I've met some interesting people throughout my course as an editor for a tuning magazine; people whom most would consider deities in our small world-at least, I do. I've been lucky that in this socalled life of mine, I can browse my cellphone and, at the press of a button, connect with Dai Yoshihara (if I want to eat ramen), Steph Papadakis (if it's time to go around the world) or Lisa Fleming (if I want to be in the presence of a beautiful woman and be yelled at in Korean at the same time; and no, I'm not Korean); people who I consider good friends now. I've been chased down by Vaughn Gittin, Jr. at 4 a.m. from a hotel lobby to my room and on the flipside have shared a hearty meal with the guys, who at one time broke serious rules by running 12- and 11-second times at the drag strip. I've been told to finish an interview because I was taking too long by Manabu Orido, yet his drifting partner, NOB Taniguchi told us he loved the cover with CT230R on it. I've even been shown a demonstration of every Gran Turismo personally by the guy who created it: Kazunori Yamauchi. I mean, that pretty much sums it all, doesn't it?
Well, it did, until I met this guy.
Kishi Nokami will never become a household name, yet there are probably scores of you who are flossing his wheels on your car at this very moment. Trust me, I've owned several sets over the years and my Lexus is currently slammed on them. He's like Neo in The Matrix; he is the one. His coworkers refer to him as "god"-and rightfully so. Nokami-san is the Rays Engineering designer who brought us the TE-37 as well as several other wheels that helped build the Volk Racing name. But unlike the racers, drifters, models and designers I mentioned, who are often in the spotlight with MySpace fan pages dedicated to their liking, Nokami-san seems unfazed by it all. At a private Rays reception where I met him, he sat to the side, unpretentious, and didn't even seem to be the guy who gave birth to the TE-37. I expected a Louis Vuitton man-purse at the very least, but no; no sign of anything. But shaking his hand, it was like meeting royalty, in an apples and oranges sort of way. It wasn't as if I wouldn't wash it afterwards, either. I just thought,
"Damn, this is the guy who made the TE-37."
Pretty cool, huh?