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Monday, April 4, 2016

A Drift guide to Japan by Officer Dan Part 1: Preppage

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/meU0d1tgjRY/maxresdefault.jpg
Daigo Saito = Master
If you drift and are anything like me you drool or get "mad jelly" every time you see another drifter post that they are heading to Japan to do cool shit.  I asked Brandon Wicknick to do this on his last trip since he probably did it cheaper than anyone could have imagined, but he slacked so here I am. What is "Matsuri" you ask? It means festival in Japanese and there are tons of Matsuri events all over. I have no idea what this particular Matsuri is below but count me in.

Butts
In the U.S. drifting world, it seems as though the pinnacle to every drivers career, amateur to pro is to get to drive either drive in Japan at one event or another, or at the very least attend some events and or car meets there. Awesome cars, awesome tracks, awesome people, what more could you want? Since losing my FD license, I have nothing but time to plan stuff for this year, so plan I did, and share I will. If you ever wanted to take the plunge and make it happen, this is the guide for you. 

Head on over and grab yourself some quality suspension stuff!
The idea came about when Greg Kruse from GKtech said, hey, let's go to Japan for Spring Matsuri 3-4 months ago. 3-4 months of that sitting in the back of your head with no action feels like an eternity. It all snapped into reality when planets and budgets aligned and I actually sat down and started planning this whole thing out. We will be slapping a bunch of GKTech parts on a car, throwing some STR Officer D 903 wheels on and seeing what we can do! Below I will try to fill you in on as much pre-planned info as I can shove out and update as needed. Keep in mind I haven't actually gone yet, but I will update as needed.

#1 Know your dates

If you want to Matsuri, you need to pick which one suits your needs (In our case we are heading to Spring). Of course there are other events at other tracks all the time, so look online for those dates.
Courtesy of Powervehicles.com
2016 Spring Matsuri -
April 30th - May 1st
2016 Summer Matsuri -
August 13th & 14th
2016 Autumn Matsuri -
November 12th & 13th

#2 Flights




I was fully expecting to pay north of a grand for a round trip ticket when going into this and either had a stroke of luck, or hit the perfect time to buy but I found round trip tickets for about $470 bucks each. THAT'S CHEAPER THAN ROUND TRIP TO FLORIDA. Just sayin. Best thing about international flights? Free booze. For that price, take a buddy or two. In this case I choose you JWOODMEDIA.COM (otherwise known as Jesse Wood), and plan to meet up with Greg and crew later on.


I booked the flights Sunday Feb 21st, and made them for the 22nd of April till March 2nd so maybe if you make your purchases remain at that distance from the flights for the best price. I used the website Skiplagged to book the flights. It basically chops connected flights up into parts and lets you get the cheapest rates by skipping the last leg of the flight.

My sweet az Charlie Manson / James Hetfield passport photo
#3 Other shit you don't think about that you need to before you leave, not after.
  • You will need to get a passport. Give yourself at least 2 months before so you get it in time.  USPS can get you hooked up.
  • You need to get an international drivers permit or license as well, and that can be done here. It is only 15 bucks and it will save you a world of heartache when you go to get a rental / try and drive at the tracks.
  • Download a translation app. If you get stuck somewhere you are gonna need it. I use google translate. You can even hold the camera up snap a photo and it translates signs and stuff. FUTURE.
  • Get a rental. Most of the tracks are pretty rural, a van is a good idea if you plan on hauling luggage people and wheels and tires.
  • Travel insurance, not needed but a damn good idea. 
  • Bring cash with you for the week to exchange at the airport. Most places won't accept cards.
  • Entertainment on the plane, books, chess board, twister, sleeping pills, crochet etc. If none of the above are brought, it will be a long 12 hour flight. 
  • Chargers far any electronic devices, portable batteries should help since the tracks are pretty rural. Side note; Japan uses the same plugs as us here in the good ol
  •  USA. BONUS
  • Reach out on FB, there are tons of folks who either live there or have been that will help. 
  • Your phone. How do you navigate, translate or check twitter?? Luckily you have a few options.
#4 Shit to do (made this list from reaching out on FB)
Obligatory Initial D post
  • Huge list of every tuning shop in Japan, if that doesn't keep even the fanniest of fan boys happy, I'm not sure what will. 
  • Rent a classic Japanese sports car
  • Daikoku futo, tatsumi pa., bay shore drive, aqualine run(15km tunnel),
  • UP! Garage Guide to Japan
  • Nismo Omori Factory in Yokohama and Toyota MegaWeb in Odaiba, both free, both awesome. 
  • Robot restaurant
  • Nikko circuit
  • Meihan 
  • Lots of delish Sushi, everywhere
  • VENDING MACHINE STREET BEERS
#5 A car (the important part)

You wanna drive like Team Burst right? Better get a car first...
There are a few ways to go about this. You can find a decent missile car for around 2-3 grand,  and competition ready ones for 10k and up.
  • eBay Japan
  • Yahoo Auctions Japan
  • Powervehicles.com
  • A Japan hookup
  • You are lucky enough to drive for someone and they give you a car
You are gonna have to work on what ever car you get.
Anyway you spin it you will more than likely have to purchase blind, and get there a few days early to start working on it to make sure that its up to par. This also means finding a place to work on it before hand, or risking working on it at the track. It will probably rain and you will have a bad day.
Budget spent on one round of Formula D Pro 1, 8-10k, Pro 2, 6-8k

#6 Coinage

Scratch spent so far on needed things:
$470 for round trip ticket to japan from LA
$165 for round trip ticket to LA


Scratch spent on non 100% needed things:
$960 for rental Van
$4,000 for a 93 skyline (much cheaper to rent or find more of a missile)

Total so far: $5,595 or less than the low end of one round of Pro 2.

Coming up in part 2, everything you need to know about not knowing anything about where you are going.

My best Japanese impression. Photo by Winding Hiway Studios.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Drift 4K or Motorcycle Vs. Car Drift Battle 4 or Drift 4 or whatever.


My whip, a 67 Mustang dubbed "Sweet Tooth"
First, Watch this here clip Vlad's sister Natasha made...



Then read this to yourself in the best Officer Dan accent you can muster. Thanks. Also, I wish I could be writing this to you in the Disney font, cause it's so warm and inviting. Computers ain't my thang.

Welcome to Drift 4K Amigos. As the "story" left off, Nick and Ernie headed towards Mexico to avoid another sticking from the long arm of the law. I followed them boys down there, we had some good times, and caused some right purdy mayhem for the fine people of Mexico. After a while we drifted (see what I did there?) apart and went our own separate ways. Since I was promoted to customer at my last job, I went to seek new employment. Turns out employment found me.

Random unemployed selfie
They called him the "Sugar Daddy". A well off Eastern European with a love for fast cars and a hankering for sweets. He had me running that pure cane you can only get from Mexico back and forth for damn decent moo-la. He wanted it to look like drugs to make him seem like a real bad ass, even if it was just sugar for his morning noon and night coffee. Whatever, a paycheck's a paycheck.

Vlad, explained
 Anywho. Sugar Daddy, or Vlad, as I found his real name to be is a strange cat indeed. On top of his confectionary love, he has a keen obsession with them two drift bike boys. I often spoke of the shit show they called a drift extravaganza, I'd even seen some lame excuses for a youtube video with them in it. Thinking back on it, I'm assumin the whole reason he found / employed me in the first place was to get to them. Over the years he hatched this grandiose plan to get them back to glory, bring them to Miami from Mexico and beat them down like they'd never been beaten before. Obsessed much?

Just a small sample of Vlads stash
 He went out and spent 10's of 1,000's of dollars on escorts, taxis, plane tickets, bikes, leathers and so on and so forth for them hoodlums. Went on and on and on about them losing their "bowls". I don't even know what that means, nor do I really care. Told me I would be "getting de best bonus I head ever seen", so I didn't ask many questions. He said I was supposed to make sure they were in halfway decent condition before I sent them his way... I knew they weren't but I figured I give it a whirl anyhow.

Last known photo of the "drift extravaganza"
Off to Mexico I went.

Didn't take long to find 'em. They had gotten themselves kicked out of every venue they tried to do demos in for lack of crowds giving two shits and even less pesos. I Traced down that line till I found em at rock bottom. Doing half assed stunts in a run down dirt lot, for a crowd of 1. I'm pretty sure passing tumbleweeds could make more money than these two at this point. What a waste of good talent and gasoline.

Quit playin in the dirt, it's dirty.
 Vlad had rented the track, whose backlot they were performing on, and asked me to run em through the course a few times to get em back into shape. I obliged with pleasure. Felt good to be drifting with them boys again, even if those old wore out vato zoned bikes they was on were on their last legs.

me, complete badass, skid racin with them boys again
Sure didn't take but 5 minutes of fun for Nick to run out of gas and Ernie to blow a tire. I had also embarrassed them enough for one day. I figured then was as good a time as any to lay a job on em. I knew they wouldn't be able to say no. I gave em little to no instruction and tossed a suspicious looking package their way. I told them my new boss was expecting them and that they'd best be on the way if they knew what was good for em.

About to help these boys get bowls back

Off they went into the desert. Probably would have been better to get them a cab to the airport, but wheres the fun in that? Needless to say Vlad had a plan for that too. He figured they wouldn't get far and sent a "Shepard" to help find the way. Right on time he was too. Just as they had run completely out of gas riding nuts to butts on a bumpy dirt road, the driver showed up to save the day.

Taxi driver and me somewhere in Mexico
Not sure what happened on the ride, but I am sure it was a good one. I've had more than a few drunken rides home with the driver, and I am pretty sure he was always more drunk than me. What a champion. They dawned Vlads "Miami appropriate clothings" and off they went on a flight to Flow rida.

Stock image of some cool Triumphs I found.
To make things easier for them once they finally got to Miami, Vlad had two brand new turbo Triumphs waiting for them in the plane hangar. He left no other instructions cept a note that said "here are bowls, love SD" Still confused on the whole bowl thing, but I digress. You see, Vlad had a plan for everything. He knew they would immediately head out and terrorize the streets on their new steeds. They did thusly. He sent his sister, Natasha after them to send a message. After a small and unfruitful chase (they had no chance, I've seen Natasha drive), she lost them and left a note in the most spectacular way.

Natasha laid the smack down on them but good.
Lol you just got beat by a girl.
They got the message and headed out to the track in the early (for me anyways) hours of the morning. After realizing first thing upon arriving that they had been bested by a girl in a Scorpion P6, they were whisked off to deliver this "special package" to the Sugar Daddy.

Vlad in one of his more natural poses.
They walked into one of his many garages to deliver his package, where he was poised looking over the engine bay of his Armageddon Twin Turbo Mustang. Probably reveling in the fact that he had 1,400 horsies on tap, but whatever, Natasha does all the work on his cars anyways. He doesn't even know what he's looking at. He just likes to have the best of the best. Speaking of that, now that them boys had their "bowls" back, SD was ready to challenge them to a drift off. He was ready to gain the fame and fortune of beating down the unbeatable motorcycle dudes.

Long distance coffee sugar, delivered.
 They had just realized that they had traveled 1,000s of miles to deliver sugar, only to be challenged to a drift off on Vlad's home track. I'm assuming they were down right confused about everything that had just happened. After shoving countless confections into his pie hole, the drifting began. What a spectacle it was to behold. Them boys was on point, but Vlad was a monster let loose with an Armageddon 1400 horsepower Mustang. If only I could have gotten behind the wheel of that beast. Maybe some day.

Back and forth they went

Vlad seemed to be laying down a smoke screen they couldn't see through, thanks Armageddon

But them boys was fast.
If only his lug nuts were tightened all the way on that fateful driver side wheel. Shame how that had to happen and them boys got away. Seems this story may have had a totally different endin had they been tight. Then again, maybe it's just the beginning. I don't reckon Vlads done with them boys just yet.

#lugnuts aftermath

Officer Dan out.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Formula D Pro2 Round 2 Seattle 2015 - "Sleeveless in Seattle"

Enjoy the newest episode of the Whiskey Garage Chronicles by www.JWoodMedia.com



So we spend two weeks prepping for FD Seattle at Motiva Performance here in Albuquerque, NM.
We actually have time to go out and test to make sure things are good to go. We encounter a rather severe overheating issue 3 days before we are supposed to leave... Assuming it was a head gasket, $460 bucks later and I had me an overnighted GH from FRsport. Socttie don't spent all day and night shoving it in, then the lengthy process of bleeding the cooling system on an RB started.


I had planned to leave for Seattle on that Monday and casually drive up, enjoying some scenery solo mission. I had to get on Facebook and recruit some helpers to drive since we ended up leaving super late tues night. Huge thanks to James and David for helping out with that nasty 24 hour straight drive to get there as the drivers meeting was starting. Could not have done it without you.

We set up the pits and and head out to practice. I did a killer first lap and was super excited to work with my spotter Dave to get dialed in for qualifying.



I was getting back in line for another run and realized my car was still smoking like i was on the bank. Back to the pits I went.

Compression test showed low on 2 pistons, the oil looked like a milkshake, and my exhaust was filled with oil.

Turns out this is the damage we did in seattle


We shut it down and waited for qualifying, by the end of the bank in my first run the water temps were a balmy 260 degrees so I shut her down, on my second run I just lost power coming off the bank. We tried, but hey sometimes your motor decides to implode.

Spent the weekend filming funny stuff for the chronicles and had a good time. Stopped by the STR Racing warehouse to pick up my new signature wheels on the way home. We also had a photoshoot out there as well. Super pumped to have them on board this season, stay tuned for another blog post about the flow formed goodness that is the officer d 903!!!

On to pics!




















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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Formula D Pro2 Round 1 Florida 2015

Peep this video if you haven't, the pre season WG Chronicles:

1 Week before we leave
Scot Fox has looked the car over, we have already addressed some other issues it was having and actually got to test it a few times prior to this. Focused most of efforts towards prepping for the Drift 4 filming. I have also designed and printed custom FD Florida shirts. Feeling pumped.


3 Days before we leave
The 2 car trailer we had lined up was 8 inches too short. The story of American life it seems. Dave and I begged our way into another truck and trailer, I received a large shipment of STR Racing wheels for both Drift 4 and my FD efforts. Hankook decided to up my grip game and sent a few 265/40/18's to test on. I had been on the 265/35/18s and it made a huge difference in grip levels. One more day of testing with the new wheels and tires, car is still solid. Feeling more pumped.

1 Day before we leave
Dave and I have now been up for 24 hours prepping everything, mounting tires, packing, organizing and making sure we have everything needed for a week of FD and a week of filming for Drift 4. I spent a good chunk of the day plastidipping my STR wheels to get them looking fresh for Florida. Oneclickstick.com killed the wrap and sticker game getting errthang done before we left for FD. Feeling exhausted.

Departure
Dave, Michaela and I take off for the 36 hour plus drive in separate trucks and trailers hoping for the best. Fast forward to weds, and we make it in time for the tech appointment. Picked Scotty Don't up from the airport Weds night and got a decent nights sleep. Feeling optimistic.



Tech, Practice and Qualifying oh my...
Pull up for tech and immediately back into Dewayne Ramsey's car. #sickrun. No damage but I am an idiot. Pass tech with flying colors, only to find out my name is spelled wrong on my door cards. A quick cut up of Tanner Fousts cards, and the missing T's are now solid. Feeling relieved.


Practice actually went really well for me. The track was really fun, riding the wall with lots of angle to a jump / transition area, to all out top of 2nd burner. I picked up the track by my second run, but due to wrecks and other delays would only get 2 more shots at dialing in the track. Having an actual spotter instead of texts from someone else spotter was amazing. Thanks Dave for jumping into the trial by fire on that one. Car looks waaaay better on the STR Racing wheels. Feeling jazzed.
Photo by David Karey AMDrift.com
Headed into qualifying feeling awesome. This one really the first time I had made it through practice with nothing to change on the car. First run hit it hard, 1st.......... 1st still.......... trying desperately to grab second and it finally smashes in right as I go to enter. Did all I could running the whole track in 2nd gear... Bummed, We took a look and the clutch stopper was missing. I was over extending the clutch and couldn't get into gear. Scotty got on it and fixed me up for my 2nd run. 1st, 2nd, 3rd! Yes! Clutch kick to no power combo. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Blew a boost pipe off the throttle body. Twas the first time I yelled an expletive in my car after a run. Feeling super bummed. 

STR Racing 514
The Whiskey Garage Pit all set up and ready to sling shirts
Rest of the event
Watched a little and tried to sell as many Whiskey Garage T Shirts as I could. Did decent, but barely broke even. Shirts will be up on the site soon! It rained and then was sunny, then more rain then more sun and some wind. Picked up camp more times than I really wanted to due to storm threats. I also licked Fredric Aasbo's face. Feeling wet.

He's so dreamy

Thanks
Huge thanks to Michaela for the emotional support and selling shirts! Dave and Scot from Motiva Performance for coming out to the event with me, Jesse from JWoodmedia.com for being Jesse, Hankook for the tires and support, plus food and AC in the hot hot heat, Turbo by Garrett for getting me a spare turbo shipped to florida, STR for getting me wheels and working with me, pumped to have you guys on board! Radium Engineering for supplying me with spare fuel items and new catch cans for the season. Love you guys! Oneclickstick.com for the graphic touch up on the car, the new vinyl and all the sick stickers everyone loved. Spec for the new clutch and flywheel, PPG for help on the dog box. You guys all rock, thank you for the support.  Feeling grateful.




Drift 4
Wouldn't you like to know? Feeling optimistic.


 And we had a blowout on the way home. The end!