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NOPI - Reynolds, Georgia, July 27-28, 2002

Where?
About 100 miles south of Atlanta, in a sleepy little town called Reynolds, sits the Silver Dollar Raceway. It's a small track, with a two-lane drag strip bordered by a couple of grandstands. Out in the middle of nowhere, one might think. But on Saturday and Sunday, July 27th and 28th, it simply teemed with activity. About 25,000 fans came to watch the latest leg of the NDRA and NOPI racing series.

What's it all about?
The NOPI "Fast and the Furious" Racing Series (yes, it's tied in directly to the film of the same name — in fact, they frequently give away passes for private, sneak-preview screenings of The Fast and the Furious II at these events) primarily consists of several sets of quarter-mile races over the course of two days. All the entrants are compact cars (foreign and domestic) — no motors have more than six cylinders — some more tuned than others (you'll see equal numbers of stock cars and nitrous-fueled racers).

There are fourteen race divisions in three different classes. And there's an "Open" class — the set of races that anyone can participate in. Think your ride's ready to hold its own in the quarter mile? Enter it! (Side note — we had driven to the show in a rented Buick Century; the temptation to take it out and open it up was almost too much, but in the end, we didn't cave. The rental company has no idea how grateful it is.)

In addition to the racing, NOPI holds a burnout contest both days of the event. For a small entry fee, contestants have a chance to win cash by trying to create as much smoke as possible with their tires. On Sunday, not only did a contestant on a motorcycle blow out one of his tires, another contestant in a Mustang overheated his engine when his radiator blew from keeping the motor revved so long. Needless to say, both generated unbelievable amounts of smoke — and the crowd loved it. The burnout contest ended in a tie.

Off the track, there's a vendor midway, where you'll find lots of giveaways (T-shirts and catalogs, for example), and plenty of opportunity to buy merchandise. On this particular weekend, APC was there, showing off its custom-car gear, as well as representatives from StreetGlow, Toyo Tires, Ford Racing, K&N, Holley, and lots more. The NOPI organizers also had a main booth, where NOPI hats, decals, posters, and more were available for sale.

Microsoft® sets up its XBox tent (in fact, the trophy for the winners at the end of the racing series is called the XBox trophy), where visitors can sample XBox games (this was a particularly good way to escape the heat, which topped the 100-degree mark over the course of the weekend).

A large stage is set up at the end of the vendor midway, where two vital elements of the NOPI experience take place: musical entertainment (Jensie and her dancers) and the swimsuit competition. Preliminary rounds take place on Saturday; finals take place on Sunday. And, yes — it's definitely a crowd pleaser.

There's also a section of the grounds dedicated solely to show cars — tricked out rides that don't get on the track to race. In the middle of all this is the db Drag Races. Competitors in this category load up large vehicles (often vans or SUVs) with amps and subs. A test tone is run through the system for a second or two, and the sound pressure level (SPL) produced is measured. Whoever has the highest SPL wins.

Walking around the off-track area, you get the opportunity to watch the racing teams working on their cars, making last minute adjustments, and fixing anything that might have broken. A perfect example of this was the APC Ford Focus. Halfway down the track, its passenger door flew off (prompting the predictable, yet funny, "that's what we call blowin' the doors off!" from the track announcers) — definitely requiring some immediate TLC. This is when you realize how seriously the racers take what their doing, which is what makes it so much fun for the spectators.

Saturday night at NOPI, things get really wild. First, there's the last preliminary round of the finals. This is followed by the foam party — a giant plastic "tub" is filled with foam, and everyone's invited to dive in a dance. After all this, StreetGlow sponsors a glow-off, where contestants get to show off their neon. Last, and certainly not least, it all ends with night racing under the lights on the drag strip, which everyone agrees is an incredible sight.

For all there is to do and see off the track, the focus of the weekend is undoubtedly the racing itself. There are lots of regional NOPI events across the country, and it all culminates in the National Finals in late September (this year's was held in Atlanta), and the World Finals in San Antonio, Texas (in October). Qualifying points are earned at each of the regional events, so every individual race can be vitally important. As in any sport, there are well-known heroes and icons on the circuit, and lots of these cars put up impressive quarter-mile times and speeds (the lowest times we saw this particular weeked were just over 7 seconds). To view the results of the Reynolds races, and to see more highlights and pictures, click here.

Check out our Event Calendar. If you see that a NOPI event is going to be in your area, we highly recommend that you grab a few thousand of your closest friends and head on down — you won't regret it.

To see our gallery of more photos from the show, click here.

The NOPI Dude stands watch over the festivities in Georgia.


The vendor midway features a wide variety of booths and tents.


Larry Herring gears up for racing in his VDO Honda CRX.


Racing times and top speeds are displayed on billboards at the end of the drag strip.


Shaun Carlson's Ford Focus (sponsored by Meguiar's) has its hood off for some pre-race tuning.

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