Last October, my cell phone began to ring as I was gearing up for SEMA and, with the help of Musso Motorsports, finishing up our Nissan Titan project truck. That's not too unusual, though - my cell phone rings non-stop virtually all day. This time, however, it was Amber Pierce, our marketing director, on the other end. Between her babbles, I was able to pull out the pertinent information - apparently we were being sent out to Louisville, Kentucky, to check out a possible location for a Sport Truck and Mini Truckin' show.
The idea of throwing a show has been rolling around the office for quite a while now, since both Sport Truck and Mini Truckin' not only share the same building, but the staff and our readers get along so well, it just seemed like a natural pairing. The location of the show has been the only roadblock so far in creating an event that would make both magazines happy. Apparently, after a little bit of research, though, Amber had pinpointed L-ville as a possible location.
Now, I remember studying geography in school, so I knew where Kentucky sat on the map. However, other than the Louisville Slugger and Muhammad Ali, I was pretty deprived of what else the city had to offer. Sure we've all heard about the city's two minutes of fame, known to the rest of the world as the Kentucky Derby, but when it comes to ponies, I'm usually only interested in the kind that will send you down the quarter-mile in less than 10 seconds. I came to find out, though, that that's the wrong thing to say in Kentucky - they take their horses pretty damn seriously.
When we exited the plane, we were met by a trio of smiling faces: Greg, Dave, and Angi, all of whom work for the city in some form. We did our meet-and-greet and then it was off to our chauffeured vehicle that would take us for the full tour of the town. Now even though I travel all across the country for truck shows, I still tend to expect stereotypes when I travel to new places. That's just human nature, I suppose. Well, for all of those interested, there really isn't a KFC surrounded by hillbillies on every corner of Kentucky. Louisville is actually a great town.
What makes a great town? Personally, I think it has to do with the people. I live out in Los Angeles, where even though there are exceptions to the rule, the majority of people don't care if you're comfortable, happy, miserable, or dead. The fact that we all live literally on top of one another may have something to do with that, or it could be the hours we sit in traffic every day. That can be enough to drive anyone postal. There was a good point made that day as we were driving around Louisville: Californians are some of the only people who judge driving distance in minutes rather than miles. Ask us how far it is from L.A. to Anaheim and we'll tell you a little more than an hour, not 26.81 miles.
But back to my point. There is a simple building block to every great city, and that is hospitality. Hospitality seems to be the long lost cousin of civilization, the kid who wasn't cool enough to keep around through recess and eventually transferred to a different district. Well in this case, the district was Louisville. From the time we got off the plane until the time we returned to the airport, there was nothing but a good vibe on the trip. Of course, it helps when the other building block of your town is bourbon.
Together, our trio of guides showed us around Louisville and presented the 600-million-dollar facelift that the city is receiving. Inside the convention center is a 100,000- square-foot hall that has plenty of space for show trucks and vendors, and a nice big stage for a bikini contest. And that's just the inside. Outside of the venue is known as 4th Street Live, featuring restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, and pool halls, which are all within walking distance of the hotels.
Running down the checklist, it was looking pretty good. We had a secure venue, plenty of parking, surrounding hotels, as well as a great nightlife that was within walking distance. There was only one other thing missing from the checklist - a place to drag our trucks. Now explaining what railing a truck is to people who aren't really even familiar with 'bagged trucks is an interesting conversation. It mostly involves confused faces, a few scraping sound effects, and finally some pictures. In all honesty, I was surprised, though. After seeing the photos in the magazine, they were optimistic, if not borderline accepting. They just had to present it to a few board members and get it approved first.
So here I sit a few months later basking in the glow of my computer monitor to personally tell you the good news. Our return to the East is now set in stone for the Louisville Convention Center in Kentucky from June 18-19. The show, aptly named Havoc, will be a party and a half. 4th Street will be barricaded off specifically for lighting up the night with sparks on Saturday, and we're working with some of the surrounding restaurants and clubs to see if we can get some deals going. Bottom line: This won't be one to be missed. We'll see you there.-John