Living My Best Life At Speedhunters

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this article…

This has by far been one of the most fruitful years in my entire 25 years of existence. I’ve gone through a plethora of drastic changes in my personal life, but perhaps the most relatable one to the readers here is my transition from reader, to contributor.

It actually still feels a little unreal if I’m honest – to know that you guys are reading my stories, looking through my photos, and hopefully finding some sort of enjoyment with each article, and maybe even learning a thing or two that you might not have known before.

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Though I’ve had a passion for cars and the industry for as long as I can remember, I’ve never felt so connected with it all until now. I find myself in a constant mindset of networking, and building more relationships with people from all sides of the spectrum, to not only share the stories of their cars and builds, but more importantly, the stories behind the people themselves, and what it means to them to be so involved with this enamored passion for cars.

When I think back on it now, that’s actually the source of my passion for hunting speed. I’ll admit that I love photography, and I also enjoy writing, but these were never really the reasons why I wanted to join the team. My passion behind it all was actually to tell the stories of the people, whether it was collectors, resto-modders, race car drivers, and anything else in-between.

With that in mind, I decided to give contributing a shot.

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Around the beginning of spring this year, I helped organize one of our bi-annual local Japanese Super Car Cruises that my buddy Evan has been hosting for quite some time. This was one of my favorite events to partake in throughout the year, as it consisted of a large group of diverse Japanese Supercars that formed together as one colossal sight to see.

And since I knew I’d be taking photos of the event anyways, I figured it would be the best opportunity to get my feet wet on the Speedhunters website.

This story will remain significant in my heart, as it was the catalyst into becoming a contributor in the first place. But of course, I wouldn’t have done it without motivation from friends like Andrew and Trevor, and even my girlfriend, who all pushed me to do the article. So a huge thank you to everyone who helped motivate this leap in my career.

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Shortly after the success of my first story, I realized how much joy storytelling really brought to me. So I quickly rounded up a few local friends who I knew had some seriously epic builds, and decided to showcase them to the rest of the world to hear their stories. Eric Lam taught us how to Supra, Nim Divino gave us some insight on a well-balanced NSX, and Ken Stevens got his gangster etiquette on.

One Summer, Two Big Events
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With four IATSH articles locked down, one of the greatest opportunities of my life saw its way into my email inbox. A gracious email from Paddy, inviting me to join the team full time. I actually clearly remember reading that email.

It was late into September, and I was at work that morning going through my inbox when it randomly populated at the top of the email list. I immediately felt both overwhelmed and excited to finally be able to say that I work with the rest of the team. But I also knew that the pressure was on, and I immediately got to work on planning out the next few articles I had in mind.

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The first, being the most random experience I’d ever had during Monterey car week. With Nissan being the marque this year, and the fairly recent acquisition of my R32 GT-R, I knew I’d be in for some sort of treat throughout the week. But I would’ve never guessed that it would be encountering the million-dollar Ital-Design GTR-50.

This was the prototype press car that had been making all sorts of noise throughout the week in the automotive world. Its design was controversial, its price tag was hefty, and it was everything I loved about Nissan’s creative history.

The only regret I feel, was that I was so far gone with the excitement of being around the car, that I forgot to take more photos of it parked with my GT-R. But who knows, there’s always next year.

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Normally, Monterey Car Week would be the highlight of the summer, but this year was special in a sense that Rennsport Reunion was making its comeback to California, and it would be right in my backyard. With talks of the event for years amongst fellow Porsche enthusiasts and hobbyists, I had a certain high-level of expectation of the gathering. Little did I know, that I’d be privileged with the opportunity to partake in the event first hand.

A close friend of mine, an avid Porsche collector G, courteously invited me to stay with him for the duration of the event at his rented Pebble Beach mansion. I returned the kind gesture by bringing his authentic Kremer 935 to the event for him and driving an assortment of his other cars throughout the events that took place that week. There was a Porsche party, a few Porsche drives with RGruppe members, and of course the main event at Laguna Seca. It’s safe to say, this was definitely one of the most epic events I’d been to.

Stories Of Cars, Stories Of People
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After the summer ended, I was all about getting back on track for featuring people. I’d networked with a few friends I’ve met over the years, all of whom shared interesting stories and journeys with their passion towards setting themselves apart from the crowd, starting with James Stephens’ Nasty Z.

I was rather fond of telling this story not only because it was a badass Z, but also because it portrayed something I often see lacking in the vintage automotive community: prolonged motivation. It took James nearly 10 years and over six figures to get this Z to where it sits today. And despite that, it has recently had its look overhauled yet again, with additions of long-stock JDM fender mirrors, and a monstrous set of Watanabe wheels custom built by Love20Bee. James portrays what true love with a car is all about, as most of us can hardly keep a car for more than a few years.

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Countering that last statement, Mike owned his Hawkeye STi since 2007, and it too underwent numerous surgical procedures to get to where it’s at today. As a matter of fact, he also recently changed the look since this write up, replacing the Volk TE37’s with a new set of bronze Volk CE28’s. You can’t go wrong with either set up Mike, so keep up the continuous progression. He and I go way back, and it was a story long overdue, so it was awesome being able to share it with you guys.

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Carlo and I on the other hand only recently became acquainted through non-other than the best networking tool around Instagram. After receiving the ‘followed’ notification earlier this year, I found myself stalking his Instagram in sheer awe. This dude had the ultimate Porsche Dynamic Duo and was actually driving them on the track.

Far too often I come across pages where owners showcase their cars endlessly in the safety of their garage, and that’s never been my style. I mean, I’ve racked up 15,000kms on my GT-R in the last two years alone. So when I see someone that truly enjoys their toys, I immediately know that we’re going to get along. What I liked most about this pair was that they were set up nearly identical to each other, and it made for a great way to portray the difference in age between the two 911s.

In the midst of all this havoc, my close friend and Nissan mentor, Andrew, had finally completed his year-long garage built 510. This story was planned before I even became part of the team because I knew that even if I wasn’t the one to tell it, I would help reach out and get someone on the site to give it a shot.

Andrew has been sending me Speedhunters articles since the day I met him, and I felt it was only right to finally get him on the site he visited so frequently. His build was absolutely beyond what either of us thought it would become, and his passion for cars was a story in its own. What really set this car apart though, was the attention to detail. It’s probably the most JDM SSS spec’d 510 in California, other than real SSS’s, and with a touch of shakotan flavor, it became my favorite 510 around.

Speaking of Datsuns, earlier in the year Andrew invited me to an annual swap meet that had been taking place probably since before I was born. Although I wasn’t able to share this event as coverage (it was long before my time here), I did manage to link up with one of the guys I met during the show.

Carlos’s 521 was the rattiest and most unique mini truck I’d seen in a long time, and it was getting an assortment of attention during that meet. It too was garage built, and I couldn’t get over how much character this little thing had. It sported an unconventional N/A SR20 swap, one of one SSR Longchamps, and all sorts of other little gimmicks that really set itself apart.

It saddens me to give this update, but about a week after the article was published, Carlos was involved in an accident, which totalled the truck. I’m happy to say that he walked away unharmed though, and that this story was the ending for a true grass-roots built 521.

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While shooting Carlos’s 521, we both recalled some of the more unique builds we’ve seen throughout the years in northern California. One that we both came to recollect was Cary Miller’s RA21 Pro Street Celica. I first laid eyes on this beauty after its debut at Wek Fest last year and was adamant on featuring it since then.

Luckily, the stars aligned during JCCS, as we were parked fairly close to each other and had the chance to finally meet in person. He showed me around the car and proceeded to explain how he built it all himself in his home shop, and how everything was based on trial and error. It was an impressive build, to say the least, and this thing is fast.

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When I think about it, JCCS was probably the most fun I’d had at a car show in a long time. Trevor’s coverage gave you guys quite a solid grasp on the number of cars and people that attended the show, and though I’m typically not keen on parking my car for 8 hours on some grass instead of driving it, I can confidently say that I’ll be doing my best to go back every year for as long as I can.

There were a ton of awesome people, builds, and shops that attended this year, and luckily for me, I was able to see one of my favorite Z’s in person, which belonged to Love20Bee.

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Love20Bee has become a household name in the world of JDM wheels. These guys are all about quality and uniqueness, and I was able to see it all unfold right in front of me whilst on a tour of the shop. It felt like being a fat kid in a candy store if I’m honest.

There were all sorts of crazy rare wheels that I’d been drooling over for years. Wheels that I didn’t even know still existed. Overwhelmed with the experience, I managed to snap some photos and write some words about the whole thing, including some showcasing on his personal cars. Since then, Matt has added a few more cars to his collection, and we’ll eventually be doing a follow up on that later.

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Since I was already in So-Cal for work, and I finished Matt’s shoot, I figured I’d try to arrange something with another buddy whom I met through Instagram a while back. Joe Fend and I became acquainted after a ‘small-world’ encounter, where I found out he had purchased a mutual friend’s Kenmeri Skyline a while back.

While initial plans were to feature that car, things took a downturn when the body shop notified him that it was not done with the metal work on the car. Rest assured though, Joe rolled up his sleeves and got his beautiful 90’s inspired RX-3 ready for showcasing. I’d always wanted to get up close and personal with one of these, as they are pretty rare in the states, and also boast an incredible racing pedigree.

After all, the RX-3 was the car the killed off king Hakosuka’s famous 49-win streak.

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More recently, I explained how I bought my GT-R, and told Justin Chou’s interesting story of his transition from Battlebots to Alfa Romeos. I’ll further be posting my coverage of Sonoma’s annual Winter Jam event as well, and I think that’s where my year will see its cutoff on the site. But brace yourselves, because I have a lot in store for 2019.

The Future Is Bright
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If you can’t tell by now, Speedhunters is all about diversity amongst the community. We love anything and everything that has to do with things that move. And I’ve done my best to bring that to you guys with my first year (or half year) of hunting speed.

But that’s not to say, I couldn’t have done it without the support and motivation of this awesome team that I can proudly say I’m a part of. Every single member here has been nothing but professional and utterly helpful in all aspects of the art. I too still read everything that gets published. I look at all of the photos, I decipher opinions, and even research the people in which we tell stories of. It’s all a learning curve and motivation for me to better myself – a trait in which I believe all members of the staff here have.

2019 is just around the corner, and as with every year, we all come up with resolutions. Well, this year, my resolution is to bring you guys some of the most unique, most diverse, and most interesting stories you’ll find on the internet.

And I expect you all to hold me up to that.

Naveed Yousufzai 
Instagram: eatwithnaveed

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1

I’m honored to even get a mention man! Your writing and pictures speak for themselves. Always keep learning and pushing yourself! Can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for you. Congratulations on an EPIC year!

2

Such a great article I am honored to be mentioned in it. I am in amazing company. Thanks again for the shoot. I drove my son's today working out some bugs. Hope to have it at Torc this year. Hope to see you there.
Cary

3
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Still find it hilarious how Nissan just parked the GT-R50 at the side of a public road. Hahaha!

4

it was awesome to see Naveed and his R32 at Sonoma Drift Winter Jam, a few weeks ago. it was really cool seeing his car and I couldn't resist parking right next to it :P

5

Really great article/pics! One of the best I've seen since I came across Speed hunters earlier this year. Don't understand why JDM guys think JDM cars are THE BEST cars ever made. I LOVE German cars(Porsche especially) and I know alot about JDM cars since my buddy is Honda "fanatic" but some JDM guys just get ridiculous! My buddy actually wanted to name one of his sons Honda but his wife wanted to KILL him. Neighbor has a GT-R and car is incredible! Other neighbor has a 2002 BMW M3 DSG and I have PERSONALLY seen him WIPE THE FLOOR with Honda/JDM and other German vehicles! So will you JDM guys please stop thinking JDM cars are the ONLY performance cars out there! When I get my Porsche GT3 this year PLEASE come and find me. There's a guy around here with a right-hand drive GTR. Very cool car. Just don't be so biased with JDM cars alright? Sheesh!

6

Good read, Naveed and I had forgotten that it was you who wrote the feature on Andrew's amazing 510. Keep up the great work! Wish you were closer so we could get to hang out in person.

Happy New Year!

Brandon

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