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D1 Had It All - Spill The Beans

Jonathan Wong
Sep 1, 2008
Photographer: Terence Fitzpatrick Writer: Chiaki Goto

The superstar cars and drivers. Then it let them slip away. Can the team that turned drifting into a household name find its way back home or is it lost forever? D1's new president, isao saita, is ready to lead the way.

There's no denying it: D1 is the series that started it all for drifting. Born in Japan, its sliding movement made superstars out of local drivers and turned ordinary rear-wheel drives into iconic machines. When drifting took off in the U.S., D1 was there every step of the way and became the biggest motorsports sensation to hit the import world after drag racing fluttered down the quarter-mile. Formula D came along and established itself as the U.S. authority on drifting, but somehow D1 always delivered the top Japanese drivers that drew fans from across the country to witness them do battle with our best drifters at exhibitions held sporadically throughout the years. Then, one day, D1 slipped under the radar and eventually cancelled its U.S. events for 2008. We wondered if D1 would ever step foot in the U.S. again until we sat down with its newest president, Isao Saita for an exclusive interview to find out what the team's been up to and what it's going to do next about U.S. drifting. You just might be surprised at what's on Saita-san's mind.

*Drifting in the States is only five years young. We've got a long way to go.

*Even though we've been here all five years, nothing's changed. It's the same thing. We want to see change; we have new goals. But in order to see change and realize those goals, we have to change the way we operate ourselves. We're going to regroup and concentrate on our own business before we do anything else.

*Of course we want to make a comeback. But we're also thinking, "How do we keep our fans entertained? How can we make a good show for you?"

*What if we could keep you entertained every minute of the way? Think outside the box a little and beyond drifting.

*We're testing new ways to keep D1 fresh in Japan. Music is one thing, and we'll always film a video component, but we know there needs to be more.

*Honestly, I've never seen a Formula D event before.

*Drifting is drifting. It will always be exciting. Our main goal is to take the original formula and spin it a whole new way.

*We've never hired any drivers to come and compete in our events. If they want to compete in Formula D, or any other drifting series, we don't mind. Whatever they want to do, they can do it.

*We wanted to go worldwide this year-really, we did. A lot of people who were interested in licensing the D1 name contacted us; some were sanctioning bodies. But we soon figured out that not everyone could handle it, so the plans were scratched.

* I only recently became the president of D1, so until we can establish our new business plans, it's hard to say what we'll do when we come back to the U.S. I really want something to happen this year, but right now I can't say if it will.

* If the fans want us to come back, we will try our hardest to make it.

*The auto industry is tight right now. It's becoming harder for people to drift. We have to create ways to capture a new audience in Japan and the U.S. if we want drifting to survive.

*Drifting was born in Japan. Formula D and NOPI's drifting series were established in the U.S. and they have proven themselves to be successful-this I understand. But to me, they are not our competitors. D1 is D1, always. People think it's the same drifting, but we're going to create a better event. If there's a chance to work together, we just might. But who knows?

*How do we create more superstars from drifting? We haven't looked in the U.S. yet, but in Japan, we have a street legal series that we put on to find the amateurs in the hopes of taking them to the next level, hopefully professional.

*We are not a circus. We're not going to send Japanese drivers all over the world. We want every country that D1 visits to establish its own stars. We don't want to just bring our Japanese heroes and that's it. We'd someday like to see the world's best come together to drift at one big event; anybody from anywhere.

*[NOB] Taniguchi and [Manabu] Orido were some of D1's most famous drifters, and they left. After I became president, I wanted them to come back. Longtime D1 fans are glad to see them return, but for the newer drifting fans, they don't really know who they are. They know they're good drivers, that's all. It's pretty neutral.

*We always try to bring D1 to anyone who asks for it. We spent a lot of money for transportation to bring the cars out and fly the best drivers over. We can't do things like that anymore. We have to think smarter for the future while keeping our fan base happy at the same time.

*We'll do our best to stay the best. We know that we have a lot of U.S. fans, so please be patient. We are ready to bring D1 back to you.

By Jonathan Wong
493 Articles

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