Wekfest Los Angeles 2018 Coverage… Part 1…


It’s odd, I have very distinct memories of being at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I don’t find myself going there very often these days but about ten years ago, it felt like I was there all the time. It’s one of those places that will hold a certain amount of significance to me, growing up in the busy Southern California car show scene. It was a wild scene back then. The Hot Import Nights car shows when they were at their peak 15 years ago was and probably will always be the craziest times for me as a car show attendee. Things are very different now of course, being on the other side, behind-the-scenes, but man, I can honestly say that I really do miss those days. Back then we were eager to get our cars into the HIN shows at the LA Convention Center even though it didn’t make sense for us to be there most of the time because we didn’t have full displays with lighting or anything. Our cars would just be parked in the dark. I think we only wanted to be a part of that show because we wanted to be there in that environment. It was the biggest thing then. Everyone wanted to be there. Nobody wanted to park outside and risk getting their cars stolen or broken into in Downtown Los Angeles so it was just easier to park your car inside the show…

I can talk about those days pretty openly now. Hot Import Nights is a shadow of its former self and not remotely the same show many of us ‘older guys’ grew-up loving. Every year, we would pile into the Los Angeles Convention Center and leave with plenty of memories. Just walking around that convention hall the day of staging that weekend of Wekfest LA 2018 felt so incredibly nostalgic. It was the show series’ first time hosting at the LA Convention Center so it was an opportunity to create some new memories but I couldn’t help but think back on all the great times I had there. Just walking around this completely empty hall, I could recall specific sections of it that were especially memorable…

One of the first was an area towards the back loading gate area where I actually got to meet Yuta for the first-time. I don’t even know if he recalls but I remember seeing his old 240Z when it was at the peak of its popularity, on display at the Fatlace/Illest booth. He even trolled HIN by creating and placing a “Hot Junkyard Nights” banner on his hood. He didn’t give a fuck then and he still doesn’t now. I think the remnants of that decal are still on his hood of his 240Z sitting on a shelf here at the shop. I didn’t know him back then but it’s crazy to think now some years later I see the guy every fucking day. There was also a particular HIN that happened years ago when one of my older photographer friends shot a pornstar named Angel Dark at the show and she was full nude and fingering herself in someone’s car while he shot photos of her. They just threw a tarp on top of the car whenever someone would walk by. It sounds completely outrageous these days but believe me when I tell you that things were very , VERY, different back in those days. You probably wouldn’t even believe half the shit I told you. They used to also hold staging in one of the parking structures that connected to the Convention Center and I forget which year, this was probably around 2002-03-ish, but I was just there hanging out supporting my friends who were showing and took a turn inside the parking structure to tightly, caught a curb and destroyed one of my sideskirts that was molded to the body of my car. It was so embarrassing. What was worse was that it happened in front of EVERYONE because people were waiting there to stage their cars. I went home and told my Mom that I ran over something on the freeway to make it less humiliating. It was also in this same parking structure where I drove up to the very top one year and saw a couple of guys doing a photoshoot of a crazy blue VeilSide JZA80 Supra. Everyone was talking about this VeilSide Fortune Supra because it was unheard of to have that kit back then. I think the kit was like $20k back then and that just seemed preposterous for any car enthusiast to afford. The owner had come down from Washington to compete along with a few other heavy hitters from the Pacific Northwest. See, that ties into everything I talked about from the Wekfest Seattle coverage. Things come full circle. It was a great time for both California and the Northwest during those times. The car community was thriving then. People would regularly bring their cars everywhere to compete at car shows because it was so incredibly competitive nationwide. You know who owned that Supra? The older cats would know but that Supra still exists today and looks pretty much identical to the way it did when I last saw it on that roof top in 2004. The owner and builder was a guy named Christian Coujin. If that name sounds familiar, Coujin is one of Akira Nakai’s closest friends today. The same Nakai behind Rauh-Welt Begriff. And the magazine those photos ended-up in was a popular book then called “HCI” or “Hot Compacts and Imports”. It was operated by two brothers named Neil and Gene Tjin, or the guys behind the Tjin Edition Tour that you see everywhere still in 2018. I don’t recall if they shot the photos that day or if they were even there when I drove by the afternoon, but it’s crazy to think that I became friends with those guys some years later…

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Those same parking structure photos also landed that Supra on the cover of HCI. I walked into a liquor store during a lunch break from my dead-end job a few months later and saw it sitting next to a nudie mag. I bought it. Seeing that photoshoot and the cover of this issue of HCI also got me interested in the automotive print industry. And I don’t imagine I’d have to remind you guys how involved I was on that side of the industry years later…

There are just so many stories I can tell you guys, some good, some bad, all interesting, haha. When I had my CB7 Accord build I also did an HIN show. Just once though. I believe it was the summer of 2006. There was a weekend when HIN was happening back-to-back with another huge show at the time, Nisei Showoff. I was living in San Diego at the time and thought it would be cool to do both shows so I did HIN on Saturday night, left my car at my uncle’s in LA, and then woke up early the next morning and went to Nisei Showoff. I parked with Freddie and the guys from Autofashion and I’m pretty sure I was the only Honda in their line-up of VIP cars. It was a good time. I was naive then and young so I left my windows open the entire show, thinking it would be fine, but HIN is a dark show as mentioned, and of course, somebody decided to steal some shit from my car but whatever, such is life. Ironically enough, that day of Wekfest Los Angeles, 12 years later, The Chronicles booth was in the exact spot where I had parked my Accord back then. In the later years, towards the end of HIN’s huge run as one of the nation’s top shows, I attended a show at the same convention hall yet again. I think by that time I was already building The Chronicles into something and was pretty busy, and generally avoided going to HIN events because they didn’t really cater to my tastes anymore. My boy Tony had a booth and was all about helping these up and coming import models get big. It was like his thing. I don’t know what he got out of it but I think he just generally liked being around girls. Whatever. Tony had a huge part in making some of these girls really big names in the industry, like Amy Fay for example. The guy was just kinda oddly good at it. I couldn’t tell you the formula but he knew it. Whatever the case may be, he had extra passes and told me to go hang out so I did. He introduced me to one of the models at the ‘model lounge’ and we had good rapport. We started talking all the time and I became completely infatuated with her. I didn’t realize it back then, and I know it sounds like a bad idea meeting models at car shows, but this girl changed me. Up until that point I had never really met anyone that understood or appreciated my mind as much as she did. It was strange, really strange, because well, I didn’t expect it. Girls like that weren’t supposed to be interested in guys like me because guys like me didn’t have a whole lot of self-confidence. And I was just this lame car guy. She kinda taught me how to value myself and showed me that someone with a mind like mine should be appreciated. She understood how I thought. I wasn’t just a nerdy car guy with nothing to offer to the world. I don’t think she ever realized how much she helped me at that stage of my life. We were probably never good for each other but it was a chance meeting that was completely necessary in my self-development. After that initial meeting we’d find reasons to run into each other at events and what not. At SEMA in Vegas one year I went out with my boys to an industry party and pretended I went to go grab a drink at the bar—then disappeared. I left the club to go pick her up from an industry function and we sort of just spent a few hours together and just hung out. Like a compartmentalized date. It was nice. I went back to the club that night and my friends were none the wiser. We realized we weren’t good for each other because of our respective life situations and eventually parted ways. We would randomly pop into one another’s lives every now and then via text but that eventually faded away. I think we just knew how to make each other feel good about one another but that never lasts. Things happen and we learn from them. I’m human. I can’t say I always made the best decisions but that just comes with life. You learn from both the good and the bad, but more often than not, it’s the bad stuff that sets you on the right path.  It wasn’t love I don’t think, just infatuation or a sense of newness which offered something exciting. Perhaps it was just two people meeting and helping each other through a particular shitty time in their lives. I hope she’s doing well now…

All these memories just flooded my mind that morning of set-up, as I walked the unoccupied halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center. I joked around with my friends who are on the tour with me, had lighthearted conversation, but the whole time, I was just thinking about all this old shit. I’m a classic over-thinker and seemingly can find meaning in anything, even if it is of little importance to others. I think maybe that’s what makes me a capable writer. I can tell you a story about literally anything. That weekend, I knew we were on the cusp of something really good, something NEW. It was our first show at this venue, but I knew that after that weekend ended, it definitely would not be the last. This was home now for the Los Angeles-leg of the Wekfest tour. There were many options when it came to new avenues for Kenneth Li and Wekfest to explore, but this venue was undoubtedly the best available. Maybe we can spend a few more years here and develop some great memories for not only us, but for everyone who attended or was involved with the show. Car shows, on paper, will always be just that…a car show. It’s a hall full of cars that people modified, sometimes people win trophies, others just go to see other cars. It’s a simple formula. What comes as a byproduct of that formula is new friendships, bonds, and a place for people to become educated. It is an experience. We get to enjoy cars but we also get to continually develop a community that provides an outlet for like-minded people to hang-out…

I shot a ton of photos so I’ll tell you more about exactly why the show left Long Beach in the next post. To put it simply, think of it as a relationship where two partners just outgrew one another. It was necessary to part ways. The best part of moving over to the LA Convention Center is the two-day set-up process. Unlike Long Beach, where you roll-in the morning-of and then have the show, clean-up, and then leave, this venue we have for two days. So we set-up and stage cars the entire day before the show, then have the show the following. The same process is allotted to us in San Jose. It’s just much easier and gives me so much more freedom to shoot and film…

In total, I have about 220 photos. Yeah, a shit ton. I’ll divide them into four parts so you guys aren’t overwhelmed. It’s bad enough I write so much, lol. They’ll be displayed in the order they were shot and I’ll go over as much of the cars as I can. Enjoy and please make sure to come back for the rest…

Oh, one more thing I forgot to tell you guys about. So for The Chronicles booth this year, we wanted to display the brand new Exceed x Mode Parfume 99-00 Civic front lip and rear wing so Yuta contacted our friend Dave Chik about using his Civic for the show. He was going to “Battlecraft” his car as well so the idea was to execute something similar to what he did the year before with Jonathan Wong’s Civic…

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This was the base. Dave’s Civic is a relatively new build he’s been working on, and a car he takes to the track sometimes. Since Dave is super anal about how his car looks, we were a bit worried that he would be hesitant and not let Yuta do what he wanted to do with it. None of the changes would be permanent or anything. It was just for the show that day. Everything would be reversed after the show and Dave would go back to his every day life, just with a new front lip and rear wing for his car. He agreed with little hesitation and so Yuta got to work on the car. The wing and front lip would be painted and mounted by Dave and his bodyshop friend, and Yuta would apply graphics to the Civic, adjust the ride height to his liking and specifications, and then put a different set of wheels on there with a much more aggressive Yokohama tire. It was something that only took a few hours to do but would offer the car a completely new look for the show…

You’ll see the final product a bit later towards the end of this post…

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Roll-in was set to start at around noon that Saturday but with really strict security over at the LA Convention Center, things got off to a late start. Most of the cars were lined-up and ready to go inside, both exhibitors and vendor cars…

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One of the first cars I spotted that day was Dominic Le’s SR20DET-powered S30Z build which I last saw during the 2017 SEMA Show. He’s built a couple of cars and has also participated in the SEMA “Battle of the Builders” competition like Ryan from Rywire so you know his builds are top-notch…

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One of the most talked-about builds in 2018 is certainly Brian Duong’s Varis Kamikaze Toyota 86 build. The Varis aero matches Brian’s styling touches perfectly and it’s so aggressive that you can’t help but stop to look at it. I don’t even think there’s another car that I’ve shot more photos of this year…

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Bright green Vertex Lange Kouki S14 on bronze Volk TE37V Mark II wheels and Project Mu front brakes…

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I even brought my own Y33 Q45 build out for the show, a year after I swore I’d bring this fucking thing to Wekfest in Long Beach. The only new thing I’ve done to it since is put a new battery in it and almost destroy my bumper just from simply driving it around…

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Leon Casino’s widebody NSX build on WEDS TC105N that I just recently realized was supercharged because I finally decided to look at the engine, lol…

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I took a fuck load of photos of Phil’s Integra from ATS Garage. There were two reasons: one being that he never brings the car out anywhere and the second being that I don’t know if I will ever see it again so I have to take photos of it before I forget about it. Whenever Phil and I talk we only talk about New Japan Pro Wrestling and I didn’t even know he was going to bring his Integra down to LA until the night before…

The fucking thing sits so perfectly right now by the way. Yet another example of why ride height and wheel fitment are so important for a build’s overall appearance…

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Since it was finally out in the daylight and not in a stuffy convention hall, I made sure to also get more details of the engine bay and all the new Cerakoted components…

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For those unfamiliar with Cerakote, me included prior to seeing it with my own eyes, Cerakote is a type of coating used on guns that helps to offer a new finish along with protecting the metal. It uses ceramic particles as part of a solution to create a hard surface that resists scratching and other abrasions. On guns, you’d obviously want something like this because you won’t be able to scratch your gun if you drop it or if it makes contact with other things. For cars, well, I imagine you’d want to use this to protect your parts from scratching, but more so because the finish just makes your parts looking fucking cool.

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Fred Chapman, an ATS original, the man behind “Chapman Concepts” is actually an Cerakote certified applicator. He’s a gun enthusiast as well as a car guy so he just mixed the two worlds together and now offers this service to the rest of the automotive enthusiasts community…

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Here’s a close-up of the AT Power individual throttle bodies which have been Cerakoted…

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From this angle you can see the coated K-Tuned header and valve cover. The engine block and trans have also gone through the same process, along with the oil breather, radiator overflow and radiator itself. I loved his old set-up so much before that I was shocked to see all this done, but after understanding what Cerakote was and where the idea comes from, I appreciate all the work that went into it and actually very much enjoy the set-up now…

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The rear of Phil’s Integra is much simpler than the front end and engine bay, just offering a peek at the RCrew exhaust and FAL Lexan rear hatch glass…

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Special Projects P1 front lip minus the splitter on Philthy’s 99-spec Integra…

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One of the best Integras out right now. I give Phil a lot of shit for not bringing the car out but I understand how difficult it can be when everyone else from the crew isn’t as actively involved as they used to be with everyone getting older and living normal lives…

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SSR Longchamp XR4s and a particularly peculiar front face on this Miata…

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Allen Lugue’s long-time RunFree AE86 Corolla from GarageLife…

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KEVTEC USA’s widebody 9th generation Civic SI sedan on Work Wheels…

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Teddy Timoteo’s K-powered Desert Sage Metallic Civic hatchback running a Mugen SS front lip and Spoon Sports mirrors. The hood, if I remember correctly is a First Molding carbon hood…

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KS-CE wheels by Kei Office produced for famed Japanese driver Keiichi Tsuchiya, paired with Endless big brakes up front…

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Heading into the venue, you can also see the Cusco Safety21 8-point roll cage and Sergeant rear diffuser…

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JDM California’s yellow vinyl-wrapped Toyota Supra…

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Volk Racing TE37 Ultra and Alcon brakes…

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Daniel Song’s beautifully cultivated Datsun S30Z from GarageLife…

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Hanzel Tango, originally from Los Angeles, made the trip down from the Bay Area with his black NA2 NSX on bronze Mugen MF10 paired with blue anodized caps…

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DPK Deerail dropped his Mugen-themed EM1 Civic SI off at the show and then took off so we had our friend Chuy bring it inside….

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Vic’s Grand Prix White AP2 S2000 being driven in by Yasu, who can barely see over the door, lol…

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Jon Sibal’s beautiful Rauh Welt Begriff 964 made an appearance at Wekfest LA to be displayed amongst a full line-up of fellow RWB Porsche builds…

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There’s no way to do a car show in 2018 without imagining all the people living life in peace but I’m glad this decal is appropriately applied to a Liberty Walk build as Kato from LB*Performance originally envisioned…

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So many Rocket Bunny kits and variations now that it almost seems appropriate to call the version 1 Rocket Bunny kit a classic now, haha. This one looked great with Rotiform wheels that actually fit under the over fenders. Crazy right?…Sarcasm intended. Seriously though, this one looks fantastic…

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Son from Hasback is probably one of those guys that has been around long enough to have his own HIN stories. He even has his Civic still from that time period, and I’m glad he still brings it out…

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RWB Blackbird 993. Nice touch with the Japanese “C1” decal on the wing, placed there as an ode to all the Japanese Wangan racers from the famed highway…

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Dave’s Civic with the Exceed x Mode Parfume front lip and rear wing, now with the graphics applied by Yuta for the Wekfest show. The wheel and tire set-up would go on once we got the car inside…

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Yuta followed suit in my Odyssey carrying the wheels for Dave’s Civic, along with all The Chronicles’ booth stuff…

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A recently-imported RHD Honda NSX on staggered Volk TEs…

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LS-powered Mitsubishi Starion time attack car that I’ve seen compete at Super Lap Battle before. Interesting to see the car make an appearance at a car show…

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Starions and got to regularly ride in one when a old friend of mine was building one. The 2.6L 4G54 motors are complete trash though so it makes sense why it has a GM LS engine in it now…

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Kenneth Li from Wekfest editing some photos to post on the Wekfest Instagram feed…

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Nick Fousekis brought an FD3S completely 90s-era themed and it looked fantastic with a Burnout front bumper, Enkei RS-01 wheels and a TBO hood…

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Iridescent vinyl-wrapped FK8 Civic Type R sitting on Advan Racing RZII wheels…

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Red Bull-themed Lamborghini Huracan on bags from Boden Autohaus…

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Moises Robles’ CB Accourd coupe with 5-lug conversion and Volk Racing CE28N in bronze…

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Vlene widebody Toyota 86 dressed in a copperish-gold hue, sitting on DEEP 326power wheels…

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I don’t know who owns this green Rocket Bunny 180SX anymore but I’m happy its in a good home and still looking really great…

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Chuy decided he wanted to switch things up a bit and decided to mount this Spoon Sports SW388 wheels on his Phoenix Yellow ITR…

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The LTMW Pandem E36 M3 coupe went with a “Off-White” livery, which is an homage to the popular fashion brand…

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…and we close Part 1 out with a glance at Dave’s set-up for the Wekfest LA event, featuring the new lip and wing of course, but with a set of 16-inch Regamaster EVO wheels paired with Yokohama Advan A052 tires. For this set-up, Yuta also adjusted the ride height of Dave’s Civic for a much lower, aggressive seating position. The Yokohama rubber tucks snuggly under the wheel wells and being that they are 16s, with a good sized tire, still provide plenty of clearance for the Exceed x Mode front lip…

Well. Sorry for the long read but I’m gonna go ahead and close Part 1 here. Still much more to come, with plenty of photos in this series shot over two-days. Thanks for looking and stay tuned!…

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3 comments

  1. Was Teddy Timoteo’s Civic the same Civic you covered on Super Street from Seattle?

  2. Thoughts on PUREVIP as a crew, and their builds in Socal and Norcal?

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