24th Mar2015

The Problem with Meets

by Michael Chandler

EDITORIAL Problem With Meets Michael CHandler CAMautoMag

Words and photos by Michael Chandler


There was a long, long period of time where I didn’t go to many of the local meets or get togethers.  Mostly it was because the usual group of guys I would see at these had moved on to bigger and better things (marriage, children, moving out of a house with 7 dudes sharing 3 bedrooms and into their own house, careers), but it was also because I kept seeing more and more idiots at these meets.

What do I mean by “idiot”? Well take the winners in the picture above for example.  This was at the Utah Japanese Classic Car barbecue.  It was a mellow day, where everyone was just hanging out when suddenly we heard something approaching from over the horizon.  It was the Forester, which sounded like it was in first gear for the sheer sake of being in first gear, with the Impreza in tow.  They pulled in and did a couple of laps against the flow of traffic, in first gear the whole way.  After stopping to hop out and talk to someone who was leaving (which blocked traffic by the way), they took another lap.  Unable to find two parking spots next to each other, and unwilling to be separated, they did douchiest thing I’ve seen this year: they parked behind two cars parked in the handicap stalls and got out.

They parked behind two cars that were parked legally in the handicap stalls.  The intrepid Subaru owners just made their own spots by blocking in two cars, and made their way off to peruse the classic J tin.

Now, I used to own an Integra and I was pretty cool about it for the most part.  I didn’t try and race everything on the road, I didn’t do burnouts or rev my engine at meets, nor did I have any sort of body kit on the car, but people still looked down their nose at me because I was in a Honda.  Why? Because there were plenty of idiots in Hondas who were more than willing to reinforce the “ricer” stereotype.  It’s been many years since I’ve owned my little Integra, but there are still plenty of people who are more than willing to reinforce the stereotypes of old.  Unfortunately they’ve changed their flagship make.

I was in high school when Subaru gave the US its first WRX.  During our senior year Trent (the co-founder of this site) picked himself up a brand new to us all STi.  That was over ten years ago, and now these cars are cheap enough for today’s youth to snatch up.  And they have been in droves.  It pains me to say this, but the Subaru kids are the new Honda kids.  They come to meets and do painfully stupid things, they try and race everything they see, and they’re more than willing to jump on whatever trendy bandwagon that pops up.  And the situation remains the same: for everyone cool owner like David (Gumball WRS) there are hoards of people who want to slam their cars and show off the fact that they spun their $600 coilovers all the way down.

Maybe I’m getting old.  Well, old compared to the latest crop.  I’m pushing 30, and it seems everyone I talk to at these things is 25 and under.  Most of the problem folks look all of 16 to me, but anyone under the age of 20 looks like a 12 year old.  I might be getting old, but I still remember what it’s like to have that first awesome car that has honest to God aftermarket support.  The excitement to install fresh parts and to show them off, but a wise man once said “Discretion is the better part of valor”.  Yes, you’re low and you have an exhaust.  Guess what?  You came to a meet to show off your hard work, or easy work, or the previous owner’s work.  You don’t need to lap the parking lot, just park!  Can’t park next to your friend?  That happens, but I have some terrific news for you: you’re still at the same meet!  It’s not like one of you is in Layton, and the other in Herriman.  Even at the big meets and shows (ISS, Slammed Saturdays) you’re never more than a two minute walk away from your buddy.  And in the case of ISS, if you both paid for spots you’re always within eyesight of each other.

I like going to meets and seeing the new builds from people I’ve never met, and seeing old builds I remember from way back when that have been tucked away for years.  I like talking to people about them, and setting up cruises and get togethers.  I like encouraging people to come out to the track, and at the very least watch a few sessions.  It’s hard though, when you run across people who care about themselves and their friends more than anyone else at the meet.  Meets are wonderful things, it’s a chance for people to get out from behind their computers and see what everyone has been working on, but when you act like an idiot and like you are the center of the meet, you kill it for the rest of us.

TL;DR: Don’t be an idiot, be cool

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