The NOPI Nationals didn’t get its “Nothing Comes Close” reputation by accident. The annual event in Atlanta, Georgia, is now one of the biggest shows in the country and expanding every year. The fun starts for many with a cross-country road trip. Caravans leave from several points around the US and Canada, converging at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Drivers are treated to a welcoming lap around the track to get the fun started early. The action-packed weekend schedule has all of the automotive activity that you could ask for and it would be a clear test of your stamina if you wanted to see it all.
Produced by Michael and Mark Myers and Bobby Evans, the show has outgrown several Georgia venues until now, only the sprawling facilities of the Speedway can accommodate the crowds. This year more than 7,500 vehicles and 105,000 people spent the weekend partying at the Nationals. A large part of the show’s attraction is that there is something to entertain you, no matter what your automotive fantasy. Stereophiles had multiple venues to choose from depending on whether you preferred IASCA, USAC or dB Drags. All were triple points events and cheering on your favorite was almost as exciting as participating. The Installer Challenge was also fun to watch, an exercise in imagination, electronics and caffeine consumption.
Do you like to decorate your ride with the soft glow of neon? The Street Glow Neon Chamber sent several class winners home smiling, awarding more than $1,000 in prizes. Maybe you’re a hydraulics fan? It didn’t matter whether you were a spectator or a competitor. The Saturday and Sunday competitions were awesome and you got to see the best of the best. Class winners enjoyed the big pay-outs with $1,000 for First, $200 for Second and $100 for Third in each of seven classes. More than $9,100 made this a “can’t miss” event for switchmen and spectators alike.
Horsepower fanatics also had multiple options with the HP Dyno Contest separating the heavy hitters from the wannabes. Pay outs of $200 went to each of the top six contenders. You could put the horsepower to good use in the Scorched Earth Burnout Contest that not only entertained the crowd but also temporarily darkened the sunny Atlanta skies. Daily winners took home $500 in cash and a badly needed set of new Dunlop tires.
Want more? The ultimate spectator attraction had to be the Miss NOPI Bikini Contest where two dozen of the country’s hottest chicks competed for top honors and the big bucks cash award. The Saturday and Sunday shows were jampacked and it was a test for the judges to come up with a winner. Beautiful Rene Baker and the other four finalists shared the $5,000 prize. The action continued in the foam pit Saturday night, providing good clean fun and adding to the memories of NOPI 2003.
More than 1,200 exhausted but smiling drivers received trophies for their talent at the Sunday afternoon awards ceremony, bringing to a close the 16th Annual NOPI Nationals. While the show itself may be history, the excitement will linger on for the more than 100,000 enthusiasts who already have this mega-event on their calendar for 2004.