Ed note: Just how big of a drifting fanatic are you?
Probably not as much as Antonio Alvendia is. This guy lives, breathes and would die for drifting--after all, it did change his life. Having attended nearly every U.S. event ever conceived, from D1 to Formula D, the funky Filipino also managed to put together a book dedicated solely to drifting, and he titled it--yep, you guessed it--Drifting. His recent travels took him all over the world, from Japan's familiar stomping grounds to the Parthenon in Greece to the glamorous realm of Compton. We asked Antonio to throw down a blog for us, highlighting his favorite moments.
WTF! Leah Dizon's blowing up in Japan!
My friend Shinji Minowa is well known in Japan for driving his blue AE86 in the D1 Series. He and Robbie Nishida are both from a well-known drift team called "Hey Man" and Shinji has a tuning shop in the Yokota area called Hey Man Products. Shinji's girl, Masayo, was looking through their magazine rack, when I spotted a magazine with Leah Dizon on the cover! For those who don't know, Leah started as an import model, and was featured in Super Street, Import Tuner, and other mags. But now she's blowing up with a professional singing and modeling career in Japan! Congrats, Leah! I was trippin, that's crazy! See ladies? Don't be shy next time you see us taking photos of you! We'll make you famous!
Destination: JapanGetting schooled by Kumakubo at Ebisu
First stop on the agenda was Dori-Goya, D1 Series Champion Nobushige Kumakubo's drifting school at Japan's legendary Ebisu Circuit. My good friends Robbie Nishida, Calvin Wan and Ben Schwartz, professional drifters from America's Formula D series, went to Ebisu for higher learning. Here, they were able to get drifting practice with tutorials from Kumakubo and Team Orange, ho are world renowned for their tandem drifting ability.
We had the unique opportunity to check out the Kumakubo family's Tohoku Safari Park, which is on the same mountain, adjacent to Ebisu Circuit. Crazy! It was like Jurassic Park... but instead of driving jeeps or the normal Safari buses, Kumakubo let us drive RHD Nissan Laurels in there! You go through two humongous sets of gates, and then you're out in the open, driving through the wilderness with random lions, tigers, elephants, zebras, giraffes and, ahem... llamas. It was funny...when we were driving through the llama area, Calvin decided it was a good idea to feed the llamassome animal crackers. I was totally against it cause I think wild animals are dirty, but Calvin insisted "Naw man, it's cute! I'mma feed it!" So Calvin rolls down the window, and the llama starts chomping away... chomp, chomp, chomp...blehhh!!! The stupid thing threw up all over Calvin! LOL! It was gross! It looked like brains and guts splattered all over the inside of the car, it was nasty as hell! Calvin was pissed at the llama ruining his new Sparco hat, but I was even more pissed because I told him not to feed it, and llama vomit smells nasty as hell! We had to smell the vomitINSIDE the car the entire time we drove through the Safari Park, because Calvin decided to feed the stupid llama at the beginning of our Safari Park tour. Good job, Calvin.
Destination: GreeceTeam Orange Tandems in Greece!
Tandem drift master Kumakubo recently had an orange R33 Skyline built with all Blitz performance parts, so that his friend, D1's famous Nomuken, could join Team Orange to do drifting demos outside of Japan. Shortly after, the organizers of the Athens Tuning Show arranged for Team Orange to come out to Greece to have them perform tandem drift demos, using Kumakubo and Tanaka's famous D1 S15 Silvias, and the new pair of orange R33 Skylines, driven by Nomuken and Team Orange's youngest member, Naoto Suenaga. Together, the four drivers performed precisely choreographed tandem drift demos at Greece's Megara Circuit during the Power 100 Speed Festival.
A few days after the Power 100 Speed Festival, Team Orange held a drifting school in Greece, giving the top Greek drifters tips on how to improve their car control and entry speeds. We saw several S13s (in Greece they're called 200SXs and they come with SR20s), but AE86s were a very rare sight. We did, however, get to see some super cool vintage Mark 1 Ford Escorts out there tearing up the track!
Can't believe drifting brought me to the Acropolis!
Me and Team Orange's Kazuhiro Tanaka in front of the Parthenon at the Acropolis. That place is pretty amazing, towering over all of Athens. This is the place where the ancient Greeks invented stuff like the first hospitals, theaters and democracy. Nothing major.
Hot weather and hot chicks!
Aside from all the vintage rally cars, grilled lamb and ancient architecture, I was trippin on all the hot women in Greece. They all looked like they just stepped off the pages of Maxim magazine! Especially at Super Paradise, atopless beach on the Greek isle of Mykonos, one of Europe's top party destinations. Sorry, but you'll have to checksuperstreetonline.com for those pics! But here is a photo I shot of our cute waitress at the Mall in Athens. Not bad for a compact point and shoot camera!
Destination: ComptonStraight Outta Compton
Shortly after I got back from Greece, I began work with a Seattle-based production company on a documentary film, which will air on cable networks later this year. We interviewed several top personalities in import drag and drifting, but for this segment, we brought it back to the old school, interviewing the godfather of the import scene we all know today--Ken Miyoshi from Import Showoff. For Ken's segment, we went back to the birthplace of illegal import drag racing: Compton's Maria Street.
Destination: Seattle WA and Vancouver BCAn AE86 is a terrible thing to waste
Next on the agenda was Formula D Seattle...but while everyone else was running around Evergreen Speedway preparing for the event, I noticed a wrecked AE86 sitting in the junkyard in the back section of the track. So sad, AE86s are getting so rare all over the worl;, it really makes me cherish my own AE86s even more.
Formula D Seattle and a short trip to Vancouver BC
I think Formula D events are always fun, but at this event in particular we were hustlin'! We had to work extra hard to finish shooting our film project, but as soon as we finished, I drove up to Vancouver (Canada) with some friends for a quick business meeting, and then a relaxing day of shopping and sightseeing!
Destination: San Francisco CAMotoring J Style
Last stop on our little tour is the first inaugural Motoring J Style event in Northern California. While there was an amateur drifting competition at the event, MJS is primarily a carshow dedicated to classic 1970s and 1980s Japanese cars like Toyota Corollas, Datsun 240Zs and 510s, Mazda RX2s and so forth. I was busy all day working as the official announcer for the MJS event, but at the end of the show, I was so happy to see my old car--the 1974 TE27 Corolla SR5 that I sold to my good friend Patrick Ng. Only now it was completely restored and refurbished to better-than-new condition, and what was even crazier: all theprevious owners of the car were in attendance. Here's a picture of the restored 1974 Corolla, with Patrick (owner of the car), Me, Tom and Loy. This beautiful orange TE27 all passed through our ownership at one point, but now it is in better than mint condition with Patrick as the owner. What a happy ending to an amazing trip.