After spending over two and a half hours fighting bitter Los Angeles traffic-four times the amount of time it should've took according to the 65mph speed limit-I finally pull up to the familiar blue and red sign adorning the new Falken facilities out in Fontana. Forty miles due east of Los Angeles, the desert landscape we Angelinos unfondly refer to as Fontucky is as empty and barren as Neverland Ranch with the exception of the monstrous Falken warehouse-its fresh white paint shimmering defiantly, like a mirage in the setting sun.
My Korean temper flaring, I'm greeted by a white guy who looks strikingly similar to a goateed Mr. Clean, but with a twist of street. As he walks up to shake my hand, his cool, calm demeanor is contagious, immediately extinguishing the two plus hours of gridlock agony.
Reserved and careful with words, once you get to know Nick Fousekis you realize that his reticent nature comes from his innate genuineness and sincerity. Homeboy means what he says and says what he means. More chill than a pack of marching penguins, out of the hundreds of adjectives you'd label a person, he's of the select few you'd scribble down in your mental rolodex under "one cool cat." And unlike the loud and pretentious constantly flaunting their nominal positions of power, Nick practices the philosophy of swaggering softly, but carrying a big stick. Or sticks, plural, in his case.
Being the brand manager at the forward-thinking Falken Tire, Nick has been one of the key influences behind their hugely successful drift program. All the ubiquitous teal and turquoise racecars smoking it up sideways causing late-night chub-rousing dreams of drifting-well, now you know who to thank.
But why haven't you heard of him till now? That's because he's been sitting quietly in the cut, being the guy behind the guy behind the guy.
Nick, however, is far from the typical corporate figurehead. Like the company he works for, he represents the heart of the enthusiast. Scratch that, he is the everyday enthusiast. Need proof? One need not look further than his personal arsenal of whooping sticks: Toyota MR2, Nissan 240SX, Infiniti Q45, and his crown jewel of wooden staffs-a '93 Mazda RX-7.
Co-owned with his wife, Selina, they purchased the FD back in '00. Being "the only white guy with a shaved head buying Japanese magazines at Yaohan [California/New Jersey-area Japanese supermarkets now operated as Mitsuwa] in the mid '90s," Nick was always looking for styling cues outside of his native San Diego. Tired of all the trailered drag or show cars of the time, Nick and Selina decided to "build a streetable show car with the look and style of a Japanese circuit car."
So while the masses purchased knock-off combat kits and painted their cars bright pastel colors that would make a Sour Skittle blush (cringe), Nick went for a more subtle and purpose-built look. A genuine (read: cash consuming) C-West body kit and carbon GT wing was ordered straight from Japan, which Nick commissioned Goldcrest Autobody out in Daygo (local talk for San Diego) to install and spray with two-tone blue and silver. That's right, the exterior is all paint, the only Modern Image vinyl on the RX-7 is the big-bad "619" represented on both doors, along with his sponsor's logos.
Because rotary motors age worse than a middle-aged porn star, Nick sent the tired 13B out to XS Engineering for a complete rebuild with the addition of thicker 3mm apex seals and air-gulping "wild" street port. The refreshed motor combined with a GReddy intake manifold, SX Performance fuel pump and regulator, Kaaz LSD, Exedy clutch and a slew of products rocking the A'PEXi designation (intake, exhaust, blow-off valve, intercooler, Power FC), puts down an impressive 360 hp to the wheels-a pavement crunching power-to-weight ratio considering the sub 2,800 lb curbweight of the third-gen RX-7.
Nick installed a set of Buddy Club coilovers and JIC front and rear strut braces to kick gravity's ass. And in case gravity decides to put up a fight, Nick bolted up a Rotora big brake kit and G-Tech stainless steel brake lines to stop 19-inch-yep, you guessed it-Falken FK-452 stickies mounted on Lexion wheels. With enough spare elbow grease to lube all of San Fernando Valley, Nick installed MOMO seats and shift knob, A'PEXi gauges and a Sparco steering wheel lending the cockpit a racecar feel.
Next, Nick scrapped the stock audio and built a custom MA Audio system loud enough to drown out the ported burble of the rotary motor. But if you want to find out the real purpose of all the ICE, you'd have to cruise the Inland Empires lover's lanes in search of Nick and Selina reminiscing about the good ol' San Diego days. Hint: Think classic Karaoke duets (e.g. "Endless Love" and "I've Got You Babe") with Nick on the jazz flute, plus a heavy dose of jungle beats. Weird, we know, but we think it has something to do with their hometown being named after a "whale's vagina."
Finished with the RX-7 back in '01, the car sat largely unnoticed, hidden under Nick's blanket of modesty. Only when Nick mentioned to us that he was about to redo his car were we able to coax him into documenting his efforts. An age-defying classic considering we shudder at the thought of some of the cars we featured five years ago. As for the future of the FD? Hint: Think three letters: V, I, and P.
What's sea-green and blue, and hangs sideways? No, it's not Aquaman's erect manshaft. Rather, Falken's Drift team. In other words, just some of the guys who call Nick "boss."
OWNER Nick and Selina Fousekis
HOMETOWN Daygo gone Fontucky, CA
DAILY GRIND Helping to put drift on the map
POWER 360 hp
UNDER THE HOOD Rebuilt motor with 3mm apex seals, wild street port; GReddy intake manifold; SX Performance fuel regulator, fuel pump; A'PEXi twin intake, GT exhaust, blow-off valve, intercooler, polished parts
DRIVETRAIN Kaaz LSD; Exedy clutch
BRAINS A'PEXi Power FC and commander
STIFF STUFF Buddy Club coilovers; JIC front and rear strut braces
ROLLERS 19x10 Lexion rims; Falken FK-452 tires (of course)
STOPPERS Rotora brake kit (front); G-Tech stainless steel brake lines
OUTSIDE C-West body kit, GT wing; two-tone paint; Modern Image vinyl
INSIDE MOMO seat, shift knob; A'PEXi gauges; Sparco steering wheel
ICE MA Audio DVD/CD head unit, amplifiers, speakers, subwoofers, wires