If you love the smell of burnt rubber in the morning, and you live in Florida, South Carolina or Georgia area, you’ve probably wondered what happened to NOPI.
This amazing lineup of custom cars, trucks, and bikes featured drifting, truck tugs-of-war, burnout contests, exhaust sound-offs, hydraulic demonstrations, live music, vendors, company giveaways, delicious food, bikinis, and other fair activities.
What Are the NOPI Nationals?
I wasn’t alone in thinking my version of The Greatest Car Show on Earth was dead. Turns out, there was a lot of confusion about all things NOPI. When searching online, visits to the old websites, NOPI or NOPI Nationals still reads, “Thank you from NOPI Motorsports for 52 amazing years. We are closed.” So, what really happened to one of the most epic and elite car shows in the United States? In addition to being an industry leader in motorsports events, this massive party was known for bikini-clad beauties and a range of heart-attack-inducing foods. After many years, its beloved tradition was rebranded with fans from all walks of life celebrating car culture and the love of hot wheels.
What Does NOPI Nationals Stand For?
Founded in Atlanta in 1966, Number One Parts Inc. (NOPI) was one of the world’s first niche auto parts stores. They are an industry leader now but, NOPI’s original business model was selling stock Volkswagen parts. After finding fame with stock, replacement, custom, and performance parts, NOPI transformed into a sports-compact accessories market. NOPI became a gearhead’s dream for those who had the income to support their uniquely niched auto parts hobby.
When Did the Nationals Start?
The dream and a vision launched in 1988 when discovering an affordable, ultimate, car-club, the weekend of non-stop fun. On nearly 50 acres, spectators found their fill of autos, crazy contests, and plenty of beautiful women to boot.
While NOPI began as a car show at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the VW lover community, NOPI’s fame carried into the history books. Moving to Myrtle Beach Speedway, it solidified its place in history as one of the longest-running and largest car and truck shows in the United States.
Are the Myrtle Beach Nationals the Same As the NOPI Nationals?
The Myrtle Beach Nationals (or MB Nationals ) revitalized the colossal bash formerly known as NOPI Nationals. The “biggest and baddest” truck, car, and bike show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina brought fans of NOPI Nationals from Atlanta Motor Speedway to Myrtle Beach Speedway, Ecstatic over the news of their new home, people planned Myrtle Beach trips for golf tournaments on beautiful golf courses along with seaside resort beach vacations. But they stayed for other Myrtle Beach events and special activities in the amusement industry like the ones they could enjoy at the Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Where Are the MB Nationals?
Atlanta Motor Speedway underwent various changes as NASCAR Whelen brought a multitude of Saturday night races like Late Model Charger, Super Trucks, and Mini Stocks. People enjoyed other motorsports events and contests like the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Race, Myrtle Beach 400, IceBreaker 200, NASCAR Racing Experience, Monster Jam, NOPI Nationals, Wheels of Destruction Thrill Show, the Myrtle Beach BikeFest, and the Horry County Fair.
History in South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway
Rambi Raceway opened its dirt track in Myrtle Beach in 1958 and the track went through a series of event changes under various owners. From a NASCAR Convertible Series event (1958) to a NASCAR Grand National race (1972), the last major NASCAR Racing event was held at the Myrtle Beach track in 2000.
improve Myrtle Beach’s economy, in 2012, Speedway Group Inc. purchased the Myrtle Beach Speedway facility and its nearly 50 acres. Track updates were scheduled, top-level races were planned, and the NASCAR Racing Experience aimed to attract drivers and tourists. Myrtle Beach Speedway became the new home to many car-related events including the NOPI Nationals Car Shows.
What Type of Vehicles Are at MB Nationals?
As if the beauty of the MB Nationals couldn’t get any better, literally anybody could show up and show off their sweet rides. Amateurs constantly amazed fans with their modified version of mom’s old Mustang or dad’s retired Duster. You’d be sure to find a burnout competition or other contest containing something you loved in the import, domestic, race, show, supercar, or lowrider ranges of vehicle options.
Affordable Fun for the Whole Family
With no entry fee, everyone envisioned themselves a winner when the sky’s the limit for racing dreams at MB Nationals. Fans fell hard for the unlimited assortment of lowriders, hydraulic lifts, mini trucks, monster trucks, and the list goes on.
Whether a fan of Mitsubishi or Mazda, Acura or Audi, Toyota or Triumph, Chevy or GMC, Ferrari or Lexus, there was always something to enjoy at the MB Nationals. And that wasn’t even including the variety of companies hosting contests and offering grand giveaways.
What is a NOPI Car?
Following the popularity of The Fast and The Furious series of movies, sporty imports otherwise known as “tuner cars ” blasted into popularity with younger crowds who loved to tinker with their toys. While waiting for the burnout, hydraulic hop, or a loud stereo contest, enthusiasts at NOPI events observed a wide swath of car and truck owners in good company. And each owner was committed to teaching the next generation of motorsports fans everything they knew and loved about their wheels. Truly, it had to be seen to be believed.
While thousands of vehicles graced the pits of NOPI, it was also nice to have cash payouts for each category. I fell in love with fan favorites in classes of racing including Factory, Stock, Modified, NDRA, Universal, Radical Hop, Burn-out Contest and Truck Dance, Sport Coupe Street, Asian Classic Street, Dyno 6 Cylinder Forced Induction, Best in Show, and the female-only, NOPI Chic Competitions.
Naturally, we saved the best for last.
Best in Show
Crowds marveled at the extreme lifts, the hydraulic masterpieces built into the likes of S-10, Prelude, Diamante, or whichever direction one’s creativity dared to dream! Some of the hydraulic masterpieces blew the crowds’ minds by climbing over 70” while others paraded their pyrotechnic abilities and even dared to combine the two.
With multiple show divisions and several hundred classes, in its heyday, the competition included: Street Truck, Custom Truck, Street Car, Late Model Stock Car, Custom Car, Wild, and Specialty Vehicles. Each division had countless different elite classes and the top participants in each division received points based on where they placed. For example, a Stock Car Competitor could be crowned the National Champion as the classes combined to reveal Best in Show champions for each division.
What is NOPI in Myrtle Beach?
When the NASCAR Cup Series competed from 1958 through 1965, Myrtle Beach Speedway was a semi-banked, asphalt, .538-mile oval track. Spectators enjoyed the NASCAR Busch Series (now the Xfinity Series) from 1988 to 2000 where they watched legends of NASCAR Racing like Jeff Gordon, three generations of Earnhardt’s (including Dale Earnhardt Jr.), and all four generations of Petty’s burn rubber on the track. Disappointing to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, when the track was sold to a land developer in May 2020, the world learned how the final race at Myrtle Beach Speedway would take place in August 2020. Giving it to the girls, Carmen Odum and Carsyn Gillikin won their respective races in the final feature race ever held at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
What Happens Now?
NOPI Nationals started at Atlanta Motor Speedway and made their claim to fame in Georgia. As this beast of a custom car show stayed in Atlanta until 2015, it made its move to South Carolina. Rebranding as Myrtle Beach Nationals (or MB Nationals), upon announcement of Myrtle Beach Speedway’s closure, MB Nationals left Myrtle Beach. Their commitment was to continue the MB Nationals event, formerly known as NOPI Nationals, at the Florence Motor Speedway in Florence, South Carolina in 2021. Sadly, their website and social sites say nothing about NOPI or MB National events past, present, or future. All we know is that we would “nopi” upset if they brought back this awesome car show.