Traveling to an area that you aren’t familiar with is always a challenge. “How do I get around? Where do I eat? Where are the good places to hang out? What if I get lost?” All of these things cross your mind when you make your way to a place that you don’t know. So, knowing some of the locals is always the best solution to your troubles.
This idea came in very handy for us last weekend as we make the trek to Chicago, Illinois for WekFest Chicago 2016. This would be the first event of the kind held in the Chicagoland area since all the way back in 2011.The WekFest shows are known for bringing out some of the best cars the local area has to offer and even some from places even farther away than the city that the show is being held in. Also, judging off our past experiences with shows in Chicago and the quality of vehicles that we’ve experienced before in the Windy City, this wouldn’t be an event to miss.
Now, we first met Patrick Stong and the boys from Shakotan Select back last December at an anime convention held in Schaumburg, Illinois. At the con, we met, exchanged team stickers, and talked cars for a while before going our separate ways.
When we made the plans to go to Schaumburg again for WekFest, we made sure to contact Pat and make plans to meet up and hang out for the weekend. Needless to say, that was a great decision.
The meeting place? Mitsuwa Japanese Market in Schaumburg. Now, if you’ve been following our vlogs for a while. You would know that Mitsuwa is one of our favorite spots in the Chicago area because it allows us to get our Japan fix without leaving the country. While it is a goal of ours to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun sometime soon. We are content with Mitsuwa for the time being. We arrived kind of early to the market, so we decided to get some shopping out of the way first. In the parking lot greeted us these three. An R35 Nissan GTR, a Lotus Exige, and an Acura Integra. While the other two looked to be lightly modified. The Integra was sporting over fenders, an APR GT wing, and a scrumptious set of Work CR Kiwami wheels. We would run into the little Honda again the next day, as it was in the actual show.
A few minutes later Pat and Co. arrived with their squad of cars. When we met them for the first time a few months ago. I had a feeling that we could be really good friends with this group of guys from the Windy City. We clicked almost immediately upon their arrival at Mitsuwa. Everyone parked their cars up next to each other and set about perusing the row of vehicles. Chatting about modifications, problems, experiences etc.
We clicked immediately with everyone. I guess it’s the common interests of cars, Japan, anime, women, etc. really sped up the “getting to know each other” process. So after a couple of hours of chatting. We walked into Mitsuwa, ate some lunch, then walked back out into the parking lot. To see even more cars parked up with ours. I guess, with a big show like WekFest in town and Mitsuwa being a pretty big spot for any Japan fanatics in town, it was only a matter of time.
Because I have a soft spot for Itasha (anime themed) cars Pat’s is a personal favorite of mine. He drives a Lexus IS300 (Altezza to anyone not from the states). It still runs the factory non turbo 2jzge motor. However, this car really isn’t about power, it’s about style. All of his modifications are DIY. Anything you see on the car, save the wheels and tires, has been done by Pat himself. All of the aftermarket body panels have been painted and installed by in his garage. Even the itasha art on the hood (and soon to be on the rest of the car) has been designed and applied by him. (You can check out his brand “Shakotan Select” ——-> HERE)
A couple of other cars that came out were this Acura RSX owned by a kid called Franki. It sports a Type-S wing, a factory Type-R Recaro seat and a host of other mods. While Pat’s friend Andrew brought out his C18 turbo S13 Silvia, lowered over a set of Work wheels. After a few minutes of chatting, a plan was devised to go to one of the local meets in the area that goes down most Saturday nights. So everyone loaded up, I hopped in Pats IS300 and drove to a car wash to make sure everyone’s cars were looking tip-top.
Because of the traffic on the way there, I wasn’t able to get rolling shots of everyone’s cars. It wasn’t all for naught though. At the wash, I was able to get shots of the cars parked up in the wash getting cleaned up. We spent the next hour or so chatting more and watching the cars get spruced up.
Here’s the kicker. After all of this preparation, the meet was a bust. JDM Chicago was having a meet somewhere else in town. There was also an impromptu Pre-
WekFest meet going down as well for cars that were going to be in the show the next day. So the little local meet was deserted. So, we had some Boba tea at the coffee shop that the meet was supposed to be at, them made our way to the WekFest meet. And b0y am I glad we did.
I’ve been wanting to try out my new camera in a situation like this so that I can test it’s low light capabilities and I couldn’t have had any better of subjects to shoot. I was definitely surreal to see those cars parked and shined up the next day at the show. After we got to get up close and personal with them the night before in an empty parking lot.
Later that evening. We ventured into the city and did some urban automotive exploring downtown. Then grabbed some late night Chinese food. By this time, it was 2am. So we said our goodbyes for the evening and went back to our hotel.
We had a great time hanging out with the guys from Chi-Town. Needless to say, the next time we’re in town, we’ll be sure to contact them and see if they want to chill some more. That’s what I love about our culture. That because of these hunks of steel, aluminum, and rubber, we have a common interest with so many people around the world. Car’s open up infinite possibilities for those interested in them. Because of our common ground in this world. We got to meet, get to know, and become good friends with people from a city that is far away from ours.
Its those connections with people that are what make this hobby/ culture fun. I wouldn’t have traded that last weekend for anything in the world. We had an amazing time, and I haven’t even gotten to the actual show yet! Stay tuned for that in part two!
Link to the Flickr Photo album from the day ————–> HERE