When I learned that May was going to have a "drives" and "roadways" themed week – I laughed. Only a week? That's not nearly long enough on the road. As of today, Josh "Hobo" Herron and I have been on the road for over a month and a half. Pushing, literally at times, our 1974 Volkswagen Van across the United States. In my first post, I highlighted the grassroots drifting scene in the Southwest part of the US. This time, I want to give you a look into the South East and East coast or right coast vibe.
Hobo pilots the Westy. One of the first additions we made to the van after purchasing it was to add an oil temperature gauge. Since the motor is air-cooled, oil is the way things stay lubricated and cooled. In Texas, the van lost idle. Meaning that we had to left foot brake and feather the throttle for the rest of the drive to Atlanta, Georgia. Keeping it Fun…
In Atlanta, we shot Formula Drift Pro AM and South East Drift's practice day at Turner Field. We also learned that the van would need a new motor. We decided to upgrade the 1800cc to a 2000cc remanufactured long block with hydraulic valve lifters. While the motor was being swapped, we had the opportunity to hang out with our Atlanta drift family.
Andy Sapp and Lieze Truter put us up and let us drink all of their African coffee. Andy was prepping his infamous BMW 3 series to compete in the Pro AM at FD Atlanta. When Josh, Andy, and I get to hang out, its always a good time. Andy is an incredible graphic designer, editor, and driver – so the three of us are constantly bouncing ideas off each other. The mood is always light and fun. In strong contrast to the game face captured above. Which is a few minutes before Andy was ready to drop in and drive down the hill at Road Atlanta during Pro AM. This year, was the first that Andy was able to have a fully functional car and do the course justice – in previous years he was plagued with mechanical issues. In the spirit of our documentary, he was stoked just to drive the course and was even more excited about driving with his friends at Turner field the next day.
The new motor made the Westy feel alive. The van holds an idle and doesn't stall out. Craziness after becoming used to the challenge of driving it without those luxuries across half of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and into Georgia. After wrapping up in Atlanta, we drove up I-85 North through South Carolina and into North Carolina. In North Carolina, we crashed with a good friend in Charlotte.
We keep the van smelling funk-free with some JDM squash air fresheners. Plus they help remind us that our s14's are waiting at home on the west coast – and we won't be driving a VW van forever. I've had squash air fresheners in my cars for a few years and they work well. It's enough of a challenge living in a van, at least we don't smell like we are living in one.
After Charlotte, we continued north into Virginia along I-85. Eventually stopping off in Richmond for the night. The next day, we drove out to Harrisonburg, VA and onto Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – along I-79 to I-76. Along the way the van's sticker collection has been growing. This Wagonforce sticker was designed by Andy Sapp for some serious wagon owners – like Tony Angelo who gave it to us! Nothing is more metal than wagons or VW Vans.
The Philly skyline as seen from the Walt Whitman bridge on I-76. We needed to be up near New Jersey for East Coast Bash and the third round of Formula Drift at Wall.
We heard that there was a Club Loose "Night Moves" event happening at Englishtown the week of East Coast Bash so we drove up to check it out. There was a solid crowd of locals ready to drive the parking lot course at Englishtown. The same parking lot where Formula D pros like: Chris Forsberg, Vaughn Gittin JR, Tony Angelo, and Ryan Tuerck practiced their skills prior to their professional careers.
Matt Petty gave Hobo and I a sneak peak at the preparations for East Coast Bash 2010. It's hard not to get excited about driving when you are around Matt – his dedication to grassroots drifting is unparalleled. Matt would disappear into a new driver's car to show them the course or give them feedback on their technique. Next thing he would be riding his scooter over to check out the barn or lighting setup for the road course for East Coast Bash. In Petty we Trust.
This LS powered s13 was making some strong passes through the course. One distinct difference between east and west coast cars is their look. While we are free from snow and salt during the winter in Southern California – east coast cars are worn and performance oriented. It's hard to keep a kit on your street car when the potholes are small craters. Its a pure exercise in function over form. The diversity of drift cars in the US is always fascinating to me.
Didn't catch the name of this Z33's owner, but this was one serious machine – a V8 powered beast capable of producing some serious exhaust notes and smoking tires. It was nice to watch the runs improve in quality over the night as the driver got better acquainted with the car.
Hater Dan let hobo take his Corolla out for a few runs around the course. Josh was suffering from lack of driving and was in some serious need of some seat time. I think it has to be a big tease to watch your friends drive all day while you shoot. Maybe next time we will trailer our s14's with us across the US.
The weekend brought East Coast Bash, I was excited to shoot my friends driving on the road course. Russell Walker drove from Austin, Texas and Andy Sapp came out from Atlanta, Georgia – to drive at E-Town with everyone. ECB was unlike any other grassroots event I've attended. The Club Loose guys did a fantastic job organizing it. When I would come back to Westy - there would be people taking photos of the van or excited to talk about Keep Drifting Fun. Its hard to sit still and talk when there are cars drifting nearby.
Hobo and I exchange air high fives in between sessions. The trip has been a change of pace for us during production. We are goofy by nature and like to make jokes while working – which was great when we shooting for different companies and projects. Now that we are working on the same project, we can't be shooting from the same camera position on track. So we spread out during the event and meet up afterwards to exchange insults or inside jokes. We are both big internet video dorks. I think we have been quoting G.I. JOE PSA's for over a month now. If its funny and quotable on YouTube, we have probably seen it. PORK CHOP SANDWICHES.
East Coast Bash was a blast! We covered it for the Keep Drifting Fun DVD – so all of our footage gets archived until we start cutting the documentary.
Driving across the United States in a 1974 Volkswagen van has been an experience – and our road trip is still going! We head to Formula Drift this weekend, then onto the Midwest for Midwest Bash at US Air. All on the way to Seattle for round four of Formula D. Hope this has given you insight into what its like living in a van with a hobo, shooting grassroots drifting, and crisscrossing the United States.
On the Road.
- Will Roegge