Wow, I'm gonna be the first to blog about our trip? I can see many people have beaten me to the photos so I will limit mine to the ones I didn't see already posted.
Well our decision to go was a rather hasty one as we couldn't get the work schedules straight till the last minute. The Monday before the event we were finally able to get time off, so I sent off our registration and booked our hotel. We packed our bag and left Thursday evening around 8:30 pm and stayed in Dallas overnight. Friday we made the rest of the trip just in time to make it to the bar-b-q at the Merriam Smart center. The food was great, we met up with some friends from the Houston Smart Car Club and met a few new people. We saw a great many Smarts that had been modified, painted and wrapped, but I was mainly there to look for ideas on rims for my car. These are a few that I could put together into a mosaic; there were many more rims, but I just didn't get a good shot of them.
We saw the Smart with Lambro doors, beefed up Smarts, and multi-colored Smarts. Here are a few of my favorites.
Smart with Lambro doors
Despite a morning thunder storm on Saturday, we enjoyed talking to vendors about all the extras we could put onto our cars. The tech talks were very interesting explaining features on our own cars as well as the upcoming electric drive Smart. They allowed us to address any concerns that we had about our cars, and they even listened to new ideas anyone may have had.
That afternoon we joined everyone at Penn Valley Park to line up for a Smart Car parade through town.
KCPD discussing the final details before escorting us to downtown.
It was impressive to see such a mass gathering of 215 cars in one spot. Soon after we arrived however, our photographer Terry Smemo told us we were lined up too wide and too spaced out for the shot.
Smarts rolling into the waiting area lined up 3 cars wide and of course we left ample space between ourselves and the next car.
Terry explaining to us that he needs us to be 4 cars wide and approximately 1 foot apart. That's me in the tan t-shirt and gray shorts.
So Terry begins by asking if we could somehow backup and realign the cars. I went ahead and opened up my big mouth and suggested we have the cars at the front pull into a 4 car wide formation and have everyone pull forward instead. Terry says, "Great idea! Make it happen!" So off I go running up the hill telling everyone to move their cars and several others jumped in and helped people get as close to each other as possible. Then I ran down the hill to tell Terry we were all set.
That's Terry on the cherry picker lining up the shot. This is a view from about a 1/3 up the hill. We get some last minute stragglers so I run back up the hill to get them settled and packed in for the shot. Then down the hill to tell Terry we were ready again. Terry tells me the shot should be everyone on the driver's side fender for the first picture, and then he would wave his arms to signal us to get into our cars for the second picture.
So back up the hill I go telling everyone to get on the driver's side fender, and to jump into their cars as Terry flails his arms around. Then back down again to tell Terry we were all ready.
Unfortunately for me, there was a large evergreen growing next to the road that cast a giant shadow on the people and cars next to it. So you guessed it, everybody needs to move over to the passenger side of the vehicle for the first shot.
So back up the hill I go, again. Do you know what 43 years of chicken wings and french fries looks like after running up and down a hill 4 times?
You all have my beautiful wife to thank for this photo.
I was so tired that by the time I made it back to my car, I think Terry already took the picture! I didn't care though, I got to sit down in my car with AIR CONDITIONING! Even with all of that going on, I must say this is the best part of the event for me. I have a really great story to tell from my first convention and almost everybody that attended knows me now! HA! Thank you all for putting up with me, and if I seemed a little short with you it was only because I have never run that much before in my life!
And the parade begins! What an awesome site!
Smart friend at the park.
We left the dealership and joined a classic car show down at a local bar (photos of the car show have been loaded by others); it was just hilarious to see all the Smart cars next to vintage cars and muscle cars.
Saturday evening on 435 southbound going home from Harrah's. Missouri understands us!
On Sunday morning we met up at the only WWI memorial in the USA, Liberty Memorial, to take the "Official" group photo. The picture in the park was just in case Sunday was going to be a rain out. Again, lots of photos already loaded so I will only post my favorite one.
I slept like a baby Saturday night so of course we woke up late on Sunday and was almost the last car there. The beauty of that was there were others taking the role of lining up the cars for the shot! Good thing too because this setup was much more difficult than just 4 cars wide x 1 foot apart. We had cars facing two directions and trying to form a letter or something like that. Very excited to see the picture, I can't wait for it to arrive.
Smart friend at the memorial.
Youngest Smart car driver at Nationals! Good thing it was a cabriolet!
After the picture we left for the brunch which was top notch served to us by the Westin Crown Center. Breakfast, lunch and desserts were all very good (though I could not taste all of it), and so were the prizes! We bought raffle tickets for items donated from Smart USA, the KS Smart centers and the various vendors in attendance and boy were we lucky! Diana won a cap and I won a gift bag which had Smart cups, Smart umbrellas, caps and a model cabrio! Very cool! Thank you Andrea Falter (Brand Manager for Smart USA) for putting that together, we are enjoying our prize this very minute as I am drinking from one of the cups as I type this blog!
Hats off to everyone that pulled this event together, it wouldn't have happened without you. The bar has been set pretty high for our 2nd annual National event! Let's see which club will rise to the task of hosting the next Smart Car Convention!
Drive Smart, and we will see you next year,
Tommy and Diana Wong