Collaborations could go many ways.
It could be a charming idea, in the beginning. A meeting of the minds would come up with a brilliant plan for two groups to come together for a single event. It could be executed well with all stakeholders on board.
But, what if there were challenging interests? What if a disagreement came up that would threaten the event's launch? What if the two parties stuck to their guns on fundamental ideals to never come up with compromises to make it work? What could possibly go wrong before the event starts?
There are always hopes and fears when two groups collaborate on anything. I certainly had mine when I was told about the Spring Kickoff Meet co-hosted by Lifted Trucks Minnesota and MN Nissan Infiniti at Running Acres in Columbus, Minnesota.
Did this collaborative effort work?
On the surface, these would be two divergent groups trying to do something together. In this case, there were common members between the two groups and levels of common ground. It also takes a meeting of the minds – at the core being the admin teams at LTM and MNNI. Once they settled on a final plan, it was basically about execution – and getting sponsors.
These two groups had their challenges. When the Facebook event recorded over 800 RSVPs, the bigger question was how to fit that number of vehicles onto the Running Aces property and where to place LTM and MNNI members, vendors and all other participants in the limited space allotted by the venue. Add two invited groups in the mix – MNBMWs and MN Exotic & Supercars – and the vehicle parking situation becomes complicated.
The parking situation was resolvable, which positioned the invited groups at their locations – LTM on the dirt/gravel lot, cars on the tarmac, but limited to a few rows. Off to the side was a place for all comers that wanted to be a part of the day, but not a part of any of the groups in the event. In all, it worked out well.
There were other logistical matters that needed to be taken care of. Again, the combined teams had to resolve them through from working with the venue, lining up vendor-sponsors to communicating expectations to their members. Every effort was made to ensure a top level event with the combined admin leadership of LTM and MNNI, as they worked diligently to make this meet work.
In summation – they did. My highest congratulations to everyone involved in the organizing effort.
With every event of this scale, you expect that not everyone will be there. Nor do you expect things to be smooth. Yet, 600 vehicles came to Running Acres. It was manageable, with room for plenty more, but it seemed that there was a good selection of vehicles, a diverse crowd and everyone had a good time.
In terms of feedback from this event, I received nothing but extremely positive stuff from people that attended. These comments concluded that the meet was well run, well organized and everyone left highly satisfied with what they saw. Again, kudos to LTM and MNNI for doing something that resonates with the carmmunity after the last vehicle left Running Aces.
Would I call it a success? I better tell my part of the story…
Having been aware of this event from both LTM and MNNI, I had an idea. I went to one of the media fleets I receive vehicles to work with and requested a truck or a Nissan/Infiniti to cover that weekend. What was I thinking? Infiniti had the Q70L and QX80 Limited supposedly floating around. Both vehicles would have been stars in their own right by everyone at Running Acres. The Nissan Murano was a talked about vehicle on my list, though who would love a crossover these days? However, there’s a whole host of trucks to consider – some of which have already been reviewed in my other outlets.
The choice was made and it arrived in time for the big meet. In the end, I had a 2015 Ford F-150 King Ranch in the SuperCrew cab/six-and-a-half foot box configuration. It was quite loaded, with four-wheel drive, the FX4 Off-Road package, the technology package, a panoramic roof…and so on. Since the new F-150 was on my list of vehicles to review – it just seemed perfect for this event.
Well…maybe getting the King Ranch would be seen as being over the top, I suppose. In a truck sense, it would be seen as bringing the MNE&S crew along for the show. It could be even more insane – a one-ton, dual-rear wheel, crew cab, heavy duty pickup with a turbocharged diesel providing Earth-shattering torque. Oh, and a top-of-the-line cab trim.
But, the F-150 King Ranch made sense due to its newsworthy position. The idea of aluminum cab and box construction on a rolled steel frame is one for the curious. It also engages truck and non-truck people in conversation.
Once I got the truck up to Running Aces – onto a long lineup – a local tried to cut into the back of the truck with his Toyota coupe, while I received a few "WTF" looks along the way. Once I got into the venue, I was guided eventually to a spot behind the Dopery booth. It did give the King Ranch some visibility and a few looks.
However, I was on a mission. I wanted to connect with as many people as possible. It is good to see familiar faces from MNNI, LTM, MNE&S, Minnesota Volvos, SouthWest Sunday Cruise, MN Scion…and other enthusiasts at the venue. Granted, I have seen most of the cars on the tarmac side, there were some compelling vehicles among the LTM contingent. There was a stock 1980s Ford Bronco in a tan/brown motif, along with a 1970s Chevrolet pickup, a lifted blue 1970s Toyota Hi-Lux with a Small Block V8 and a couple of 1970s Ford F-Series. One of those older F-Series, a lowered green 1970s F-100, just happened to be parked behind the King Ranch. I felt that was an appropriate placing.
The success of this event was the fact that no one acted a fool coming and leaving. Security from Running Acres and the Anoka County Sherriff's office made their presence, ensuring LTM and MNNI that any hoons would be dealt with. Aside from that, the crowd was mostly respectful of the vehicles and was able to cross over to see each other's rides.
Could this happen again? The potential for another collaborative effort involving divergent enthusiast groups already has a precedence to go on. It can be done. However, there is a spring full of major meets happening in a matter of days – the May MN C&C at AutoMotoPlex in Chanhassen, Boost for a Cause (also known as "Boost for Boobies") at Modern Automotive Performance in Cottage Grove, the Eminent Fidelity meet in Burnsville and the InCarNation Garage Opener in Vadnais Heights.
My calendar's too full of stuff…but getting this big meet under my belt showed me one thing: We can all get along. Collaboration is possible. It can be a success when everyone on board works together. And, to let the participants enjoy a nice day outside of the Twin Cities.
All photos by Randy Stern