Time Machine: The Big X

If you’ve been a long-time follower of Speedhunters you may remember a retrospective post I did way back in 2009 highlighting an event I would have loved to see happen again. I’m talking about the Big X, which can probably be best described as a huge party to kick off the drift and race season, just as Japan’s warmer spring months rolled in.

It was organized by Nobushige Kumakubo and the guys at Team Orange and held at the Nishi course in Ebisu Circuit. It was a cool, relaxed gathering of professional D1 and experienced amateur drifters, who were all called in to put on a show.


Big X had a great family atmosphere where people were allowed to roam around the paddock and line the pit wall to see their favourite drivers do their thing at close range.


The pictures you see here are from the first Big X event I attended in 2005, a time that drifting was a great form of motorsport to follow and participate in. But I’ve always felt that what happened in the following years changed it for the worse. It’s probably the reason why I have very little interest in professional drifting, aside from the amazing cars that are built to keep up with the power wars. To me, what you see here is exactly what drifting should be.

Apologies if I’m coming across all melodramatic, but drifting was never conceived as a competition to see who has the biggest budget to create crazy smoke machines with the most ridiculous steering angles. What Big X strived to celebrate was the lifestyle in its purest form, not to satisfy a bunch of big-name sponsors. Of course, there is a place for both sides of drifting, but we should never forget the roots and the way in which it brings people of different cultures together. Plus, looking back at these 11-year-old pictures, I really appreciate how drivers were able to do more with less. The cars were simpler back then, but oh my did they look better for it.


Ken ‘Nomuken’ Nomura and the Blitz guys brought out his then still pretty new Skyline ER34 sedan. It’s a car that was continually upgraded until it had something like 800hp in order to keep up with all the 2JZ-powered Frankenstein cars that started being created.


I’m in no way criticising evolution, but just saying it all seemed more focused at the time.


It’s no surprise that these days I find a day at Nikko or Mobara far more enjoyable and inspiring than a day spent at a pro event like D1, a series that popularized drifting in Japan but also totally gutted the mojo out of it.

But enough with the negativity; these images should serve as a reminder of why we all love drifting so much. It isn’t about hitting clipping points and judging drivers on speed and angle, it’s all about style, putting on a show and at the same time making people smile. The action at Big X was always constant, from a crazy convoy of cars pulling perfectly executed manjis down the main Nishi straight, to teams running drift trains into corners at absolute steering lock.


Many of drifting’s greats were there too, including my all-time favourite D1 driver, Yasuyuki Kazama. Here he is doing his trademark rodeo-style driving trick as he high-fives people leaning over the pit wall.


Add plenty of tyre smoke into the mix and it made for a really memorable show.


Kumakubo also organized famous stuntmen to drive cars on two wheels as added entertainment; he even drifted around one as it was travelling up the straight.


Our friends on two wheels weren’t forgotten either; there were plenty of tricks being performed on stunt bikes to keep the crowds entertained while the cars were taking a break. That included a big jump for the motocross guys who performed crazy aerobatics with their bikes.


I find these Time Machine posts serve a dual purpose; they are both a fun way to remember the old days but also to reflect on whether or not we have evolved in the right direction. I’d love to hear everyone’s opinions on this, so let yourself be heard in the comments section below.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Gianluca FairladyZ

Is the orange impreza federico's car?


does anyone know what happened to kazama, where is he, always was my favourite and then he just disappeared?


Why do i get the feeling that Gatebil, that had the feeling of being grass root a couple of yars ago, is going the same road you so well describe that drifting has gone. I hope they manage to keep it feeling like a local event even though big companies show up and with them other kind of problems than before. Not mentioning the dude that caused the havoc and that showed huge dis-respect against all Gatebil'ers including the security, from a certain energy drink-empire.


@RZA He competed in Formula Drift Japan earlier this year, the round that Mad Mike won, Kazama lost to Yokoi


This was a peak era for me and similarly started to lose interest shortly after for the mentioned reasons. I got into MSC for a bit as this seemed to keep some of the grass route elements. 
Still have some old dvd's of these events and earlier stuff. Good times.


A time machine it is ! I remember seeing some of those pictures 10+ years ago in what I think was a super Street magazine !


Too bad the video-game stared Blitz R34 is going downwards...does anyone remember that driver also drove the LoveLive Itashas for the past two D1 season?

Manuel Carmona

Does anybody else think that the concept of drifting as a competitive sport may be wrong? For me drifting is a way of having fun, share an experience, hangout with friends, doing something you love with the only purpose of having a good time. When it starts to become something like almost-proto-cars with an extravagant, unreasonable engines, super grippy tires, etc, etc... all that purposes disappear
I personally think that drifting has evolved in the wrong way, maybe we should step back, think where we want to go and build our new path


I share opinion with you Dino. And it seems we are not alone. Back then it was more driving skill involved. And cars were something we,mortals could build. And oh,those cars.....they are somehow so much more atractive, more clean,more aura...dunno how to describe it.


Gianluca FairladyZ I think so, an identical impreza from team orange was shipped to Italy something like 7 years ago and then i saw sceriffo drifting it at the Bologna motor show back in the day when also the team orange guys where present. All I know is that Federico now have multiple cars around the globe and I saw him in some video with a gt86 lately. I wonder where is that impreza right now.


Manuel Carmona although personally I am yet to do any drifting, I agree. 
My idea of drifting was to not be taken so seriously, easy going and having a laugh with friends kind of a deal. I suppose the grassroots aspect of it if you will. 

Dont get me wrong, if people want to compete, thats up to them and I respect that.

My idea is purely for fun and thats hopefully what I will get back from it when i do my first drift day the end of the month.... :)


The only drifting I really enjoy. Grassroots ftw. Thanks for another awesome time machine post Dino.


Questo è il vero spirito del drift, no fare più fumo, fare punteggio coi clipping point, fare angoli assurdi o back entry.

This is the real drift spirit, no make more smoke, make score at clipping point, make absurde angle or back entry


Can't say I've ever had much interest at all in drifting, largely because when I started seeing it it was already being D1'd. I'd love to see a drift league that maxed power at 350hp and was more focused on individual style.

That's not to say current top-level drifting isn't impressive in its own way, but it's too formulaic now. Huge hp, huge grip, just rip the e-brake and power through the corner (I know I'm simplifying to the extreme, but you get my point).


Hey! Nice article, I remember reading coverage of this in HPI mags when I was younger. Does anyone have any info on the White/Black Bride 180sx with the strawberry face and floating headlights? That was one of my favourites way back due to the aggressive look the front end gave it and I'd love to find more photos and info on it.
Thanks heaps and good job,


This was so great! I remember the Big X as being a dream event from overseas (I'm in France) Pleaaase discuss with Kuma to make this happen again! Drift, stunt and FMX, this was so great. I just can't understand why all of this is dead.

Btw I completly remember the Sha_Do Art Factory livery on this yellow CBR on the last pic ^^


one of the best parts of these time machine posts is the chance to see these images re-upped with more experienced editing skills and posted in much larger format than was the norm at the time.  when all the other media available from the time is smaller images of lower resolution, the time machine posts make the experience of the past much more real for current audiences.


Oh man, 2005 I was in third grade and got introduced to Initial D which pretty much melded drifting into my brain. I vaguely remember seeing post of this on the very early web communities. I still respect modern competitive drift to an extent, but this was the stuff that really opened my eyes between the difference of street drifting and competitive drifting. I personally observed that the old way of competition had more excitement to it because of how aggressive and fast the battles were. The lower powered machines meant that people really had to keep speed otherwise they would pay the consequences. There were even close battles with vehicles that had drastic power differences, but were still able to keep up and compete which added to the mix of insanity. Despite having sponsorships, competition back then truly did match the action seen on the street with really fast paced drifting not too focused on smoke shows or how much angle driver can get.


Wow. The Drift community is so hypocritical. Everyone says how they like the old grassroots days of drifting when the cars didn't have 4 figure HP cars and ridiculous steering angle mods but then complain when events like D1 and FD don't have enough angle and that they focus on speed. Saw this when Forrest Wang temporarily left FD and the backlash from fans, everyone said the style was now gone and it was about speed not angle.


I blame FD for ruining drifting, doesn't take 900+ HP to go sideways.


Hombrelobo It was featured in either HPI or the spinoff title Drift Battle around 05/06 - I'll have a dig through my collection and find which issue it was later on tonight.


Hombrelobo Issue 56 of HPI. It was driven by Izumida and built at his Dart Izumi Jr workshop.


Awesome !


I remember this foto from a modified mag report I didn't know that you took those pictures awesome


Is the blue r34 skyline on the 2nd pic left hand drive?


@Moses D1 is at the same levels of power as FD, and started the power war before FD. Oh yeah, but its always FD's fault lol. Anyone remember Koroi? Saito? Nomuken? All over 600 hp by 2006. When FD was in it's infancy. You misquided gushing fanbois kill me with every post, not even knowing the history of what you prefer.

Oh yeah, it's always FD/V8/America's fault.


Thank you as always Dino for showcasing the real deal :) Fantastic pic of the green R33!


NikkSquidBonnett Hombrelobo Thanks heaps! Will check it out!


I agree with you 100% Dino, but I don't have to worry about offending the readers of the automotive blog that pays my bills, so I can say drifting has devolved into something akin to the hipster version of NASCAR, with the occasional right turn.

Ok that's a pretty big exaggeration but in a way it's not. Passion isn't bought, it's grown. It's more then the amount of tire smoke, the highest number of ponies, the biggest stickers and the most money. It's about one thing, the moment. the sound of the engine singing, the feeling of grip transition to slide, the sight of the world around you blur, the smell of rubber and hard earned sweat that led up to this moment of release and pure exhilaration. Push down accelerator, repeat. 

Not to mention the sense of community seems lacking in the pro drift world. Could just be my experience but as paddy showed me in his recent articles it still exists in a form closer to the amateur events I like to attend.

As always this is just the opinion of someone looking inside a world I'm not a part of, it's akin to me commenting that Japanese culture seems ridged and full of perfectionism. I've never been to japan or have any Japanese friends. So take it how you will.
Oh and drink Red Bull, we drift cars we're hip and cool. At least are marketing director thinks we should be. Buy one today and be cool too.


CMCurtis Different Kazama mate

Kazama Yasuyuki got annoyed with the politics of D1/competitions and retired, and from what I understand now he just runs his own small workshop (called Rodeostyle or something?)


CMCurtis They forget how D1 and drift comps looked pre-2004. 5 maybe 6 cars that could even coherently link the course, $200 purses, 300 spectators, maybe 3 good tandems within 2 carlenghts. Don't agree? I'm looking at my 200+ library of Video Options, Drift Tengokus, D1SL's, etc. Anything up to 2005 wouldn't even qualify in any drift comp since 2010. They forget that all these top pros ALL started out as nobodys, drifting in the middle of the night, and many probably still do.

There's a time and place for it all. You can love the old stuff but at least really see it for what it was...little more than a local comp. You can also love the grassroots and NOT act like professionalism has stolen your child. I watch and love it all. D1, FD, DA, IDC, D1NZ, and I also watch tons of grassroots drifting/no comp. I don't go to articles of the latest Final Bout and talk about how much they suck and their lack of angle, because I think it's just hating. Likewise, the people that continuously crap all over anything having to do with professional drifting and the nonsensical swooning over a past ideal could possibly find a better use of their time reading about what they DO like, or better yet, driving themselves somewhere and do it for real, instead of whine.

Dino always hit a very tempered angle, and I have massive respect for him and his intimate knowledge of this culture and it's roots. He always couches his statements by clearly stating that it is his opinion alone but always gives respect to what drifting has developed into. Many of these guys can learn from is example. But hey, snarkiness on the interwebz is whats cool and hot. Lord knows, I'm that way all too often.


importfan Gianluca FairladyZ  if you search for Massimo Checcin, I believe it's his impreza now...

turbo BEAMS ae86

nice shots man
Love that 2000s drifter style .  Until the overfenders and taiwanese air came to claim it


2005, the year I also drifted away from professional drifting fandom. Once they started with the whole "LS1 and 2JZ ALL THE THINGS!" it got super stale and no longer interesting in my opinion. 

And YES, YES, YES... maybe make the "Time Machine" posts like the every Sunday "Video Round Up". I cant call a Sunday complete if I haven't Read/Watched the SpeedHunters Video Round Up.


icobird Good eyes. Since it has LHD windshield wipers, I am sure we would love to see how complete the LHD R34 interior is

Andy Gray - Powervehicles

As somebody who both competes professionally and has a
business partially built around the Grass routes / Matsuri scene, I'd like to
think there's space for it all. If competitive drifting isn't for you that's
fine, support your local grass routes scene and enjoy it for what it is. If you
think the Pro series are doing it all wrong, send your constructive ideas about
growing the sport in a direction you would like to see to the organisers. Who
knows, you might have the answer!
For many the golden age maybe gone, but drifting in all
its forms is still expanding all around the globe. There's too much net-bashing
of the big series I believe ... The sport is still evolving and many aspects of
it aren't perfect, but to dismiss the premier series entirely isn't fair to
those involved.
Trust me when I say there's a bunch of drivers and teams
pouring their heart and soul into doing well at the sport they love, so maybe
spare a thought for them every time you knock the pro-side of drifting.
On a related note , I'll speak more with Kuma about a
rehash of Big X... with the evolution in Drift , FMX and Stunt bikes , just
imagine the show we could put on now :)


T8DTurdbo you're on the wrong site bro


Dino, I still remember reading this article about the Big X in the High Performance Imports magazine with the exactly same photos here. I too feel the same about the current state of affairs with the drifting. For me the golden age of drifting was the early~mid 00s (circa 2005). Cars were much simpler without too much strech from reality (Kei-office s15 and Apexi FD..) with less focus on power and more about individuality and character.. and the scene still had the prepubescent vibe and charm to it with less corporation money and politics. I never competed but still felt like a part of scene that was about to explode..


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