This year we figured we would tackle 3 events in a single weekend. The timing was perfect. Our journey started Thursday morning at 6:30am when we drove from Phoenix to Las Vegas for the 2009 SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. SEMA is the largest automotive show in the world that attracts car industry enthusiasts from all over the globe. We took two VIP’d out Lexus’, the Kyoei USA project UCF20 (1999 Lexus LS400) and our very good friend & customer Kareem’s 2002 Lexus GS300. We loaded up both cars with extra stock wheels and plenty of tools just in case anything happened while on the road and off we went.
The SEMA show was disappointing to me and not nearly as good as the last 3 years I have attended. Vendor attendance was down approximately 40-50% compared to the previous year. No doubt due to the slowing in the economy and most companies just didn’t want to spend the money. I don’t blame them, times are tough right now and SEMA is crazy expensive to have a booth at. Either way, our legs thanked us since we didn’t have to do as much walking. In previous years if you wanted to cover the entire show in depth you would easily need 3 eight hour days to do it.
Next up was a few of the locals in Vegas posted up a thread on VIPstylecars.com about having a VIP car meet Thursday night after SEMA. Most people expected maybe 5-7 cars to show up but we were all shocked when close to 30 cars showed up! It was awesome to meet some of the Vegas locals and even a bunch of people from Cali showed up as well. Cars from 3 different states made this show worth it to come out for a few hours. The best part was when we all decided to take over the Las Vegas Strip with all of our cars. People were staring like crazy, it was pretty awesome!!! The reactions of all the people seeing slammed Lexus or Infiniti’s one after the other was priceless. A lot of people on the trip were taking pics of us. After the cruise down the strip we headed over to a small parking garage to get away from the cops that were following us and finished the night just hanging out talking to people and taking pics. To end our time in Vegas, Friday night we used my handy iPhone to track down some authentic Japanese food. We ended up going to a place called Ichiza which was off the strip maybe 5 mins away. There was a 45min wait time to get a table but no biggie thanks to a bar right below Ichiza where we had a couple drinks while we waited. The wait was worth it, the food was amazing and Jin (owner of Kyoei USA) who is Japanese definately approved of the food we were served. The price was good and the staff was very friendly. If I am in Vegas again in the future, I will definately go to Ichiza again.
Now for the final destination and most anticipated part of our trip, the 3rd Annual VIP Festival held at AutoFashion in San Diego, California. This was the main event that we were all waiting for and the main reason I wanted to go on the trip. Saturday morning we headed out from Vegas on route to SD and made it there in about 5 hours. Kareem had a minor issue with one of his tires due to an air leak but still made the trip no problem by throwing a stock wheel on about 3/4 of the way to SD. Saturday night we tried out a local Vietnamese restaurant since we were all craving Pho. Thanks to my iPhone and the Yelp application I found a highly rated restaurant only 4 miles from our hotel called Pho Ca Dao in Mira Mesa. The Pho was pretty good but not as good as our local Arizona favorite Unphogettable in Mesa.
Sunday morning we arrived at the meet at about 9:30am and were the first ones there besides some of the AF staff that was getting things set up. This gave us ample time to get some good parking spots and take a while to clean up both cars before everyone got there around 11am. The meet started off a little slow but small groups would cruise in every hour or so and I’d say at least a total of 50-60 cars showed up total. The cars we saw at this event were unbelievable. It is one thing to see them in pictures on the internet but it was just plain awesome to see them in person. Everyone we talked to was cool as hell and it was great to meet a lot of the AF crew and owner Freddie. Cars from 3 states drove to this event and a couple guys even flew out from NY to show their support for the growing VIP scene. All in all the turnout was excellent and we had a blast.
We did a total of about 1050 miles of driving this last weekend but it was totally worth it. I’ve posted a couple pics of our cars below while we represented AZ at the meets.
We stopped at the Hoover Dam to snap a few quick pics of the LS400…
Hard parked at the VIP Meet in Vegas…
Kareem rollin hard on the way to SD in his GS300…
AZ representin in San Diego….
A San Diego local Kevin wanted a couple pics taken with Jin’s LS and his together…..Kevin’s car is slammmmmed and he daily drives it like that!! Straight gangster ridin on coilovers, NO AIR.