Those of you who have read previous stories I've written in magazines, or in my hardcover book, Drifting: Sideways from Japan to America, might have read some of the things I've written about Japanese drifting culture and street drifting style. Rod told me was pretty taken aback with the things he saw and experienced when we attended the MSC event at Honjyo Circuit; apparently it was the first time he experienced Japanese street drifting style firsthand, and was pretty amazed by it.
I think it was really cool to hear that someone who has spent their lifetime being intensely passionate about traditional motorsports like Le Mans, Formula 1, and FIA GT (Speedhunters' own Rod Chong) loved seeing the Japanese street scene with his own eyes – for a while, I thought I and certain friends of mine were the only ones who still cared about the grassroots street drifting style in Japan. Think about it – you hardly ever hear about it in English-language magazines or other media outlets, even though the writers and editors seem to visit Japan all the time… and these days in the media, all we ever hear about is Formula Drift and drifting's move towards more professionalism and bigger sponsors and more of a traditional motorsports feeling. It's not necessarily a bad thing – I think all this positive momentum is good for the growth of drifting as a sport.
However, we just need to remember where this all came from – as we have traveled around the world and met drifters from Greece, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, China, the Philippines, etc… it has become more and more noticeable to me that many of the drivers and drifting fans in these other countries don't necessarily understand the history, culture, and style elements of drifting's roots in Japan.
This is why the Japanese street scene is so important to me, and so enthralling to me. With the help of my good friend Kenta Ogawara from Tokyo Drive Productions, I have been working with several drifting focused publications in Japan and other parts of the world for the past few years… but still, I remain absolutely and completely amazed by the culture and roots of drifting, even to this very day.
So imagine how happy I was to see the guys (and girls) from Chiba's infamous street drift team, Magician, tearing it up at Honjyo Circuit, showing off their unmistakable skill and style. Speaking of style, just look at that JZX100 Toyota Mark II above – doesn't it look cool as hell?! These guys drift 4 door cars with great stance and style – showing everyone that not all 4-door cars need to be VIP styled. These 4-door sedans can perform as well!
The leader of Magician was driving this pink JZX110 Toyota Mark II, which was wowing the crowd every time it passed the pit area at full throttle, throwing out ridiculous amounts of thick tire smoke! Cars like this just make me fall in love with drifting all over again.
Quite a few of the members of Magician (and their girlfriends) had shirts or work suits with the Magician logo on them… I thought they were pretty cool – kind of reminiscent of the jackets and shirts that some of the old "hot rodding crews" from different parts of Southern California used to wear back in the day (60s and 70s I suppose?), but with more of a "Japanese street drifter" style.
The Magician crew was rocking three cars in close tandem during the team drifting competition at MSC's event at Honjyo Circuit. To be very honest, I've watched a lot of drifting in many different parts of the world… and while these three guys may not be close to the skill level of Team Orange or anything, they were pretty damn exciting to watch. If I were a professional drifting judge though, I would have commented on their inconsistency of angle and speed (not all cars had the same angle and speed as they negotiated the track), which really becomes evident during a team drifting competition, which should look more like a synchronized swimming performance – with tire smoke of course.
Also, many cars at MSC Honjyo had a hard time sticking close together, and this was an issue, even for the super skilled drivers of Magician. They got this particular portion of the course down though… which allowed me to shoot this super stacked photo of them drifting close together! I don't know… maybe I need to stop comparing other drift teams to the skill level of Team Orange… because since I'm so used to watching those guys drive together, I kind of expect that level of performance every time. Either way, I was super excited to watch Magician and their awesome cars drift aggressively at the track. Very, very cool!
One of my favorite cars at the MSC Honjyo event was this pink kouki S14 Silvia from Magician. It has super wide body aero fenders, and a low, aggressive aero kit… but still, look how insane those wheels look, even with the wide body!!! I love it!!! If you buy wide body fenders for your car, THIS is what it should look like when it's finished! 98% of American wide body car owners need to take notes from Team Magician. Watch and learn, people… because THIS is what's up.
Super low ride height, with an aggressive aero kit from BN Sports to make the car look even lower, aggressive wheels, and a rear window laden with tomodachi stickers – stickers of the street drifting teams that are friends of Magician. Awesome. This is what drifting style is all about. I love everything about it.
From the deep angle of this drift, you can see the stretched tire on this JZX100 Mark II's wheels! I love it! And look how close he was drifting to the foam barrier at the edge of the circuit! Magician is sooo bad ass. Seriously. And I just love the dark purple aero extensions underneath the front bumper and side skirts. Magician is as stylish as they are skilled. I love it.
Ridiculous amounts of tire smoke and ridiculously fat lip wheels!!! (Check out Rod in the background shooting video… so guess what kids? Keep an eye out for an HD video of Chiba's super gangster street drift team, Magician… brought to you only by Speedhunters! Hell yeah.)
Oh yeah, and maybe I should mention that all the hottest girls at the circuit seemed to be hanging out with Magician. And don't ask me what the guy in the red shirt is doing, cause I don't know. LOL
R32 Skyline 4-door, Magician style! So fresh and so clean. Seriously.
Here's some more of the Magician crew… I think they resemble a street gang in Japan, and I mean that in the coolest way! Outlaw, renegade, don't give a damn attitude street drifters who only care about smoking cigarettes and tires. Not that I think smoking cigarettes makes you look cool… but damn, it seems that everyone in Japan smokes. And it drives me crazy when I can't breath inside restaurants cause they're hotboxing them. Calm down on the smoking, you guys! Jeez, I'm still coughing from all the secondhand smoke!
Negotiating the back section of Honjyo Circuit's course in the rain looked to be difficult for many of the drivers… but regardless of how close together they were, Magician just looked the coolest doing it, I think.
If you had a pink BN Sports aero bumper, fat lip wheels, and cold green tea in a square shaped PET bottle in your pit area, you'd probably be smiling too!
Check the three Mark IIs as they drift close to the foam barriers next to the pit area at Honjyo! Super cool, kicking up water instead of smoke!
One more story about my time hanging out with Magician… at the end of the day, when I walked away to talk to Yamashita Koichi from Running Free, and Ryuji Miki, who still reminds me of a koala… apparently some of the members of Magician were staring at my Pelican case, which is laden with stickers from some of my favorite racetracks I've visited around the world (even though I love the track, Road Atlanta isn't there because they have a uncool looking sticker. So disappointed in them; they need to try harder.).
Anyway, Magician thought they should leave their mark on my Pelican case, which houses some of my lenses and camera accessories… so they put one of their tomodachi stickers on the front of my case while I was away! I was glad to have a Magician sticker, but I would have preferred if they didn't put it in that exact spot – I had a different location in mind for it, because right now it's kind of covering one of my Fuji Speedway stickers… but Rod told me, "hey man, it's too late… I saw one of the guys running a lighter over it, so it's really on there. If you tear it off to move the sticker, the other one will rip. Dammit, Magician… those bastards. I would have preferred the sticker in a different spot, but oh well. Now I have this story to tell, so I guess it's all good…