Last week before I headed to Antioch for the Billetproof show, I made a stop by the Fatlace Paddock in San Mateo to catch up with Mark Arcenal and company. Despite the fact that I only live a couple hours away, this was actually my first time to visit The Paddock.
I’d heard that the guys were working on some pretty cool projects for the upcoming SEMA Show, so I was excited to get a peek at those and to check out the shop itself.
Whether it’s introducing new products, planning events across the world, or overseeing project cars, to say these guys are busy would be a massive understatement. There was much Speedhunting to do.
But not before I chowed down on the delicious cookie I was offered right when I walked in. Even with the incredibly busy schedule, there is a certain sense of fun and a laid back attitude that shines through at The Paddock. It’s an enjoyable place to be.
From there I headed next door to the garage area, which was full of projects for this year’s SEMA Show. It’s always strange how SEMA sneaks up on us. One moment it’s the middle of the summer and the next moment people are scrambling to get their builds completed for the big show. Believe it or not, at this point the madness of SEMA is just a little over a month away.
This year the Fatlace crew will be showing three cars at SEMA, two of which were present at The Paddock when I visited. Perhaps the most exciting is their R35 GT-R project. As you can see, much of the car’s body panels have been removed.
And that’s because the car will be the first American-based GT-R to have the BenSopra body conversion. It’s easy to underestimate just how much work goes into one of these conversions until you see the car in the process of being built.
Naturally, the GT-R will also be sporting some other tasty tuning parts besides the aero kit. I’m very excited to see the finished product at SEMA next month. I actually forgot to ask the guys what kind of wheel setup the car will be running, but I suppose that will be nice surprise come SEMA time.
The other project car in the garage is one that should be a very popular platform at SEMA this year – the Scion FR-S. As the photo suggests, they haven’t really dug into this one yet.
It’s actually waiting for its Rocket Bunny kit to arrive from Japan. That wait can be a very frustrating process – especially with deadlines looming. Ah yes, the fun of SEMA.
Mixed in with the ongoing SEMA projects was Mark’s well known Pandora One RWB 964.
This was my first time to see the car in its new black scheme, and I have to say that it looks fantastic. It brought back all those same feelings I got when I first photographed RWB machines in Japan some four and a half years ago.
With all the focus on the SEMA projects, I actually forgot the fact that The Paddock also serves as the home of RWB USA. In the short time that he’s been building cars for US customers, Nakai-san has made quite a splash here.
All through the shop, touches of his personality are present…
Much like the RWB home base in Chiba, a pool table takes up a prominent spot in the garage. It’s a home away from home.
At every corner of the shop there’s some sort of homage to the gang’s automotive inspirations from around the world.
There are also several sets of mouth watering wheels being stored in the garage. Do you think anyone would notice if these SSR Mk.IIIs just happened to disappear one day?
How about these retro TOM’S aero wheels. Very cool.
Besides the SEMA projects and RWB cars, The Paddock also serves an occasional work area for the Fatlace crew’s personal project cars and daily drivers.
Felix recently picked up this half-completed SR-swapped S13 convertible for dirt cheap and now he’s in the process of making it into a drift car. As you can see, he’s already fitted a complete Rocket Bunny kit, complete with over fenders.
The next step is to thrown on this set of aggressive SSR Professors, which will look just right under the huge flares.
There’s Todd’s F20C-swapped Corolla which serves as his daily driver to and from The Paddock every day.
Kenny’s Corolla Wagon and Felix’s Kenmeri Skyline. I don’t think there is a single Fatlace employee who isn’t obsessed with automobiles. That’s a good thing.
Of course The Paddock serves as much more than just a place for working on and storing cars. It also acts as a photo studio, warehouse and distribution center for the Fatlace/Illest product lines.
Hey, that stuff looks familiar. Fatlace is also helping us with the North American manufacture, sales and distribution of the newly released Speedhunters EDTN product line.
Now that the store is officially open, these goods will soon be on their way to the hands of Speedhunters fans.
It’s also not uncommon for an impromptu jam session to break out at The Paddock – using paper instruments of course.
I have to say that Kenny Chow probably has one of the coolest workspaces I’ve ever seen. It puts my own desk to shame.
My Hot Wheels collection is also put to shame by these guys. Unlike me, they have the restraint to keep their cars in the original packages…
Kenny also had some slick old school Japanese models he had assembled and displayed on his desk.
He was also proud to show me his papercraft Kenmeri Skyline. The flares and long nose conversion are his own personal touches of course.
While I was there at the shop hanging out, a local dropped by driving this bitchin’ SS 396 Chevelle. He had driven by a few times in the past and decided to stop by and check it out. I’m told this sort of thing is a regular occurrence and the guys always welcome people to come by and check out what they are working on.
I’d like to thank Mark, Todd, Felix, Kenny, and co. for taking the time to show me around. This my have been my first visit to The Paddock, but it won’t be my last.
Now, the countdown to SEMA continues.
I've been in the import car scene since the early 90's. I've seen all the fads come and go. Mark, enjoy your time while it is here. Tomorrow, it will be gone. Remember, this "thing" is about motor sports. Always have been and always will be.
Unfortunately, this GT-R won't be the first to have the BenSopra kit in the US.
actually, that white GT-R (R35) is NOT the first R35 in North American to have the full BenSopra kit. That credit goes to Ricky Kwan's GT-R of R's Tuning who actually was just visited by Kei Miura San himself (designer of the BenSopra GT-R kit) today. Do some research before you make such claims....
I want to rent a warehouse next door to this place and turn it into the Speedhunters photo studio... would be the coolest industrial park on the planet.
Why is it when I read another awesome post here, it's ruined by the closed minded fools who flood it? About time someone put that JDMized in his (or her) place. Look, if your not a car enthusiast keep off and let the rest of us enjoy.
As I scroll through the photos, I think of what a wonderful place the internet is... and then I reach the comment section and think of what a terrible thing it has become.
Do what you do Speedhunters. No amount of jealousy and hate will deter true enthusiasts from enjoying every article you post. And if you haven't featured their cars before, yesterday would be a good time. ;)
People who hate on Fatlace and the people who work there blow my mind. They are enthusiasts like everyone else on Speedhunters and they run a legitimate business that is strongly fueled by their passion for the automotive scene. They organize meets and participate heavily in many different automotive scenes. They sponsor three amazing Formula D drivers and most of their employees own a neat car. I suggest actually meeting the Fatlace crew before jumping to an unjustified conclusions. It is amazing to see how Fatlace has evolved over the years and as far as I am concerned it couldn't have happen to a better group of people.
He's riding Nikai's coat tails by allowing RWB to set up shop in close proximity. It's a good marketing move, but people will remember real cars, and show cars are the first forgotten. RWB will still be remembered in 10 years, while people will giggle when you mention Fatlace.
@PCYang You can say that again.
@hanablemoore Hellaflush is not a hobby, it's a trend.
And I spy a Ghost Busters wagon and a Ferrari 512, I also wantttt!
@KietaPhillips Trends are not for the true auto enthusiasts.
@KietaPhillips AMEN KietaPhillips.
@Luka024 I was looking for a blog called "SPEED HUNTERS", not "HARD PARKERS". Someone point me in the right direction please.
@Luka024 It's called freedom of speech, you idiot. If you been long enough you'd notice that hellaflush is following the same steps original rice took back in 2002. Now it's 2012, different name, but same premise.
@RyanB I personally don't hate Fatlace. I'm actually am in awe of their accomplishments. Not many brands have blended hip-hop, graph, sneaker (where I'm from we call em tennis) & modern car culture. The mere name Fatlace is a nod to 80's hip-hop culture. Whether that was intentional, I don't know, but I get it. I also credit them for finally popularizing offset with wheel selection. To me, offset is the most important aspect of a wheel purchase. No wheel looks good without the right offset. Now where things go off track, to me, is when we see cars so "stanced" that they are undrivable. Sure somebody drives them, but it is clearly unsafe. I think that is what most hate but cannot articulate, and then point the finger at Fatlace. In my observation, I don't see those mistakes coming from Fatlace. I tend to view donk & stance cars in the same light. They are extreme opposites of the same coin to me. Perhaps I read too many articles by Mike Kojima in SCC to begin to tolerate aggressive stance cars. Maybe some one wants to call that opinion, when one dislikes a car setup that in part destroyed a car from being mobile. Lol. In any event, I just wanted to type this voice to you Ryan, and anybody, that the hate flows Fatlace's way because people relate the stance movement to them. Unwarranted or not, they still capitalized on it, and should be respected. I respect them. Others that follow, should maybe learn more about cars and how they function. And really, bad press is good press.
@apex_DNA @Luka024 Freedom of speech and acting like a complete douche bag, like yourself, are two different things. While you are certainly free to make an ass of yourself with your ethug attitude, doesn't mean you have to.
@MPistol @RyanB Thanks. I've worked very hard with everyone on the team to bring our lifestyle whether it's through the portal of fatlace, the illest clothing line or the tuning style of hellaflush. We basically feature the stuff we do everyday and work with brands and people we know and like.
@RyanB yes, fatlace is a tribute to hip hop and the b-boy lifestyle i grew up with. I started the site in 1999, a very long time ago and we've never changed our attitude towards anything. Its always been the same, now its just more focused. We reference alot of the stuff Ive grown up with and as you can see, it shows.
Also, I've been messing with cars since I got my first car in 86. I used to install everything I could but as I've become more and more busy, Ive looked to many others who are experts in their field help me with builds (although Im building the BenSopra GTR in our warehouse this year.)
As for Nakai, he and I have a great relationship and I've never taken the spotlight away from him. Ive only helped amplify his brand and work as the US Brand Manager. I offer a warehouse in the USA for him to work on cars and ask for nothing in return. He inspires me as do many others in this world. Its funny there are so many stories about Nakai that have been twisted by those that havent even spoken to him. Its like a story that gets re-written 100x.
@Mike Garrett @Mike @JDMized @PCYang @Luka024 Not in this particular post per say, just like companies pushing the trend back in 2002 weren't necessarily "rice", but the herds of their followers were...lack of responsibility perhaps. They don't check cars at the meets for fake wheels, cracked fenders, and just poor taste.
@Mike Garrett @JDMized @PCYang @Luka024 Ok, so if SH was around 10 years ago you would then cover the "import scene, riced cars, Nopi events and what have you"? There ARE plenty of things posted on SH that I have little to no interest in, yet I don't have any reason to "attack" them simply because they're not rice. Now picture it the way I see it, if SH was a restaurant, then this stupid fad would be junk food, which comes in a variety of dishes on its own...and is not healthy for an average car enthusiast.
@JDMized @PCYang @Luka024 Yeah, it's like an RWD fanboy club...but then again, what do you expect, original rice was in demand 10 years ago, so why wouldn't it be different this time around?
@apex_DNA @JDMized @PCYang @Luka024 @JDMized @PCYang @apex_DNA @Luka024 I understand that you guys aren't fans of the HellaFlush scene, stanced cars, Fatlace events or what have you. That's totally fine. Everyone has their own tastes and it's unrealistic to expect everyone to love every single thing we post.
What I don't understand is the reasoning behind you guys constantly attacking the scenes and styles you don't personally like and acting like that's the ONLY thing we spend time covering.
Picture it this way, Speedhunters is like a restaurant . We have a giant menu and serve up a HUGE variety of dishes. It's as if you guys don't like a certain type of food (let's say seafood for example). Instead of enjoying the dozens of other items on the menu, you keep coming back to the seafood dishes for some reason - then you get upset because you don't like how it tastes.
I have to say, I am biased though. I got some beef with Mr. Arcenal for his work ethics and job decision, but to each his own I guess.
What I can't tolerate is the massive amount of drift coverage and slammed cars. Obviously SH wants to gather to those soul-less kids that haven't found an identity yet....so they look up to people like Mark Arcenal.
SH should really focus on venues of motorsports that actually matter because behind those venues there are people that actually do something for this industry, (unlike Mark who sells stickers, license plate frame, and "built" his car using criteria from other tinkers).
@JDMized @PCYang @Luka024 @JDMized @PCYang @apex_DNA @Luka024 Thanks man, that means a lot coming from you. Every time SH runs questionable content i.e rice, I scroll right down to the comment section for your commentary, it's like a breath of fresh air.
@apex_DNA @Luka024 When all these so called "enthusiasts" are tired of buying tires every other month, replacing their oil pans, repairing exhaust leaks, and bouncing up and down in their cars like fools, I (and all the real enthusiasts) will still be here doing what I (we) have been doing for the last 15+ years.
@MPistol @apex_DNA Never cared for tattoos, as where I came from they were mostly associated with ex-convicts and the army-type, and especially not now, when every hipster is trying to outdo the yakuza. I do understand where you're coming from, but as they say - "correct observation, incorrect conclusion". Today's teens are less into cars than ever. All that this hype is creating is something that will turn more of them off cars in the future anyways. You're comparing the muscle car crowd "laughing" at the import drag racers to hellaflush as something like the original import drag racers were ricers, and we should accept rice as part of the modern car culture. How is rice considered "diverse" is beyond me. Rice has neither helped us learn (hellaflush wouldn't fly today had we learned from the past) or grow...it's more like arrested development of the car culture, and hellaflush is doing nothing to slow it down, quite the opposite, it promotes something similar that happened to us during the first wave of rice, more laws regulating our hobby. Nothing personal, but it seems like you're the one not noticing the "big log" in your own eye.
@apex_DNA look, I've got an entire outlook on tattoo's in general, this isn't the place for that point of view, nor did I say this kid was "smart" about doing it, in fact I don't know his reasoning, but for a second, I stepped back from it and took a positive approach, and thought, something about modern automotive culture is affecting teens younger than me. I don't know this guys age, but he was clearly younger than me, I just chose to have that perspective about it. I remember when the muscle car crowd laughed "imports" off tracks and just thought, I don't want to be that ignorant guy. An I've hated what you hate, I'm just choosing to grow past it. I know the scene & I respect our culture, & its really big! Really diverse. I don't want to paint myself in a corner over a certain brand. As I said above, I don't see what I don't like, coming from Fatlace, so they earned a pass. For those that imitate styles & flirt with functional disaster, I mean, we need to allow it to happen so we can all learn & grow. I cut my springs as a kid to get low! Lol. I didn't know anything, but at the time, u couldn't tell me sh*t. Lol. I had to defend FnF when it dropped, when I knew sh*t was gay! Lol. We are going to have these fads & trends, it has to happen. We just have to be ok with it, or it could screw up your outlook. Nothing personal, I'm just sayin. I defend the cars I like for so long, I'm just sick of it. I'm not even trying to defend Fatlace, I'm just trying to understand their effect on ppl
@MPistol @MarkArcenal "...this kid in front of me had the Fatlace logo tattooed on his arm. When u have that kind of effect on people, I feel like you have gotta be doing somethin profound and effective to the culture."
No, it's called stupid. Stupid because the kid will regret it in a few years when hellaflush will finally be regarded as just another form of rice.
@MarkArcenal just a few short weeks ago, I was in line for a ride at Paramount's Kings Dominion in Richmond VA, and this kid in front of me had the Fatlace logo tattooed on his arm. When u have that kind of effect on people, I feel like you have gotta be doing somethin profound and effective to the culture. Be proud, seriously.