The IsuzuWeb at NOPI; The NOPI Nationals Motorsports Supershow, September 17-19, 1999

From the December 1999 issue of Resurgence Magazine

For those of you who are long time readers, you know that almost every show review in Resurgence starts out on the topic of the weather in sort of a mildly twisted stab at Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong will) with a spin for Isuzus and car shows (whenever you enter an Isuzu in a car show, it will rain). We got very lucky with the Spring show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which historically has rain nine out of every ten years of shows, and in highly uncharacteristic form, sun block was the order of the day as everyone roasted in the sunshine. So it will be no surprise that it looked like we were going to pay for the good weather at the Carlisle show, as Mother Nature unleashed Hurricane Floyd and pointed him directly at Atlanta, Georgia with an estimated arrival time of 9 AM September 17, just in time for the show opening, just after it was expected to destroy everything from Key West, Florida to Savannah, Georgia, and just before it was expected to destroy everything from there, north to New York City and Boston, Massachusetts. National emergencies were declared all up and down the East Coast and an evacuation was ordered for all of South Florida, and by all appearances, we were about to see the greatest natural disaster in recent history. Only the truly insane would see all this on the news and in the papers and still continue to pack the Isuzu and go to the show, with the full expectation that the show would be cancelled and the entire state of Georgia would likely be under at least three feet of water. But as luck would have it, on Friday, Floyd made a hard right turn, dumped quite a bit of water a bit farther up the coast from Georgia, and headed back out to sea, leaving light overcast skies for the sun to peak through periodically for the entire 1999 NOPI Nationals show. One more close call for the IsuzuWeb.

Even so, on Thursday and Friday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway where the NOPI Nationals is held, it was looking pretty grim with scattered drizzle leaving most not knowing if they would need waders, water wings, or directions to the closest storm cellar or emergency shelter.

Friday, September 17, 1999

Early check in is always important at shows like NOPI and Carlisle, allowing quick and smooth processing of the necessary paperwork and avoids the long lines the morning of the show (unless they forget to open the gates on time). After checking in, I got directions to the Isuzu car class display area and headed for the infield of the Atlanta Motor Speedway to take a look at the show field and check for other early arriving IsuzuWeb members. I had arrived at Carlisle late due to some bad luck while travelling to the show, and wanted to make sure I was not the last person to arrive this time. For the 1998 NOPI Nationals, the Isuzu/Geo classes display area was smack dab in the middle of the infield on the main thoroughfare, where we couldn't be missed, but for 1999, we did not fare as well. The Isuzu/Geo classes were closer to the East straightaway of the Motor Speedway, next to the Petty Driving Experience Driving School. This would not have been too bad because the Georgia Z Car club traditionally show their cars in the covered show space (racing garages) adjacent to this space. The foot traffic drawn over to see all the Nissans and Datsuns would have more than made up for the positioning, but the Z Car club apparently cancelled out and the Isuzu/Geo space ended up being the far east demarcation of no-mans-land, with sparse placement of show cars in the entire section.

Not seeing anyone else, I selected a piece of pavement in the middle of the section, parked my 1986 Isuzu Impulse where it couldn't be missed by any IsuzuWeb member who might happen by, and set out to take a look at the infield to get an idea of what was ahead for the weekend. You never fully appreciate the work and effort that goes in to setting up a vendor display at one of these shows unless you actually watch these people unload what is basically a miniature version of their store front shop and set it up under a tent in the middle of a parking lot. I happened across the Wings West booth and introduced myself to Ernie Bunnell and Bill Longfellow, fully expecting them to curse my name beneath their breath for my efforts to stir up the Geo Storm and Isuzu community to urge Wings West to design and manufacture a contemporary body kit for these cars. To my surprise, they were extremely happy to see me. I offered a bit of help setting up consisting mostly of pealing the backing from a few dog tags and offering mostly moral support than anything else, and after some discussion, I was asked to help line up some people to volunteer the use of their Storm for prototyping new aero pieces. There is further information on this in the Wings West story later in this issue.

Having reconnoitered the infield, and not seeing any other IsuzuWeb members, I took the afternoon to locate an amusement park with a go cart track suitable for the bi-annual IsuzuWeb Go Cart Challenge, established at the 1999 Carlisle show in the Spring by suggestion of Alan Cattlett. Our invitation to the Malibu Speed Zone north of Atlanta depended on an early reservation which did not materialize and that amusement park was rented out by the Super Street NOPI Tour. I located the Dixieland Park in the neighboring town of Fayetteville, Georgia, offering both a road course and a slick track course, which consists of a polished concrete which they sprayed down with water between races (talk about slick). That concern taken care of, I returned to the Atlanta Motor Speedway to check again for IsuzuWeb members and finding none, settled in for the evening, polishing and waxing my car between the off and on drizzle.

Saturday, September 18, 1999

Arriving early at the show, I quickly discovered the best part about being assigned a display area so far from the middle of the show with so few other cars displaying in the same area, the ability to spread out, relax, and not have to worry about someone parking on top of you. Up went the two tables and the IsuzuWeb banners and club display along with the chairs. Attendance was looking rather grim early on and it appeared that Hurricane Floyd might have scared most people away, but as noon approached, the rest of the infield began filling up. Colin Walker and his father Harold Walker were the first IsuzuWeb members to arrive, each driving a 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS and both pulled up next to the spot where I had parked my 1986 Isuzu Impulse. Colin and Harold had driven in from Cave Spring, Georgia, and had actually trucked one of the Impulses in on a flat bed fearing a long trip with a knock in the engine. Wendle Person was the next IsuzuWeb member to arrive in his 1991 Isuzu Imark RS which he had driven with the Super Street Northeast Tour all the way from Washington, DC. Lunch was provided this day by Blimpe, a mountainous platter of assorted sub sandwiches, and I must personally thank Blimpe for delivering both myself and the sandwiches to the show.

With lunch taken care of, we all set out to look at the wide variety of import and domestic cars as well as the manufacturers' midway, more or less a cross between a performance auto parts supermarket and an industry convention.

We took the opportunity to lobby a few manufacturers for products.
First was Accell, whose rep proudly explained how their 300+ ignition system is more powerful than the MSD 6AL with the added advantage that the Accell product is a direct plug in for the Isuzu cars using the Delco control system.
Next was the Atlantic Motorsports rep and later the American Products Corporation, who both informed us that for them to make clear tail lamps for any of the Isuzu or Storm cars would require an initial order for several thousand pairs for each application. We later discussed that a lobby campaign similar to our effort with Wings West would probably be the best approach to convince these companies to produce these products. Atlantic Motorsports can be reached at (904) 270-1157. American Products Company can be reached at (909) 898-9840.

With the close of the afternoon and the onset of evening, we all felt thoroughly worn out from our tour of the show and the consensus was that we would forego the gocart races and retire for the evening to rest up for Sunday, and Wendel stated that he believed he might head back home to his family later on in the evening.

Sunday, September 19, 1999

Earlier I hinted at the convenience of early check in, unless they forget to open the gate in the morning, and on Sunday, that's pretty much what happened. The gates opened about two hours late and show cars were stacked bumper to bumper, lines spiralling out in all directions from the Speedway. Once inside, Colin and Harold Walker and I gathered in the Eastern outskirts of the infield in the Isuzu/Geo class display area. Colin was accompanied this day by his girlfriend, Joi Barnett. We were all pleasantly surprised with a visit by IsuzuWeb member Don Grubbs and his son Carl, who had arrived in Don's 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS, but had not entered it in the show. We all took the afternoon to tour the show field again and Don was nice enough to show us his car outside of the show where we all got a little glimpse of the SCCA autocross that was taking place in the Speedway front parking lot.

A little after noon on Sunday, a man approached our little IsuzuWeb club table and introduced himself saying "Hi, my name is John R. Kutsch, President of Carlisle Productions. I was going to ask you guys if you were interested in attending our Custom Compact Power Jam show up in Pennsylvania, but I see you have all our trophies from the last several years, so obviously you know about us.". After a very few minutes of conversation, Mr. Kutsch exclaimed "Oh, you guys are the Isuzu car club, the IsuzuWeb!". Mr. Kutsch talked to us for a while and asked us what we liked and disliked about the Carlisle show, how it could be improved and what not to change. A few of the pros were the family atmosphere, the swap meet area with all the memorabilia, and the classic import cars. On the cons list was the foul play in the club participation competition, to which Mr. Kutsch replied "Yes, we're taking steps to correct that and make sure that multiple clubs don't try to enter under the same club name.". Our conversation ended with a handshake and a personal invitation from Mr. Kutsch for all of our IsuzuWeb members to attend the 2000 Custom Compact Power Jam.

As the afternoon wore on, our group gathered back at the Isuzu/Geo display area and we socialized with Payton Pourciau, who was showing his customized 1992 Storm Wagon with a heavy duty sound system, as well as the owner of a Geo Prizm who had been classified in our class despite the Toyota origin of his model. We later learned that the seven of us, along with Wendel Person, who had gone back to his home in Washington, DC, made up the total count for all entries in the Isuzu/Geo classes for both Conservative and Mild. We gathered for the awards ceremony on the Western end of the infield in front of the grand stand and all applauded as fellow IsuzuWeb member Harold Walker was awarded third place for the Isuzu/Geo Conservative class and fellow IsuzuWeb member Wendel Person was awarded second place for the Isuzu/Geo Mild class. However, something that was puzzling to all were the awards for first place in both of those classes which went to "Chris Eberhart" for the Isuzu/Geo Conservative class and "Johnny Stevens" for the Isuzu/Geo Mild class. As was mentioned earlier, the eight of us who had gathered in the Isuzu/Geo display area were the only eight people who had shown Isuzu and Geo cars in the Isuzu/Geo display area and the announcer indicated that there were eight cars in the Isuzu/Geo classes. Chris Eberhart and Johnny Stevens were not among those eight, and no other Isuzu or Geo cars were seen at the show, anywhere. Additionally, when we asked the car clubs, including the 60 plus member Jokers club, if they had any Isuzu or Geo cars that might have been parked with their club instead of in the Isuzu/Geo display area, we were told that they had no cars entered in that class. We would very much have liked to see the two first place cars in the Isuzu classes, but these were not to be found at the show and from all appearances, the two first place awards were given to people that were not to be found at the show, if they did in fact attend. This has been a rather perplexing mystery for all that attended the show.

With the awards ceremony ended, it was time for all to head home carrying with them the memories of another weekend of Isuzu enthusiast heaven and a show that was thoroughly enjoyed by all involved.

The Honored

Harold Walker's 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS

IsuzuWeb member Harold Walker was awarded third place for the Isuzu/Geo Conservative class. One sharp Impulse RS.

Wendel Person 's 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS

IsuzuWeb Member Wendel Person was awarded second place for the Isuzu/Geo Mild class. Sporting a new aluminum touring spoiler, taking Georgia in style.

Points Of Interest; Sky Blue Storm

Payton Pourciau's 1992 Storm Wagonback

Payton Pourciau was in the process of putting the final coats of his new paint job onto his Storm Wagonback when Hurricane Floyd decided to blow over his Florida home and prevent Payton from completing the job. Even so, he attended the show and did quite well in teh stereio sound off competition.

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