Additional photography by Nicolas Cassara and Will Roegge
Preface: Team Proceed is one of the most recognizable drift teams in the U.S. We've seen videos of them online but never had the chance to see them in action until Final Bout. Perhaps no one can tell their story better than one of their own members, Ilia Smolov who drives the Cressida in the group. Along with all his other teammates, Ilia has been living and breathing drifting for more than a decade. So without further adieu, here's Team Proceed's story as told by Ilia:
One of the things the uninitiated may never understand about street drifting is waiting. You meet your friends at midnight, and you wait. You wait for the cops to leave. You wait for the street to clear out. You wait for the warehouse shift to end. If it's not one thing, it's another—and you always wait.
When you discover drifting, you wait, too. All of us who drift remember watching their first videos, flipping through their first magazines, and being absolutely floored by what we saw. You see your heroes driving cars that look like show cars on the circuit and on the street in ways that most people can't drive purpose-built race cars, and your spirit is forever captured. And then you wait. You work day job after day job, you go to school, you save, and you wait.
Eventually, your waiting pays off. The cops leave, the street clears out, the warehouse closes for the night, and you get your few moments of glory. Nobody but your friends may have seen it, but those few moments are priceless. Eventually, you graduate, your career pays off, and you're finally able to build the drift car you've dreamed of your whole life and drive with your friends the same way you watched your idols drive with their friends, a decade before. Anyone who hasn't been through it can't truly understand, but those of us who have made the journey will never forget it.
It is those memories that drive Proceed. We will always remember engines screaming past abandoned highway walls of the city, always remember nights spent in rougher parts of Chicago watching our friends practice drifting corners hour after hour, hoping that one day we would drive like our heroes in Japan. The cars you see in these pages are the products of years of waiting, planning and dreaming.
A full list of modifications for each car is impossible to include—drift cars are an anomaly in the street car realm because literally every single component from a connecting rod bolt to a control arm is touched and changed to handle the abuse of drifting. Each of the Proceed cars has this in common. They have all been changed drastically from their factory form and designed not only to drift well, but to look like show cars while doing it. The style aspect of our cars is and always will be critical.
Eric "Chob" Corvera built his Aristo knowing that street driving would be in its future, so he did not skimp on the comforts every street car should have. Eric had been dreaming of a drift Aristo for years and knew exactly how he would build the car when he finally got it. Chob's Aristo has a 2JZ-GTE, Precision 6262 turbo, TiAL wastegate and AEM standalone to give the car more than 500hp at the wheels, but this power is balanced with street car comfort. His interior is wrapped in black leather with a Bride Gias reclinable seat, plus it has everything he'd need to be comfortable on long trips—air conditioning, Alpine in-dash DVD player and full stereo by MB Quart. This car's footwork was a mix of custom designed Serial 9 and Touge Factory parts, including Stance coilovers specifically suited for the big sedan. Chrome Work Emotion 11R wheels and a full carbon-fiber canard kit accent his aero and work perfectly with the livery designed by 3L.
Josh Maghirang has been drifting 180SXs since the early 2000s but has had this right-side-drive S13 since 2007. Each piece of the car has been carefully changed for drifting, with an attention to detail that aspires to Josh's favorite cars in Japan. The SR20 engine uses a Power Enterprises PE1420 turbo; Tomei cams, rocker arm stoppers, and head gasket; GREX/Trust oil cooler and filter relocation kit; Koyo radiator and an intercooler and swirl pot from Powered by Max. An A'PEXi Power FC runs the SR package, and all of these components work together with a full suspension by Stance and C's Garage. The knuckles, tie rods, steering rack, control arms and subframe have all been custom-built by C's Garage for flawless response and good steering angle. Shine Auto aero and a full canard package from Origin give this car an unmistakable style, plus rare pieces like the Juran Garny flap, G Corporation wing, and East Bear mirrors are nearly never found on one car at once. Josh's 180SX is seen either on Nismo LMGT4 wheels or a set of Volk TE37s.
Simba Nyemba has been drifting in Chicago since '03 and has always been loyal to the S13 chassis. This coupe is his third S13 over 11 years and was created to withstand a trial by fire just like the last cars. The exterior of the car reflects Simba's wild driving style perfectly with super-aggressive Works 9 aero, Origin fenders and wing and the infamous "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" hood—an art piece in its own right. Simba's wheel collection alone is a testament to his dedication to the style and spirit of drifting, with everything from SSR Vienna Courage to Work Equip, Work VS-KF, and SSR Agle Strusse—all sitting in his garage ready for use. A Garrett GTX2863R turbo powers his Haltech-controlled SR20 engine, with a Z32 transmission conversion giving his drivetrain a fighting chance against the clutch kicks Simba uses to keep the turbo in boost. Rare drivetrain pieces like HKS cams and an ORC clutch round out the drivetrain package, while Stance Suspension components complete the car's footwork. Simba's car is finished with Burberry upholstered Buddy Club seats to reflect his love for the brand and yellow checkered floor mats by Origin in honor of the late Atsushi Kuroi.
Leigh Roto's A70 Supra is nearly complete after seven years of continuous improvement, modification and revision. Over the years, Leigh has created one of the most unique Supras in America by making sure the parts he adds are not only effective, but also come together to create a supercool and JDM vibe. Leigh's 1JZ was improved with a classic Blitz twin-turbo kit using K26 turbos. The Blitz kit is something Leigh has dreamed of owning since high school, and after years of searching used parts listings, he was finally able to source this incredibly rare turbo kit. Sard fuel injectors, a Koyo radiator, and a host of first-generation A'PEXi electronics complete the old-school feel. His aero fits perfectly with his car's classic style, with Ab Flug-style pieces from Shine giving the car a pure '90s look, along with a 326 Power wing, Shine Auto diffuser and Advan RGII wheels adding to the car's persona. A dash-escape rollbar and full interior wrapped in blue suede perfect Leigh's car.
My own Cressida is the newest car in the group. I'm a former rotary FC owner, so the Cressida was a huge change for me, but its comfort and usability on the street just gave me a street drift vibe I couldn't pass up. My 1J engine is completely unmodified, but I have increased its reliability with an oil cooler and Koyo radiator. The Cressida has a full Serial 9 arm set and Stance coilovers, a custom-built subframe by Touge Factory and with raised roll centers along with Xcessive Manufacturing knuckles for a great suspension feel. Because this is a street car, I left all carpets and panels in the interior and added some Bride Brix seats and HKS gauges. The Cressida also has Serial 9 aero, Origin canards and trunk wing in silver carbon and Work XT7 and Advan T6 wheels to add to its style.
This issue is released at an interesting time for Proceed; it's close to our first official year as a team. Proceed has been a long time coming—all of us have been driving together for nearly a decade in other teams, and when the idea for Proceed formed, we knew we could not simply create the team from thin air right away. Instead, we talked, and planned and waited for more than two years. As Phil Prescott worked with us to create the Proceed vinyl design, as we chose our team colors and talked about the ideas and morals our team would be about outside of our driving, we knew we were working to create something that was our own. We are proud of where we've been and where we're going not only as drivers, but also as professionals in our careers, and as people.
And so, after all of this is said, after the cars have been photographed and this year's drift season draws to a close, all of us in Proceed are preparing to do something we've grown so accustomed to doing: working hard, dreaming and waiting for that one moment of glory, that short chance to be like our heroes. Each day we inspire ourselves to excel in our regular lives, we plan and as always, we wait.
Team Proceed would like to thank...
Simba: ClubFR, Grip Gambler, TF Works, Stance Suspension, Origin Lab, GTR Garage
Eric: TF Works, Stance Suspension, 3L, Fast Eddie's, Serial9, Sergey's House of Wheels, MB Quart, friends and family, girlfriend Geneveve, RT, Niko at RCN Motors
Leigh: Ed at Fast Eddie's, Shine Auto Project, RCN Motors, TF Works, Scott at Empire Collective, 3L, my teammates and friends, my always supportive girlfriend Catie, my daughter Ellie, Brian Duong, Kyle Collucci, Dan Lewis, Ginash George, Ahmed Fahmy, Dr. Nick, TF Dave
Josh: RCN Motors, TF Works, Fast Eddie's, C's Garage, Stance Suspension, Earnest, Shine Auto, Origin Lab, GTR Garage, 3L, Marylou Seludo, ClubFR
Ilia: TF Works, Fast Eddie's, Origin Lab, James at Falken Tire, ClubFR, Ryan Shook, Serial 9