Thursday, July 14, 2016

CRABCAKES & FOOTBALL - FINALE

Going to a Drift Valley event that I was actually gonna be able to drive was a new and strange feeling.  For some reason, I've always thought what nerve-wracking emotions must come over drivers at grassroots events who are still learning how to drift, but doing it in front of large masses of people watching.  Well it's funny how quickly that thought doesn't even phase you and passes once you sit down into your seat, pop on your steering wheel, follow your crew out onto track for a parade lap, and line up in the staging area.  I can't help but have a huge grin crawl across my face, ear-to-ear when I'm able to pop my helmet on and push that throttle pedal down to the floor out on track.


Well Saturday came soon enough during my visit back to the East Coast.  We left at the ass-crack of dawn - Nick, Billshido, and Amigostyle pulling the trailer with the hatch aboard, and myself following behind in my Z.  The drive out to Shenandoah Speedway is like clockwork, with the ritual 5AM stop at 7-Eleven / Exxon, and the 7AM stop at Exxon in Front Royal, VA for a gas-up and Dunkin Donut recharge.  It wasn't long after that we arrived at the track, met up with the rest of the Wolfpack, and began unloading gear, wheels and tires.


T O Y 4 H O S


Once we got situated, I was in a mad dash to get my rear CR's over to Ben so I could get these fresh rubbers mounted up.  Luckily, Juan had brought a set of same size tire I run that had already been mounted and dismounted which made the sidewalls a little more flexible and we were able to get the bead seated so I could enjoy my day!  I'm absolutely in love with the white/chrome combo and especially since both pair have the ultra deep concave face.  Deep concave on both front and rear is definitely the way to go!


When I wasn't on track waiting for my turn to spin-out, I was roaming around the paddock taking random photos trying to capture the vibe of the day.


I had known one of my good friend's Greg was in the area with his son, E10, to go camping on the Shenandoah River for the weekend.  He was a champ and made it out for a bit to come hang out and watch me slide for awhile.  It's always a treat to see him roll up in his fancy, elegant Tesla - exceedingly this time too as the silent electric-mobile was covered in dirt and dust, and this hilarious play off his license plate.


While not the fastest or most competitive car in US Drift, there's really no denying that Nick's hatch is the cleanest car in the series.  Presence of all body panels.  Absence of all obnoxious stickers.  A nice clean paint job.  Low on stylish wheels, and a sound that pleases your ear drums in just the right way.


And would you look at that - It puffs out plumes of tire smoke.


Walking back towards the tent, I spotted this incredibly done, Cali-styled Harley.


For such a long day, it didn't seem like long before it was all said and done.  Sadly, Nick was eliminated in his first round of competition against Dylan Hughes.  But the fact that he did make it into Top 16 Comp says enough itself, and we were happy just to be around and represent our home track.  After all the rounds were made, saying 'til next time' to the folks we see at each event, we bee-lined it for Roy Rogers for a much needed meal and coffee.  I think we unloaded the car and all the gear back at the shop in record timing that night, as I'm pretty sure we were all on the brink of heat stroke.

Photo by Bill Pullin

After some much needed rest, the next day we thought it would be an awesome idea to get the whole crew together at the shop for somewhat of a BBQ.  In my typical fashion, I made it over there about an hour late but I was pumped to get to just relax around HQ with everyone there, having some beers and bullshit about the day before.  It was also a cool opportunity to get all of cars together in one place for a bit. . .

Photo by Bill Pullin

I'm odd man out with my non-black roof in the bunch, let alone the only Z-chassis.  Regardless, there's so much goodness in this photo, and there's only more coming in the future for Wolfpack. . .

Photo by Bill Pullin

Billigan ran out and made sure to snap several photos of the whole line-up before I had to dip out.  When you're only town for a set amount of time, you have to make sure that you satisfy everyone important, and that meant leaving the BBQ to go have some dinner with my Memere and brothers.

Photo by Bill Pullin

They later moved the cars around after I left, and got some more amazing shots.  That's El Lobito, a young Wolf in the making.  You've got a good bunch of people to guide you on the right path, little man.

That's really about it for my extravagant, excitingly unexciting, eventfully uneventful but fulfilling trip back to Maryland. While I didn't get absolutely everything done that I had hoped to, but knew I wouldn't be able to, I had a fucking blast like I knew I would as well.  I give some serious props to my Wolfpack crew for being an insanely awesome collection of beings.  I couldn't ask for a cooler group of folks to call my Wolfpack Fam.

武士道 - B U S H I D O!


You didn't think I was just gonna leave you like that, did you!?  Here's the video recap of the day:




Thursday, July 7, 2016

SEE THE WORLD AS A DREAM

The Wolfpack crew has been hard at work lately getting ready for some upcoming events. Since I'm away from the den for the next several months, Juan thought this would be a cool opportunity to do some sit-in work and write a guest blog! I was totally game for it, and hoping to do more like this in the future so we can get more content out. Enjoy! 

Photos and words by Juan Camargo
IG: @liftedtruckstyle

I had been fighting a “loss of power” issue for quite some time now. After I hit the wall last event, the car has been really bumming me out. I eventually took the car up to Nick’s to see if we could get this issue sorted. I had tried essentially everything, running tons of tests and all have yielded inconclusive results. If you think cars are just inanimate objects; you have no idea how flagrantly wrong you are. Cars have a personality, they have an attitude, and they react to how you treat them. My hatch was NOT having it with me. It’s as if from the moment I got the car off the trailer, it was thinking “I’m tired of this bullshit you’re putting me through, and I’m sick of the abuse.” This car really seemed to develop an attitude with me. Anyway, Flako the papichulo graced us with his presence, sporting a few stuffed bags of McDs to keep us fueled. 


Isn’t he just dreamy? The testing ensued, I felt like I was on an episode of House, and we were all brainstorming possible causes to the symptoms we were experiencing. We swapped parts, ran voltage and resistance tests, did some pulls around the compound all to no avail.


I took a step back for a second and looked at the whole situation from the outside. This is what this hobby is truly about. It’s not looking for fame, glory, having the tightest car, or getting your well deserved media credit. It’s about the people you do it with.


We’re all really fortunate to be a part of what we built. This night really exemplified what the Wolfpack is all about. Everyone comes together to help out, hang out and talk a bunch of shit! Even when things are going awry, we’re all still laughing hysterically and having a good time. Nights like these, when we’re all together, Paul’s presence is really missed!




You never really realize just how much of a tin can these cars are until you start hacking the core support… I remember when I first pulled an engine out of my hatch, I had cut my support and it made life so much easier. It also looks tight when the car is sitting with no support and the whole front end exposed!


There’s always something to do at the Wolfpack HQ, nothing a couple cervezas can’t get you through, regardless of how tedious the job.


Sparks always make for killer shots! Making brackets is an unrealized art form. Even though I drove home with the car still fucked, I always leave the shop super motivated. Seeing what Nick’s been working on is always some form of an inspiration, and I’m eager to keep pushing along with this nonsense issue before the next event. I’ll leave you guys with a little teaser of the madness that the Wolfpack Drift Club is brewing.


武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

CRABCAKES & FOOTBALL - PART II

I remember the day that Big Bill picked up his Kouki.  A drive out towards Winchester, VA, pretty much passing Summit Point along the way, with Nick's truck and hatch-less-trailer was a pretty strange feeling.  However, we all drove back to the shop a happy bunch as Bill was the new owner of Cobalt Green Pearl 240SX with a plethora of JDM knick-knacks.


I got a bit of a sneak-preview a few weeks ago when Nick sent me a teaser photo of the Kouki with some white paint on it.  But getting to see it in person was a whole different story.  The green paint that Bill's car had previously was amazing, and actually in pretty immaculate condition - but when you're rolling with the 'pack, white is right.


After spending the day under my Z to install the Tomei Mid Pipe, and discovering that my downstream oxygen sensors had been nearly ripped from their bungs & dealing with that whole mess - Nick and I decided it would be a nice, quiet opportunity to pull all the cars outside and get some nice snaps while we washed them up for Saturday's event.


Nick pointed out that this was also the first time that these cars were out together, each one having a full matching set of wheels.  His hatch on white TE37, my Z on CR Kai (of course), and Bill's S14 on Euroline SL.


Nick and his dad have made some tasteful additions and modifications to the Kouki since picking it up.  The first thing was swapping the seats for some black Bride reclineables.  Since this thing gets driven back and forth over the Chesapeake, comfort is key.  They also changed out the Gramlights wheels that the car came with for a set of WORK Eurolines, and it totally changed the look.  Additionally, Bill promptly had Nick help him track down a wood grain Nardi to swap in place of the black perforated leather one that existed.


Speaking of wood grain Nardi wheels, this dramatic shot shows-off the one in Nick's hatch.


Remember what I was saying in the previous post about the sunlight during June mornings in Maryland?  Well it works for sunsets too.  The light was hitting the Wolfpack cars just so, that we both had to step back and just appreciate the view.  It's time for me to take care of that roof on the Z and make it match the rest of the cars!


America Runs on Dunkin.
The Kouki is so clean - The black roof makes the car so streamline, the white paint is smooth, and the Z33 Brembo brakes peeking out from behind the shiny, dished 5 spoke wheels add just enough pop of color to the chassis.


Nissan sandwich!  I love this shot of the 3 cars.  'Nuff said.


Back to mismatched wheels - I swapped out the MHG CR Kai for a new [to me] pair of WHT CR Kiwami up front when I replaced my brake pads on Friday.  Speaking of Friday, I was having the worst trouble getting a fresh set of tires mounted to the rear pair that afternoon.  First of all my tires seemed to not be showing up when they were supposed to, then the magical UPS tracking system said that the business was closed during attempted delivery, when we most certainly were standing out front all day long.  When I decided to run out for a minute to grab a coffee, I happened to spot a smaller UPS truck and figured I'd flag him down just to see if he could find out what was up with my tires.  When I told him I was waiting for a pair of tires to arrive, he responded with the address where they were supposed to be going to. . .and he then proceeded to tell me he had them in the back of his truck.  My jaw dropped.  How in the hell did I by chance catch the one UPS driver that had my tires on his vehicle?  He gladly let me snag the pair and stuff them in my Z, and I drove back to the shop before we adventured to try and get them mounted.  One stop over to a local buddy's shop where I was told we should be able to get them mounted. . . well long story short, an entire can of Gunk-Out, a bit of gasoline, some tow-straps, and a propane torch later, the bead of the tires refused to seat.  My last resort was to bring the tires out to Shenandoah with me, half mounted to the WORK's, and pray the best that the tire machine worker at the track would be able to get the bead seated.  Sure enough, with the help of ol' wily Dylan, the fresh rubber was ready to go so I threw on the Chrome CR Kiwami in the rear to drift on for the day.


Teaser for the final, Part III. . .
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CRABCAKES & FOOTBALL - PART I

Let me start off by saying if there's one thing that I hate more than crabs - cracking them open, knowing which parts you can and can't eat, crab pots, hearing people talk about crabs and crabbing, seeing Maryland flag crab stickers - , it's fucking football.  But that's not really what this post is even remotely about anyway!  Getting right into it, I planned a trip back to Maryland a few months ago when Fresh Roots had announced that they would be doing their joint event with US Drift at Shenandoah Speedway again.  Not only did I want to return to see my Wolfpack fam and support my dude Nick, who I pretty much consider my brother at this point, but it was also a chance for me to drive an event in the Z as well when I wasn't helping Nick prepare for competition or taking photos/video. I had a master plan to knock out a lot of work on the Z, and bring it back out to Arizona with me.  Little did I know what I got myself into, trying to think big like that. . .


Well the time arrived for my flight back to BWI.  I got picked up around midnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning by my actual brother, and crashed at their house for a couple of hours.  Woke up around 5AM (never mind you the 3 hour time difference too, so it felt like 2AM to me), and caught a ride over to Nick's since my brother works off the same street as where the shop is located.  I arrive bright and early to this sight. . .


Nick's cruiser - the Y33, lowered on a set of VS-KF that's been through a couple hands and chassis, and were even rocked on my Z for a couple days.  I had arrived earlier than Nick expected me to, which gave me some time to just chill out front of the shop, and take in the humid Maryland air.  June mornings there are pretty awesome actually, and the combo of dew that covers everything mixed with the golden sunlight. . . I quickly yanked out my camera and started happily documenting my trip.


No Wolfpack car is complete without the almighty dual-layer sticker.  This Infiniti Q45 was simply supposed to be a daily get-around vehicle for Nick, and it quickly turned into a mini VIP project.  We took it out for a spin one of the nights while I was back, and got to take in some of the finer interior features, like the wooden steering wheel and accents, the Junction Produce vanity curtains and neck rests.


To my understanding, the suspension set-ups on these are basically just S14 parts.  How convenient that he has a couple of those laying around the shop, along with aftermarket bits and goodies?  I was actually surprised to hear that the camber on the car is natural from the coilovers Nick put on - no arms or rods needed.  Not to say that there won't be some more to come on this already sweet bippu in the future.


One more quick snap of the Q-ball, with some sweet lens flare before I rest myself down on the curb and prepare for a morning full of parts install.  Nick pulled up a few minutes later, started a fresh brew of coffee, we got to catching up, and then it wasn't long before he took me downstairs to see my presents waiting under the Christmas tree.


Over the past several months, I had been building up my arsenal of JDM goodies and having them sent directly to Wolfpack HQ.  I had a numbered list of things I had to install while I was there, within just a short 2-3 day period before the day of the event.  Well that quickly went out the window as I got to opening and gazing at all the things that were there waiting for me.


About a week or two after returning from my last visit to Maryland actually, a sweet deal popped up on this brand new Tomei Expreme Ti Mid Pipe.  I couldn't pass it up and had it sent right back to the shop.  Unpacking the box was magical.  The texture of the titanium, the quality of the welds, and the attention to detail and small little things here and there that you notice makes every bit of this piece worth it.  And how can you just not love that Tomei Bolt Smooth Paste!?


Although I put it off til afterwards, my real priority was getting those toasted, shitty Hawk brake pads out of the calipers and getting these fresh new Project Mu NS400's in there.  But really, why would I want to immediately jump in and get my hands disgusting when I could be fitting up this nice set of Nagisa Auto Super Low Seat Rails to a brand new genuine Bride seat. . .?


My guys Pablo and Rajeet with Mastermind NA really hooked me up with helping obtain this Bride Zeta III.  Although I knew I wouldn't be seeing it until June, I impatiently waited as I bugged them week-to-week about where the seat was after purchasing it sometime back around March.  Sure enough, the seat arrived to the garage well in time prior to me getting back in town, as they had promised me it would.


After my last track experience at the 2nd Annual Birthday Bash, I knew I needed a fixed bucket seat if I was going to continue my pursuit of drifting and progressing on track.  Going back and looking at my interior GoPro video, Nick was pointing out to me how much I was fighting the car for upright posture while I drove.  Well, I knew I wanted a Zeta III - it just came down to color choice. . . well was there ever really even a choice?  They make a blue one, so it was done deal when I saw that.


I love everything about this seat.  Bride is well-known for their awesome sparkle-back effect on the FRP seats.  I was not one bit let down by the insanely high quality that they're also famous for.


Not that I was skeptical at all, but I immediately was drawn-to and was scoping out the tell-tale signs of a genuine Bride seat.


That lovely NAPAC sticker, that I will pretty much never see again since it's on the side pressed up against my center console.  At some point in the future, I WILL be getting a matching seat for the passenger side - but baby steps. . .


After a bit of finagling, puzzle-fitting the seat and rails into the cockpit, removing everything, setting it all gently back down on the ground, tightening all the bolts, reinstalling everything back in the car, and then repeating about 4 times, I finally got the seat and rails into the position I was content with.  I picked up some DressUpBolts titanium blue bolts to use for all the seat hardware - not that you can really see it in these photos.  but I'll be sure to get some more in the future detailing those.  If I'm going for blue, then I'm going for BLUE.  I really dig the DressUpBolts and while they're pretty pricey, I stand behind them.  I've used them in my engine bay, on my steering wheel set-up, and now on my seat and rails and can't be happier with how they've held up.


Just another angle from through the hatch.  Cusco, Bride, Works Bell, KEY!S. . . Mmmm!!


The next day was install day for the Tomei Y-Pipe, and then we decided it was a good opportunity to pull the hatch, Kouki and my Z outside for a solid wash. . .which led to a mini photo/video shoot.
Teaser for Part II. . .
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Friday, May 20, 2016

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S FIRE


It's getting harder and harder to keep track of these GoFast Drift and Drag events, but at least they keep coming and you still see people making it out to them which is way cool.  I'm used to seeing tons of folks come out to the first event of the season, and then slowly throughout the season, drivers will dwindle-off as their cars start to break or money starts to grow slim from spending it on tires and parts.  While there seemed to be fewer drivers at this past weekend's event than normal, I could only imagine we'll blame that on the increasing daytime temperatures.


It would be super nice though to be able to put a 'number' on each event they host.  If I had to guess, this would probably be Drift and Drag #5 of 2016.  And it's always an awesome feeling to see the repeat drivers come back to each event and looking better and better.


You would never tell that Andrew's V8 hatch was in an incident just a couple months ago, and turned back-out within just a couple weeks so he could keep hitting events all season.


DJ's car is always looking cool with the new-ish 'Great Wave' livery, and of course I have a soft spot for those Emotion CR-Kai he runs in the rear.


Noticed a couple unfamiliar (to me) cars and drivers out at this event which threw some fun into the mix.  This guy seemed to have some kinks he was working out, but was looking nice by later in the evening.


And then there was this super cool old skool Celica that was doing a great job out there!


I spy Griffin doing some ride-along here.  Driver of this car is actually a female (Bri), and mad props to her for keeping some nice style in her car.  Happened to overhear that she picked up one of the 350mm Vertex deep steering wheels while we were all at FD Long Beach.


And she's a really impressive driver to boot!


This car looks familiar - didn't I just see this last weeke. . . oh wait, yes I did see this last weekend at Musselman Honda Circuit down in Tuscon!  Super smooth driver, but his seating position has me slightly sketched out!  Occasionally I see the tip of his helmet (that's what she said?) pop up through the roof of his car.


Austin was making loads of chem-trails at this event.


I got the chance to do two ride-alongs with him and chat a bit about his car.  Apparently he was playing with suspension settings at this event to try and make improvements for his endeavor in the Southwest Drift Series.  Car was looking and sounding amazing, and pumping out tons of tire smoke that night.


Here's another one I don't recall seeing before, but this car was pretty clean and appeared nice and simple!  I'm digging the Advan wheels and low-mount wing.


I see this Z33 at almost every event I go to in the area, and he is always laying down tons of angle in his lines (like, looks like he's on the brink of spinning, kind-of-angle) thanks to that Wisefab kit he runs.  The car sounds crazy loud and always leaves a nice trail of smoke behind.


Super cool and clean E30!  It's funny how some cars are so much easier to capture than others.  I have several super crisp motion shots of this one, but struggle with some of the others.


Got a chance to talk to one of the only other media guys I happened to see at the event.  From what I gathered, this was only his 2nd grassroots drifting event he was documenting.


Next up, was the beginner class.  Most guys were actually looking pretty clean, and this Zenki was no exception.



There was the occasional wrong-move resulting in under-steer, which is to be expected.  No worries - it's all open spaces at Wild Horse!  Just don't run into the tire wall, and take me out, please!


Clutch-kick it through the next turn and get back in the groove, right?


Been seeing more and more FC's pop up and that's pretty cool!  Especially when they're still rotary-powered!


This guy looks like he belongs with the Bloodmasters at Englishtown!


Another clean pass in the Zenki.


I remember when I had a Miata in high school and everyone made fun of me for it.  I don't regret it at all - it was an amazing first car and taught me so much about driving.  It's just so funny now to see young guys using them for drift and stance.


I was watching this guy for several of his runs, and got the vibe that he was working on his E-Brake drag for transitioning.  Each pass, he seemed to get closer and closer to pulling it off smoothly. 


There it is - Looking good man!


A familiar car - This FB RX-7 always seems to run in the beginner group, but he's a really smooth driver!


It looked like he was working on some new driving techniques that night also.


Back to Intermediate/Advanced group, and here comes Yazmeen in the Death Bunny!


Another RX-7 that I recall seeing down in Tuscon a week prior.


I like where Sean's head is at.
E-brake - Chuck it into the turn. . .


Back onto the throttle. . .


Keep powering through. . .


And ride off West, into the sunset.


And then Ruckus teammate, Dustyn!  Where was the wheel well underglow for this event dude?!?


As the sun started to go down, I began struggling with exposure.  But feel like it still pumped out some pretty intense and dramatic shots.  Andrew and Chris from Elite are crazy fun to watch tandem together.


Itasha (痛車, literally "painful car") is a Japanese term for fashion of individuals decorating the bodies of their cars with fictional characters of anime, manga, or video games (especially bishōjo game or eroge).  These characters are predominantly "cute" females.


DAMN that thing is W-I-D-E!


Super clean, smooth, consistent runs with high speed.  This guy was exciting to watch.


Have always dug the paint on Austin's S14.  Maybe it's cuz I have a thing for white.


Watching his tandem runs was quite fun, and during my second ride-along in his car, we ended up being car #2 in a 5 car train.  That was pretty wild and fun as hell!



While underexposed overall, I still feel like the sunset was making for some pretty vivid shots from some angles.


Manuel's damn Brickyard Red Z is so hard to get photos of unless it's in the middle of the day and there's tons of light haha


I had to laugh a little when I saw this hatch swinging through the course with his rear deck opening and closing.  It totally reminded me of something you'd see on Minami - South Course.


I'm not sure what I'd do with all that angle in the Z.  This thing almost looks like it's ice-skating sometimes.



A couple of the other Ruckus dudes, out for a tandem run.  They got me a little scared at a couple points, but sure looked like fun!


I took a look behind me and saw this awesome view.  With my time capturing anything decent being limited, I figured I'd just go ahead and walk back over to the paddock, pick up a quesadilla and a Corona from the taco stand, then join the rest of the crew to watch for the rest of the evening from the other side.  As usual, this event was pretty relaxed and fun!  I'm really getting excited and looking forward to getting to drive an event here with all my new friends that I've met.

I have a ton of other decent photos from this event that I didn't bother to edit/post because I don't want to overload you guys with repetitive content.  So if any of you drivers are interested in the raw shots, feel free to shoot me a message and I can send them your way!  Til next time. . .
武士道 - B U S H I D O!