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2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals

Postponed event makes August work with wide range of vehicle spectacles to behold.

Bob Hernandez
Aug 21, 2020
Photographer: Carlisle Events

Our friends over at the Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals let us know their rescheduled 2020 event went off without a hitch at the event's customary home on the Carlisle Fairgrounds in Pennsylvania. The Nationals are usually held in May, but the 'rona put everything on hold until August, and while the new date may have thrown the usual crowd for a loop, organizers were still pleased with the turnout—over 1,000 cars and even more spectators across the three-day weekend affair.

If you've never heard of the event, the show is billed as an "international vehicle wonderland," and they're not joking. Imagine a space the size of, well, a fairgrounds, and then fill that area with cars from all corners of the globe and you might start to have a sense of what goes on at Carlisle. The Import & Performance Nationals features restored classics, restomods, kit cars, motorcycles, exotics, and others, and also has a bit of a swap meet vibe, as car collectors and restorers make available parts and entire vehicles they're willing to sell. There are more than just static displays of cars, too, with autocross, drifting, low car limbo, and something called a "rolling exhaust competition" going on over the three days.

Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Building T Mazda Miata Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals
Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Building T Miata Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals

Todd Warner, we might be in love with your Miata. The Mazda roadster was posted up in Building T, which is the main indoor area at Carlisle, and when we saw that color-shifting wrap and those fender flares we had to take a closer look. The car is quite clean, and it looks like Todd has turbocharged the little guy, too—nicely done!

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Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Low Car Limbo Winners Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals
Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Drifting Limbo Mazda Miata Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals

There were two kinds of car limbo at Carlisle, and the first kind you might already be familiar with; called "Low Car Limbo," it's basically what you might envision, where cars have to slowly drive under a horizontal "limbo stick" that gets progressively lower until all but the lowest vehicle makes it through. "Drift Car Limbo" in contrast was something else altogether and pretty dope, if you ask us; drift cars basically had to navigate a controlled slide through a gap in between two vertical course markers. That gap was closed incrementally, becoming narrower until all but the most skilled driver could drift through the cones without plowing into them.

Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Building T S30 Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals
Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Building T Z Cars Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals

Building T also had a sizable display of Datsun/Nissan Z cars and a spectrum of Mazda, commemorating 50 years of the Z and 100 years of Mazda, respectively. Saturday there was even a midday parade of Z that traveled around the fairgrounds.

Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Showfield Mitsubishi MiniCab Bravo AX Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals
Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Showfield Trimph Acclaim Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals

Being international as it is, we expected some pretty far out rides from Carlisle and were not disappointed. Poring through the photos, we found someone selling a fourth-gen. Mitsubishi Minicab Kei van, and in Bravo AX trim as well, meaning the little box was also AWD. And then we found the above image of an old-school Honda Accord, except it's not; this is in fact a Triumph Acclaim, which is based on the Ballade and uses a Honda-designed engine. The model is the first fundamentally Japanese car to be assembled in Europe—wild.

Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Showfield Drive to Cure R35 Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals
Carlisle Import and Performance Nats 2020 Showfield Drive to Cure GTR Photo 89/89   |   2020 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals

Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals have teamed up with Driven to Cure to help raise awareness about and provide funding for the research of rare kidney cancers like hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma (or HLRCC). DTC President Andrew Lee was at Carlisle with his impressive widebody R35, spreading the word about his cause and even taking part in the Low Car Limbo at one point. To learn about the GT-R and Lee's fight, head over to DrivenToCure.com.

Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals is aiming to return to regularly scheduled programming in 2021, which means the show is being planned for its original dates in May. Organizers have May 14 to 16 inked for next year, and we're really hoping everything goes to plan. For more photos from this year's shindig and to learn more about the event, visit CarlisleEvents.com.

By Bob Hernandez
911 Articles

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