This is a story about romance and cars, two themes that are as conflicting as Israel and Palestine, Harry and Voldemort, Rosie and Donald, uh, you get the point. It's not supposed to happen. Cars are for manly men. Romance is for gutless, purse carrying busters who weep at romantic comedies and Kodak commercials. But the tables have turned. Meet Benson and Nadine Hsu, a couple connected through a love for the Nissan 240SX and the sport of drifting, proving that romance and cars can actually be one and the same.
They met seven years ago at an online community for 240SX enthusiasts, which hosted monthly events where everyone nerded out to what is now a drifter's choice of ride. They decided to carpool to these events, where they started to gravitate towards each other, sparking up a lovesick chemistry only a Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie can emulate. Or as Nadine puts it, "After a couple of months of meeting and pursuing him, I wondered if he was gay, until he finally asked me if I wanted to 'go steady,' which I happily agreed to." Since then, they've become professional drifters, tied the knot in 2006 and built their dream cars, two of the most impressive 240SXs in the industry.
Nadine's ride is an '89 240SX powered by a SR20DET that throws down a stout 300 hp when it skids through the corners. It's a dedicated drift car that spearheads the all-female drift team, Drifting Pretty, which was also founded by Nadine in 2003. Designed for a rapid spool up and low- to mid- range power bands, an A'PEXi AX53 turbo commands the SR20's size-to-output efficiency. It can create upwards of 600 hp depending on the application. In this case, the application features 740cc Nismo injectors, Sun Automotive Hyperground setup, and an A'PEXi Ex Ti exhaust system, all of which produce enough power to the 18x9 Enkei RP03 wheels, gracefully pushing Nadine to sideways immortality.
Her drifting skills are much owed to her husband, who helped her learn the sport. "Benson is my mentor," she explains, "He's helped me jump so many hurdles in drifting. He makes sure I learn new tricks at every event, and above all, he's been there during the hard times, when I cry like a baby because I get frustrated with my driving." They even compete against each other in various drifting events in the country, though Benson has the upper hand in races won. These battles don't transfer outside the track, where they're more supportive of each other. Benson's expertise in the sport pushes Nadine to perform better, especially when gender plays a big role. "Women are different than men," Benson clarifies. "They really need a lot of emotional support when they're out competing in a male-dominated sport. So when I help her, I'd probably say it's 80-percent emotional support and 20-percent technical."
Benson knows the hardships of becoming successful on the track, whether it's driving or building the right car. He has owned one car all his life, this '91 240SX, which is not only complete in all respects, but also historical in the U.S. drifting scene. His car was featured in the first Drift Day, first D1 Driver Search, first Drift Showoff, which he won, and first season of Formula D, where he raced in Irwindale, Houston and Atlanta. His car is on its third engine, third set of suspension, has burned through five clutches and has been painted twice. "I learned everything about cars, racing and drifting with this car," Benson adds, "But the most important thing is if I didn't have this car, I would have never met Nadine." We'll give you a few minutes to get your barf bag.
Benson's 240SX, not surprisingly, also has a SR20DET with an OEM S15 turbocharger, Tanabe Racing Medallion exhaust, HKS Type-S intercooler and a Mine's tuned ECU. His car produces 220 hp at 1 bar and rides on a set of 18x9 AME Circular Spec R wheels, custom painted a light gold. He's owned it for seven years and dropped stacks of coin to improve its mobility and good looks, making Benson request a call to the public not to "jack him." After all, he's a married man who needs to protect his investments. "At this point in my life, I'm trying to figure out where drifting and cars fit," Benson says, "My priorities have totally changed and I'm trying to find that perfect balance, though I'm sure I'll be drifting cars until I'm on my deathbed or until tires aren't made anymore."
The couple has graduated to one of the hardest aspects of the sport, tandem drifting, in which a set of two cars follow each other throughout the track using the same lines and speed. Tandem drifting is often employed in professional competitions, where the lead driver feints maneuvers to upset the chase driver and to see how close the chase driver can get to the lead driver, where sometimes an overtaking occurs. It can also be an aesthetic exhibition of skill and technique, where numerous cars parade around the track not once colliding with the other. Benson and Nadine have an advantage in case a collision happens during a tandem drift. "I know at the end of the day, if we crash, it's going to be okay because what's mine is his and what's his is mine," Nadine laughs, "So no blame will be passed."
"But the bad thing is that if we crash," Benson adds, "That's double the cars we have to fix!" Either way, they have enough love for each other that if one messes up no penalties are incurred, like sleeping on the couch or no bumpin' uglies for the night.
One of Benson's favorite photos in their living room is of them tandem drifting. "It's like taking the 'couple's picture' to the next level!" he says. It's also something that's rare in the industry because there aren't many husband and wife tandem drifters out there. This connection is why Benson and Nadine are as unique as a married couple can get, a link that creates an enduring relationship and even a stronger will to win on the track.
'89 Nissan 240SX
Owner Nadine Hsu
San Gabriel, CA
Accountant/Director of Drifting Pretty
Under The Hood
5zigen downpipe; A'PEXi AX53 turbo and Ex Ti exhaust system; ARC FMIC; custom IC piping by Fujita; Koyo aluminum radiator; Denso fuel pump; Fujita intake system; GReddy oil cap, pulley kit; Nismo 740cc injectors; Megan exhaust elbow; Sun Automotive Hyper Voltage System and Hyperground system; OEM Z32 fuel filter and MAF
Act clutch (NS1-XTR6); XACT flywheel; Kaaz 2-way LSD; NISMO motor and tranny mounts, pivot ball, clutch line and slave cylinder
A'PEXi Power FC and AVC-R; Blitz FATT turbo timer
Custom 8-point roll cage by Design Craft; GP Sports GR-6 coilovers; Swift spring upgrade; Peak Performance tension rods, rear toe rods, upper links, rear upper camber arms, tie rods and rod ends; 5-lug upgrade; Tanabe rear subframe spacers; Nagisa Auto Shakitto plate
Drift: Enkei RP03 silver 18x9 +18 (F), 18x10 +22 (R); Show: Enkei RPF1 Type RC 18x9 +18 (F), 18x10 +22 (R)
Stop Tech big brake kit (F); GT-R calipers (R); Taka Motorsports stainless steel lines; Axxis pads
Origin Stylish front bumper, rear bumper, side steps, rear over fender (30mm); S13.5 conversion front fenders (20mm); GP Sports rear spoiler, rear upper spoiler; custom cherry blossom stickers by Fujita; S15 radiator/core support; Ganador aero mirrors; Nissan S15 headlights, Hippo Sleek LED taillights
Bride Zeta III Type S bucket, Ergo, custom Bride rear seats; Nardi twinline steering wheel; Sparco pedals; custom toy shift knob; A'PEXi EL system meter
Benson-thank you for being one of my inspirations in the build up of my pink drift monster. Without you, I wouldn't have been able to focus and re-build this car, let alone drift it! Thank you for introducing me to the wonderful world of drifting and thank you for showing me how to be an awesome ricey dori gal; to my daughter Kristy-I love you honey, and I hope I can help you build a cute drift car in a few years; big thank yous to Richard Tang and Fujita Air for your help in the finishing touches of my car; Andy at MyNismo.com/Performance Nissan-thanks for fitting the ol' S13 with such extravagant parts-your faith means so much; farewell to Enkei and thank you Tobin, who gave me a chance over at Enkei (best of luck to you as you trek on in this industry with Falken. Schikane fo lyfe!!); last but not least, thank you to the wonderful, faithful members of the Drifting Pretty program. You ladies fuel my drive to keep going and strive never to leave the drifting world in this lifetime.
5zigenusa.com; advancedclutch.com; apexi.com; blitz-performance.com; enkei.com; f5air.com; koyorad.com; more-japan.com (Bride/Nagisa Auto); mynismo.com; phase2motortrend.com; stoptech.com; sunautomobile.com
'91 Nissan 240SX SE
Owner Benson Hsu
San Gabriel, CA
220hp @1 bar
Under The Hood
Kouki model Nissan SR20DET engine; OEM Nissan 300ZX TT fuel pump; Tomei air filter kit; Tanabe Racing Medallion exhaust and downpipe; Blitz Platinum spark plugs; OEM Nissan S15 turbo; HKS Type-S intercooler; Taka Motorsports stainless oil and coolant turbo lines, oil cooler kit and oil filter relocation kit; Koyo radiator; Sun Auto Hyper Voltage system and Hyper Ground system; A'PEXi 1.1 metal head gasket; Billion low tem thermostat
Kaaz 2-way LSD; ACT clutch; XACT flywheel; Tanabe transmission mount; Nismo clutch slave cylinder and clutch fork pivot; Taka Motorsports stainless clutch line
Blitz SBC i-D boost controller and FATT turbo timer; Mine's tuned ECU
Tanabe Sustec anti-swaybars, Pro DD coilovers, drift spec tension rods, toe control rods, traction rods and fender brace; Jspec.com front ladder bar; Phase2Motortrend aluminum rear subframe bushing kit; Tein inner tie rod spacers and outer tie rods
Ame Circular Spec R 18x9 -5 (F); 18x10 +0 (R)
Nissan 300ZX brakes with Taka Motorsports stainless steel brake lines; Endless Type SSS brake pads (f), NA-D (r)
C-Wings body kit; Nissan OEM replica rear wing; Raybrig multi-reflector lighting; DesignHaus graphics; Ganador aero mirrors; Kouki 180SX rear taillights; Carbon Kevlar RPS13 rear taillight garnish; front 20mm overfenders and rear 30mm overfenders
Bride Zeta III (driver) and Ergo (passenger); Blitz DC boost meter; 360 Nardi classic steering wheel; Razo shifter knob; FET quick release steering wheel hub; JDM gauge cluster
First of all, my wife Nadine and little Kristy who have always been supportive of me and the time and money spent on my car; Kent & Dominic at AME Wheels and Endless USA; Jim Desmond at Sleeperz; Harp at Taka Motorsports; Robin at DesignHaus; C-Wings; ACT; Phase2 Motortrend; Superior Nissan; Tanabe; Battleversion; and KAAZ
advancedclutch.com; amewheels.com; battleversion.com; endlessusa.com; kaazusa.com; phase2motortrend.com; sunautomobile.com; superiornissanmotorsports.com (Nismo); takamotorsports.com; tanabe-usa.com