It’s been a long year (and some change) since Special Stage West last March, and once again we’re back at Horse Thief Mile – a hilly, one-mile-long short course on a hillside overlooking Willow Springs. Last time we were here, we were heading into our first lockdown, shifting the event to Drivers/Media only.
For those of us who were fortunate enough to attend, Final Bout West was the last breath of a world which now seems nearly impossible to return to. So when Final Bout announced they’d be running a Gallery event open to the public, we were cautiously optimistic.
Horse Thief Mile isn’t a course designed for large gatherings of spectators, and there were some difficulties reigning in the crowd at such a small venue. Nevertheless the event went off without too much trouble; hopefully a sign of things to come as we all continue to adjust to what 2021 has thrown at us.
Last time it was freezing cold and windy. This time, being July, it was hot. Thankfully this was a night event, which would see drivers drift from mid-day to late into the evening, and make for an interesting environment to shoot in.
We arrived fairly early to the track, only to find most drivers had already set-up the night before to avoid the heat.
It was refreshing to be back, and seeing the crowds trickle in made it almost feel normal. This event felt a little light on drivers compared to last year, owing to multiple factors. Some had their cars down for rebuilds, others had greater obligations to attend to, while foreign drivers hoping to make the trek had to stay home due to borders being closed.
Many of the teams that did make it were down several drivers compared to last year – but hey, life happens. Especially now. To expect this event to come packed to the gills hot off the heels of 2020 would be expecting too much. Still, there were some great cars that made a first-time appearance here.
Instagramless-BJ’s Sexy Style-kitted hatch was the star among an already star-studded Final Bout cast.
This is the part where everyone who bellyaches about clean cars “not drifting” can shut up.
Towed up from the bay and driven by Branden – a.k.a. Big B – it actually managed to be one of the most consistent cars of the day, hitting the track often despite being so low. BJ recently joined bay area locals Run-Up, so we’re expecting to see more of this car at future events.
Kazuya Taguchi is back this year with his personal Tomei Genesis SR22 180SX. Between his day job at Up Garage USA and his Formula D career, its refreshing to see a driver of his status take the time for smaller grass-roots events repping his home team, Moccomans.
He also had one of the best sounding cars of the lot, helped by the fact that he drove it hard all day.
Final Bout regulars from the bay, BlvckMoon, were one of the few teams to make a full-team appearance, and their cars looked great as always. This is our first time seeing Sam’s car with the new Design Shop React livery. I appreciated the simplicity of it vs the more loud designs we’re used to these days, not to mention the throwback to the old GP Sports demo cars.
Speaking of the bay, here’s Jonathan’s blue kouki looking pretty wild. Combat eyes were a love-it-or-hate-it thing for me, but there’s no denying their functionality. They’re also much cheaper to fix than glass headlights. Looking at cars like Jonathan’s, it flows very well with the Works9 kit. I can dig it.
Here we have AE86 diehard Jacob and his corolla, Sandi.
Jacob had been invited to fill-in for an MPAC driver who unfortunately suffered an engine failure in the days leading up to Final Bout. He’s no stranger to drifting and 86’s.
Specializing in importing hard-to-find parts for 86 fans through shockthemob, he’s helped bridge the gap between enthusiasts in the states and OG 86 shops in Japan like Expert OZ. He had actually been in Japan during the first lockdown last year, which ended up extending his stay for months. Sounds like a dream scenario to most of us!
Sharing paddock space with Jacob were a couple more cool Toyotas, like ShaDynasty/Panic Made’s Celica, as well as the yellow Squeeze 86.
Taylor’s kouki featuring the coolest wheels you’ve never heard of, Do-Luck Double Six.
Run-Up was here from the bay once again, and their cars tend to be some of the best looking around. Unfortunately Joey spun a bearing in his KA-T, sidelining the purple coupe for most of the event.
Nic’s 1J IS looked amazing as to be expected. This is coming straight from being featured in Super Street; I highly recommend checking out that article if you’d like to see more of this car.
On the topic of Toyota, if you’re at all familiar with drifting in Southern California, you’ve seen Jaime and his JZX. Proving a simple combo of low, cool wheels, and cool aero is all you need.
Auto Factory Realize managed to beat the teal curse long enough to see all 4 of their cars drive the event.
It just wouldn’t be a Final Bout without Realize and their iconic brand of teal and chrome drifting.
A’PEXi once again brought their former D1GP RX-7 out of hibernation, having worked out the kinks which kept it from drifting at last year’s event.
Finally getting to see this survivor drift after all these years was a treat.
More RX-7 action from Formula Drift pro driver Aaron Parker. One of the most extreme cars out, it was putting in solid runs most of the day, though a fireball from the undercarriage towards the evening meant it was time to call it a night.
Austin recently unveiled his coupe, looking right at home at Final Bout.
Animal Style fielded three cars this event; unfortunately missing Julian and Brandon but making up for it with Aaron’s fresh PS13 – bringing back some Super D 2018 vibes.
More Silvias where that came from…
It was really something watching this 500-hp SportCross pound the pavement of Horse Thief Mile like it owed him money.
Anyway, I’ve rambled enough – it feels good to get back into covering events again, even as we still don’t quite know what the hell is going on. For the rest of the pics that didn’t make it into this (already way too long) post, just look below. Anyway, that’s it.
It’s been a while since we’ve last seen each other. How have you been? Good? Not good? The world seems to be going crazy, but hey, we’ve all been there. A global pandemic wasn’t on our to-do list for 2020, but let’s try to make the best of it. So while we’re all self-quarantining, let’s look at some drift cars.
Hold on. Not just any drift cars. These aren’t those thousand-horsepower big-budget Formula D monstrosities, nor is it that local kid’s clapped-out Ford five-oh swapped S13 (every neighborhood seems to have one). This is Final Bout, who’s aim is to keep traditional drifting alive by bringing the best grassroots cars and drivers together, in the classic late 90’s/early 00’s style.
Final Bout hails from the mid-west, and has been going strong for years now, having held events all over the U.S. and even in Japan. I remember first hearing about these events through Zilvia years back, seeing some of the coolest cars from the forum on the track drifting together, wishing I could attend someday.
So, when event organizers announced they’d be making a stop at California’s own Horse Thief Mile, I thought to myself “This is it, we’ll finally get to see one of these events with our own eyes”. We put in our time-off requests and started planning…
…but unfortunately the virus had other plans. It had been announced just days prior that the event was closed to spectators due to new restrictions in California concerning large gatherings. This was a huge blow to those of us who put aside time for the event to see some of our favorite cars do the D. Thankfully, Hoonigan and Falken Tire came through to live-stream the event for everyone who had to stay home. As for us, we’ve given it our 110% to capture this event with our cameras in hand and the written word.
We started the day with a driver’s meeting before opening the track for practice runs. Drivers then prepped while judges went around the paddock looking over the cars for the day.
This particular event was special, even by Final Bout standards. The Final Bout organizers chose Willow Springs seemingly as a call-back to All-Star Bash ’09, an event started by BH in association with Just Drift, back in his ziptied.com days. For some, this was a reunion of car, driver, and track that was years in the making.
For others, it was their first time driving Horse Thief.
Chad had his rad camping setup on deck. Many drivers had decided to crash at the track the night before the event.
Simba checking out Palmer’s M3.
Tomoya of Sexy Knights was all smiles all day as he relished in putting team stickers on his new d machine. He and his car came out from Japan once again, braving the virus scare to come revel in some drift during all this global insanity.
People came from near and far to capture the event, showing that they could get the job done – even with a small lens.
Many people came out of the woodwork for this very special Final Bout; people such as Benson Hsu.
Benson has done this whole drifting thing on our shores longer than anyone I know. In fact, as far as drifting is concerned he probably inspired the people that inspired you, and that’s not an exaggeration. If you were at all aware of drifting in the early 2000’s – during the infancy of the sport here in the states – you’ve probably seen Benson or his car, and not even known it. He even drifted alongside Koguchi when he came to California in 2003 for Falken’s Drift Show-Off, back when Benson’s car was a black Sileighty (hence the Sileighty Mania name).
If that isn’t enough, Nadine, his wife and fellow drifter, has also done a lot to further the sport. She started the organization Drifting Pretty in 2003 with the goal of bringing female car enthusiasts together – in the process breaking stereotypes of women in motorsport. She also had one of the earliest Kouki Type X cars in the states!
Benson has been a judge in previous Final Bout events, but this was his first time bringing his own car out to one of these events.
The car for the most part wasn’t in the best condition however, as it has spent the last twenty years as Benson’s only drift machine. He managed to bring his car out with the help of some of his friends in the tightly-knit drift community; the car had some steering issues fixed, sported a refreshed aero kit, freshly done alignment on some new suspension bits, and a repaired pair of OG Enkei NT03’s.
This is a big part of what makes drifting so special, as it brings people together in a way few things can. Unfortunately, Benson had some transmission issues later in the day that cut his drivetime short. Still, it was awesome to see this storied car in person.
Next to Benson in the pits was none other than APEXi’s own retired D1GP FD RX7. This car has a rich history as well, as it was once piloted by pro driver Youichi Imamura, of Yamanashi’s famed I.C.B.M. drift team.
The car had been brought to the US during the time when D1GP was hosting some events here in the mid 2000’s, and eventually found a permanent home in sunny southern California where it has been preserved ever since.
Most D1 cars from this time are long-gone, having been scrapped, sold to private collections never to be seen again, or worst of all – sold to some know-nothings who destroyed any original identity these once great machines had.
Thankfully this FD has been spared that fate and is one of less than a handful of cars remaining from drifting’s golden era.
Victor’s car went from white Onevia to black Silvia, as the newest member of the bay area’s Blvckmoon. Car looked awesome with the chrome KT7’s, Stage 21 hood and other tasteful bits. Bricks are always a must.
Blvckmoon’s whole team was present and accounted for, but unfortunately Scott had issues plaguing his car the whole day. Regardless, it was great seeing all these cars together as they always have such presence.
Christian’s car is an excellent example of how to Altezza.
Here’s a funny picture of Japanese-transplant Kazuya Taguchi of Moccomans and Formula D fame, looking over Mush’s car. Kazuya is in charge of Up Garage’s new american wing with their US operations based right here in California. On the side, Kazuya goes drifting in his yellow 180SX, of course. To top things off, the car is powered by a Tomei Genesis SR22 – the cream of the crop of SR’s.
This old Sexy Knights FC was also present from last years Gallery event, having been raffled off by Final Bout and won by Nieko of Hammertime.
Tyler was one of the participants present back at All-Star Bash ’09. Though this isn’t his main machine (that one is still under construction) he had just finished vinyl wrapping this beater car in time to take it to Horse Thief.
Handsome Boys, made up of Rodney, John, and a relatively unknown upstart – Ken Gushi.
Jay’s car had a different kit on it this time around instead of the usual Sexy Style it had before, still looked great though!
Before Auto Factory Realize, there was Mulsanne – Chuck’s current puzzle-piece hood is a callback to that era.
The teal curse took a break this day, as all Realize cars were present and drove beautifully throughout the event.
Teddy’s R32 had one of the best exhaust notes of the day, it was a real joy getting to see the whole team on the track again.
Run Up! was out in full-force as well, with Richard’s car having just been refreshed with a new 13B under the hood and some very nice C5C2’s under the fenders.
Joey was out in his purple NA KA S13, and drove hard the whole day, proving you don’t need big power to run with the boys.
This was my first time seeing John’s car in person since the blue makeover. It was one of my favorites of the day.
The GT1 aero, with the chrome Bee*R wheels and damn-near-unobtainable ABFlug headlights come together to create a car with a great aura.
Chad’s car is always nice, and aside from a cleaner de-stickered look and a d-max wing, it hasn’t changed much for Final Bout. Not that it needs to; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Nic’s IS has also changed a lot from when it was silver, now featuring some beautiful body work from Kyle over at Pro Shop Noble, particularly on the rear quarters and rear bumper.
We’d just missed JR’s silver FC in the pits, but we’ll have some action shots of his car further down the page!
Animal Style is always a favorite to see at the track, and Palmer’s refreshed D Magic livery took an already great car and made it even better.
Interior tune of Animal Style‘s very own Canadian, Brandon Strong. Yellow on yellow on yellow. Unfortunately Brandon ran into some issues with his car and had to sit most of the event out.
I was unfamiliar with Drift Team Hammer Time before Final Bout, but their driving definitely had everyone take notice. They consistently put on some of the best runs of the day, and wound up taking first place that day.
Check out this clever solution to avoid destroying expensive sets of brick headlights – just print them on a sheet of vinyl! Looked pretty good in person, and just as convincing in photos.
Nieko’s S13 also had an SR20VET under the hood, the other cream of the crop of SR engines. In simplest terms, it’s an SR with Nissan’s version of VTEC. Made by combining the FWD VVL head from a JDM P11 or P12 Primera with a RWD SR block, it’s one of the coolest ways to build a high-hp SR.
Josh’s car was one of the most unique of the event, with blue accents here and there complimenting the white.
Simba’s S13 from ProceeD. This car had one of the best sounding SR’s of the event, no question about it. The hood of this car also has a really interesting history; years ago it had been stolen, recovered, and then found its way onto Simba’s car where it has remained ever since. It’s not a wrap but a one-off produced by Origin, made in conjunction with two more Great Wave hoods (one for an 86, and another for the 180SX). As if that wasn’t enough he went the extra mile and put the old ProceeD rose livery back on the car; a fan favorite!
Bossman Ilia, keeping his car clean. Good aesthetics are very important for a d car. The team had their cars transported to California for the event, save for Ilia, who elected to drive his FD from Chicago – complete with a trailer hitched to the back of it. In fact, he had just come from Special Stage South in Texas before this event, a testament to rotary reliability.
Josh’s car is one of those that continues to be an inspiration to many, myself included. This current iteration sports a GP Sports style bumper with a molded Turbo A duct, Ikeya Formula sides and what looked like a G Corp rear with some canards thrown into the mix. Beneath the Koguchi Power hood lies a fairly stock S15 SR for simplicity’s sake, while delivering more than enough power for drifting.
Note the Top Fuel sticker on the canard, a tuner famous for building Hondas – Josh knows a thing or two about Honda’s Championship White machines, and shows that it’s OK wear your inspirations on your sleeve.
Josh had planned to bring his previous 180 to All-Star Bash ’09 nearly eleven years ago, but unfortunately could not.
This car’s presence here was monumental; this was redemption.
…To the circuit
Before getting to the judged runs, all driver’s lined up on the track for a photo, as is Final Bout tradition. It was pretty insane.
Jay’s license plate half hanging off from revving too hard!
Most of the photos after this point are action photos, so expect less talking from me.
ProceeD proceeded to D.
Chob leading Simba in his big-body GS powered by a 2JZ.
Seeing Chob drift such a large car was spectacular – what it lacks in lightness it makes up in power. Though he had an offtrack excursion destroying an oil cooler, he was back on the track in no time thanks to Koyorad.
Ilia and Simba being responsible and practicing social distancing.
Hammertime had just about nailed every one of their runs! (pun intended, deal with it)
That SR20VET certainly doesn’t hurt, especially when its pushing somewhere in the neighborhod of 400 to 500 horsepower.
Despite the 86 lagging behind due to clutch issues, the team took home a well deserved win after putting on the best tandems of the event!
Auto Factory Realize had also put in some fantastic runs, though Gary got beached once as the team slowed and swerved to avoid hitting another car that had gone off earlier.
Blvckmoon put in some good runs despite Scott’s car sitting it out. It was cool seeing Victor’s car running with the rest of the team all in black!
Sam’s car is always the goods, and he put down the most impressive runs for the team.
Run Up! always has some of the best looking cars. They had the style points locked down, while also putting in some good runs. Bonus points for having HID’s on.
Can’t stress enough how cool it was seeing Joey on track in his NA KA car. Next time your friend starts to rag on KA, show them Joey’s car, then tell them to shut up.
John had an off-road situation earlier in the day, but a few zipties later he was back and ready to go.
Handsome Boys, with Ken Gushi drifting his street IS, powered by a 1J. The three-man team was composed entirely of JZ-powered Toyota Sedans.
This guy’s going places, I just know it.
Auto Club Bliss, an all FC team, with their clean cars.
Jonathan deserves a round of applause for building a car in less than a month. After crashing at an event last month, he scrambled to find another car, and then totally rebuilt his crashed car in a new shell just in time to make it to Final Bout. That’s dedication. Car looked good too!
Animal Style always put on one of the best performances of the day, and despite being down a teammate most of the day, this was no exception – they even pulled off a solid Burst-style pass!
Kazuya and Tomoya were absolutely incredible to watch; every time they would hit the track, a symphony of sound would erupt from the SR and rotary engines as they scream around the course side-by-side, holding it down for Japan.
Kazuya’s car was the best sounding of the event to me, that Tomei SR22 is something to behold in action (and for nearly $20k an engine, it better be). His tandems with Simba were also some of the best runs of the event without a doubt. As for Tomoya’s new RX7, he claims a somewhat modest power figure, but the way the car performs says otherwise!
The APEXi FD unfortunately wasn’t running at 100% and wouldn’t rev past 4k, but it was really something to see it take a couple parade laps through the track.
Following the comp runs, the drivers had a group photo commemorating the day, and we set off back for home.
Dunno what Jaime is doing, but it makes for a great photo.
We’ve still got more to come covering the days leading up to Special Stage West, but you’ll just have to wait a little longer to see it…
Be safe, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. See you guys next time.
We here at Exciting Hero love Nissan’s S Chassis, and own (or have owned) a couple ourselves. SR All Star Meeting is a yearly gathering of some of the best S Chassis Japan has to offer, and it is a must for any lover of Nissan’s famed rear-wheel drive car. The event usually falls within the string of holidays in Japan known as Golden Week.
This is the fourth running of the event, and I jumped at the opportunity to see many of the cars I had previously only ever seen on the other side of a screen. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to geek out on S Chassis like never before. Fair warning, it can get pretty nerdy in here.
Stepping out of the rental car and into the parking lot at Fuji Speedway, I was greeted by this tastefully modified white 180SX.
Though mixing and matching aero setups can often end badly, the GP Sports G Sonic side skirts and rear bumper flow well with the OEM front end, topped off with an aggressive set of Work XT7’s with just the right fitment.
In what is a surprise to nobody, S Chassis are becoming increasingly scarce. A victim of ever increasing demand and a dwindling supply, original cars have become extraordinarily rare.
This late-model PS13 two-tone is the stuff of dreams, with a full factory-optional aero kit and carefully chosen modifications to enhance the base car without destroying its character.
The later model PS13 Silvia can be distinguished at a glance from the earlier CA-powered model by its spoiler, LED third brake light, and trunk badge. Early models came with a square trunk badge and a more traditionally shaped wing.
The BBS wheels fit the OEM+ theme perfectly.
Say it with me now: kouki. As in koh-key. Not cookie, not cow-key, kouki.
With that out of the way, lets move on.
This pearl white kouki 180SX was yet another survivor, and had a few rare oem-optional trinkets as well, such as the 3″ Nismo exhaust…
…and the dealer-installed 180SX rear glass decal.
It’s easy to forget what these cars look like totally unmodified. The sky-high ride height seems to clash with the aggressive OEM kouki body style, as if Nissan knew these cars would be modified anyway.
This one’s for the Initial D fans – and yes, it was driven by two girls.
Not far from Impact Blue was a silver-green two-tone Silvia and another blue Sileighty seemingly based on the anime.
These two Silvias made a great pair. One slammed on R33’s, one less so on Work Seeker SX’s.
The two-tone Silvia was one of the best I’d ever seen, with careful attention to detail and parts selection. From the seats to the 180SX bumper lights…
…to this marvel of eighties bubble economy technical innovation, the Nissan Puretron MZ-1, released in 1986. Smoking is extremely common in Japan, and the MZ-1 is meant to purify the cabin air of the car while doubling as a replacement of the factory third brake light. Novelty tech like this was very much in-fashion in eighties Japan, with a form factor smaller than that of the factory light to aid in rearward visibility… however negligible the difference may have been.
Volk GT-C’s used to be everywhere in the mid 2000’s. Now though, most people tend to forget about them or even call them ugly. Looking at this kouki S14 on an aggressive set of concave face GT-C’s, I fail to see how these ever fell out of popularity. I challenge anyone to argue that this doesn’t look good.
326 D-LUX with clear headlight covers on this S13.
Moving into the main show area, I was greeted by the some of the best S Chassis in Japan.
Front-and-center at the RemainsLow booth was this 180SX from Ishikawa Body. This car has been making the rounds on the internet lately for its ultra-high level craftsmanship and aggressive all-metal widebody.
The S15 dashboard seamlessly blends in with the rest of the 180SX interior, which has been totally done up in tan leather down to the Recaro semi-bucket seats. Ishikawa Body even made slip on leather covers for the roll cage, tying the whole theme together.
Ishikawa Body recently had the bodywork of this car laser-scanned and will be releasing FRP fenders, no doubt opening the flood gates for more low and wide S Chassis show cars in the future. Just when you think the tuning ceiling has been reached on these cars, someone finds a way raise the bar even higher.
I tried to get everything SR All Star Meeting had on offer, but this coverage may be a bit heavy on kouki 180SX photos. My apologies. The heart wants what the heart wants, after all.
Kouki 180SX builds often get called ‘cookie cutter’, due to the notion that all they need to look good is a decent set of wheels and proper ride height. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to stick with a tried and true formula, but truly great kouki 180’s aren’t as numerous as the internet would like you to believe; in fact they’re few and far between.
This white 180 was one of my favorites of the event. It has all the typical kouki aero parts, but its the Advan VS6 wheels and ride height that pushed it ahead of the others, and it’s rare to see a pearl white kouki.
A popular modification to OEM kouki front bumpers is to cut out the license plate mount area for increased airflow to the intercooler and radiator. It also looks cool, so there’s that.
Here’s a spotless early-model S13. As stated before, the wing and trunk badge are different from the later SR-powered models. Now you can use that piece of information to break the ice with someone at your next singles mixer, or whatever it is you do. You can thank us later.
This was the Zenki of the show for me, with it’s subtle wide bodywork and aggressive ride height topped off with rare-spec Model 5’s. Bonus points for sticking with the Navan wing instead of the more aggressive kouki wing.
This black and white duo was representing USDM style at SR All Star Meeting.
At a glance, what makes this 180SX USDM may not be immediately apparent, but look closer: things like part selection, wheels, fitment and ride height all play into the Japanese concept of USDM, which has become synonymous with low, aggressive fitment in Japan (no doubt owing to the hellaflush/illest trend of the past… which itself based its style on Japanese tuning trends of low and aggressive fitment). This car also has a USDM 240SX gauge cluster and rear sidemarkers, which Japanese-market cars weren’t equipped with from factory.
In addition to that was the NeXt Miracle Cross Bar, a coveted piece so deeply associated with JDM abroad, that it’s inclusion in many high-profile builds in the west over the years has made it both a JDM and USDM icon.
Having spoken to a few Japanese S Chassis enthusiasts, the consensus here is that the american-market 240SX is cooler than the Japanese equivalent, with one owner even telling me he’d actually prefer a 240SX to his 180SX. The grass is always greener, after all…
Some have even gone the extra mile to import their very own 240SX, like this one here. It even has the original KA24, still ticking away under the hood.
Sticking with the USDM “simple and clean” theme, the car has retained its flip-up headlights with the only changes being a kouki front bumper, Silvia aero side skirts, and rear valances.
This Silvia may look like just another low and wide build on the surface, but the devil is always in the details. For one thing, the already wide front fenders were further widened by overlaying another, wider fender over them. The Z33 mirrors flow surprisingly well with the rest of the car as well. To top it off, this car is driven at this height, no doubt aided by the fact that Japan’s roads are kept in far better shape than what we’re used to.
Garage Mak cars are known for their aggressive, track-oriented aero packages, often making use of splitters, canards, and GT wings. While their styling can be somewhat over the top at times, it breaks out of the mold of the typical S Chassis.
Here’s a car I’d seen lots of in my days cruising and perusing Minkara. It’s a relief to see it’s still around and in such good shape. The owner, an older gentleman, was kind enough to show me around the car, and even rev up the engine for me!
This S15 on TE37V’s was a looker, and the Hasemi Sport front lip is a welcome touch. The widebody was also subtle, helping to keep those wide wheels in check.
Next door to the gray s15 was this. The Autech S15 came from the factory without a turbo, but still put out close to 200 horsepower thanks to higher compression, aggressive cams, tubular exhaust manifold, improved intake manifold, and most importantly – a red valve cover. This particular car went a step further with individual throttle bodies for ultimate response.
OZ Futuras on this car were very aggressive, and the interior was a tasteful tan/black combination. This car also had many USDM touches, including California license plates, 240SX sidemarkers and gauge cluster.
Spoon Silvia? Spoon Silvia.
This JZX-face S14 was interesting. The over-the-top wing, almost reminiscent of RWB, makes this car just crazy enough that it comes back from being almost too weird to actually being cool.
More classic style on this S15 sitting on a set of lesser-known-but-fully-excellent Blitz Z1’s.
GP Sports was present with a booth showing off some of their beautiful exhausts as well as their Gallery 180SX.
This car really needs no introduction, but I’ll give one anyway. Gallery is known for building “The Driver’s 180SX”, a title earned by being one of the fastest RWD’s in Hot Version’s Touge Battle. For the uninitiated, the kit on this car costs about $13,000. Needless to say the chance of seeing one in the wild is unlikely.
This interesting find is a Tommi Kaira M18Si, a rare modified version of the naturally-aspirated CA18 S13. It’s somewhat of a shame to see such a rare car with bolt-on flares and a wangan wing, but at least it still looks cool.
I really don’t care for RPF1’s, but Japan manages to make them look good.
Best valve cover of the show?
Reasons Nismo LMGT4’s are timeless:
The dashes of chrome on this S15 gives it an elegant touch.
Vertex widebody and Koguchi Power wing go great together on this S15.
They say you should never meet your heroes; that they can never live up to our expectations of them. In this instance I can say that I certainly was not disappointed.
Though there were other cars at the event with more extreme body work, engine work, aero, and wheel setups, to me Noriaki Nagato’s 180SX was the best of the show. The massive venting on the rare Racing Service MAX hood and R33 GT-R N1 vents are just some of many elements that make this car a shining beacon of 180 style. This is what the perfect 180SX looks like.
This hood predates the modern Koguchi Power MAX hood, and has a somewhat more subtle shape that even retains the window washers. The later Koguchi Power hood is largely the same, but has a raised cowl and no windshield washer holes. The original MAX hood is highly coveted among 180SX die-hards as one of the rarest parts in existence.
The rear quarters have been beautifully widened in such a way as to maintain the coveted original metal bodywork. The staggered 17/18 Blitz BRW 03’s are another classic touch – a timeless wheel and a 180SX standard. It may be easy to argue that these wheels have been “played out” by a certain subset of the car community, but this car is a testament to the fact that proper reverse-lip 03’s will always look good.
The 240SX rear sidemarkers are a nice touch!
Tohoku is the north-eastern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu, and the region is known for producing some of the best 180SX’s of all time. Preserving Tohoku’s 180 style, Nagato’s history with the S Chassis stretches back to the golden era of the early 2000’s alongside the likes of the Tohoku pioneer Itoh of Break, Koguchi of K-Style, and Shigihara of B’Club – who’s car also happened to be silver, no doubt an influence on Nagato’s choice to repaint his car silver not too long ago.
The hallmarks of Tohoku style are simple – vehicle height is low. Drift is good. In order to ride at this height without risking damage to the body or oil pan, the suspension is stiff.
In the front, the car has been subtly widened by way of 12mm Vertex aero fenders.
The interior is deceptively simple, with a pair of no-nonsense Brides doing the butt-holding duties. The Nardi Classic is the de-facto wheel of choice, and Defi gauges provide valuable insight on engine vitals. The car is otherwise beautifully uncluttered, inside and out.
Also representing Tohoku’s style was this red 180 from team WELLBARUNS. Like the silver 180, it’s aggressively low, with Advan AVS T6’s that only just fit within the wheel wells.
The Hot Road front aero was an influence from another 180SX legend, Itai of Ricoh Racing. Its essentially a one-piece kouki front with a molded Group A vent, so called because its the same vent used on the Group A/Turbo A JZA70 Toyota Supra.
Three-finger headlight rule is also a major key.
Together, these two cars represent everything right and good about the S Chassis. Getting the opportunity to speak with the owners of these two cars and discuss the finer points of 180 style with someone that was there at it’s golden era peak is a dream come true.
My Japanese has improved much in the past eight months, but I’m not yet fully conversational. However in spite of the language barrier, we all spoke the common language of friendship – and it was a mutual love of these cars that made it all possible. Every one of the Japanese owners I’ve met after following them online has always been very kind and down-to-earth; in fact they’re always surprised and humbled to see that they have fans from all corners of the world following in their footsteps, me included.
If you ever find yourself in Japan during Golden Week, make your way to this event. You won’t regret it.
It’s that time of the year again – spring is in the air, the weather is warming up, and the Honda’s come out to play. This time its at Chuckwalla Valley Speedway for Round 1 of Vtec Club.
Kristian’s EK wasn’t in the competition, but it sure looks fast just sitting there.
This CL7 Euro-R isn’t just another replica; it’s a genuine Spoon Sports racecar, which the owner Will has gone to great lengths to restore and return to the circuit. This car has seen many events in the past and has recentyl spent some time under the knife being prepared for its new life as a competitor in HFF Challenge. Will has documented everything he’s done with this car to prepare it to race, from refurbishing the aging air jack system to redoing the wiring harness, and the result is well worth it for a car with such a pedigree and personality; a sight and sound enjoyable either track side, pre-grid, or on track.
Muoi’s car was keeping a lower profile with a change in decal layout. Seeing this car’s evolution the past year has been pretty exciting, and she landed a podium finish at Chuckwalla. Not bad for the first event of the year.
Running the same day was Narita Attack Challenge presented by Narita Dog Fight. This event aims to bring the Japanese style of time attack to the states, with only a few laps per session to get times in.
It’s uncommon to see this generation of Prelude these days, and it makes it all that much more interesting to see this car at Chuckwalla. Prepared by the famed Honda outfit Hasport Performance, this Prelude ditched its factory power-plant in lieu of the ever-popular K series. Not stopping there, however, Hasport also equipped the car with a turbocharger. This car made the rounds a few years back with a magazine feature, and its always a pleasure to see what can be done on the path less traveled.
We love seeing the new Type R at Vtec Club events. The Spirit of the Type R is well and truly alive, as these cars tend to have some of the quickest times!
Kristian’s car is always a favorite, and seeing it in this more complete state after a long hibernation was well worth the wait. The rare Truth bumper complimented the aggressive Weds/TE wheel set-up well, and the addition of the Mode Parfume lip at the bottom gave the front end an aggressive look, bringing the car’s already low stance even lower.
Featuring a K swap, a fully reworked chassis, and a Hybrid Racing livery, this car has gone through quite a transformation.
We’ve seen Phillip’s Pandem EG Civic before at Year 10, but its real home is here at the circuit. It’s a driver’s car through and through, with form and function in perfect harmony. Unlike the plethora of Pandem and Rocket Bunny-equipped cars in existence, Philip went the way of Pandem as the next evolution of his Civic as a pure race car.
We’re still waiting to see this car hit the virtual racetrack in Gran Turismo. With the car having recently been scanned by the team at Polyphony Digital, that could be any day now…
Hasport’s Brian Gillespie and Philip Robles; Two legends of the sport.
I spy with my little eye…
Thomas Van competing for his first time with Vtec Club, laying down a solid time of 2:03.09, landing him a third place podium finish in Group N. An impressive result after having just recently been shaken-down after a long build process.
Joel Etrata from team Topak hit a solid 1:59.973 borrowing his old car from the current owner Dexter.
Jonathan reminds us that a focused, sensible approach in modifications coupled with seat time will always amount to more confidence and better lap times.
John piloted Goldy in a class primarily filled with S2000’s, and more than held his own with a PB of 2:01.470 on Nankang’s newly released AR-1 tires.
It was great to see the guys from Vtec club again, as well experience Chuckwalla for the first time. We’re looking forward to the rest of the season and what it has in store for new and seasoned competitors alike.
When it comes to the drift side of grassroots track events, the drift community is stronger than ever – not only within the southern end of California, but in the northern end as well. More often than not, the drift community tends to be stereotyped by the average clapped-out s-chassis seen at any local in-n-out, but that’s not the case with events like Bihoku Days. Orchestrated by one of Nor Cal’s own s-chassis heroes – Roy from Auto-Collect STORM – the cars being driven at Bihoku Days are all around good looking, well-performing machines.
After seeing what Super D had to offer last summer, it felt as though nothing could compare to the spectacle of Super D. Bihoku Days at Thunderhill’s big skid pad proved otherwise; while it was a rather small track day by comparison, it still brought out the quality cars and drivers while maintaining the grassroots charm that we all know and love.
Many of the newer drivers were out there really grinding out the day, to learn as much as they could, while some of the more experienced drivers from teams like Animal Style, RunUp!, Wolfreign, and GoldStar showed them the potential of what can be done with enough practice and seat time. Not one person there seemed unapproachable, with everyone open for conversation on their car or their driving.
Though Roy is currently best known for his green S13, his history with drifting extends back to his days building and drifting Toyota Cressidas with Bosstown out of Boston. With his Auto-Collect STORM brand, he has been making new and innovative products such as bumper guides and fender braces, helping s-chassis guys style up – one car at a time.
Bihoku Days is one of those events that helps bring this community together, and gives back to those who have supported Auto-Collect STORM since the beginning.
We started the day with a soaked track, thanks to the unpredictable California weather as of late.
As the name suggests, Bihoku Days derives its track layout from Japan’s Bihoku Highland Circuit, a track made famous by kansai area drifters. Drivers took most of the early morning to get a feel for the new layout and the surface conditions at the big skid pad.
The event was judged by three of the biggest names in grass-roots drifting today: Yusef, of Thrash Racing and Wolfreign Motors; Taco from Loose Socks Daisuki; and Austin from Animal Style. Judging was based on angle, line, and speed. The judges watched most of the practice runs in the morning and gave feedback to drivers as to what to expect during the judged runs, in addition to giving newcomers an idea of how judges tend to score a run.
Following the morning practice were the first judged runs of the day. Drivers were awarded points based on the three parameters listed above and grouped together based on their skill.
For a 1v1 style points match, each driver got one warm up pass and two judged passes. The winner moved on to the next round.
The thing about events like these is getting to see beautiful cars like Herb’s blue S13. A far cry from the run-of-the-mill s-chassis you’d see at most nor cal drift events, the Itai vibes are strong with this one, complete with Hot Road aero and a classic set of bronze TE37’s.
Animal Style has been doing a lot to push grassroots drifting to the next level. Its refreshing to know that in the modern world of mainstream drifting there can be guys like Animal Style who champion what drifting is really about. No big horsepower figures, no tube-frame missiles. Its all about drifting with friends in stylish cars and pushing each other to be better drivers through it all.
The driver of this Sexy Style’d S13, Bryan, won the Valino Tires Most Improved Driver giveaway that day, landing a Top 8 spot and a pair of new Valino tires!
Between all the well-known teams and cars, were a few fresh faces putting in some work on track.
The difference between this and other events like it was that it was a lot more mixed as far as skill behind the wheel. With Super D being invite-only, it ensured that the pool of drivers present were of similar skill level and style, while events like Bihoku Days are open registration and as such, the pool of drivers varied greatly. Take for instance Central Valley local Josh.
Josh has been going to plenty of events lately in his ZN6 FR-S, and has evolved greatly as a driver because of it. His car isn’t anything fancy, retaining its stock engine with minor bolt-ons, but it goes to show that the best way to get better is to just get out there and do it. Definitely a driver to look out for at future events!
One of our favorites of the day was Darius’ Corolla, keeping it simple with a miss-matched set of SSR’s and Impul’s and JDM front and rear bumpers.
Joey’s only had this car for a little over a year, but he’s made a lot of good progress in that time, building it from stock into this purple machine rolling on a cool set of Super Advans.
Richard’s FC was looking and running great, with a fresh tune from rotary specialists Angel Motorsports all the way in SoCal.
Aaron from Wolfreign had just recently finished putting together his old setup in this new chassis and was out there driving as aggressively as ever. The SFP Aero flush rear bumper and diffuser was an interesting new addition!
Teruaki Itai would be proud! Unfortunately, Herb had a run in with the wall later that day. We’re hoping to see the car bounce back soon!
Some chit chat in between runs.
Homie love is what its all about, honestly.
Chad’s car looked as good as ever, being one our favorite zenki S14’s in California (or anywhere for that matter).
Nick’s Kouki S14 looked great sideways, and it’s always nice to see more well-done KA-T cars out.
Animal Style continues to push the boundaries of their driving skill, with some of the most exciting tandems of the day.
Roy had an off-road excursion and lost his front bumper, but kept on trucking through the day as the wet weather dried up and the track conditions improved. Roy’s cars have gone through a lot phases from 326 to GP Sports to Car Modify Wonder and back to the current GP Sports kit, which may not have survived the day.