, NJ, June 15, 2002

What's it all about?
Hot Import Nights provide the opportunity for Tuners from around the country to show off their modified cars and trucks. They're held in various cities around the country, and always draw huge crowds.

This was the first stop on our "scouting" tour (we were in the planning stages of launching a Crutchfield booth at events like these, so we wanted to check out the scene). For most of us (six in our group altogether), this was our first Hot Import Nights show, and while we had some idea of what to expect, the scope of it all blew us away entirely.

We were lucky enough to get into the show before it officially opened, so we got to see the behind-the-scenes activity that few outside of exhibitors get to witness. The exhibition hall of the Atlantic City Convention Center was a flurry of activity: teams were putting the last coats of wax on their cars, polishing every square inch to an incredible shine, making sure they were wired in correctly to the external power sources that were providing the juice for their light and sound shows. Hoods were removed, trophies set up, team information cards placed strategically on the cars. Vendors were busy putting the finishing touches on their booths, making sure product displays were just right, tents were secure, show cars ready to rock; models were setting up the pictures and posters they'd autograph and distribute. Music was cranked up, subs pounded from every end of the exhibition hall; strobes began flashing, neon burst to life. And the show hadn't even begun yet.

We scurried around as fast as possible, trying to snap as many photos as we could before the lights went down (we were lucky enough to have our house photographer with us, who's capable of pulling off some remarkable shots). We met up with our various vendor contacts, and tracked down exhibitors with whom we'd only been in contact via email before that point (these included Road Test featurees Jim Blair and Frank Mauro, to whom we're very grateful).

Then the lights went down, and the gates opened.

Thousands of people came flooding into the hall, and the show was officially underway.

Show Highlights
To put it simply, everything you could possibly hope to see in the Tuner scene, you'll find at a Hot Import Nights.

The show basically is divided into three parts:

First, there are the competitors. They compete in a wide range of categories, trying to earn awards such as the "Ultimate Award" for "Hottest Import of the Show," "Hottest I.C.E," "Hottest Interior," and "Hottest Female Ride." There are also club categories, vehicle make-specific awards, and a StreetGlow-sponsored Glow Off. (If you'd like to check out the winners from this Hot Import Nights, click here.)

Next are the vendors and manufacturer booths. APC brought its tractor-trailer, large product displays, and lots of their customized show cars. Alpine was there, showing off its tricked-out Acura RSX (which we've profiled here). Kenwood, Sony, Infinity, StreetGlow, Toyo Tires, Valvoline, Meguiar's, Overboost.com, and lots more were all in on the action, too.

Finally, sponsored teams and clubs were there to show off their painstakingly customized masterpieces. Many brought trophies they'd won in the past, and most listed the modifications they had made to their rides. It's their overwhelming enthusiasm that makes the tuner scene such a rapidly growing phenomenon.

Intermixed in all this were a stage featuring DJs spinning, a light show, and breakdance exhibitions; plenty of food and drinks; and lots and lots of people. Oh, and models. Lots of models. All over the place.

We ended up hanging out quite a bit in the Audiobahn/Ichibahn booth. There we were able to talk a while with vanguard of the tuner movement, L.J. Garcia. He's a friendly, down-to-earth guy who patiently answered our persistent questions. He gets our heartfelt thanks.

Throughout the afternoon, and well into the evening, a whole lot of stuff was given away: T-shirts, CDs, catalogs, flyers, more T-shirts... We witnessed the guys in the Audiobahn booth attract a huge crowd in a matter of seconds just by announcing that they were about to give shirts away. A couple of our guys even got in on the act...

As the evening got later, everything built to a fever pitch. More giveaways, entertainment on the stage where the DJs were spinning, all culminating in the announcement of winners and the presentation of awards.

No matter if you're a hardcore Tuner, or just casually interested in the scene, you'll find something to love at a Hot Import Nights. If you see that one's coming to your area (check out our Event Calendar), be sure not to miss it!


Thousands of fans flocked to the Atlantic City Convention Center for Hot Import Nights (view from atop the Alpine booth).




This Honda is a striking example of the thrilling eye candy you'll find at a Hot Import Nights event.




The multiple-award-winning Absolute Imports team were on the scene, showing off their fleet of tuned cars.




A pair of Kicker subs in a custom housing give this Speedline (Virginia Beach) ride some serious thump.




StreetGlow brought its tricked-out Volkswagen Rabbit. It's loaded with plenty of eye-catching neon and great-sounding Blaupunkt audio equipment.


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