As we head into the top ten most viewed events of 2013, we continue on our crazy, criss-crossing the continents, mile-munching mission showing the glorious breadth of automotive car culture around the world. Japanese events always prove a big draw, with the unique Speedhunters window into that world a thread running through this top ten. But before we head that way let’s kick off the final countdown over on the West Coast of the USA, rippin’ up the streets courtesy of Larry Chen.
What an introduction to the season to come. Larry had only just finished fishing out the last bits of rubber and dirt from his gear after last year’s drift odyssey, and here he was back on the FD carousel again. The championship kicked off on the hallowed streets of Long Beach in the build-up to the Grand Prix. Perhaps the toughest course on the calendar, the curtain raiser for the Formula Drift 2013 season saw packed grids and a dramatic couple of days – and a tough intro for the rookies in their quest to step to the established order.
New knockout-style qualifying rules were introduced to spice things up – as if more excitement was needed round the tight confines of Long Beach. The concrete walls that hemmed in the course punished the smallest mistake, with the cars being battered by the barriers as much as they were themselves tearing up the track. Larry was firing on all cylinders, festooned with lenses and remotes; just looking at the pictures fires up the senses. The sound of throttles alternating between mashed and modulated, the smell of the burning rubber, the cheers of the crowd.
Often it’s the beginning that defines what’s to come and so it was for FD 2013-style. Michael Essa had only finished his E46 BMW drift machine just before the event but made it to the podium, which was topped by Daijiro Yoshihara. Essa, Chris Forsberg and Daigo Saito would divide up all the other rounds between them. This was only just the beginning for Larry’s FD trek: there was so much more to come.
Dino headed to the Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown with his usual lack of preconception and didn’t have to go far to be stopped in his tracks. NECS started at the gates, with a car park packed with a post-full of incredible machinery. It proves that you don’t sometimes you don’t even have to get as far as the door to get into the spirit of Speedhunting – I know how this feels, having strolled for hours through parking at events like the Goodwood Revival in the UK. Dino wiled away several happy hours recording the details, which included a squadron of insane Kaido racers.
When Dino finally made it inside the expansive Port Messe dome, the world of Japanese tuning was laid out before him. Conversions, modifications, restorations, racers, front-end swaps: a unique selection of styles from the core of JDM culture.
Even pocket-sized Kei, like this Suzuki Cappucino built up as a dimutive 180SX-alike. Only in Japan…
We’ve all soaked up the coverage from various Gatebil festivals, so maybe shouldn’t have been surprised at the collection of Scandinavian schizophrenic specials at Sweden’s Bilsport Elmia Performance and Custom Show. For a start there was that gasser: the one that looked like it was coming for our children.
Having now seen so many hot Volvos, they seem a natural choice, but that’s easy to say in retrospect. In my head they’ve gone from safe and boring to the vehicles of Valhalla. How about a turbocharged BMW M50B25 powerplant in a 242? This wasn’t the only domestic goodness by any means: there was the obscenely fast drag P1800, the 240 with a full rear radiator set-up and so on.
The Toyota-engined Skyline was a tantalising taste of what we’d see later on the year. By now you might have also noticed just how many of these cars subsequently appeared on Speedhunters and proved to be popular features. Just check out the Speedhunters Cars Of The Year awards to see how many you can spot.
Long Beach was back on the menu for another kind of slamming: instead of the walls, it was the ground that these cars were touching. Whilst the drifters hammered round the laid-out track and made the smoke rise in the background, the Slammed Society crew proved that static is fine – as long as you’re low.
Taryn got an awesome introduction to the US scene; JDM inspiration might have ruled, but some Euro style made its way in, as well as some seriously slick US muscle. VIP, race-inspired and new takes on old classics furthered the eclectic mix.
It’s all about fit and finish. Taryn’s post was crammed with an epic overview of the event where it was difficult to pick out a favourite. Every time you look through, another build would stand out. As Formula D and the Slammed Society were held on the same day, this was kudos to the organisational teams involved. We love the combo!
The ZN6 has had a huge impact on the scene, and that importance will only build in time as the used market expands and more people get their hands on them. Dino’s trip to the Tokyo Auto Salon proved as much: he tracked down an amazing total of 91 ZN6s around the show, which included its own 86 & BRZ World tribute area.
There seems to be no end to what you can do with an 86/GT86/FR-S/BRZ (delete according to preference), from relatively stock to out-there track maniac. Dino saw the full gamut at TAS, from all-vents-and-vicious, to function over form with the HKS Kansai team.
Street or track, stanced or sport, TAS 2013 moved the ZN6 into the big time. And these were only four examples. For the other 87 variants, check out his original post.
If it’s so cold in Scandinavia that creating crazy car builds is the only sensible thing to do over a winter, you’d think that Hawaii would be the opposite. The lure of beaches and umbrella drinks would surely be too much for car culture to win against? Not for Larry. He’s never picked up a plastic bucket and spade and the Wekfest guys have a great way of distracting you from the scenery.
Taking up the the top three stories of a multi-level car park, a plethora of modifiers awaited, street registered all. No trailer queens welcome. When you think about it, the location is a great idea, kind of mixing the feeling of a cruise with the nicely ordered layout of a show.
It wasn’t even all about extreme mods or power, with some beautifully restored takes on old-school classics drawing Larry in. See, the sun doesn’t always win out, even in Hawaii.
The Geneva International Motor Show is a playground for anyone who’s grown up with petrol in their veins. You get to see every car of note from every manufacturer, big and small; what’s just come out, what’s about to be launched and what we might be driving in the next decade. The only caveat is that you’re amongst several thousand other people trying to do likewise. On my first trip to Geneva, the metal on display meant that really wasn’t a concern.
It helps when you have an invite to get up close – spotting the right person is the problem. There’s also the fact that there’s always something else in the corner of your eye, diverting you away. It doesn’t help being fickle.
2013 saw an arms race in the hypercar arena: Lamborghini’s viking beserker of a car, the Veneno, lined up against the organic curves of the McLaren, the latest bug-blatter Veyron and more from the genre specialists like Pagani, Gumpert and Koenigsegg. The Ferrari was La Ferrari. From Ferrari.
There’s seeing and then there’s doing. Larry and Dino had been handed the keys to one of Nakai-san’s RAUH-Welt 911s to take part in the Idlers 12 Hours, and in this post Larry took us through the build-up to the race. Unidentifiable sushi, truck-stop shoots and Skyline rides led to a trip to RWB HQ itself. I love that we’ve just come from the Geneva motorshow to here!
Treading the hallowed ground had the predictable effect; driving out to the track in the car he’d be racing in the next day even more so. You can imagine the reaction of the gas station attendants when a whole pack of ground-scraping RWB 911s rocked up.
Larry, Dino and their four fellow drivers brought the 964 home safe after an epic experience. Check out the pictures for sure, but just don’t offer to do Larry’s washing after a race… You’ll see what we mean. Although if it meant some of the other Speedhunters crew had the same offer in the future, I’m sure there’d be a full queue of volunteers.
There was yet more RAUH-Welt on the menu in our second most popular story of 2013. Sean headed out into a blustery Tokyo evening for a rendezvous with a special gathering of the widest of the wide Porsche creations from Nakai-san.
Being part of a rough world for one night didn’t seem too much of a chore for Sean, despite having cranked through the opening day of the Tokyo Auto Salon. Then again, seeing RWB 911s parked up three-deep would be enough to shake most people back into action.
Whale-tails, kick-ups or even naked rears? 930, 993, 997? Life’s all about difficult choices after all…
So, 49 down – just one to go? Where do we end our search? Which event did you, the Speedhunters audience hit most during 2013? I’ll hand over to our Editor in Chief, Bryn Musselwhite, for the opening of that envelope…