Without delving too deep the exact distance, that number in bold is the minimum distance I traveled in the air alone this year, all in the name of cultural exploration, interacting with fellow enthusiasts, and sharing their stories with the world – aka Speedhunting.
It goes without saying that I absolutely love living in Japan. This place is a mecca for car enthusiasts, and to be fortunate enough to wake up on any given day and find myself at events, shows, and local gatherings is not lost on me.
Tokyo Auto Salon always starts the New Year with a bang, and 2019 was no exception. Scouring the massive halls of Makuhari Messe for hours on end, all while functioning on virtually no sleep as the whole week spawns event after event after event, is the perfect way to kick off a new 12 months of Speedhunting.
Local gatherings and grassroots event are relatable to many of you out there – including myself – so I always try to attend them as often as I can.
Small local track, deep in the woods of Yamanashi – check. Small community of friends and drifters coming out for the sole purpose of having fun – you got it.
Hakosukas going sideways along with AE86s, Silvias, and other Skylines – yes.
Speaking of drifting, this year I got to do tracking shots in a way I’d never done them before – being chased at speed by an 800hp DTM-inspired A5.
If there’s anything I’d like to do more of in 2020 and beyond, it’s bringing tag-team video and still photography coverage like this to Speedhunters.
I promise there is no bias in this at all, but a lot of my coverage from Japan this year came from my adventures with Project Rough, my ER34 Skyline.
It feels like it was forever ago, but this was the year I properly introduced the Skyline project to the Speedhunters Garage after completing the 3,000+km journey with my then girlfriend, now wife. Oh yeah, that happened as well this year.
Ever since then I have been tweaking, overhauling, breaking, fixing, but most importantly enjoying Project Rough on a day-to-day basis.
Besides building something that – to me – is exciting to drive and highly relatable to everyone who follows along, I also wanted Project Rough to provide me with the perfect excuse to work on some desired skillsets – the main one being building original parts from scratch.
Looking back on it now, my ER34 has changed so much since I first picked it up. I have so many crazy ideas floating around in my head – some of which are already in the process of being completed – that I’m more than ready to see how it evolves in 2020.
Coming full circle though, 55,400km means I can’t wrap up the year without talking about my experiences abroad, primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Both countries are full to the brim with petrolheads that truly respect and idolize Japan, and what it represents to the car community as a whole.
They both, however, put their own unique spin on things, and do a lot of cool shit that would never fly in Japan.
Drive4Paul Malaysia had to be one of the more unusual events that I’ve ever covered. Two days with over 400 cars, police escorts blocking the entire freeway system just so our massive convoy could get to Sepang International Circuit, all the while shooting cars from the bed of a Ford Ranger is an experience I will never forget.
Likewise, flying to Indonesia with the goal of hunting down life-sized Hot Wheels and crazy customization ranks up there for fun in 2019.
I’m not sure I would say traveling to Bali from Jakarta was a good idea, but the experience shared with everyone who completed the journey with us is what made this trip so special.
When it comes to travelling, the human element will always be the main driving force for me. Our love for cars is what brings us together, and it has the amazing ability to transcend above any cultural or language barriers that might exist.
I know I have really only just started this cultural exploration and hope to add more cities and countries to the list of places traveled in 2020, in addition to more cities and events in Japan of course. Thanks for all the support and viewership throughout 2019, and I’ll see you next year!