If there's one thing we can say by and large about the trend of automotive events today, it's that the big, national acts are out, and the local events are in. Sure, Formula D and the GRC are going strong, but they serve more as entertainment for enthusiasts than anything participatory. Gone are the days of the NHRA Sport Compact Drag series, NOPI Drift or XDC, and (by and large) HIN. If you want to play and possibly get paid, the WekFests, SpoComs and Import Alliances; pro-am drift series or bashes; and cup-style annual drag-racing bouts are where it's at. But then, paradoxically adhering to this rule and flying in the face of it, there's Import Face-Off (IFO).
Yes, with dozens of events each season at racetracks all over the U.S., Import Face-Off is national. Yes, there is a championship points race (one in each of three U.S. regions, and one overall). But in contrast to the big series of years past, each IFO event feels more like a local production than part of a national act. The vast majority of each round's contenders are local, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone traveling more than a few hundred miles for a race. The competition is fierce, but it's no longer cost-prohibitive to have a real shot at winning in each class. Six-figure, corporate-sponsored builds have largely been replaced by modified ex-street cars built through collaborations by local shops and tuners. And while the TV cameras, huge crowds, foam pits, house DJs, and big names in import drag racing aren't things you'd usually find at an IFO event, we'd gladly trade all that for a chill day at the track with the homies (core members of the tuning community, friends and fam), BBQing in the stands, watching rival shops/drivers settle grudges, running/showing our own cars, and maybe getting in on a little side action with who we pick to win each round.
That said, this is California, and with Bakersfield being halfway between L.A. and S.F., this round did feature at least one drag-racing Hall-of-Famer driving a tube-frame RSX dragster, competitors from as far away as the East Coast, and plenty of faster-than-average race machines in each class, as well as a surprisingly good show portion of the event. Click through these 100-plus images you'll find nowhere else, and see for yourself. www.importfaceoff.net.