Man sometimes I look at old S3 features, and I cringe lol. Not this time….
In 2010, Import Alliance was at the height of it’s momentum. In the moment, I don’t think we realized how good it was… the way it was bringing us all together. See the 2008 recession had shaken the import scene hard. Gas prices were high, the economy & housing market was collapsing, and a lot of the big giants in the import-aftermarket industry were panicking & cutting all spending… pulling out of all magazines, events, etc. Yet the old school Civic & JDM Honda scene was hitting harder than ever in the US.
But the flip-side of that was: the import scene was going back into the hands of the people…
Back into the underground a little bit. The events were no longer run by giants like NOPI Nationals… but organized by regular guys… like the dudes behind Import Alliance. It really brought a lot of unity & camaraderie to the import scene. And when you combine that with the then-rising of Facebook & social media, for the first time, people really had a way to coordinate & organize huge get-togethers on a viral level. The 2010-era of Import Alliance really brought together… the entire East Coast of the United States. And in a lot of ways, shaped & saved the import scene East of the Mississippi.
One of the unifying personalities was this dude named Pancake – Luis Villalobos…
If you skim through the article in the photos, you can understand why the import scene family was so important to Pancake. At the time of this feature, Luis lived in Birmingham AL, and Birmingham kind of had an interesting thing going. Chasebays is out of Birmingham, and there was a killer, fun, and hilarious group of people working out of that shop. It kind of put Birmingham on the map, and triangulated B-ham, Atlanta, and Nashville. Between those 3 cities & South Carolina, there was a lot of momentum… and we were all within a short/fun road-trip of each other. The Import Alliance get-togethers turned into raging & legendary La Quinta parties, word spread, and people came from all over the country. All the energy kept people pushing hard on their builds.
Although a bit more distance North, Chicago was another anchor-city for the import scene & Import Alliance at this time….
And a couple years after this feature, Pancake moved up to Chicago. Because of the Import Alliance meets, he was already good buddies with Chris Sullivan (CRS), and the two of them began transitioning some of their influences from JDM Street, more to JDM track built Hondas. At the same time, the Chicago-based Gridlife boys were getting their rhythm together & organizing a slew track events. So it was a natural reason to keep building cars with a purpose. Kanjo builds became a huge influence. Today 11 years later, Pancake & the boys run around in a crew called Ramblers.