Tuner Evo Chicago: Storms & Stance
There is nothing quite like going out of town for a car show. The anticipation and excitement of heading to new city to check out some of the regions best show cars is enough to make the road trip worth it. When it comes to car shows, we do our best to attend a majority of larger shows within a 5-6 hr radius of Panda HQ in St. Louis, MO. Over the past few years we've been to quite a few shows but none quite like Tuner Evo Chicago, but we will get to that in a minute. Tuner Evo Chicago had a lot of hype surrounding it, from the show promoters, people we knew attending, and even internally as we had a vehicle reveal planned at our booth! Safe to say we were excited to get to Chicago for the event.
As previously mentioned, we were heading to the show to set up our booth as we had a vehicle reveal planned that almost didn't happen. The vehicle to be revealed was the 2008 Ford Focus Coupe with the 2.3L EcoBoost swapped into it. Sure this car has been in the show circuit for some time now, but it has undergone many changes since it was last seen in public, including a new color, custom 1 of 1 Turbo kit, and even an AEM dash! The final assembly came down to the wire, as the car was loaded onto the trailer only minutes after completion. With the trailers loaded up, we were ready to hit the road and begin our 5 hour journey to Chicago.
The weekend began like many other show weekend with a pre-meet. Many cars attending the show gathered the night before to get a sneak peak of what the show would be offering, and it did not disappoint. Many great builds were on display and kept the hype train rolling for Saturday's event.
We woke up bright and early Saturday to set up our booth at the event and browse the show before spectators arrived. With the early morning temperatures creeping into the 90s we knew it would be a hot one, and boy were we right. By the time the show started, we were experiencing 95 degree weather with roughly 75% humidity. To say we were grateful for our tent and sunscreen would be an understatement. Shortly after this is where things went south.
The weather did a complete 180, and the show that was sunny and 95 was now met with torrential downpour and 60 mph wind gusts. We quickly deconstructed our booth to prevent any damage to merchandise and the booth itself. The next hour or so we held down the fort, quite literally. With extreme heavy rain and winds, we had to make sure our booth would stay put. By the time the rain had stopped, the Panda Crew looked like we had just went to a waterpark fully clothed as we were all completely drenched. As the rain passed, the weather returned to pre-monsoon conditions of 95 degrees plus with astronomical humidity.
As the weather started to clear up and dry out, the show was able to continue. We were able to checkout the show once again, and make our pics for various awards including Best of Show and Best Crew. With a lot of really nice cars in the show, it was a tough call on who would be walking away with some hardware. Since this was a points based show, judging was a little different than what we were accustomed to. Instead of judging a car by the flow of the mods and quality of the work, the judges go off of a scorecard and whoever has the most points at the end is the winner. The uncharacteristic scoring method led to some interesting choices in awards, but deserved nonetheless! The top prize of Best in Show not only came with the honor, but also a free set of any Toyo Tires!
As the awards ceremony approached, the MC brought up a very serious topic in our community: the RPM Act. The RPM Act's mission is to protect the car community by stepping up to the plate against the EPA. This is a huge topic in itself and will have its own dedicated blog. For more information, you can follow this link to SEMA's website to learn more. It also has a link within the website to reach out to your local elected officials to inform them that you are interested in them fighting for the RPM Act. Tangent over, back to the blog.
Best Crew was divided into two seperate categories, including Best Overall and Best Attendance. The Best Attendance award went to NvUs and Best Overall went to Team Elevate. Best of Show was given to a newer Lexus ES 350 F Sport with a lot of work done to it, including air suspension, Rohana Wheels, and a one off turbo kit! Sadly we did not capture any pictures of this car, because on the surface it appeared to simply be a Lexus on bags and multipiece wheels. It wasn't until you got close that you saw the details.
After awards, we started breaking down our booth and packing up. After we had everything loaded up, we met up with some good friends and headed out to dinner to conclude our weekend in Chicago. While the weather didn't exactly cooperate, it was still a good show overall!
Enjoy some photos of some of our favorite cars from the show!