Nashville, Tennessee wouldn't normally be considered the Mecca of the import community. But every year they have at least one opportunity to come close courtesy of the Import Alliance series. Established in 2006, the Import Alliance meet is the brainchild of a group of Tennessee-based automotive enthusiasts. Their goal is simple: bring other enthusiasts together from all over the country to share their passion for cars, and 3 years later, the numbers have grown by leaps and bounds. This year's two-day gathering brought out over 5,500 people and 2,800 cars-not including the other 700 or so cars that didn't fit inside the Nashville Super Speedway.
"I think what's special about Import Alliance is that we've always been about the cars first," says Don Napier, one of the organizers of IA 2009. "This isn't a lifestyle event like most of the car shows nowadays, and we want to remind people of that. We're strictly about the cars."
The difference between IA09 and other meets is not only the mission statement that the founding group is putting forth, but also its massive attendance numbers. No other meet compares to the sheer number of attendees who come from all over the East Coast and Midwest. There were so many cars in attendance that it should come as no surprise to think that a person might not see every single car within the two days of the event! Many who attended planned out caravans months before the event and even partied a little bit on the way to Nashville. We heard rumblings that there was even a private, invite-only party that was held at a luxurious Tennessee mansion.
Another great feature of Import Alliance was how they took advantage of having it at the Nashville Super Speedway. The location made it possible for enthusiasts to enjoy the Redline Time Attack that was taking place in conjunction with Import Alliance. At one point people were even allowed to take their cars out on the track for a spin.
The best part of Import Alliance 2009 is that it is truly a grassroots event. Sure, it has grown astronomically since 2006 and sponsors like Skunk2 and Memphis Audio have come along, but the original goal remains exactly the same. They set out to bring people who love cars together in one place. No one stresses competition or whose car is better. It is a car "meet" in every sense of the word.