"Honestly, I wouldn't be as driven as I am today had it not been for this car. It has single-handedly kick-started my career and made me buckle down, open my own shop, and focus on where I want to be 10 years from now." That statement makes two questions come to mind. One, how many of you can say that is how building a car has affected you? And two, how many of you could have said it with that many unintentional automotive-related puns? Anyway, that is how Buckey Laing of Las Vegas feels about his car, its build, and his goal of becoming a recognized drifter on the professional circuit.
Buckey has been a drift enthusiast for years. As a kid he got in to BMXing, but one day stumbled across a few old-school V-OPT and other miscellaneous drifting videos from Japan. "I instantly got hooked on the style of it and made the switch from BMX and haven't looked back," he says. Over the years he has looked to and drawn inspiration from other drifters and enthusiasts. "Haraguchi, JTP, Daigo Saito, Koguchi, Naoki Nakamura/Team Burst, Yokoi/Mind Control," Buckey says, "mainly just positive people doing what they love and building inspirational builds. I constantly adapt different styling cues into my own build based on these guys."
In 2010 Buckey was getting ready for the Vegas Pro-Am Series; he had an NA RX-7 that he was racing at the time. Although he loved it, keeping that car running was a struggle. "With the series coming closer, I decided to bite the bullet and part-out that car to only replace it with another as a solid entry-level starter car. My goal and motivation behind this car was to build a competitive drift car that would excel through the Pro-Am ranks and then compete at a professional level in Formula Drift," he says. By the time all was said and done, the car was in his possession, but less than a month remained. "When I got it, there were only a few weeks before the Pro-Am Series was to begin," Buckey says. That was the car's maiden voyage, and time was clearly not on his side. A few weeks were all they had to make the vehicle a competitive drift car that wasn't just able to contend, but also do so safely and legal for the series. Gathering good people, they went to work fabricating the rollcage and custom steering knuckles, not to mention installing all of the parts he had at that time. The many sleepless nights paid off. Buckey was not only able to compete, he made it all the way to the finals and secured a Second Place finish on his first outing with the car.
Many would be elated at that outcome, and Buckey was, but he was already looking forward. "After putting it through its paces over the first event of the series, noticing the car's weak links with parts that failed and realizing which parts needed to be upgraded due to age/strain, it evolved pretty rapidly," he says. Buckey started with the most pressing issue, the powerplant. The hard-fought battles had taken a toll, and the motor had blown. He took the FC 13B turbo motor and went to work. A Rotary Aviation full rebuild kit was utilized that included cryo-treated 2mm apex seals, solid corner seals, race spring kit, and water seals. A custom twin-scroll turbo manifold was created for a GT45R turbo with a 4-inch downpipe and exhaust setup. He had Forrest Wang of Get Nuts Laboratory stitch-weld the engine bay while the motor was out and create the V-mounted radiator and intercooler setup, as well as the rear chromoly/bash bar. Buckey's own Gloss-Factory took care of the front bash bar and adjustable rear toe control arms. The built motor and turbo setup make the power, the chassis and its host of proven, shelf and custom suspension modifications provide the control, and Falken rubber burns and smokes as Buckey goes out and practices his craft.
Although Buckey has been building this car for around four years, many of the most memorable parts of its progressions happened in the first year that he had it. He tells it best: "Probably the most notable story behind this car was during Round 2 of the 2010 Vegas Pro-Am Series. The event was a two-day gig. The first day was simply practice, and the second day was comprised of two practice sessions, qualifying, and finally the Top 16 battles.
"The last run right before going back into the pits for the driver's meeting/break, I ended up blowing the clutch up. We had around 45 minutes to get the hot car apart, source another clutch, install it, and hope it all worked without having any runs before qualifying to test it out--all this while I had a mandatory 20-minute driver's meeting to attend. My pops went to a friend's house to get a clutch while we all ripped into it. I can't even remember how many people were throwing tools to us under the car and helping out. I left with the transmission out and the clutch going on to attend the driver's meeting. By the time I came back, my friends were lowering the car and telling me it was good to go. With only two runs to get in the show, and not even knowing how it would work, I managed to qualify second and go on to win the event. It was an awesome experience to win it. I need to thank everyone who worked hard to help out. Randomly enough it was my dad's birthday, so it was just rad!"
Buckey clearly has a great group of people in his corner, as well as a great attitude and perspective. Combine that with determination, hard work, and your own shop at your disposal, and you've got a killer combo that makes nothing but the sky the limit for this drifter and enthusiast. We hope to see you competing with the pros in the Formula Drift series soon, Buckey!
Behind The Build
Las Vegas, Nevada
Shop Owner, Gloss-Factory
BMX, karting, wrenching on cars, and drifting
"To be a competitive drift car, to excel through the Pro-Am ranks, and compete at a professional level in Formula Drift"
'87 Mazda RX-7 Turbo-II
Engine: 13B-REW; large street port; Goopy bolt kit; Rotary Aviation 2mm Super Seal rebuild kit with cryo-treated apex seals, race springs, and solid corner seals; FC3C convertible subframe with custom solid mounts to adapt the FD RX-7 13B-REW to the Formula Drift rule book; GT45R turbo; Godspeed intercooler; custom T4 twin-scroll manifold; 4-inch custom downpipe and V-band exhaust; Get Nuts Laboratory intercooler piping and V-mount intercooler and radiator setup; Tial 44mm MV-R wastegate; Touge Factory pulley kit; stock ported throttle body; port-matched lower intake; Greddy/Trust throttle-body elbow; Haltech IAT sensor, coolant temp sensor, 3-bar map sensor; Mazdatrix block-off plate; 10-gallon fuel cell; 1-gallon surge tank; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump feeding surge tank from fuel cell; Bosch 044 external fuel pumps feeding motor from surge tank; Tomei Type-S fuel pressure regulator; Turblown Engineering top feed fuel rails; OEM FC primary injectors; Five-O Motorsports 2,300cc secondary injectors; Setrab oil cooler; Koyo 53mm radiator; Derale oil cooler fan and radiator fan with custom Gloss-Factory shroud; NGK spark plugs; MSD spark plug wires; LS1/LS2 ignition coils; Optima Redtop 1,000-cca battery
Drivetrain: OS Giken twin-plate clutch; Mazdatrix hardened trans mount; shimmed Mazda Turbo II LSD; modified S5 RX-7 shifter
Suspension: Stance GR+ PRO coilovers; Ground Control rear camber control arms; Gloss-Factory adjustable rear toe control arms; DDS Performance rollcage; Prothane bushing kit; Mazdatrix DTSS Eliminators; Get Nuts stitch welding and rear tube chassis/bash bar by Forrest Wang; Powered by Max FC3S super angle drop spindles; SuperNOW angle up kit; DMAX individual rack spacers
Wheels/Tires: Varrstoen ES2 (18x9.5 +12mm front; 18x10.5 +15mm rear); Falken Azenis RT-615K tires (225/40-18 front; 265/35-18 rear); Varrstoen lug nuts
Brakes: Endless S-Sports front and rear pads; Mazdatrix stainless braided lines
Exterior: Sherwin-Williams custom "Firemist Metallic" paint by Gloss-Factory; BN Sports Type-I body kit; Mazda RX-7 sport model wing, S5 RX-7 taillights, S4 TurboII mirrors; Shine Auto Project roof spoiler; Gloss-Factory 85mm vent-less front fenders; Hotline Performance 50mm fenders "flexed" to 85mm; 9K Racing Uras-style hood vent; BCE Designs graphics
Interior: Haltech Racepak IQ3 digital dash; Bride Japan EXASIII driver seat; custom seat rails; Nardi Deep Corn 350mm steering wheel; Boss hub; bubble shift knob; stitch welded
Electronics: A'pexi AVC-R EBC solenoid controlled via Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 ECU with flying lead wire harness by Gloss-Factory
Gratitude: "Nick at Falken Tire; Navith at Varrstoen Wheels; Laura and Dominic at Rotary Aviation; Matt, Eric, and Justin at SR Motorcars; Dave at ASD Motorsports; Dan at Parts Shop Max; Elliot at Turblown Engineering & Turbo Source; Kyle Mohan at Mazdatrix; Don at Grid-1 Motorsports; Chris at Euro Asian Motorworks; Steve at Rotary Lab; Forrest at Get Nuts Labs; Justin Pawlak at Hotline Performance; Anthony and Charles at Import Tuner for this opportunity; and, last but not least, my dad for always coming to tow it when it would break!"
Special Thanks: Dstroyr