Words & Photos by John Krueger
Earlier in the month, I made my annual trip to Las Vegas for the SEMA show. 2017 marked my 3rd year attending the event, and I always arrive the weekend before the show kicks off, and I normally fly back home the weekend right after, but this year I decided to extend my trip. You see, the Sunday immediately following SEMA, Autofashion holds their annual VIP Fest event in San Diego, California, and I've been repeatedly told to go and invited to attend, but trying to figure out the logistics and taking the time off from work made it difficult. This year though, I made the extra time off work available, and with the help of some friends I was able to go from Vegas to California to attend the VIP event in the US.
The reason I was able to make it this year is Sam from Central Pine/T-Demand USA. I've known Sam for a few years now, and he was one of those always asking if I was going to make it to a VIP Fest. I was in SoCal for StanceNation in September and we were talking about it, and I mentioned needing a way to get from Vegas to Cali and a place to stay, and he just said, "I got you," and the rest is history. So, major thanks to him for letting me tag along, Matsu and Takashi for the good company, and the rest of the Central Pine USA family for welcoming me.
The event itself was awesome, but that's to be expected for my first time going. It was crazy for me to see so many VIP and VIP-Styled cars in one place. The scene is still growing in the US, so we don't have VIP shows every other weekend like Japan does. What really made VIP Fest special for me though was getting to finally meet so many people that I've only known online, and for a lot of people it was nice to have me attending as well which took me by surprise. I've been apart of the VIP scene here in the US for about 7 years, and while I don't consider myself an OG, I've been around long enough that I'm not green behind the ears, lol.
Honestly though, I seriously had a fantastic time and attending VIP Fest will be a yearly thing for me now. Seeing all the cars was great, but getting to connect with all the people is what made it special for me. Instead of just being 'online friends,' all the people I got to connect with are real friends. I also got to make some new friends and reconnect with old ones too. With me being stuck in the Mid-West, I have to take any chance I get to make it out west and actually hang out with the community. It's crazy how the internet made the world so much smaller, and how we can keep in touch with friends from all over the globe, but the face-to-face interactions can still never be replaced. Anyways, enough of me blabbering about my experiences. Let's get to some coverage of the cars.
I'll leave off with a gallery of the images. I didn't take as many photos as I thought I would because the lighting was terrible the first half of the event, and I was super busy talking with people and helping out at the Central Pine booth. Thanks again to Sam, Matsu, Takashi, Austin, JP, Alex, Kekoa, Erik, and the rest of the Central Pine family for the opportunity to come with, the Autofashion staff for putting on such a great event, and everyone that I got to share the event with. This is what makes the car community so great. A lot of these people I see only a couple times a year, but the fact that we can pick up conversations again like we just hung out the week before is special. I already can't wait for next year.