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WEEKEND EDITION: It’s all about image

By in 29-01-2011 4:44 am

While I may be a bit pale, with short black hair and glasses right now, here is the kind of photo of me I’d rather be seen on the internet. Silly JDM-posing overalls and bleached hair style.

If you haven’t already, head over to Speedhunters (or just click this link) if you want to see a picture of me hungover and holding a hotdog.

A life of glamour, this photography business.

I thought I could get a bit of peace and quiet in the press room, but it was not to be. I opened my eyes after hearing a shutter clicking only to see Aaron Mai from NZ Performace car pointing his lens in my direction. Shortly thereafter, I caught Dino doing the same thing, and then a few minutes later Linhbergh was doing it too! Never fall asleep in a room full of cameramen!

The story behind it is that on Saturday night, I was invited to go to a nomikai (which translates rather nicely as “drinking party”) near the Makukari Messe with the Drift Tengoku crew, as well as a large group of guys from “Gakudori”, which is a kind of an association of drifters who are in secondary education. Most of them are attending technical automotive colleges and the like. The dinner was a lot of fun and involved some displays of underwear at one point. There’s a pic on Drift Tengoku editor Kawasaki’s blog, so check that at your own peril.

Afterwards, I considered taking the last train home, but it takes more than an hour, and I’d just have to get up and come back in a few hours to cover Sunday anyway, so I made some phone calls. It turned out my housemate Shino was in a karaoke box right next to Kaihin Makuhari station with Asayan and Hitomi from Looking down in Osaka, as well as some other people I knew.

A long story short, several jugs and a borrowed hotel room later, I had to prop myself up against the wall in the press room until about midday before I felt well enough to head out into the crowds, with a large bottle of water on the table and a convenience store plastic bag rolled up in my pocket just in case. Luckily, a pleasant conversation with Linhbergh sped my recovery up a bit.

With that in mind, here’s some useful phrases for the next time you visit Japan.

Mou juubun (もう十分): I think I’ve had enough.
Futsukayoi (二日酔い): Hungover.
Nomisugita (飲みすぎた): Drank too much.
Ukon (ウコン): Tumeric, which comes in the form of tablets and drinks, and is meant to help a hangover.
Eiyou dorinku (栄養ドリンク): Energy drink.
Gero (げろ): Barf.


CARS LIKE THIS STILL EXIST: Stock Cefiro Autech drifter

By in 20-01-2011 12:56 am

Here’s something interesting I saw waiting to head out onto the tracks at Nikko Circuit a little while ago. While most cars you see at the circuit have a fairly reasonable amount of modifications, occasionally you see something that’s almost dead stock, wheels included. Not only is this A31 Cefiro still in the same shape as when it was delievered, it’s the Autech version that came with a high-flow turbo, different engine tune, custom bumpers and olive paint among other things.


PRESS RELEASE TRANSLATION: Naoki Nakamura arrested for street drifting

By in 17-01-2011 9:20 pm

I hope you all enjoyed the random mobile updates on the Noriyaro Facebook page from Tokyo Auto Salon.

Something that a lot of people there in the drift world were talking about was the arrest and charging of D1GP competitor and D1SL 2010 Grand Champion Naoki Nakamura for street drifting.

This is the original press article from the Mainichi newspaper on the 12th of January that started it;

Traffic law violation: Suspected drift racers arrested, Minoo, Osaka.

After investigation of repeated dangerous driving the mountain region of Minoo, Prefectural Police Transportation Investigation Division have announced that professional racer and suspect Naoki Nakamura (28) of Nara Prefecture, Sakurai City is among sixteen men charged on suspicion of reckless driving.

Mr Nakamura was arrested in the early morning on the first of August last year at Aomatani road in Minoo City after using a modified car to slide at high speeds (drifting) in a dangerous manner.

Mr Nakamura is a domestic drift competition champion. “I wanted to practice” the suspect has admitted.

Akira Chatani


Aomatani is the same road as seen in Laurence’s Osaka Touge Drift video.

Following this, D1 Corp. published this press release the following day;

Media Release regarding Naoki Nakamura

According to a newspaper report dated January 11th, D1 Grand Prix participant Naoki Nakamura was arrested by the Osaka Prefectural Police Transportation Investigation Division on suspicion of reckless driving traffic violations in the early morning hours of August 1, 2010, after drifting on a road in the mountains of Osaka Prefecture.

We feel this regrettable incident is contrary to the sportsman’s code of conduct for a D1 licence holder. To all of the other earnest, striving competitors, to the fans who are cheering at our events and to everyone else involved, I apologise for this scandal from the bottom of my heart.

After hearing from the person himself of the severity of his arrest, an official staff meeting was held at which it was decided to suspend all his appearances at our events for an indefinite period.

The core focus of the D1 Grand Prix corporation is the sporting development of circuit-based drifting, allowing drivers to show the art and skill of their technique and car control in judged competition.

Drifting events are held in over 35 countries around the world, and D1 is a pioneer and world leader in drift competition. This means we must strive to practice a proper competition and follow policy in recognition of our position.

Following this incident, we will be striving to foster future awareness of this issue among our competitors.

January 13, 2011
D1 Corporation Co., Ltd.
President and Board Representative, Osamu Suzuki


Keep in mind that these are my amateur translations and shouldn’t be taken as the exact wording.

Having seen him drifting in his D1SL car on the street with my own eyes before, I can’t say it’s too surprising. D1 management has made it clear in the past that any sort of trouble with the law would result in heavy consequences, and they’ve followed through in this case. Similar charges in the past have usually resulted in a 500,000 yen fine and a two-year licence suspension, so it’s likely that’s what will happen here. There have been a couple of other D1 drivers charged with similar offences in the past, but they didn’t have the profile or attract the publicity that Naoki did.

What’s even worse is that as 2010 D1SL champion, he was set up to go into this year’s competition as the first seeded competitor.

I guess other drivers will be extra careful with their numberplate tape and surgical masks from now on.


DIE RAUH MANN: Rauh Welt’s Akira Nakai

By in 14-01-2011 1:21 am

Note: I wrote this article a couple of years ago for a magazine, but it was never used for various reasons. It might be a little bit out of date, but here it is anyway. I put up some mobile phone pics of the workshop back in this post.

Several years ago, pictures of a flat-black S15 Silvia with a widebody kit and equally wide wheels started appearing in magazines and on the Internet. It was one of those cars that people seemed to unanimously agree looked extremely tough, even if it wasn’t to their own tastes. Shortly after that, pictures of an intimidating matte-black Porsche in a similar style also began to appear, and they both seemed to have something to do with a window banner that said “Rauh Welt” and a guy named Akira Nakai.

“Oh, you should have just said you wanted to come to the Porsche place!” the taxi driver said cheerily as I pulled up outside the Rauh Welt workshop in suburban Chiba, about an hour away from the centre of Tokyo. I had only given him an address to find, but it turns out that Rauh Welt is pretty well known in this area. There was no shop sign outside the large corrugated concrete shed we stopped in front of, but there were telltale piles of worn race rubber and bits and pieces of Porsches strewn around. Rusted exhausts, factory wheels, discarded panels and various lengths of moulded hoses. This was definitely the right place, but the roller shutter to the workshop was still closed. I knocked on the front door, to no answer. Peering through the frosted glass of the door, I could see the low and wide silhouettes of what were definitely Porsches, and hear music playing quite loudly, but there was no sign of movement.