Saturday, May 30, 2015

GoFast Drift & Drag - Arizona Exploring

 Since my move out to AZ, I've been looking HARD for drift events in the area.  I see that VegasDrift seems to have a big presence around Phoenix, but I had just missed their Round 1 event in Chandler a couple months ago.  About two and a half weeks ago, I came across an event online called the GoFast Drift and Drag nights at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ aka Bondurant Driving School property.  They seem to happen about once a month or so, and luckily when I came across this online, there was an event coming up that same weekend.  So a friend and I drove down to go check it out!

It definitely did not disappoint!  I was really curious to see a drift event out West compared to what I'm used to attending back on the East coast.  There was plenty to look at in the paddock alone.

Eleven's Paint and Fiber (a local body shop) came out in full-force.  It was cool to see some cars in person that I've seen on the internet before.

Like George's FC RX-7.  Definitely a treat for not being around anything I was used to seeing for about a month.

The driving level was pretty cool - There was clearly some more advanced drivers mixed in with the more amateur drivers, and the event layout seemed pretty relaxed.

And there definitely appeared to be some style present, which was refreshing.

And then there was some unexpected chassis being driven too, which was also different and cool.  Some dudes were really laying it down and getting the crowd excited.

Cool color combo and style on this hatch.  The driver was doing a nice job that night.

One of the Eleven's cars - This hatch looked SWEET!

Even without a media pass, I was able to find myself a pretty sweet spot on one of the last corners of the course layout.  Made for some decent shots!

I also ran up to the bleachers for a bit which gave a REALLY cool angle of the whole track.

After a few haphazard warm-up passes, the driver of this IS300 was actually laying down some really nice runs!

The more experienced drivers were taking some pretty aggressive and fun to watch lines.

The driver of this SC was linking all corners like it was his job!

Yet another solid hatch - I dig these guys' style!

And lastly, this S13/Pick-up!  Dude was running solid, while scraping the underside of his chassis throughout the track.  I dig it!

All in all, I'm really glad I went and checked this out.  Looking forward to the next one of these and getting more of a chance to talk to some of the drivers and folks out here.  I kinda hung back this time so I could just feel it out and get the vibe of the event.  But I like what I see!
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

C H A N G E . O F . P A C E

Earlier this week while farting around on Google Maps, I came across a really great looking hiking trail not too far from my new home out here in Carefree/Cave Creek, Arizona.  It would be called the 'Jewel of the Creek' trail.  It's pretty awesome, and links up with several other great trails in the area, but it's hiking only (no bikes) so I decided to take Kenji out for some exercise and brought my Canon along.

The trail starts off pretty mild and flat - Then you begin working your way down a pretty shallow hill and towards the creek.

Stay in the direction that leads you towards 'Dragonfly Trail' and before you know it, come across a really cool pool in the creek that opens up pretty wide.  You can see water lines on the rocks around you that show just how much water flows through this area when the rain is heavy.

 You snake back (towards the direction you just came down), and then walk through some sandy (and possibly  muddy) areas.

You'll be brought to this super simple bridge that allows you to cross over the creek, and continue onward!

A quick snap from the center of the bridge, facing north.

Once you're on the other side, things look drastically different somehow! - Like you're on Mars or something.

The trail leads you alongside the cut-away, rocky hill.

And after a brief trip through a dried creek-bed, you'll come out up top on the mountain opposite to where you started! - with a great view of the surrounding other mountains, to boot!

Kenji insisted on taking a quick break.

 On the way back, you come across this AWESOME little hole in the rock-side!  Not sure if it's an old mining shaft, if it's just a cave, if it's some animals' home - but it sure was curious.  This whole area is an old gold-mining region from the early 1900's, so it wouldn't surprise me if that's what this is!

 A little too sketchy for me to venture in on my own - and without a flashlight.  Haha but Kenji sure was interested in going further!

Now he leads the way - he want's to get back home at this point. . .

Stay on the Dragonfly Trail to loop you back around to the Jewel of the Creek.

I took a quick detour to check out the creek where I heard audible moving water.

Back on the trail again, you'll go through such different terrain.  At one point, there's a few knocked over trees and bent ones like these that make it feel like you're walking through a forest tunnel.

The trail opens back up a bit again!

And apparently spring time is the best time to hit this trail, as all the blooming flora and wildlife come alive!  Here's a bloomed prickly pear cactus flower!

Then the return bridge!

These awesome rock-stairs will take you back up to the fork to either repeat the hike you just did, or stay on the Jewel of the Creek trail, and take you back to the parking area.

One last quick HDR edit from Dragonfly Trail, just about where I had to make the call to turn around and head back.  I will definitely be returning to this trail often, as it's super adventurous and rather quiet in regards to other people on the trails.  I only ran into a couple groups of people, and everyone was super friendly.
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Friday, January 23, 2015

チョロQ - T A K A R A C H O R O - Q

For about the past year or two, I've gathered a small collection of Japanese toy cars known as Choro-Q.  Long story short, Choro-Q are little pull-back cars about 3-4cm in length, which is how they got their name - Choro is an abbreviation of a Japanese word "dash", and in Japan, anything abbreviated with a "Q" indicates that it's cute.  Therefore, Cute Dash?  Something like that.

But these little cars are too hilarious to look at, and seeing as how some of them get pretty serious, I thought it would a fun little collection to start.  The cars range from company-to-company, but just like many other toys in Japan, most are made by Takara Tomy.  Above is my Calsonic/Impul R32 GT-R.  Good ol' #12!

They can range from extremely simplistic and cartoonish, to incredibly detailed and high-end.  Even D1GP has their own series of Choro-Q, with several well-known cars, drivers, and aftermarket companies backing the series.  This Altia Falken R32 actually comes in it's own display case within the box, and has a few extra details and features.

Then, I happened to come across these Wonda Coffee Choro-Q. . . Tiger Woods says you should drink Wonda Coffee and drive drag cars, so why are you just sitting there. . .?

In Japan, Wonda Coffee (an Asahi Group company - yes they make more than just beer) comes in little cans, similar to RedBull here.  They'll do runs of product that when you purchase the coffee, a Choro-Q is included atop the can, in a sealed tiny display case.

And so came-about a whole new series of even more mini Choro-Q, at about 2.5cm long.  To my knowledge, Wonda has actually done several different runs and series of Choro that were included with their product, all officially licensed.  One of the series I was most interested in is their GT-R line-up, where they had released almost all of the different chassis generations of Nissan GT-R.

It ranges from Hakosuka KPGC-10, to R32/33/34/35.  Really, all that's about missing from this series is the Kenmeri KPGC-110 and an R31.  Maybe an R30 Paul Newman version too. . .Each chassis came in two different colors.

But there's also other series dedicated to manufacturer-aftermarket releases - Nismo, Mazdaspeed, TRD, STi, etc. .  So I snagged the two Nismo R35's, the two Subaru Legacy STi's, and one of the Mazdaspeed RX-7's.  Still missing from this series is the other RX-7, two RalliArt Lancers, and two Mugen S2000's.  Why can't iced coffee come with cool prizes like this here in the states???

Then, there are some of the more, I suppose you'd call them, 'collector-grade' series, like this Super GT series (still made by Takara Co.)  This set has some pretty awesome JGTC/Super GT themed cars, like this GT500 Calsonic/Impul Z.  Another one I have not pictured, is the GT500 Yellow Hat Z.  
Super Realistic Circuit Choro Q Series, with Collectible Box.  Super Awesomes #1 Fun Time!

Can't leave out Tomica cars. . .The REAL HotWheels!  My dad brought me back two from a business-trip to Kamakura a few years ago: #40 - Nissan Skyline Racing(R34) and #50 - Nissan Fairlady Z Racing Type(Z33).  These are pretty cool because they come with a sticker sheet and you actually get to apply all the decals yourself.  I've left mine alone in the boxes, where they'll probably sit dormant for the remainder of their lives.  As I continue to come across other Choro's and Tomy toy cars in general that catch my attention, I'm sure the collection will continue to grow.  I just think it's cool to hold onto little trinkety shit like this, that people tend to overlook, when in reality they're really cool, and will be even cooler in 50 years to show your grandchildren the type of stuff you were into (or are maybe still into).  What types of things do you guys collect, and why?!
武士道 - B U S H I D O!