By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Demonstrating yet again the synergy between the autosound and performance accessories markets, sound off organizations and retailers are increasing their affiliations with sport compact car shows this year.
DB Drag Racing entered a partnership with NOPI, where DB Drag will hold regional events at an extended series of NOPI events. "They are adding a car stereo competition at their show so we are co-locating with their events. They approached us at CES and contracted to do nine of our regional shows. It caters to the same demographic," explained president Wayne Harris.
IASCA said it also plans to affiliate with a "tuner" show. "It's inevitable that it will become a focus in the association because the crossover is too intense. It's a natural marriage," he said. IASCA said it will hold a car show at its World Finals this year in Charlotte, N.C.
On the flip side, Hot Import Nights, a leading tuner show series in its fifth year, has been winning increasing support from car audio suppliers. "In the first few years we had a handful of companies at our events. Now its about 20 car stereo manufacturers," said John Russell, director of marketing for show coordinator, Vision Entertainment.
This year, the series will expand from 10 to 19 shows, including a new type of show called Import Revolution to be held in eight cities. Aimed at the enthusiast "tuner" market, the shows have a slightly different edge, said Russell, who described the new shows as "Hot Import Nights car shows meets a night club. The lights are off, so exhibitors use lights in the booth and we bring in top DJs. It's a different vibe."
On the retail side, Tweeter, Etc., in order to better reach "mobile enthusiasts" said it signed an agreement with Vision Entertainment to participate in five of its Hot Import Nights and Import Revolution shows as an exhibitor, according to a spokeswoman. In addition, Tweeter is holding a Sound Looks And Performance (SLAP) Championship Sept. 7 and 8 at the HiFi Buys Amphitheatre in Atlanta. Tweeter says it is now the main sponsor for SLAP, and is hosting 30 shows this year.
SLAP, which combines an SPL and SQ competition with a car show, spun off from IASCA to form an independent organization in January and says it will hold more than 150 events this year. "What we saw is some of the sound off organizations weren't taking advantage of the fact that a large majority of our target audience, the 16- to 24-year-olds, is geared more to the tuner market, where five years ago, they were more tuned into autosound. So its tougher for a standalone sound off to attract enough customers. We try to include the entire crowd," said Terry Miller, SLAP VP/marketing.
USAC, which has been hosting car and truck shows at its finals for the past six years, said this year it will offer some added events to its World Finals in Kansas City, Mo. For the first time it will hold an installer challenge, and FOX TV will tape the X-Games in-line skating at the show. In addition USAC will hold a $10,000 golf putt event.
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