On a beautiful October day in '16 at Grange Motor Circuit (100 miles outside of Los Angeles), Super D introduced America to one of the most aggressive drivers in the world, Naoki Nakamura of Osaka's famous drift team, Pink Style. Not only did the drift organization bring Naoki to Southern California, they also brought over fellow team member Miki Takagi, who many would say is the female equivalent of Naoki. Naoki and Miki didn't arrive empty handed, but with a freshly-built Nissan S13 that was shipped over from Japan so they could both demonstrate their style of drifting to American fans. Nicknamed "Super D Matsuri," the exhibition was a huge success and provided inspiration to those who were fortunate enough to watch in person and those following online.
The bar was set high, and according to organizer Aaron Wong of Wolfreign Motors there was the natural pressure to roll out another event. They came up with the idea of Super D Japan and pitched the idea of sending drivers and their cars from the U.S. to experience drifting at one of Japan's most popular drifting courses, Meihan Sportsland. The drivers chosen were members of team Animal Style who have built a reputation for their stylish cars and participating at events such as Final Bout and Super D. When asked if they wanted to go to Japan, there was no hesitation and team members Ryan Kado, Jason Bostrom, and Julian Jacobs began their preparation.
Like getting ready for any event, there's always a deadline; however, when you're sending a car on a ship halfway around the world, the deadline is absolute. The crew from Animal Style is located in northern California and within close proximity to Wolfreign Motors who'd be taking care of the preparation for the trio of Nissans. For Ryan, there was additional pressure to install a new SR20DET engine and as fate would have it, Julian would also need to install a new SR20DET, which meant a lot of additional work and tuning. The team did meet the deadline and had their cars delivered and loaded onto the containers in the nick of time.
Although huge fans of the Japan drifting scene, Super D would be the first time any of the Animal Style members visited Japan. Experiencing everything from the culture to the food is something that can't truly be conveyed in photos and videos. This all came to a climax when they were able to practice for the first time on Meihan Sportsland's famed C Course-known for its long wall-lined straight that leads into another wall that waits to eat cars that dare tread too close. Julian considers Meihan THE track and credits it as the spark that urged him to drive hard.
The day of Super D Japan, it was perfect weather and there was a sense of excitement in the air. For those who are regulars at Meihan, it was exciting to see what the Americans could do. Many were familiar with Animal Style as they too had seen videos from Super D Matsuri and other events the team participated in. Just like in the U.S., there was the customary exchange of team stickers and autographs. For Jason and the other team members, it was a dream come true to not only meet but also run drift trains with drivers they idolized, especially the members from the former team known as Burst but now called Pink Style.
Animal Style felt like a natural fit at Meihan Sportsland, from their graphics to driving style. Julian did so well during the group sessions, he made into the top 16, which is no small feat considering he was competing in a field of veteran drivers. After beating Kenshiro and his 180SX, Julian would face another Pink Style member, Nishio, who was also driving a 180SX. Unfortunately, a slight mistake resulted in Julian running into the back of Nishio a bit too hard, causing his tie-rod to snap and ending his solo competition. It didn't mean the end of the day, however, as the team made a fast repair to prepare for the triple-car team competition.
The tandem battle pitted Miki Takagi in her pink and purple S13 against Toshihiro Fujiki in his orange AE86 Levin. Miki proved throughout the day that the ladies can drift just as aggressively as the guys as she was door to door with everyone and only due to a small mistake lost out to Toshihiro, who is nicknamed "Mr. Meihan."
After the tandem battle was the team competition and Julian had finished making repairs, For Animal Style, it was all too surreal as they were competing with legendary drift teams such as Burst and Pink Style. Due to another mechanical issue for Julian, it was left to Ryan and Jason to impress as they had some great tandem runs. The hometown team Pink Style took top honors for the triple class competition but it didn't mean the day was over.
Just like every event held at Meihan, the day ends with a freestyle session, which leads to long drift trains. Meihan is just the right size in that when all of the cars are running, one can't tell where the train starts and where it ends. For Ryan, Jason, and Julian, this was the icing on the cake, and on this day one of their biggest dreams and goals were fulfilled.
Thanks to Origin Labo and Bai-West, Co., the event went smoothly and everyone had a great time. For Animal Style, they are now looking at ways to make driving in Japan a regular deal. We're sure they'll make it happen and hope to see them soon at other circuits such as Nikko and Ebisu. Until then, they will carry the memories of Super D Japan with them as they look to improve their skills back home in the U.S.