At this point in my life I typically only attend one or two events per any given summer. I frequently have friends that live fairly close to me comment that they only see me in Chicago or Wisconsin, and typically that is often the case. It’s difficult for me to leave my family for any stretch of time, so I tend to try to choose which events I do that for wisely.
I knew before 2019 even started that WekFest Chicago and Final Bout Gallery were the two events I wanted to attend this season. After getting permission from my lovely wife, I later realized that these two events took place during the same week in May- with WekFest happening on a Sunday, and Final Bout festivities kicking off the following weekend. While it sounded a bit difficult to pull off, I did manage to make it happen.
I left for WekFest on Saturday afternoon to head to my friend Melvin’s place out in Chicago. I had just finished a decent amount of maintenance on my car and hadn’t really driven it in a couple weeks as a result, so I was fairly nervous (as I often am ahead of driving it a decent distance like the 250 miles or so from my home to Chicago) but thankfully everything went very smoothly. I did hit a decent thunderstorm after entering Indiana, but I have come to expect it when traveling this route. I thought that by skipping my usual pre-road trip car wash I would avoid it, but sadly I didn’t have any luck.
After arriving downtown, Melvin and I hopped in our 240s and headed over to the JDM Chicago WekFest premeet down the street from his place. Though there were not many cars or people there, I did get a chance to catch up for a bit with some friends I don’t often get to see, including DPK David, Joey Lee from The Chronicles, and Ginash from JDM Chicago. Mel and I ended up grabbing some dinner and hanging out before going to bed at a reasonable time since we had to be up early for roll in at the show the next morning.
Mel and I met up with 4/5 of Team Proceed at a gas station on the way to the venue, then cruised on the highway together over to the show. This was quite a treat- especially to see Josh’s 180 in action on the street. Ilia eventually joined us somewhere along the way and snuck into line. I have a lot of respect and admiration for these guys and I am thankful I have gotten to know them over the last few years.
The show itself was… well, a car show. I had a lot of friends to spend time with there though which made it go by rather quickly. My brother and his wife even came by to check out the show (they live in Chicago) which meant a lot to me. It was great to catch up with people and spend some time together. Thank you to Nicolas from TF Works for asking me to park my car in the Mackin Industries/Rays/Advan booth! That was quite an honor. I was pretty embarrassed about my paint (as I mentioned in this previous long-winded post) but still had a really great time.
After the show, I zipped over to Melvin’s place to grab a pair of metal PS13 Silvia fenders I had purchased from a friend in Chicago about six months ago (a big thank you to Melvin and Simba for helping collect these for me!) Once those were loaded up, I said my goodbyes and made the four hour trek back home to Michigan. I’m really impressed with the fuel mileage my car got on this trip. I’ve never really pushed it very far when driving to Chicago since gas is so expensive in the city, but I needed to have 1/8 tank of fuel to get into Navy Pier for the show. We even had to go out Saturday night to do some highway pulls to burn fuel, even after the long drive from Michigan! Pretty wild.
Final Bout Gallery
It felt like it took an eternity for Thursday afternoon to arrive, but eventually I was able to set my Out of Office message and get out of the office. The power had been out at my home and office due to an overnight thunderstorm, so it made the day pretty interesting. My mother-in-law was kind enough to come to our house that afternoon to watch our daughters while my wife and I were gone at the event, so I was feeling really bad about them not having electricity while we were gone. Thankfully the power buzzed back on right as we were heading out the door, so that was a huge relief. We said goodbye to the girls, filled the S13 up once again with a full tank of gas, and hit the road.
The drive to Chicago was relatively uneventful. It wasn’t very hot out like it typically is on this drive in August or September, so we were able to drive with the windows up. It’s nice to be able to have a (relatively) quiet conversation without all of the wind noise. After sitting in traffic for a decent bit and paying way too many tolls, we arrived at Simba and Angel’s house where a slew of our best friends from all over the globe were hanging out. It felt amazing to see everyone, some for the first time in years.
Reunited with my two best buds from Toronto and Houston- Liam and Jimmy.
Jimmy’s livery turned out amazing. I’ll admit I was apprehensive about it but I don’t
think D Magic could have done a better job with it.
After hitting Portillo’s for some much needed dinner, we went back to the hotel to hang out for a while before bed. The crew consisted of my close friends Jimmy and Liam from Houston and Toronto respectively, as well as Harris, Kev, and Triggs that also made the drive up with Jimmy from Houston. My good friend Camden and his girlfriend Steph from Fort Wayne, Indiana were present as well. We also spent the evening with none other than Brian “Big Bad BH” Harte, who elected to hang back in Chicago and drive up with Alicia and I in my S13 on Friday morning. I was really grateful Brian decided to do this and wanted to spend time with us since it’s not the most comfortable car and we had to leave super early in the morning so that the guys could get good pit spots at US Air.
Dom drove his Z32 all the way across the country from Sacramento, drove it super hard at the event, and drove it home. Unreal. It looked amazing!
After going to bed way too late and waking up way too early, we all hopped in our cars right as a huge thunderstorm was rolling in. It wasn’t long into the trek to the Oasis meeting spot when Brian noticed that the roof/windshield of my S13 can leak fairly bad… sorry about that BH. We stopped at the Oasis for coffee and donuts before making the 3.5 hour drive up to USAIR in Shawano, Wisconsin. The rain eventually subsided and Alicia was able to get some sleep curled up in the back seat of my car- she is a trooper!
Jimmy and Liam’s cars in the pits.
I think we arrived at the track before 10 AM. Lots of cars and teams were also arriving and trying to set up their places in the pits. Melvin asked me to park my car in the Club FR booth all weekend- which was awesome since it meant free event entry and not having to park out in the grass field. Things can get a little hairy out there, especially when it rains. Big shoutout to Mel for hooking us up! We really appreciate it. We spent the day wandering and standing around in the pits with winter jackets on as it was fairly chilly and cloudy all day. After checking off our traditional trip to Arby’s for lunch, we hung out a bit more at the track before going back and relaxing in Jimmy’s hotel room at Boarder’s Inn. We eventually made our way to Longhorn Saloon, but didn’t stay for too long as I realized I had not eaten much all day and had only had Mt Dew and Red Bull all day. Alicia, BH, and I retired early to get some much needed sleep.
The man himself BH World helping me clean the car up before parking at the Club FR Booth.
We woke up Saturday and headed over to the track with Brian in tow. After setting up my car and trying to make it look somewhat presentable, we walked back and forth all day between the pits and the spectator area to watch some driving. A large group of us ended up going to dinner at a local diner during the competition, so we missed that portion of the event. But we did make it back in time to watch some night driving from the judge’s stand which was a real treat. I wanted Alicia to get to experience this as she had not been to an event at US Air with night driving before. It’s super exciting to watch. We mustered up the energy to all hang out in Jimmy’s room for a bit again before passing out.
Joey Lee of The Chronicles and Yasu from Phase2 made the trip out to Wisconsin from California and Japan respectively despite being in Chicago just a few days earlier for WekFest. Pretty cool! Always awesome to see Joey in person. Very kind and talented guy that I appreciate a lot.
My wife Alicia hopping into Jimmy’s R32 before heading out on track.
Daigo of Sexy Knights checking out Tony’s 240 which he was super excited about. He didn’t seem to care much about my car, which made me feel that I accomplished my goal of making it look like a stock 180SX in Japan, lol.
The vibe on Sunday is always much more relaxed. Things seem to move at a slower pace and you don’t have to wake up as early to head to the track. We parked my car in the booth once again and spent the day doing more or less the same thing we did Saturday. Alicia and I were able to get a couple ride alongs with Liam, Jimmy, and Melvin which was a lot of fun. Alicia has really gotten into drifting in the past couple years and desperately wants to take my car out on track- I think she has a much stronger desire to try it than I do at this point. Maybe I will be able to make this happen for her eventually.
Frankie is a great dude and has a couple of super nice 180s. Always nice to see him!
Alex and his friends traveled all the way from Germany to attend Final Bout Gallery. It was awesome to meet them in person!
I hadn’t seen Teddy from Auto Factory Realize since we attended the very first Final Bout together in 2014 so it was awesome to see him again! Nice to see Chuck as well.
One last meal at Arby’s with the guys (and some gals too) before making the trek home.
I always leave Shawano around noon or 1 PM at the latest on Sunday since I lose an hour on the way home due to the time zone difference and it’s an 8+ hour drive. This year, since Alicia was with me and we had child care lined up for our kids, we decided to just hang out and try to stay awake for the late drive home. While this was a lot of fun, it did make the drive home pretty exhausting. After saying our goodbyes and one last trip to Arby’s, I think we left town at 6:30 PM Michigan time. It was a chore staying awake and watching for deer and other hazards in the dark on the crusty roads during the drive home, but thankfully we made it safely at around 2:30 AM or so. After swapping over to our Sienna and unpacking a bit, we eventually made it to my in-law’s and fell asleep around 4:30 AM, only to be woken up by our daughters at 7:30 AM. I was a wreck for a few days but it felt so great to be home.
In looking at my photos, I took a ton more than the ones posted here. Maybe I’ll make a second post or try to add some more here at a later time.
It was a wild week, but I am so thankful for the time I got to spend enjoying my car and for some time away with my wife- even if it wasn’t really much of a vacation. My car held up like a champ with zero issues which always makes me feel accomplished. Forever grateful for the friends we have made through this silly hobby and all of the experiences we have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Looking forward to the next time we all get to be together!
Thank you as always for reading. Have an excellent weekend!