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Fortune Favors the Brave!

Tuned Japan: Good afternoon, Mr. Yokomaku. Thank you for taking the time to sit down and talking with us.

Hironao Yokomaku: It`s my pleasure. Thank you for visiting the Veilside booth.

Tuned Japan: What is your impression of the 2014 Tokyo Auto Salon?

Hirano Yokomaku: It`s great! There are so many great cars, beautiful women, and car enthusiasts from around the world. This event only comes once a year and I think it`s awesome to meet so many from the world who enjoy the cars we produce as much as we enjoy building them here at Veilside.

Tuned Japan: Could you tell us how Veilside got its start?

Hirano Yokomaku: Originally, Veilside got its start with Yokomaku racing in 1996. What started out as a passion blossomed into who we now are. However we need to keep pushing the envelope of change.

Tuned Japan: We heard the rumors that you took the race scene by storm back in the day and it frightened many of the major tuners and that you tuned customers’ cars outside curbside. Is truth to these rumors?

Hirano Yokomaku: They are true. We originally started out with the R32 Skyline and it did very well against the other well-known established Tuners. You see, when I start something. I feel that failure is not an option. This industry is not for those looking to make quick money and get out as many do. For us it is a passion of lifetime. We go all out here or as I heard American Tuners say before, “Balls to the Wall!”

Tuned Japan: What is your philosophy on tuning?

Hirano Yokomaku: I think those who are avid car enthusiasts or the hard core “Car Guy" should study everything car related they can get their hands on. Technology is changing constantly and if you don`t change with it, you can really hurt your chances for success in this industry. I am not only talking about book related material but also what other tuners have employed from parts usage to welds to interior design. I mean absolutely everything. Document everything you consider to be a great idea. And use it as brain food for your project(s). I am not saying use them as much as I saying let them serve as nutrients for your own ideas. Anyone can buy aftermarket parts and aero kits. But this causes many cars to look the same. This is all said and good but you have bond with your ride and create a style that says something about you. You can’t be afraid to fail to try new things like fabricating your own parts, etc. These are the kind of things that will make your car stand out in the crowd. After all, “Fortune Favours the Brave.”

Tuned Japan: Mr. Yokomaku, its looks like the Tokyo Auto Salon is beginning to get busy. We don’t want to keep you. Thank you for chatting with us today.

Hirano Yokomaku: It was my pleasure. I hope your readers enjoy the interview. I apologize that is so short; after all you know busy this place gets. Stop by Veilside anytime. Good luck and Happy New Year to all.


Hanging with Kiyonori Imai

Bee-R has always been at front of the pack when it comes to building cars that make heads spin. We visited Bee-R and talk with shop owner and world renowned tuner Kiyonori Imai. He truly takes his craft serious whether it is for street or launching himself or others in to the stratosphere. There is a lot to be said about Mr. Imai. But we’ll let him speak for him.

Tuned Japan: Hello, Mr. Imai. How are you doing?

Kiyonori Imai: I am doing great!

Tuned Japan: What are you up to?

Kiyonori Imai: Just doing some computer tuning. You are welcome to watch.

Tuned Japan: Of course, that would be awesome.

Tuned Japan: That was fast! We can’t believe that it only took 5 minutes (chuckling).

Kiyonori Imai: We have been doing this for a long time. After all the years of R & D, we have compiled a data base of programs for different cars and modifications.

Tuned Japan: How long has Bee-R been building insane cars and why the name Bee-r?

Kiyonori Imai: We have been in operation since 1990. Isn’t it obvious? I like beer (chuckles).

Tuned Japan: What got you interested in cars?

Kiyonori Imai: I think my journey into the car industry began just like most men. As a young boy I was very passionate about Hot Wheels. And that passion has stayed with me all my life.

Tuned Japan: What do you think the biggest differences between tuning in Japan and America are?

Kiyonori Imai: First of all, let me say, I am a huge fan of “American Muscle.” The biggest difference is the fact that here in Japan. We don’t have the kind of open space that America has and unlike America we have to pay taxes on car every year. These taxes include car weight and engine size. Owning a car along with living expenses in Japan can be very expensive and people are generally forced to smaller and more compact because of these factors. Therefore, tuners have to get creative to create massive amounts of power that is needed to competitive.

Tuned Japan: Recently, you found a Bee-R Rev Limiter knock-off. You must have been furious?

Kiyonori Imai: I was a little but more concerned than anything else. Knock-offs are very dangerous and have no place in the Automotive Industry especially when it comes to aftermarket parts. The quality control is not there and substandard equipment is used in the manufacturing process. In the end, this hurts everyone and is dangerous to the end-user. As an established tuner, I have to protect my customers in every sense. The legal repercussions are enormous and I don’t want myself or anyone for that matter to be responsible because some “Joe Smoe” thought it would be funny cool to knock-off Bee-R products and more importantly the lack of common sense these people exercise by putting others’ lives in danger just so “Joe Smoe” can make a quick buck. That is why I tell people to go thru reputable sources, etc. You get what you pay for, no need to risk your life.

Tuned Japan: Keiichi Tsuchiya and Dai Inada separated from D1 GP and created Drift Muscle. What is your opinion on this new series?

Kiyonori Imai: I absolutely love the concept! It is by far more driver and car oriented than D1. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are driving. You start at the bottom and work your top each and every event. I think it is an event where people can truly have fun. Whereas, the D1 GP has seeded drivers, so unless you are very good; you are left out in the rain. Because of this, the quality of the events is not what is used to be and seeing a decline of show-goers.

Tuned Japan: What is your advice to the car enthusiast? What does an inspiring driver need?

Kiyonori Imai: I think it depends on the user and what they want. So people just enjoy the look, some enjoy both the look and feel and other just driving. As a driving enthusiast myself, I just say start with lots of tires and wheel time. You will have less of a learning curve. In this way you are always evolving as a tuner, driver and car-nut.

Tuned Japan: Well, Mr. Imai. We don’t want to take any more of your precious time. Thank you for chatting with us today.

Kiyonori Imai: It was my pleasure. See you at the track!


One to One with Toshi Hayama from Stage-10.net.

Recently, Tuned Japan was fortunate enough to connect with Toshi and ask him a few questions:

Tuned Japan: Toshi, it's been awhile. How are you doing?

Toshi Hayama: I've been well, thank you. Been trying to stay busy.

Tuned Japan: You've been a mainstay in the import industry for a long time. How did your journey begin? (Pause) It's funny that I'm getting the chance to ask you this. You've always been a hero of mine! All I ever wanted to do was eat my Wheaties (a brand of General Mills breakfast cereals) and grow up to be like you.

Toshi Hayama: Thanks, but I don't necessarily think I deserve any special credit. I just did what I loved. My journey began like any other car lover. For me personally, I was in college driving a car that was slow and had no performance parts for it. Ironically, this was the US version 1989 240 SX SE.

Since I was inside my car a lot, it was natural for me to want to improve the performance, aesthetics, and convenience of my immediate surroundings. My car was my most expensive possession. It was my baby! I wanted to feel secure and I wanted to go faster! Being blown away by minivans was no fun! Going faster improved my driving skills and provided a glimpse into a whole other' world of enthusiasts in Japan.

One day on the limousine bus back from Narita to Tokyo, I noticed the same car in a Turbo configuration (180SX) on the highway and was instantly intrigued with this "sister" car .

It had a Turbo!?

That existed?

And why was it called 180 SX?

What was different from mine?

I immediately ran to the convenience store and bought "Option Magazine" to research parts that might be available for it. I started voraciously reading magazines and researching. Internet was limited back then, so my trips to Japan would prove invaluable for information on the Japanese Tuning market.

The information and subculture was so much more developed than anything else I had seen in the states.

I was hooked!

I would then apply this information into the development of the US market, making sure that it was pure, but not force- fed.

After that, I owned an Eagle Talon TSI. It was another minor car but had a "major" application 4G63 Turbo AWD.

I learned to appreciate the feelings of an owner who had a chuckles car with no parts available for it. I used HKS parts to make the engine Stage 7 + and badged it as the Eclipse GSR- 4.

(He chuckles before continuing) It was still acceptable back then.

As for Aero parts, I learned to use 1984 Ford Thunderbird turn signal bevels as air intake ducts and use the factory JZA80 lip spoiler as an extra chin spoiler. It was truly custom in that sense.

I love all my past tuning cars! I discovered the joy and depth of tuning through them!

I also made lifelong friends through this hobby. It was a pure motivation without thought for the future. It was never meant to be a career.

Tuned Japan: We have to ask you about A'PEXi USA. There seems to be a tremendous gap in product quality and line up between A'PEXi USA and A'PEXi Japan. What caused you to distance yourself from them?

Toshi Hayama: I don't know about any product quality gap because Japan still provides the parts to the US team. I am still very close to the US office and have great respect for them because they truly live the lifestyle. Heck, I hired many of them myself and took them to Japan a lot so they know what's up!

With that being said, it takes a lot of money to operate specialty factories (especially for mufflers, electronics etc…)

With competition from Chinese factories, I can understand, as a businessman, what A'PEXi management, HKS, GREDDY, BLITZ and many others are going through. They all face many trials and tribulations when managing their companies in this new market. It's not just USA, it's a global market so the US office always has a disadvantage.

With A'PEXi, I left before the financial collapse in 2007, completely on personal terms, to fulfill a promise to my grandfather to work in the fashion business in Tokyo for awhile. The industry was different back then, and to me, it was a good time to leave because everything was running strong .

My experiences in Japan warrant a whole different interview so I won't go there, but I left to become a user again.

I didn't leave A'PEXi as much as I left the "industry" to test myself outside of the tuning world. I left to go to Japan.

One thing I do know is that good brands live long and A'PEXi still has a lot of good backing. Once I am a bit more established, it would be interesting to see if I collaborate with them, again.

Tuned Japan: You worked on "Tokyo Drift". What is your take on the latest instalment of the franchise?

Toshi Hayama: I think that the movie is much more entertaining today than it was before, but at the same time, it is less focused on the cars. However, I knew this would happen because Justin Lin (Director) was always trying to improve the quality of acting to save the franchise.

The most recent movie was so entertaining that I forgot it was a Car movie! It felt more like a Cop movie! I actually felt that the car scenes almost looked out of place sometimes! (He chuckles).

However, I have much respect for Director Justin Lin as he saved the franchise from doom and literally battled Hollywood to do it.

Trust me, he knows about the cars and has a deep respect for them. He could have sold out long ago but stayed with it. Sure he had to take some unwanted compromises on "Tokyo Drift", as did I, but it had to be done to prevent it from getting worse.

A pure 100% accurate JDM performance movie will never come out of Hollywood. That is for us enthusiasts to make and I am happy with that. "F&F" is a movie. I would like to see more documentaries.

Tuned Japan: How do you think the scene has evolved since the first "Fast and Furious" about 15 years ago? Where do you think it will be in the next 15 years?

Toshi Hayama: The scene is definitely in reclusive mode. It went full cycle. From subculture to mainstream then back again. I think it's a good time to reset.

The general public has seen (or thinks) they know about our industry, so mainstream has gone elsewhere to find new subcultures. It's happened over and over again in history. Cars will be back in the spotlight again one day. As long as we have gravity and young people, cars will always have a place in human hearts around the world.

Many people got burned out! Many, as myself, don't care too much about the "industry" and all of the "norms" that seem to be out there these days.

"You can't tune like this! You can't do that!"

Whatever! There is no right or wrong in hobbies.

DIY cars show the owner's level of knowledge, ingenuity and taste regardless of whether or not it is super clean or a POS. Of course, Motorsports is a different story...

I think tuning minor cars is super cool because you have to use your head. You have to find, make custom parts and there are no rivals. It is truly your art creation. The machine is happy. Once the machine is happy, you become happy and people will respect that.

"F&F" was great in legitimizing cars, but it was a mouthful of color and unrealistic scenes. However, people who were influenced by that now can look online and see the real Tuning industry on YouTube etc… That is where I am focusing on now, to relay the real stories so that people can re- discover the cool smaller niches within the huge thing market.

Another thing I notice is that Tokyo changed my Tuning taste a bit (for the better I hope).

I think the young new enthusiasts don't want to be associated with the former styles of Tuning and I can already see them forging their own paths. These paths are infused with different hobbies that weren't around back in the day. I see good evolution. I just wish there were more platforms to enjoy this variation. Tuning the same models gets old after awhile.

Tuned Japan: What do you think are the differences between Japanese and American Tuning styles?

Toshi Hayama: Many of the differences come from mind-set. I think this question could be discussed forever. I think the US respects simple clean JDM, whereas the trend is losing steam in Japan. It's not that one is better than the other, however, cultural differences, local tracks and geography, available parts, budget, and social attitude all play a role in the individual development of tuning cars. Add Europe and Southeast Asia to the mix and you have a huge difference in Tuning taste, philosophy and culture.

Tuned Japan: You started Stage 10 Productions eight years ago and it looks like it's doing very well. What is the secret of it's success, or is it some sort of "X-Men" like power we don't know about?

Toshi Hayama: Stage 10 was idle for six years while I was in Japan, so I need to catch up. There is no secret, it is night time work, weekend work, 24/7 work. But for passion!

When re-starting the company, I knew that I needed to front my own money and to give back to the industry in order to be taken seriously by my colleagues and fans.

I believe you have to lead by example. That's why the first thing I did was get my underdog BRZ team going.


I also restarted Stage 10 as Grass-roots, as possible. This time, however, I have a good Driver, Mechanic and a platform to give the same level of service I wanted as a User.

I have never owned my own shop, but with the support of GTNET Japan, I now have GTNET USA where we can invite customers to hang out with us and try to build another Tuning haven in OC.

Tuned Japan: Recently, you guys ran Pikes Peak. Yoshioka was an awesome choice as Driver. How did the team do? Where do think you think Tuning technology will take us in 15-20 years?

Toshi Hayama: Tuning technology in the next 15-20 years will definitely have more variation. Our current gas based cars will become like hardcore specialty cars, while electric and hybrid cars will be the main stay. Alternative fuels not available today may take over the market, too. There's no way to tell. The technology is there but it's about public opinion. The technology that can build the infrastructure first will win. Tuners will always find a way to make it better after that.

Tuned Japan: What's next for Toshi Hayama?

Toshi Hayama: As of today, I don't know. I do know what I have, how I've grown, and where I am lacking. The only guidance I have is my love of Cars. How to spread the word, share the joy, and how to do it properly. This time around, I am ignoring the industry as I know it, and reaching out to the Customers and Fans direct to get more input.

I don't want to become stuck in my own ways, too. So, I am taking a one-hundred percent humble approach to everything and letting it take me where I need.

Unlike popular belief, I'm not rolling in money, now. It's actually the opposite after my investments. (Again, he chuckles).

However, I think there is beauty in that commitment and I hope that people with the same mentality will join me later on. Then together, we can do some cool stuff!

I am currently interested in throwing track events, local car meets at GTNET USA, making more car videos through Stage 10 video, and just developing GTNET USA into a new "hangout" where people can have fun with cars.

Tuned Japan: Toshi, it's been a pleasure! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us.

Toshi Hayama: Thank you! The pleasure was all mine!

Y.Morishita INTERVIEW 

“Pit Road M”

Recently, TunedJapan travelled down to Himeji, Japan. Home to the beautiful UNESCO site Himeji Castle with its amazing architecture that can be seen from Himeji Station. As we walked out of the station, we marveled at the glorious castle! It’s really a blast from the past! The beaming white walls sitting atop of precision cut stones and boulders dazzle the eyes, pleasantly. No one can deny the inspiration that can be found in its amazing beauty! It’s easy to understand why the Japanese can be single minded in their pursuit of perfection! This was just the beginning of our journey but it was, otherworldly. After we called Pit Road M as Mr. Morishita instructed us to do, he was kind enough to send a car for us. We used the waiting time to bask in the awe of Himeji and all its glory! Out of the all the places we have travelled to in Japan, Himeji is by far the most beautiful and captivating! When we were picked up, we expected a quick ride to the shop. However, we ended up driving an hour into the heart of mountains that surround Himeji. The scenery brought to mind guardians of ancient realms and images of the tales of Greek Mythology; where the statues of Zeus and other Gods protected the entrances of gorgeous, cities. After we finally arrived at Pit Road M, we were even more awestruck because the location is nestled in the mountains of Himeji; which provided us with such soothing, visuals. It was exactly what “old school” Japan is all about, in our opinion! It took a minute or two for Mr. Morishita to come out but he finally appeared with his signature 50-watt, smile and exuberant, pleasantries. After the many years we’ve been in Japan, it’s nice to meet a Tuner who truly cares about his customer base. He focuses on their needs and is willing to take time to make sure they are truly taken care of as people and not just as a client. He’s such a nice guy and one the few Tuners who genuinely cares about those who are around him. Enough of us showering him with compliments, let’s let him speak for himself.

TJ:How long has Pit Road M been around?

YM:We opened shop, in 1993. We began right as the worldwide, tuning craze began to hit full steam. There is nothing more fun than building exciting cars. It’s been a fun 22 years to say the least!

TJ:How and when did you know that car tuning is something that you wanted to do?

YM: Even as a child in Preschool I was always building cars out of clay and it was always my dream to build a handmade car that I could drive my mother around town in and take her to all the places she wanted to go. Not only that and I know all everyone can relate to this, a car is symbol of freedom, a means to take care of family and in a sense pure romance for the gear-head.

TJ:What keeps you motivated in this industry?

YM:What keeps me motivated and passionate about this industry is the smiles that we able to create here at Pit Road M. When a customer comes into our shop and sees the end results that we have delivered based on his/her image for their personal cars is very rewarding! I just enjoy showing people what their imaginations are capable of creating.

TJ:What is your approach to car tuning?

YM: My approach to building a car is simple. It must be unbreakable, fast, and able to stop and handle like a “bat out of hell.” When I first got into racing, it didn’t matter what kind of race I was competing in whether it was circuit, drag or drift. I was about power, power and MORE POWER! But this line of thinking limited me in the beginning. As I saw the limitations of what I was doing, I began to believe a car should be set up so that any driver can jump in and take control of a car that can quickly be adjusted and tuned to the different driver’s settings. I think a car should be built with the driver in mind. An example of this would be the addition of a cage or roll bar; which should be built around the driver’s position inside the car. This way it remains fully functional. Many bolt-in cages are functional but limited in how they work with chassis. Tune-ability should be in the forefront of everyone’s mind when building a car. This concept is paramount in a successful tuning. Otherwise, it will be limited unless the car is designed for a single purpose such as, dragging.

TJ: What is your advice to someone just beginning their journey into tuning cars?

YM: Don’t cause accidents! LOL! Actually the cars available today are more diverse and there are different styles for everyone. Whereas, we could only choose between sports cars and sedans, back in the day. I don’t think a person should buy a car just because it is cheap. I believe a person should focus on buying a car that they truly like and can enjoy. There’s something about that feeling of enjoyment that comes with buying something that you like and can call your own. No reason to settle for second best in your mind or in life.

TJ: There have been many changes in the past couple of years. The biggest thing that comes to mind is Tsuchiya leaving D1 and starting Drift Muscle and promoting King of Asia events. Some people that we’ve spoken with feel that he’s betrayed the drift seen and industry. What is your take on this situation?

YM:Tsuchiya is a pioneer in the racing industry. He has done many positive things to help promote and develop the drift and race scene. He started D1. He manages a drift shop, and he has appeared in Fast Furious 3 – Tokyo Drift – with his catch phrase “Mada-Mada Da Na.”. He has already done enough to build an environment that all ages can enjoy. I think the new generation needs to look forward and pave their own way in the industry. There is no need to point the finger at any one person. Let’s face it! Everyone reaches that time in their lives where they should enjoy the fruits of his/her labors. I think that is what he is trying to do. I believe he is just trying to push himself further and pursue new directions. After all, it is about a person’s legacy in the end. I know he wants to continue inspiring the next generation by helping to open new avenues for them. Contrary to popular belief, this industry is not always about the money.

TJ: What are your feelings of the Formula D series coming to Japan and will Pit Road M compete in it?

YM: I don’t think so. It’s not that I don’t like drift, but I prefer more enjoyment out of the cars we build. As I said before, I like to build cars that are multi-purpose. It takes a lot more planning and preparation to build an all-around car. That’s where the fun is!

TJ: Since you’re a member of Club RH9, can you tell our readers what it is and why you chose to become one of its members?

YM: Club RH9 is a group of car-aholics who have combined their knowledge in order to discuss new ideas and innovations. They’re interested in discovering how to better improve tuning capabilities as technology and new cars hit the market. Club RH9 is a vital source of information that helps keep the tuning industry “fresh and innovative.” Initially, I was skeptical about joining RH9 due to fact Pit Road M is Himeji. In hind-sight, I should have joined much earlier. I am excited to be a part of RH9 because only the best can join. Pit Road M is determined to be the best! We believe that our customers deserve nothing less than our best effort!

TJ: What do you think about the current state of TAS (Tokyo Auto Salon)? Many people feel it has become a dog and pony show. And that it’s more about the girls than the cars.

YM: it’s commercial and designed to attract people from around the world. But it’s not commercial in the sense that it’s about the “money,” but rather to further develop the industry. I believe it helps pull the industry together as whole and educate the end-user on the best products on the market. I agree there might be way too many models dressed like “Daisy Duke”, but it is a car show. Without the models, no one would come to show. But it is a car show and without the models, no one would come to show. And if there were no models and camera-kozo (amateur paparazzi and old perverts) it would be like Nagoya Exciting Car Show, and you remember how not so exciting that was! LOL! On the flipside of the coin, you have the hardcore enthusiasts who visit the Tokyo Auto Salon because they are truly interested in the automotive industry and what it has to offer. After all, a car is like someone’s right arm. Life would be very hard without it! Why not ride in style?

TJ: Where can customers and car enthusiasts find you at Tokyo Auto Salon?

YM: We always share the same booth space area with Top Secret. I hope Tuned Japan readers will one day visit us at our booth and see what we are all about.

TJ: Well, we know you are busy man. Thank you for your time.

YM: Thank you for visiting Pit Road M.

Manabu Suzuki INTERVIEW

We recently caught up with Manabu Suzuki A.K.A Mana-P D1 commentator extraordinaire. This man needs no introduction. He is one of the forefathers of the drift as we know it today. When we saw him cruising around the Formula D Japan event, we could help but ask for an audience with him and he was kind enough to agree. Mana-P lays down some true insight into the scene here in Japan. His passion for the industry is truly infectious.

TJ: Suzuki-san, can you tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you become interested in motorsports?

MS: I started out to become a professional driver when I was 19. I was very serious about this choice of profession. I pursued this for 15 years, even though the salary wasn’t very good. Around that time I was also doing live reporting from the pit on TV and I decided to concentrate on this to see where it would go.

TJ: You’ve been a mainstay of D1 GP and TAS (Tokyo Auto Salon) for many years. How did your career as a commentator begin?

MS: Five years before D1 was created, Video OPTION produced a series of amateur drifting competitions called “Squid Heaven”. Keiichi Tsuchiya was the host and I was backing up Tsuchiya-san as co-commentator. Orido joined us later, and when D1 came into existence, we made the natural progression over to it, and I was the MC.

TJ:Your iconic voice has entertained and inspired millions of race fans the world over. What is your favorite part of being a commentator?

MS: That’s amazing. My favorite part of commentating is getting caught up in the action and enthusiasm which leads to the “passion” of good commentating. It is infectious.

TJ: What you think of the Formula Drift event?

MS: FD has established itself as a major box office hit amongst motorsports and is recognized as an actual sport, whereas D1 in Japan still has an underground feel even after being in existence for 15 years. Drivers in D1-GP are more technique-oriented. Another major difference is that even with 15 years presence, D1 GP does not have support of the major automobile manufacturers, unlike FD. FD embraces drivers from all countries who are willing to compete while D1-GP is Japan-centric. D1-GP is a bit prejudice in this regard.

TJ: Some Japanese have tweeted that Formula D commentating is a bit boring and many American fans have said the same thing. Do you think it is because you’re not on the microphone calling the action as it unfolds? Do you have any advice for new commenters?

MS: I also agree with the sentiments of the Japanese and American fans of FD. Whether, I am the commentator or not there’s the translation of the action into another language. You will miss the nuances. Sub-titles will not catch the essence of the spirit of the action. If you are here in Japan and you want to catch everything, learn Japanese instead of relying on English translations and the same can be said of Japanese trying to catch what’s going on with FD.Commentator advice… does not become lazy in commentating or too feverish. Moderation is best.

TJ: Do you think that Mana P, The Drift King and Orido will share the commentating booth again?

MS: his is a very difficult question to answer, but time can only tell. It may be possible in the years to come. We will have to wait and see.

TJ: I have heard race fans, car guys and “gear-heads” say drifting has helped bring people from around the world closer together and it wouldn’t have happened without you. What do you think of these comments?

MS: From the Japan point of view, I can say it has. The Japanese drift technology of “Driver and Machine” has been studied and acknowledged as the benchmark by drifters worldwide, but it should not be tightly adhered to (make your own style; not everybody is going to be the same).

TJ: Where do you think the sport of drifting will take us in the next 20 years?

MS: As long as there are cars, freedom to drive cars and the spirit of high speed and drift, drifting competitions will exist!! If anything one will complement the other with further refinement of cars and technique.

TJ: Do you have any final advice for the new generation of car lovers?

MS:Enjoy the car and progress with it! Enjoy driving! Enjoy working on cars! Watch a variety of motorsports!!

TJ: Suzuki-san, we appreciate you taking time to chat with us today. We are sure that our readers will pick up some true insight from you. Thank you.

MS:You are welcome!

The King Has Spoken!

When we approached Tsuchiya Keiichi-san for an interview at the 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon we really didn’t know what he would say or even if he would agree to do one. This is a man who not only has an incredible pedigree, but is also known for changing the car community as a whole. To our surprise, he was very open and accepting to interviewing with us. As one can imagine, we truly felt like a deer in headlights, thunderstruck and at a loss for words as the excitement took over. Tsuchiya-san is very humble and down to Earth and was more than happy to answer questions from our supporters and fans. Without further fanfare, here is what he had to say.

TJ: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today.

KT: My pleasure and I am glad it is today. There is no way this could have happened at the 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon. You’ve been to the show; you know how crazy that place gets.

TJ: When we mentioned to our fans and supporters that you agreed to interview with us, they asked if you could field some of their questions.

KT: I am more than happy to answer TJ followers’ questions. Ask away!

TJ: How old were you when you first realized your driving technique? What influenced you to drive so hard? – Edgar Rosario, NY, USA –

KT: My inspiration was legendary Japanese driver Mr. Takahashi Kunimitsu, who drove for Nissan. I was really into watching him race when I was in Junior High School. I first realized my driving abilities at the age of 15. My first car was a KPCG110 Skyline and “the rest was history”.

TJ:If you could change anything from a career standpoint what would it be? –David Jasper–

KT: I don’t think I would change anything about my career. It has been amazing and rewarding. Being in the industry allows me to be a part of something greater than myself. I enjoy talking to fans and truly am blessed to be where I am in life.

TJ: What is your favorite car from the 90’s beside the NSX you owned and why?  –Andrew Strange, Scotland –

KT: There were so many wonderful and exciting cars produced in the 1990s like the Supra and Sylvia. But my favorite car is the NSX Type R.

TJ: If you could drift any American car. What would it be and why? – Rae – Charlestown, WV, USA –

KT: The newer Ford Mustang is a great platform. It has ample power, and it’s predictable and easy to handle. The only bad thing about the Mustang is the body composition. Vaughn Gitten Jr. is a great example of what a driver can do in a Mustang. He does amazing things with the platform. Let’s not forget he won the D1GP in a Mustang.

TJ: What are the biggest differences between Japanese cars and American cars?

KT: American cars are not bad at all. I think American design, technology and performance is the same as their Japanese counterparts. Cars like the Mustang and Corvette perform well and are somewhat forgiving. Dodge Vipers however are very peaky and hard to drive. Unless a person has a level of driving skill the Viper will “own you.”

TJ: What do you think about American drifting and events such as Formula D (Formula Drift) – Carlos Rivas, Washington DC, USA –

KT: The American drift scene has really changed a lot since 2003. I think that many drivers have done well and done a lot to help the scene. Most of who have used Formula D has their stepping stone to progress in the sport as we know it today. Formula D has done great since its conception and has help build not only the U.S. scene but the international one as well. I think Formula D and U.S. drivers like Vaughn Gitten Jr. and Tanner Foust have done a great job promoting the drift scene and bringing the car community in the U.S.A a bit closer together. However, I love Formula D and the judges got it right because they judge by angle, passion, etc. whereas D1 judging is based on the machine. That’s not only bad, but strange.

TJ: Shaquille Stubbs – Miami, FL, USA- How do you feel about the drifting styles today versus when you were coming up? – Shaquille Stubbs – Miami, FL, USA –

KT: I think the styles today show a lot more finesse and grace. Back in the day, drifting was mostly using the e-brake. Now it is clutch kicking and feinting only. Overall drifting techniques have changed and the level of driver is increasing.

TJ: In recent years car manufactures’ like AMG and BMW are using more and more computers in their cars. How do you think this will affect the sport the sport of drifting? Example: The usage drive-by wire? – Danny LaChapelle – NH, USA –

KT (laughs):: Just turn everything off and have fun driving. That’s what I do.

TJ: Is D1GP planning on coming back to the USA in the future and if so, when? –Podres Simon, Lexington Park, MD, USA –

KT: I am no longer a part of the D1GP and know nothing of their plans. I currently focus on King of Asia, King of Europe and Drift Muscle. But I think as the American scene grows you will see more promotions venturing to America.

TJ: The Drift Bible came out almost 20 years ago. Seeing how much drifting has evolved during that time, is there anything you would add or remove from the original video to help beginners? – Madeem Ahmad - Rockville, MD, USA

KT: The Drift Bible in based on simple car control techniques that are required when drifting. As the sport of drifting has progressed, techniques such as feinting and such became the standard, but one should never forget the basics and that is what the Drift Bible is good for.

TJ: What do you prefer on Touge (mountain passes), FF or AWD? - Chris Tsagaris -

KT: It doesn’t matter what I drive. I love all cars. Each platform has its good and bad points and serves an educational tool each time you’re behind the wheel. You always learn something new no matter what you’re driving.

TJ:What was it like driving in Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift?

KT: It was actually very hard. I had to intentionally mess up the drifts and that was quite difficult as a professional driver (chuckles).

TJ: What are your hobbies outside of drifting? – Justin Woo – Battlestags, VA, USA –

KT: I really don’t have hobbies outside of the racing world. If I am not involved in something car related, I enjoying spending time with my dogs.

TJ: You almost single handedly changed the car community around the world and gave generations now and those to come something to aspire to whether it be building a car or dreaming to be where you are in life. How does it feel to be so famous and well respected by millions around the world?

KT: I am really honored and thankful that people feel that way. But I will be the first to say, I am not famous. I just want a one world car community where everyone can enjoy the car life for what it is. If I can play a part in that and help keep the scene pure and thriving; that’s what I will do. I am simply a Car Guy who loves what he does. My dream is to see everyone around the world enjoying drifting. Who knows, maybe in 5 – 10 years there will be a world championship with drifters representing all corners of the globe at one event.

TJ: Drift Olympics!!

KT: YEAH!! (laughs)

KT: What no one really sees is just how severe Japanese fans can be. Generally Japanese fans want to see to the high-level runs and so that is why there are only best 16 runs. Whereas, people in the U.S. and in other countries like watching drivers gain skill and become better. They enjoy watching even the novice driver, but in Japan, they would boo at such a thing.

TJ: We love your Hot Version DVDs. Where can people get them?

KT:Thank you. People can purchase Hot Version DVDs on Amazon.com by visiting www.hot-version.jp/ or at your local Japanese book store.

TJ: Thank you for taking time to speak with us today. We apologize about the poor Japanese and being very nervous, but you’re the Drift King.

KT(laughs) : It is ok. Please drink your coffee.


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