Vegas VIP Festival Pre-Meet and 2013 VIP Festival Coverage…

We went on a bit of a detour yesterday with the next installment of the Rywire ITR Build, but today, we’re going to jump right back into the timeline of my trip to Vegas which takes us from SEMA 2013 all the way to the VIP Festival event down in San Diego that same week. By Friday evening, I think I was pretty worn out already. SEMA takes a lot out of you, especially with all the industry parties, eating, and drinking. You add that on top of basically 4 straight days of walking through the SEMA show and you just don’t find yourself with a whole lot of energy in the proverbial gas tank. That Friday after I left the SEMA Show, I had to go to the FRY’s Electronics store to pick-up a new phone charger since mine broke unceremoniously, and then I had to drive to some random location that my homie Chivas told me about to meet up with the guys from Aimgain International and Kyoei USA to shoot some photos of one of their builds. They had hired me to do some photos for them but expressed that they wanted the car shot against a Las Vegas backdrop. Meaning that it had to have a very “Vegas” feel to it with some of the famous buildings from the strip in the background and what not. I didn’t know my way around Vegas THAT well so I had to hit up some friends who lived out there. Luckily they had shot out there before so I knew where I had to go. I trusted their judgement and the location they connected me with was actually pretty good. That is, until the fucking largest Ford Focus gathering in the world decided to show up to have a meet. That and some asshole in a 240SX decided to go to the location and start drifting while I was shooting. It was all kind of a mess but I got the shot I wanted and moved along…

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Here is one of the shots I captured for Aimgain International. Aimgain is a premier Japanese VIP aeroparts manufacturer from Japan and a brand I highly respect, so I wanted to make sure I did a good job for them. I’ll be honest, shooting a black on black vehicle in the complete dark was not an ideal scenario for me but I think I managed to make it work. Above is the fully Aimgain-equipped Toyota Prius that was built on behalf of Aimgain by Kyoei USA…

I was thinking about heading back to California after the shoot since I didn’t book a room in Vegas for that Friday evening, but decided to stick around because there was a meet happening later that night. Every year during SEMA, Autofashion USA likes to throw a meet in Vegas. They figure that a lot of people will already be out there for SEMA and there are quite a bit of VIP builds in Vegas so it makes for a good meet-up before the actual annual VIP Festival in San Diego. I think I might have missed out on last year’s meet but I went the year prior, so I decided to go check it out. I didn’t have anything to do anyway and preferred to drive home in the middle of the night, so it made perfect sense for me to head to the meet. I didn’t expect it to be so far off the strip though, as the location changed this year, but the venue where they held the meet at was honestly the perfect spot to do it. Normally they’d try to keep it close to the strip but cops would come or it would be over-crowded and the meet would eventually be broken up. For this year’s, they moved the meet over to a strip mall off the strip where a vape store, Vapors Union, was located. I don’t know anything about vaping so I can’t really elaborate on what it is all about but the location itself was great. It was undisturbed, the lot was basically completely empty, and they also had food trucks on hand to serve food to people. I showed up so early that I even took a nap for a while before the meet actually started, haha. I didn’t want to do coverage at first but eventually decided to get some shots. I figured it would be a good way to transition to the actual VIP Festival coverage and if I was totally burnt out by Sunday, these photos would serve as coverage since many of the same cars would be present…

Random but I was insanely hungry that evening but was worried about eating anything from the food trucks because I didn’t want to have the shits when I was driving back to California, haha. Eventually I did eat though, and then I shot some photos from the Pre-Meet….

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It was a little shocking to see so many LS460s in one place that evening. Either these cars are getting cheaper or I’m just staying at the same level of poor, haha. Everybody had an LS460 on hand and most of them were rocking Job Design kits. Even the official Job Design demo car from Japan was present…

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I had just seen the Job Design LS a couple hours earlier at the SEMA Show, but I got a much better look at it in detail at the Pre-Meet. Is it ugly? Ehhh, to be honest, it kind of is, haha. It’s way over the top and very gaudy but as I explained in my SEMA posts, it sort of has to be because you want your demo car to stand out and you want people to talk about it. It does its job of attracting attention, that’s for sure…

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This is one of those cars that really represents where the VIP scene is heading worldwide. I honestly don’t like it because it is a little too aggressive for my tastes, but much like the styles that we’ve all seen in the ever-growing tuner community, trends come and go and this is definitely a trendy look. I liken it to the “FEEL’s” widebody era of the Honda community, where it was important to be as eye-catching and bright as possible. It doesn’t really fit in with the traditional schemes and builds of the earlier years but things will come and go and I see the VIP community going back to the more classy, more subtle look in the years to follow…

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One thing I really do enjoy about the car is the custom audio set-up in the trunk. No matter how subtle or how ridiculous the VIP scene was in Japan then and now, their audio set-ups have always been very over-the=top. Custom car audio has always been that way, no matter what genre of car modification…

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Really cool set-up that even has water tubes in the center trunk display. Hard to capture with a long exposure but it was really cool to see in person…

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On the more traditional tip was Samson Mak’s Lexus LS430. You’ve seen this car plenty of times here on The Chronicles before but I always try to get some good detail shots of it because his build is all about details….

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Samson’s audio set-up in the trunk. Note the paddle switches for his air set-up located in the rear. His car is on a digital management system but he also has switches in the trunk, possibly for when they transport the car back and forth from Hawaii to California. It’s just easier to operate the bags even if the battery is disconnected….

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Samson was also telling me about this JDM Snap-On tissue box cover that he got that, ironically, only fits over U.S. tissue boxes. A little odd and a little to intricate for most to understand, but that’s Samson for ya. He also has all kinds of OEM Toyota Celsior (Japanese equivalent to the LS430) accessories that he purchased that people who worked at the Toyota dealerships in Japan didn’t even know existed. Fucking crazy….

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One traditional VIP styling cue that most American VIP enthusiasts fail to ever translate over to their builds is the airbrushing of Japanese idols onto the inside section of the gas tank cover. It doesn’t really make sense over here because you wouldn’t like, air brush Katy Perry or some shit onto your gas tank lid like how the Japanese will airbrush someone like Namie Amuro (Google if you don’t know) onto their’s. Samson wanted to bring this look to his car but instead of putting a Japanese pop star on his car, he chose to put a portrait of his own kid on there. Pretty cool…

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Another LS430, this one from the Platinum VIP booth previously at SEMA ’13. This one has a full Job Design kit and new Work Zistance wheels….

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The Job Design LS460 that you also saw previously in my SEMA covereage…

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One more Job Design-equipped 460…

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…and well, another one. I dig the color accenting on this one…

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Lexus GS450 F Sport with Job Design aero…

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One car that I did not expect to see was this debuting LS430 equipped with Central Pine gear. Central Pine is another Japanese VIP products manufacturer that hasn’t quite made the transition over to the states yet, and this build is supposed to be the bridge between the two countries. The car represents the more aggressive styling of the current VIP culture in Japan and like the Job Design demo car, it is a little too much for my tastes but I appreciate the work put into it…

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Central Pine big brake kit, black calipers with blue top hats….For those wondering, it is the style to have mismatched calipers and top hats in the VIP scene…

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Side profile view of the Central Pine LS430. The kit is completely one-off and created here stateside…

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The custom audio set-up in the CP LS430…

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Rainier Ramolete’s S13 drift build that was recently on the cover of Import Tuner magazine…Also another very over-the-top build but it very much represents Japan’s street drifting culture and style….

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Miguel Zaragoza’s custom widebody Infiniti M on deeeeeeeep dish VIP Modular wheels in anodized orange…Fucking weird color combo but it definitely stands out…

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Chivas Sotelo showed up in his orange EM1 coupe on bronze Volk CE28Ns…

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…as did Ray Deleon in his DB8 Integra…

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Slammed Honda Odyssey parked appropriately in front of a Child Care business….

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9th Gen Civic looking good on Work Emotion CR Kai….

That was basically all I captured at the Pre-Meet. I eventually packed up my gear and chatted with some friends before I made my way back to California. I believe I started my drive at around 10:30pm and got back to Orange County around 2am. Everybody said I was crazy for driving home that same night but it honestly wasn’t that bad. I’d much prefer driving home late than sitting in traffic all the way home. Saturday ended up being a rest day for me. I met up with DPK David and his wife at Rywire where we had a mobile car wash guy come clean our cars for the VIP Festival on Sunday. Falken Tire asked me to be in their booth and of course, I couldn’t say no, so I made sure my car was looking good for the event…

Unlike the VIP Festivals of year’s past, the 2013 edition was at a completely new location. Autofashion USA changed locations in the beginning of 2013 and thus, was unable to use their usual venue to hold the VIP Festival. I really liked the old location but things change and the event itself was pretty much outgrowing the old spot anyway so it was time for a change. Freddie from Autofashion has a good relationship with the guys over at HRE Wheels, so they offered up their location to host the VIP Festival this year. The venue itself was much larger, but I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t miss the old spot. It just had a much more closer-knit feeling to it. This new venue opened up the meet and cars were much more spread out, which is a good thing, but it certainly did not have the same feeling as the meets of year’s past. I think any time you change a venue for a meet that has done so well at a particular location in the past is difficult to adjust to. That’s just how we are as humans; we’re not always accustomed to change. In any case, the meet itself was a huge success. As the VIP community grows in North America, so will the VIP Festival in Socal….

Sunday morning came and I was feeling like a complete zombie. I think I realistically had to sleep for like 3 days straight to recover from the SEMA trip but fuck it, we gotta do what we gotta do. I got in my Q45, picked up my buddy Takeshi from Japan, and headed down to Irvine to meet up with DPK David and his LS430. I grabbed some gas for the car and we started our journey down to San Diego. When we arrived, set-up was already underway and cars were waiting outside to be parked within the confines of the HRE facility. I parked my car in the Falken booth and just sat around all morning not doing anything. It wasn’t until the late afternoon when I finally got some good photos, and even then I wasn’t really feeling very good. I got what I could and then chilled with friends until the end of the meet. Since my time ran short with the guys from Aimgain International, I promised them that I’d shoot their LS460 build after the VIP Festival ended. I mustered up whatever energy I had left to get some work done and well, here is the coverage, or lack thereof, from the event that Sunday…

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Aimgain GT LS460 from Revision Audio Hawaii…

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Steve Wong’s Aimgain LS400, which has long been one of the best that the U.S. VIP community has to offer…

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Ojay Bayang’s Purple Previa on staggered Work Emitz wheels…

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UCF30 LS430 with Mode Parfume Phantom Gamu-Regalia aero and WED’z Kranze LXZ… If I had an LS430, I’d get this kit just for the cool name alone, haha… “Phantom Gamu-Regalia” sounds like a villain in Star Wars or some shit…

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Aimgain Toyota Prius from Kyoei USA…

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Jin Ueno’s UCF20 LS400 that has also long been a favorite VIP build of mine…

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Aimgain LS460 that will be the focus of my workflow following the VIP Festival…

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The Central Pine LS430 that you saw in Vegas….

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Wild custom headlight set-up with L.E.D. turn signals…

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Mike Ken Kojima’s supercharged 350Z on custom Work Equip wheels representing Phaze2…

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The 2013 VIP Festival also played host to some really nice Honda Ruckus builds…

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Junction Produce-equipped 1st generation Lexus GS…

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Clean Lexus IS-F on Work Meister S1Rs…

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Junction Produce UCF30 on Leon Hardiritt Ordens…

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One of the more bizarre-looking cars of the day was this Y33 on Work Emitz wheels. The car didn’t even look drive-able or remotely safe being that the wheels didn’t even look like they were beaded correctly on the wheel. What the owner did was take an 18-inch wheel and bolted in a 19-inch outer lip to it, so while it didn’t look like it was seated correctly, apparently it was since the wheel itself was still an 18-inch wheel all around. Either way, it looks weird but definitely drew the attention of the crowd, whether it be positive or negative…

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Custom widebody 2GS on SSR Professor SP3s…

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Top UPS’ Infiniti M45 on WED’s Maverick wheels….

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LS430 laid out on Trafficstar DTX wheels…

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UCF20 LS on step-lipped Leon Hardiritt Waffes…

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Really liked the sporty-VIP look on this 2GS with Project Mu big brakes and brushed HRE 943RL wheels. Nice touch with the matching wheel hardware…

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It seems like I always encounter this Mini “Pepper White” Civic hatchback at the VIP Festival. Really nice build that is straight to the point…

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Bright red Lexus 2GS on Leon Hardiritt Ordens, the wheel that I consider to be the “TE37 of the VIP scene”….

That was the last shot of the day from the actual VIP Festival. As the hours passed and the sun began to set, I began to set-up for my shoot with the Aimgain LS460 behind the HRE facility. The car was white so it was pretty easy to shoot, but I still wanted to make sure that I got the right angles I wanted….

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The photos belong to Aimgain International now, but here is a behind-the-scenes shot of what I was doing after the VIP Festival that evening…

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…and here is a cool capture that I got of the guys from Kyoei USA and the head boss of Aimgain International. It was good to meet the owner of Aimgain and to do business with him. Hopefully my work will help lead me to other business opportunities with Aimgain.

That’s pretty much it. I’m sure it was a lot to take in already so I’ll conclude it here. Nothing really crazy happened after the shoot. I just met up with the guys from Autofashion USA and had dinner with them before heading back to Orange County. It was quite a two week long journey from planning and having the Year V anniversary meet, then spending an entire week in Vegas for SEMA, and closing it out in San Diego for the VIP Festival. Next year I plan to do it all over again in the same fashion, haha. Thanks for looking and have a good Thanksgiving everyone. Got a special surprise for you guys tomorrow so stay tuned….

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