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!