Final Bout Gallery: West

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.

You already know what it is

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.

Take care.

Gallery

Final Bout: Special Stage West

excite final bout (29 of 409)

Reach For The Summit O

Horse Thief Mile

DSCF0345

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.

DSCF8817

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.

excite final bout (8 of 28)

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.

excite final bout (25 of 28)R0004147

DSCF9474
Phil, Simba, and Ilia.

R0004658

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…

R0004685

…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.

R0004242

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.

R0004353

R0004232
 Dai, Hert, and BH taking a look at Jason’s car

excite final bout (6 of 28)

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.

DSCF9511DSCF9498

For others, it was their first time driving Horse Thief.

DSCF9457excite final bout (186 of 409)excite final bout (255 of 409)

Chad had his rad camping setup on deck. Many drivers had decided to crash at the track the night before the event.

R0004307

Simba checking out Palmer’s M3.

R0004279
Rare sighting of the elusive “Exciting Hero” sticker…

R0004264

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.

R0004263R0004382R0004182

People came from near and far to capture the event, showing that they could get the job done – even with a small lens.

excite final bout (4 of 5)excite final bout (5 of 5)

excite final bout (3 of 5)
That’s a BIG BOY lens.

R0004177

Many people came out of the woodwork for this very special Final Bout; people such as Benson Hsu.

R0004403
Benson and Yuta of Exceed conversing in the pits. 

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).

R0004347
Real recognize real.

DSCF9133
Drift royalty.

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!

excite final bout (197 of 409)

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.

R0004290

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.

excite final bout (1 of 5)

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.

DSCF9666

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.

excite final bout (363 of 409)R0004367

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.

R0004458

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.

R0004350

Thankfully this FD has been spared that fate and is one of less than a handful of cars remaining from drifting’s golden era.

R0004297

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.

DSCF9354

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.

DSCF8970

Christian’s car is an excellent example of how to Altezza.

R0004397DSCF9779

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.

excite final bout (28 of 28)excite final bout (307 of 409)

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.

excite final bout (245 of 409)R0004676

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.

excite final bout (405 of 409)

Handsome Boys, made up of Rodney, John, and a relatively unknown upstart – Ken Gushi.

excite final bout (2 of 5)R0004613

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!

DSCF9790R0004159

Before Auto Factory Realize, there was Mulsanne – Chuck’s current puzzle-piece hood is a callback to that era.

DSCF9438

The teal curse took a break this day, as all Realize cars were present and drove beautifully throughout the event.

excite final bout (24 of 28)excite final bout (256 of 409)excite final bout (218 of 409)excite final bout (58 of 409)

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.

R0004341

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.

excite final bout (99 of 409)R0004344

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.

excite final bout (308 of 409)DSCF9253

This was my first time seeing John’s car in person since the blue makeover. It was one of my favorites of the day.

excite final bout (11 of 28)

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.

R0004700

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.

excite final bout (371 of 409)

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.

excite final bout (54 of 409)

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!

R0004311excite final bout (27 of 28)DSCF9855

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.

R0004706

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.

DSCF0733R0004237R0004223

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.

R0004216DSCF9380

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.

DSCF9712

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.

DSCF9857DSCF9736DSCF9233DSCF8967

Josh’s car was one of the most unique of the event, with blue accents here and there complimenting the white.excite final bout (5 of 28)excite final bout (9 of 28)R0004638

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!

excite final bout (82 of 409)

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.

R0004645R0004643

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.

R0004656

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.

excite final bout (200 of 409)

…To the circuit

R0004469

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.

R0004463

Jay’s license plate half hanging off from revving too hard!

DSCF0748DSCF0548DSCF0512

Most of the photos after this point are action photos, so expect less talking from me.

excite final bout (213 of 409)excite final bout (234 of 409)R0004577

ProceeD proceeded to D.

R0004572

Chob leading Simba in his big-body GS powered by a 2JZ.

DSCF0126excite final bout (92 of 409)excite final bout (31 of 409)

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.

DSCF0322R0004604

Ilia and Simba being responsible and practicing social distancing.

R0004481excite final bout (395 of 409)excite final bout (355 of 409)DSCF9937DSCF0020excite final bout (280 of 409)

Hammertime had just about nailed every one of their runs! (pun intended, deal with it)

excite final bout (394 of 409)excite final bout (292 of 409)

That SR20VET certainly doesn’t hurt, especially when its pushing somewhere in the neighborhod of 400 to 500 horsepower.

excite final bout (2 of 409)

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!

DSCF0200excite final bout (258 of 409)

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.

excite final bout (376 of 409)DSCF0345excite final bout (212 of 409)DSCF0346DSCF0386DSCF0383excite final bout (148 of 409)DSCF0407DSCF0198R0004589excite final bout (80 of 409)excite final bout (380 of 409)DSCF9903DSCF0364excite final bout (160 of 409)R0004564

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!

excite final bout (290 of 409)excite final bout (73 of 409)DSCF0247

Sam’s car is always the goods, and he put down the most impressive runs for the team.

R0004477excite final bout (384 of 409)excite final bout (354 of 409)DSCF0236

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.

DSCF0351DSCF9982excite final bout (5 of 409)excite final bout (134 of 409)

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.

excite final bout (207 of 409)DSCF0149DSCF0031excite final bout (246 of 409)DSCF0378

John had an off-road situation earlier in the day, but a few zipties later he was back and ready to go.

excite final bout (392 of 409)excite final bout (15 of 409)R0004539

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.

DSCF0357

This guy’s going places, I just know it.

excite final bout (100 of 409)DSCF9929

Auto Club Bliss, an all FC team, with their clean cars.

DSCF0877DSCF0337excite final bout (60 of 409)DSCF0184DSCF0847

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!

DSCF0005excite final bout (206 of 409)excite final bout (147 of 409)DSCF0881

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!

DSCF0883excite final bout (393 of 409)DSCF0434DSCF0229DSCF0112DSCF0163DSCF0065

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.

DSCF0080excite final bout (174 of 409)DSCF0212excite final bout (124 of 409)

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!

DSCF0319DSCF0067DSCF0480

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.

excite final bout (138 of 409)

Following the comp runs, the drivers had a group photo commemorating the day, and we set off back for home.

excite final bout (346 of 409)

Dunno what Jaime is doing, but it makes for a great photo.

R0004274DSCF9332

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…

excite final bout (19 of 28)

Be safe, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. See you guys next time.

 

SR All Star Meeting 2019

For The Love of S Chassis…

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.

sr all star-1

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.

sr all star-13

Stepping out of the rental car and into the parking lot at Fuji Speedway, I was greeted by this tastefully modified white 180SX.

sr all star-14

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.

sr all star-26

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.

sr all star-27

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.

sr all star-28

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.

sr all star-29

The BBS wheels fit the OEM+ theme perfectly.

sr all star-30

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.

sr all star-34

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…

sr all star-32

…and the dealer-installed 180SX rear glass decal.

sr all star-230

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.

sr all star-37

This one’s for the Initial D fans – and yes, it was driven by two girls.

sr all star-45

Not far from Impact Blue was a silver-green two-tone Silvia and another blue Sileighty seemingly based on the anime.

sr all star-48sr all star-53

These two Silvias made a great pair. One slammed on R33’s, one less so on Work Seeker SX’s.

sr all star-54

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…

sr all star-66

…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.

sr all star-65sr all star-58

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.

sr all star-59sr all star-64sr all star-67

326 D-LUX with clear headlight covers on this S13.

sr all star-69
@yamachan_s15

Moving into the main show area, I was greeted by the some of the best S Chassis in Japan.

sr all star-70
@masaru2236

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.

sr all star-71

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.

sr all star-73sr all star-74

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.

sr all star-75
@nosukeonevia

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.

sr all star-76
@chankawa180

sr all star-79
@makki_15

sr all star-83
@te37vvvv

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.

sr all star-86

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.

sr all star-89

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.

sr all star-92

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.

sr all star-93sr all star-94

sr all star-202
@takeshitakeshi8

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.

sr all star-97

 

sr all star-98
@takumi240sx @katsu.180sx

This black and white duo was representing USDM style at SR All Star Meeting.

sr all star-100
@katsu.180sx

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.

sr all star-107

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.

sr all star-101
@takumi240sx

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…

sr all star-102

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.

sr all star-103

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.

sr all star-104

sr all star-108
@takao.sekine

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.

sr all star-184

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.

sr all star-204sr all star-205sr all star-156

sr all star-185
@take.s14drift

sr all star-158

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!

sr all star-160

sr all star-161
@k_uzuki

sr all star-166
@motevia15

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.sr all star-162

sr all star-167

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.

sr all star-151
@tatchan.9

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.

sr all star-177sr all star-179sr all star-186

Spoon Silvia? Spoon Silvia.

sr all star-187

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.

sr all star-192

More classic style on this S15 sitting on a set of lesser-known-but-fully-excellent Blitz Z1’s.

sr all star-193sr all star-195

GP Sports was present with a booth showing off some of their beautiful exhausts as well as their Gallery 180SX.

sr all star-196sr all star-197

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.

sr all star-200sr all star-207

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.

sr all star-209sr all star-213

I really don’t care for RPF1’s, but Japan manages to make them look good.

sr all star-211sr all star-212

Best valve cover of the show?

sr all star-214

Reasons Nismo LMGT4’s are timeless:

sr all star-216sr all star-218sr all star-220sr all star-222sr all star-223

The dashes of chrome on this S15 gives it an elegant touch.

sr all star-225sr all star-226sr all star-227

Vertex widebody and Koguchi Power wing go great together on this S15.

sr all star-228

sr all star-229
@bakky_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.

sr all star-174
@freak.nori

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.

sr all star-116

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.

sr all star-130

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.

sr all star-132

The 240SX rear sidemarkers are a nice touch!

sr all star-123

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.

sr all star-127

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.

sr all star-136

In the front, the car has been subtly widened by way of 12mm Vertex aero fenders.

sr all star-137

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.

sr all star-171sr all star-143

sr all star-173
@negi_baruns

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.

sr all star-144

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.

sr all star-124

Three-finger headlight rule is also a major key.

sr all star-170

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.

sr all star-149

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.

Vtec Club Round 1: NDF Attack Challenge

eg-2879

eg-2913
@studytuned @naritadogfight

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.eg-2926

 

Kristian’s EK wasn’t in the competition, but it sure looks fast just sitting there.

eg-2958
@illwillem

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.

eg-2969
@mmmuoi

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.

eg-2981Running 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.

eg-2992
@hasport_performance

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.

eg-3012eg-3019eg-3020eg-3038eg-3051eg-3064

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!

eg-3070

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.

eg-3298

Featuring a K swap, a fully reworked chassis, and a Hybrid Racing livery, this car has gone through quite a transformation.

eg-3085
@philiprrobles

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.

eg-3093eg-3096eg-3105eg-3106eg-3121

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…

eg-3135

Hasport’s Brian Gillespie and Philip Robles; Two legends of the sport.

eg-3157eg-3160eg-3195eg-3202eg-3215

I spy with my little eye…

eg-3219eg-3221eg-3228eg-3238eg-3247eg-3248eg-3253eg-3263eg-3300

eg-3308
@tommygun_rivals

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.eg-3321eg-3330eg-3358eg-3371

eg-3373
@joel8trata @dexterpiatos

Joel Etrata from team Topak hit a solid 1:59.973 borrowing his old car from the current owner Dexter.

eg-3377eg-3390eg-3397eg-3399eg-3408eg-3409eg-3413eg-3416

eg-3420
@jonathanxposadas

Jonathan reminds us that a focused, sensible approach in modifications coupled with seat time will always amount to more confidence and better lap times.

eg-3458
@yooitzjohn

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.

 

Photos: Rudy Lopez

Article: Giovanny Barragan

Bihoku Days at Thunderhill

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.

eg-2599

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.

eg-1210
@animaljuju

eg-1339
@180sxtypex

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.

eg-1832
@roy_autocollectstorm

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.

eg-2180

We started the day with a soaked track, thanks to the unpredictable California weather as of late.

eg-1143
@ratpack_chad

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.

eg-1172
@jrwayne

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.

eg-2352

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.

eg-1235

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.

eg-1207
@herbbd

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.

eg-1448
@chardasouras @tougestars_sanso

eg-1253
@babyjasons13 @driftteamanimalstyle

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.

eg-1305eg-1328eg-1377

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!

eg-1399Between all the well-known teams and cars, were a few fresh faces putting in some work on track.

eg-1424
@taxitom_is300

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.

eg-1404
@s13joshue

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!

eg-2150

eg-1458
@dariustii

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.

eg-2149

eg-2608

eg-1509
@joeyup

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.

eg-1536

Richard’s FC was looking and running great, with a fresh tune from rotary specialists Angel Motorsports all the way in SoCal.

eg-1634
@aaronspandora

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!

eg-1664

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!

eg-1726

Some chit chat in between runs.

eg-2194

Homie love is what its all about, honestly.

eg-1745eg-1751

Chad’s car looked as good as ever, being one our favorite zenki S14’s in California (or anywhere for that matter).

eg-1789

eg-1864
@nick_goldstar

Nick’s Kouki S14 looked great sideways,  and it’s always nice to see more well-done KA-T cars out.

eg-1971

Animal Style continues to push the boundaries of their driving skill, with some of the most exciting tandems of the day.

eg-2041

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.

eg-2047eg-2063eg-2080eg-2089

Eagle eyed readers may notice a familiar name here somewhere…