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Import Models - The Decade Revisited 1998

Our Ten Hottest Models And The Most Significant Landmarks

Carter Jung
Dec 1, 2008
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Over the course of ten years, we've witnessed the tuning scene go through some dramatic changes. What started off as a subcultural aberration in the 70s turned into a full blown pop cultural phenomenon by the late 90s, and the last decade saw Corporate America, along with Hollywood, take notice on what was once an automotive taboo: import tuning. Thanks to the influx of non-endemic media and other factors, the tuning scene grew exponentially and thrust into the main light. Drivers from our scene were getting endorsement deals, tuners graced the silver screen, import models started to break into the mainstream, and OE car manufacturers and the public at large started to rethink import performance.

Coincidentally, it was at the beginning of the impending maelstrom that Import Tuner was born. Branching off from big brother Turbo magazine-the "bible" of its era-2NR focused on the burgeoning tuning lifestyle: cars, tech, parts, girls, and events. A formula that we keep true to this day. And while it would be damn-near impossible to squeeze over 116 issues worth of 2NR deliciousness in a single story, what we've done instead is gathered a timeline of our scene's major milestones in our 10-year history and reshot the hottest girls in the game. Think of it as Tuning History 101-only the teachers are the top ten import models of all time.

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1998
Jan
Rays Engineering introduces the first mold-forged wheel, the Volk TE37 to the U.S. This iconic wheel would go on to sell 250,000+ units globally and spawn countless knock-offs. Roys and Rats Engineering, this means you.

Feb
SEMA introduces the Import Auto Salon, a show catering to the tuning market.

April
April 18: Initial D, the anime story about a tofu delivery boy and his AE86 comes out in Japan... which is about the time we should've bought a Hachi.

May
May 12: Gran Turismo makes its franchise debut on the Sony PlayStation, making the terms "chassis codes", "driving lines", "sore thumbs", digital "driver licenses" and ensuing "controller rage", household terms. Asian dorm rooms have never been the same since.

July
July 11: The first Hot Import Nights debuts in Long Beach, CA.

Aug
August 2: Shawn Hillier, piloting Jeremy Lookofsky's CRX, breaks into the 11 second all-motor barrier with an 11.86 @ 112.18 at CMI's North vs South event at Sacramento Raceway.

Impp_0812_03_z+import_models_performance_cars_tech_girls_events+model_1 Photo 3/26   |   Import Models - The Decade Revisited 1998

Francine Dee
Issue: Winter 1999

Height: 5'4"

Measurements: 34D - 24 - 34

Sign: Cancer

Birthday: July 21st

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.francinedee.com

What have you been up to since 2NR:We also just celebrated the 10th year anniversary for FrancineDee.com. For our decade feature, we implemented 24 hour cams in my Vegas crib!

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:I was ecstatic! I was in college at the time and even my professors complimented the cover. I was the baddest girl on campus!

How has 2NR impacted your life?:The whole industry has been an amazing platform. It has allowed me to venture off into other fields and I have met so many wonderful individuals and learned a great deal of things. The import industry has been an exciting training ground for me and I feel very privileged and grateful. To Import Tuner: I'm honored to be part of such a successful publication. Thank you for everything.

Thank you list:My Mommy, Thomas, C.S.P&D, Phil and Jen C., Yorke, David G., Recon, The P, Sherweezy, Carter J., my bia's, my beloved fans, the import industry, and most of all God who has blessed me with so much.

1999
JanThe R34 GT-R is released...in Japan.

Feb
While still in New Zealand, Hondata launches a Staged system for JDM B16A ECUs.

February 10: Honda releases the 6th-gen Civic Si (EM1).

March
March 27: Battle of the Imports. Stephan Papadakis' Nuformz-built, Honda Pro-tuned tube-framed Civic runs first in the 9s: 9.89 @149 mph. Ed Bergenholtz debuts the first traction bars applied to a FF car and runs a 10.36.

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April
The first, true plug and play ECU is introduced to the States thanks to A'PEXi with the Power FC. The application? The FD RX-7.

May
May 8: Ed Bergenholtz is the first uni-body Honda to break into the 9s with a 9.875 @ 147 mph pass at the Pomona Street Legal Drags.

July
Import Tuner goes monthly

July 24: NOPI launches Drag Wars drag racing series.

Sept
Ed Eng is the first official editor of Import Tuner

September 9:The video game Tokyo Xtreme Racer presented by none other than us, Import Tuner drops for the shortlived Sega Dreamcast.

September 17: Honda goes topless and RWD with the introduction of the S2000.

Nov
November 15: The first Skyline GT-R passes U.S. legalization through Motorex: a silver R32 dubbe d the "McNasty."

November 27: Tony Shagday and the Skunk2 team breaks into the All-Motor 10s with a 10.98 @ 122 mph pass.

Dec
December 7: Perfecting, perfection, Gran Turismo 2 for the Playstation drops.

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Sasha Singleton
Issue: February 2000

Height: 5'6"

Measurements: 34D - 25 - 34

Sign: Capricorn

Birthday: Christmas Day!

Hometown: Westchester, CA

Website: www.cybersasha.com

What have you been up to since 2NR:When my cover came out, the response was overwhelming. Around the same time, my Playboy and Hustler spreads came out and I also won the title of the first "Miss Hot Import Nights" in 2000. After that, I was a busy bee...I started my own website, a lingerie line, did some TV work for Comedy Central, Playboy TV, MTV & FX. I appeared in many more issues of Playboy, tuner magazines, calendars, and just recently, Penthouse magazine!

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:2NR was my first magazine cover and I remember seeing it on the newsstand. It was surreal. I was so proud of my cover. I still have it framed on my office wall! Plus, my spread in the magazine was right when the editors were changing the 'look' of the magazine, so it was a little more risque and sexy. People still comment on the implied shot that was in the article!

How has 2NR impacted your life?:2NR opened a lot of doors for me in the import scene. It is the best of the best. Once you land a cover of 2NR, you have reached the top of the industry standard. 2NR helped launch my successful career into the household name that I am in the import scene. Thank you for having me on your cover!

Thank you list:Import Tuner of course, my wonderful family, HIN for helping my import career become what it is today, my fabulous and supportive boyfriend Eric, my best friend, Cho, all of my friends who I treasure, and of course my awesome fans who have been there to support my career since day one!

2000
April
April 6: Hasport is the first to release a commercially available, billet aluminum engine mount kits for Honda swaps.

May
May 14: Maplegrove, PA. Steph Papadakis and his Civic are the first to break into the 8s in a FWD with an 8.93 @ 164 mph at a NIRA event.

June
Lexus launches the IS300.

Ed Bergenholtz's CRX lands the cover of Road & Track magazine.

Oct
Honda drops the 7th gen Civic coupe (EM2).

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Natasha YI
Issue: April 2001

Height: 5'5"

Measurements: 34 - 24 - 34

Sign: Aries on a Pisces cusp

Birthday: March 25th

Hometown: I grew up like a gypsy...all across the nation, so it's difficult to say a 'hometown'.

Website: www.natashayi.comwww.natashayionline.com

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What have you been up to since 2NR:I've had the opportunity to work on a ton of cool projects. I've been on commercials, ad campaigns and in magazines around the world and I was the first Asian model to work as a Barker Beauty on The Price Is Right. I've also been working towards my acting career and have had many cameos on popular television shows and movies. I recently landed lead roles in music videos for Panic At The Disco, Enrique Iglesias and Janelle Monae. I'm also working on my own clothing line and model website called 'YiXotica'. I'm looking for up and coming as well as established models, so if you'd like, you can fill out an application on YiXotica.com!

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:I couldn't get over how big my feet looked! Kidding! I loved the sneakers. I've had a bit of a sneaker addiction ever since.

How has 2NR impacted your life?:2NR was the jump start to my career in the import scene. You showed me a lot of love. I am forever grateful for the doors that your exposure opened.

Thank you list:Thank you Import Tuner! I love you guys! I'd like to thank all my friends and fans who have supported my career--you guys continue to bring a huge smile to my face--and DogHouseFM.com.

2001
March
March 3: Subaru releases the all-wheel drive, turbocharged WRX.

June
June 22: Hate it or love it, Fast and Furious hits the big screen, introducing to the world our little scene. Cue combat kits for every application and mega ugly sticker schemes.

July
July 2: Acura releases the Integra-replacement, the RSX and the 200hp K20A2 motor.

Sept
September 9: In a David versus (wealthy) Goliath(s) story, Roger Foo defeats M3s, NSXs, and other exotica in the World Challenge race at Laguna Seca, while behind the wheel of an EG Civic.

Oct
Jason Mulroney, now Editorial Director, becomes the second editor of Import Tuner

October 21: The inaugural season winners of the Wally for NHRA Sport Compact drag racing are R.J. Simrock (Pro), Carlos Gonzalez Sr (Modified), JoJo Callos (Hot Rod), Ari Yallon (Street Tire), and Joel Mandl (All Motor).

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Hannah
Issue: May 2002

Height: 5'4"

Measurements: 34C - 23 - 35

Sign: Capricorn

Birthday: December 29th

Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

Website: www.myspace.com

What have you been up to since 2NR:A lot of modeling and traveling for HIN. I recently retired from modeling due to a scooter accident in Thailand that I was recovering from.

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?I don't remember the exact moment, but I remember thinking, "Wow, I'm the girl in the magazine."

How has 2NR impacted your life?2NR gave me so much exposure. I got a lot of great work from people seeing me in the magazine, which lead to traveling...and my favorite part: the cover!

Thank you list:Thanks to Carter for getting me back into the swing of things (dragging me-kicking and screaming-out of retirement).

2002
Jan
Tein releases the EDFC, a module allowing the adjustment of coilovers from the cabin of the vehicle.

March
AEM drops the first US-developed plug and play ECU with the EMS

Infiniti releases the G35 sedan.

March 15: Honda introduces the EP3 Civic Si with the K20A3 engine.

Aug
The Progress Group's '99 Civic Si, built by Jeff Cheechov, is the first to breech 200 mph in a production body Honda at Bonneville Speed Week, by running a 204.287 mph with E. John Thawley III behind the wheel.

Nissan drops the long-anticipated 350Z.

Oct
October 20: Wallys for the '02 NHRA season went out to Grant Downing (Pro), Matt Scranton (Pro V-8), Matt Hartford (Modified), Bruce Mortensen (Hot Rod), Mark Mazurowski (Street Tire), and Jesus Padilla (All Motor).

Nov
Infiniti drops the coupe-variant of the G35.

Dec
Hasport releases the first K-series swap kit for the 7th gen Civic.

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Courtney Day
Issue: June 2003

Height: 5'7"

Measurements: 34C - 25 - 35

Sign: Aries

Birthday: April 1st

Hometown: San Diego, CA

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Website: www.courtneyday.com

What have you been up to since 2NR:Well, I finally graduated from Cal State Fullerton and I've been workin' the automotive circuit like crazy. I'm still a part of the Falken Tire family, and have joined Valvoline for their 2008 tour. But the cake topper is my new gig hosting Formula Drift TV! You can catch the season on the SPEED Channel starting in October!

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:I was so excited! It was my first magazine cover, ever. We only shot one pose for the cover and I was concerned we needed variety, but after seeing the issue, I remember thinking, "Thank God, they got the shot they needed."

How has 2NR impacted your life?:Sheesh...it only helped start my career, which lead to many appreciated relationships. I shot for Import Tuner just six months into my modeling and it opened the industry's eyes to my potential. Now, five years later, I'm still going strong and expanding my career into the fashion industry, working with Sinful Things and Volcom Clothing.

Thank you list:I'd like to thank my mom...no really, I'm serious! The encouragement from Mickey, my family, friends, and especially my fans who have supported me throughout my career and has gotten me to where I am now...in the 10th anniversary edition of Import Tuner!!!

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2003
March
March 1: Mitsubishi introduces the EVO 8.

March 2: Ken Miyoshi/Mainstream organizes the first pro drift event, Drift Showoff, complete with four JDM D1 drivers on hand. Held at Irwindale Speedway, Benson Hsu won the event.

April
April 6: RS-R holds the first drift competition inside the oval at Irwindale Speedway, cementing it as the "House of Drift".

June
Mazda breathes life to the rotary motor with the sale of the RX-8.

June 6: Sigh. 2 Fast 2 Furious brings with it the term "ricey", thin plots, and tuner cars that can fly. The only plus is it introduced the hotness that is Eva Mendes.

June 9: Scion launches the xA and xB to 105 dealerships in the California area as a trial run, revolutionizing youth marketing, and spurring the B-spec movement.

June 22: Erick Aguilar breaks the FWD 9-second all-motor quarter-mile record at NDRA's event at Maryland International Raceway with a 9.99 at 131.18 mph.

Aug
August 31: D1GP comes to the States for its first event at Irwindale Speedway in Cali.

Oct
October 19: Class champions for NHRA season are George Ioannou (Pro RWD), Nelson Hoyos (Pro FWD), Cesar Febus (Modified), Marty Ladwig (Hot Rod), and Scott Mohler (All Motor).

Nov
November 17: EA releases Need For Speed: Underground which delved into the tuner culture, a first for the franchise.

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Mercedes Terrell
Issue: June 2004

Height: 5'4"

Measurements: 32B - 24 - 35

Sign: Gemini

Birthday: June 2nd

Hometown: Yorba Linda, CA

Website: www.mercedesterrell.com

What have you been up to since 2NR?:Busy working/modeling my lil' butt off!

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:Yes, I remember seeing my issue of 2NR on the newsstand-it was the most awesome feeling, ever! I was jumping up and down and I made sure that any magazine rack I passed I reorganized the tuner magazines so that my cover was in the front of every row!

How has 2NR impacted your life?:2NR was the first magazine I ever shot for and definitely the most important to my career. The shoot with Import Tuner was the liftoff point of my modeling career and I give you guys a ton of credit for putting me in the scene. I love you guys!

Thank you list:Thanks to everyone at Import Tuner, my manager Chelsea Yang, my awesome parents and all my sisters, and the 'Elite 7'-I love all of you.

2004
Feb
February 6: Hondata releases the K-Pro, making tuning available to K-Series Honda owners.

April
April 6: First time attack event in the US comes to Buttonwillow, CA. Signal Auto's R34, with Tarzan behind the wheel, kills the event with a 1:54.2.

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April 17: Girl racer Lisa Kubo shatters the 7-second FWD barrier with a 7.963 second pass at Moroso Motorsports Park in FL.

April 24: The first ever Formula D event took place at Road Atlanta, where Samuel Hubinette took the win, forever cementing the fact that he will be drifting dudes later.

June
June: Scion adds the tC to their lineup and goes nationwide.

June 18: JDM Hondas have a non-digital forum to hang out at, courtesy of Eibach's first meet.

August
August 9: The first Formula D championship goes to Samuel Hubinette.

August 31: The video game Street Racing Syndicate launches with all your favorite import models.

Sept
September 11: HIN Tour goes international with it's first show in the U.K.

Oct
October 6: Full-Race offers the first robotically TIG welded turbo manifolds for the B-Series engine.

October 24: NHRA season champs are Matt Scranton (Pro RWD), Nelson Hoyos (Pro FWD), Paul Efantis (Modified), Marty Ladwig (Hot Rod), and Jesus Padilla (All Motor).

Nov
November 9: Tarzan, in the Sun Cyber EVO, sets a 1:48.9 record pass at Buttonwillow that holds until November 2007.

Dec
December 18: GT Live brings Japan's JGTC race cars and drivers to U.S. soil for the first, and to date, only time.

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Ursula Mayes
Issue: November 2005

Height: 5'7"

Measurements: 34C - 24 - 34

Sign: Leo! Grrr....

Birthday: August 9th

Hometown: Born in Seoul, Korea; raised in Washington DC

Website: www.ursulamayes.com

What have you been up to since 2NR:I'm currently filming season 4 of Deal or No Deal and pursuing my acting career here in LA. I'm also traveling in the US and internationally for the LUX 5 show, visit www.lux5events.com for more info. I'm also developing my own fashion line. Hint: B.E. Original

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:I couldn't believe how amazing the photos turned out. Actually, the very first time I saw the issue was at Super Autobacs, believe it or not!! I was walking in and a guy stopped me and said "excuse me, are you the girl on the cover of this month's Import Tuner?" I was stunned because I hadn't seen the photos yet. Then he went to his car and grabbed it and asked me to sign it. I kept staring it and thought how cool for me to see it for the first time...at Autobacs...with a 2NR fan! Sweeeeet!

How has 2NR impacted your life?:Well, besides me being a reader for life... it helped others out there in the tuner world get to know Ursula Mayes, especially since the year it came out I was also Miss Hot Import Nights. Thanks for always 'tuning' my world inside out!

Thank you list:God and the 3 F's: family, friends and fans; and of course to Carter and everyone at the Import Tuner family.

2005
May
May 15: Marty Ladwig and his Chevy Cobalt are the first FWD to break the 200 mph barrier in the quarter mile with an 8.069 second @ 202.02 mph pass at an NHRA event at Atco Raceway, NJ.

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July
July 9: After being shut out by domestics in a Japanese-born sport (think Dream Team, pre-2008 Olympics) Calvin Wan takes the first-ever Formula D win in an import, with the Falken G35 at Infineon Raceway.

Aug
August 27: Rhys Millen takes the 2005 Formula D championship.

Sept
September 27: The improved EVO 9 is available from Mitsubishi.

Oct
The IS250 from Lexus goes on sale.

October 15: HIN introduces its outdoor show concept with the first NightShift event in Phoenix, AZ.

October 24: NHRA Wallys for the season are awarded to Brad Personett (Pro RWD), Ed Bergenholtz (Pro FWD), Justin Humphreys (Modified), Ron Lummus (Hot Rod), and Jesus Padilla (All Motor).

Nov
November 8: GM Performance's '06 Chevy Cobalt SS ran the fastest time, a 1:51.318, at the Time Attack Finals with John Heinricy behind the wheel.

Dec
December 1: The Si grows an extra two doors with the 8th-gen Civic Si.

December 17: D1GP USA vs Japan All Stars. Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Falken Tire Mustang becomes the first American driver to win a D1GP event.

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Sunisa Kim
Issue: March 2006

Height: 5'8"

Measurements: 34 - 24 - 35

Sign: VIrgo

Birthday: September 11th

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.sunisakim.commyspace.com/sunisakim

What have you been up to since 2NR:A lot of acting.

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:Yes, it was very emotional for me-I was jumping up and down like a little girl at Disneyland! It's a great feeling to see yourself on the cover in newsstands everywhere!

How has 2NR impacted your life?:2NR has definitely made me a recognizable face in the scene. You guys gave me great exposure and a chance to talk a bit about myself.

Impp_0812_26_z+import_models_performance_cars_tech_girls_events+mag_21 Photo 17/26   |   Import Models - The Decade Revisited 1998

Thank you list:Thanks to Import Tuner and my family, friends and most importantly my fans, I couldn't do this without your support!

2006
April
April 20: Honda starts sales of its Fit.

June
June 16: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift forever immortalizes "drift" into the automotive lexicon with the series' best presentation of our scene. Too bad it came three years too late.

Aug
August 5: MotoX superstar Travis Pastrana nudges out Collin McRae at the X Games' inaugural Rally competition, taking home the gold.

August 10: Acura releases the RDX with the turbocharged K23, a first for the US Honda market.

August 18: E John Thawley III and company cemented the 200+ mph run from four years prior by running an average of 203.009 mph, inducting the Progress Civic as the first production body Honda in the Bonneville 200 MPH Club.

August 31: D1GP vs NASCAR. An exhibition event with NASCAR stars drifting alongside D1 drivers.

Sept
September 25: The MazdaSpeed3 hits showrooms.

Oct
October 14: Samuel Hubinette wins his second Formula D championship.

October 22: Gary White (Pro RWD), Ed Bergenholtz (Pro FWD), Paul Efantis (Modified), Stephanie Eggum (Hot Rod), and Saul Salceda (Honda Tuning All Motor) each took home the Wally for the 2006 NHRA Sport Compact season.

Nov
November 8: GMG's '03 Porsche Cup Car spoils the Super Lap Battle finals with a 1:49.019 causing Question It's Eric Hsu blood to boil, when his R32 runs two-tenths of a second slower.

November 21: Siphon magazine, targeting the B-spec, micro tuning segment, hits the newsstands.

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Melyssa Grace
Issue: June 2007

Height: 5'10"

Measurements: 35 - 25 - 36

Sign: Gemini

Birthday: June 5th

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Website:www.melyssagrace.com

What have you been up to since 2NR:A whole lot of globe trotting. I have been on six covers since my 2NR issue last year. My most recent one was Maxim Philippines. That was my coolest, next to 2NR.

Do you remember when you first saw your issue?:I was driving north to LA on the 5 freeway and I got a phone call. I pulled over at some random gas station, and there I was. Woohoo! I bought 5 copies!

How has 2NR impacted your life?:I have ten thousand more Myspace friends!

Thank you list:Thanks to my mom and dad for my fabulous bod. Also, thanks to Carter for an awesome shoot and my puppy, Einstien, for being a good boy at the babysitters while mommy shoots.

2007
March
March 18: Australian Grand Prix. Volk manufacturer, Rays Engineering, enters the world of Formula 1 racing by providing the wheels for the Williams team.

MayCosworth offers, for the first time, a complete EJE257 long block for the Subaru STI, built by a pro race engine supplier.

June
June 6: Skunk2 introduces the first composite fuel rail, warding off heat soak.

AugustInfiniti releases the revised G37.

August 5: Tanner Foust takes home X Games gold in Rallying.

Sept
September 15: Rally legend, Colin McRae dies in a helicopter crash.

Oct
October 13: The 2007 Formula D championship goes to Tanner Foust.

October 21: NHRA Sport Compact Racing final champs were Gary Gardella (Pro FWD), Brad Personett (Pro RWD), Brent Rau (Modified), Kenny Tran (Hot Rod), and Norris Prayoonto (Honda Tuning All Motor)

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October 22: Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights video game drops, featuring Ursula Mayes on the cover.

October 23: Honda releases a Mugen spec Civic Si straight from the factory-warranty and all.

Nov
November 7: Taniguchi tears up Sun Cyber Evo's record at Super Lap Battle Finals at Buttonwillow, CA by running a 1:43.523 in HKS' EVO 8.

2008
Jan
Subaru drops the five-door WRX STI.

January 17: The Mitsubishi EVO X with the 4B11 motor is released.

Feb
The Lexus brand gets performance-oriented with the release of the IS F.

March
Carter Jung becomes the third editor of Import Tuner.

July
July 7: After years of anticipation, the R35 GT-R finally goes on sale.

July 16: Full-Race's R14-a LHD S14 240SX running an RB26DETT and GT-R drivetrain-comes to life on the streets of Phoenix, AZ.

July 18: Import Tuner, along with Tein, take delivery of a project IS F from Lexus.

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Aug
August 3: Travis Pastrana takes home his second X Games gold in Rally.

August 22: Doug Macmillan, from Hondata, takes a Rotrex supercharged '05 Acura RSX and sets the record for the fastest production body Honda/Acura by running 234 mph at Bonneville. The only Honda faster was a Honda F1 race car with a 246mph run.

Oct
SPEED Channel begins 10 episodes of HIN and NightShift event coverage.

October 26: SPEED Channel airs the 2008 Formula D season.

Nov
November 15: Formula D's Red Bull Drifting World Championship unites the world under one smoky banner.

For More Pictures, Log Onto Www.Importtuner.Com

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By Carter Jung
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