Sheer Fun at Sin City
(NOTE: Some images are borrowed from Side to Side crew)
Welp, finally got time to write another update! Life got in the way and it's almost a month without updates
[03 Nov 2019]
The next updates will be split into two parts since it'll be too long to be poured into one update.
First off, a recap of my adventures at the annual SEMA Show at Las Vegas with my friends!
So what did I spot and do at the famous Sin City? Let's delve into the update, shall we?
With all the monetary prizes from the last update (scroll upwards!) and one week of paycheck, as well as all the Evo V stock parts sale profits (scroll upwards as well!) claimed into my wallet, I prepared myself for the next trip to the land of the free. This time, it's just a week and a bit more of staying stateside, compared to the previous trips where I spent a month and usually plus some days of staying in the Side to Side crew's garage while experiencing pure American motoring (or cheap American motoring as happened in the latest trip
). But this time it's not as laid-back as usual though, as we've got a huge job ahead. And I should say, I was quite lucky to be involved.
You see, the Side to Side crew has been busy preparing quite a lot of cars this year, particularly since my second visit
at this summer. Ever since they were formed, the Side to Side crew aims to enjoy the American motoring scene while making their name inside it. After years of hustling, tuning cars, racing and burning rubber, the American dream has come true. But of course this hasn't yet completed: They haven't yet to attend SEMA as participant.......and this year, finally they got the chance to do so. Seeing as SEMA is usually filled with unique, unusual or outright bonkers car builds, of course they had to do one as well. They've been cooking a special project throughout this year, which is an Infiniti G35. the last time I went into their garage, it looked like this
. We'll get to it in a bit later to see the final product.
Some hours before my flight to Ardmore (as opposed to go straight to LV, since we're all going there together), first off, bossman @Benny
phoned me to check up on my preps, and.......to give a small task before going.
"How's your day going, kid?"
"Ah! Bossman! I'm all good and ready for the show! Should be arriving at tomorrow noon"
*chuckle* "That's the spirit. Anyways, after SEMA, I and Ziga(@Lagano) would like to visit y'all in Japan"
"Oh really? That's great! Finally, after a full year of you inviting us stateside, you're going to our home turf! *laughter*
"Yeaaa, it's unfair if I kept telling y'all to come visit us here all the time isn't it?"
"Um, admittably yeah indeed. Come on bossman we gotta go to a hot springs bath sometime!"
"That sounds interesting. We haven't had our annual Japan trip anyways sooo perfect timing"
"Ah yeah......you missed the Ebisu Summer Matsuri, and on the verge of missing the Autumn Matsuri as well"
"But Ebisu is open everyday isn't it?"
"Ah yes you're right bossman. We could have a day there anyways"
"But before that, I got a small errand for you"
"What is it?"
"Fill up the S2K. Obviously I want tit ready to roll after we land there. At the moment it's somewhere near the docks"
"Wait the S2K is here? Okay okay"
"Right, we should start our preps as well. We'll pick you up right away at the airport. See you stateside"
"See you bossman"
After that call, I turned my attention to AJ (@RocketBunnyS13
), and called him to check over his preps and told him to go together to the airport later.
"Yo AJ, it's your man Smoke"
"Hey Edo, how's your preps?"
"All good, almost ready. How about you and the others?"
"Um, sadly it's only me for this time. Muza(@Niatross)'s still preoccupied with Nismo and BMW stuff, and Marc(@topy)......"
"Eh, he must be hunting for Evo parts again"
"Yup, and guess what, he bought another Evo"
*laughter* "Well that's our Human Lan Evo for you!"
"He said it'll be a daily, but I bet half of my lawyer salary that he's going to tune it all-out as usual"
"Yahey all-you-can-eat feast time!" *even more laughter*
"Oi don't jinx it!" *laughter*
"Anyways, what time you're going to the airport?"
"3am. How about you?"
"Welp, right, I'll be there at that time as well. I guess I gotta sleep early"
"Right, see ya at dawn then"
With the call over, it's time to go pick and refuel the cars! And to simplify things so I don't have to go twice and thus exerting double the work and expenses, I had to call a Grab to go to the docks instead of taking my Silver Queen or my HR34.
Some hours later, I arrived in the docks. The last time I saw the S2K
, it's still recovering from a wreck it's in. Benny bought it as a salvage car, suffering from a big hit at the rear end.....can't remember which side. It was done by a teenager who's supposed to do a regular service on it in a shop, taking it for an unauthorized joyride. The owner was middle-aged man who took care of it very well, and obviously, the man who sold the S2K was quite devastated to see what happened and what caused it. Since he bought it, Benny has promised to him to update the build progress of the car and to build it back to it's fomer glory so they can have one last joyride together. Safe to say......the old man can smile again now
I worked on the car together
with Benny and co. for a while on my latest visit to the land of the free. Since I left it the car now sports a fresh F20C engine, homemade strut brace, additional chassis strengthening since there are some rust spot at the front end, as well as some body parts that I've got for him, namely Varis side skirt assembly, Top Secret rear diffuser and that front lip. And look, now it's coming home to it's birthplace!
Since there are a smidgen of fuel left inside the S2K and there's a petrol station near the docks, I didn't have to drive far off the ocks to get them. I filled the S2K to the brim, and set off to the highway for a quick test. It's actually quite cold at the moment since it's the peak of autumn here, so although I want to feel the breeze of crisp autumn wind slapping my face, ultimately I decided to keep the roof up to keep myself warm and focused along the way.
The raspy F20C screams like an entire farm of angry bees in front of me, ready to sting my senses and ears as I blaze through the Tokyo Expressway. The chassis poise is great as well, felt quite solid at the front thanks to all the chassis strengthening. Rear is nicely planted as well thanks to the diffuser. Fun fact: The S2K (specifically the F20C engine) once held the record for the biggest power-to-engine displacement ratio figure at around 124 HP/litre. it took some years for that record to be broken by-are you ready for this?-Ferrari 458. Just imagine it: It took a Ferrari to beat a Honda. Now where do we see this these days?
[04 Nov 2019]
Later that day finally I returned the S2K to the storage yard, still with the roof up, and went back to my crib. With the refuelling and sorted, I went back for final preparations and went off to sleep.......which turns out I can't do as I'm quite excited for SEMA
It's both paycheck time and showtime! Speaking about paycheck, I'm quite glad finally I've got another raise! Now I could receive V$1125 a week to keep on living and building my cars.....which is a very good news since I have to build two cars in relatively a narrow time window. Sure, I could keep on racing, but there are only two events left that I could attend, and both came at December.
Anyways, after enduring the night aided with some gaming session, cup noodles and some tea, finally AJ phoned in. I think he's ready as well.
"Wake up Smoke it's party time!"
"Bro I didn't even sleep for this! I can't sleep!"
"Damnit man don't fall asleep again! I'd say get going cos I already did!" *laughter
"Crap that was fast. Okay okay I'm going as well, see ya at Narita"
"See ya you sleepy prince"
After a bit of rushing, finally I'm ready to go and called another Grab. I skipped shower since um, it's 3am in the morning.
Some hours later, I arrived at Narita International Airport's international departure terminal. AJ's been waiting for me with a cup of black coffee and a bun of bread.
"Edo! Come here man, took you a long time eh?"
"Kind of. Traffic was all clear but I had to keep my eyes open all the way around. The AC was arctic cold even for a Prius"
*laughter* "Oh yah I see you haven't took a minute of sleep. Your eyes are a bit red"
"Yeah, I plan to have my naptime in the plane. It's a long trip innit?"
"Well you're right actually, 12-13 hours I think"
"Exactly. Quite a lot of time to sleep for me"
"Anyways you gotta try this bread man, probably could keep you up a bit"
"Oh may I? I could buy this myself. I haven't had a proper brekkie anyways"
"Sure, I'll show you where to buy this, but only after you take a bite of this" *hands bread*
"Oh okay then" *takes a bit of bread*
"I love butter-filled breads! I want a warm one though"
"I know you'll love it! Walk south for a while over there"
"Do they got tea or milk as well?"
"No milk sadly, but if I remember correctly they got tea"
"Nice! I'll be going, tell me if our plane has landed"
After a while waiting for our plane as we had a nice bread brekkie, our plane has landed and ready to be boarded. We finish our bread and drinks, then went aboard the plane. As we took off and the seatbelt warning has lifted off, I took my nap and tell AJ to fasten my seatbelt should I fell asleep at landing hours later.
Half a day passed with, well, sleeping inside the plane, dreaming about......just about everything. It felt like playing GTA all over again where your character and cars can sustain some extent of incredibly damage and injuries, except that the character is yourself
. I can even feel like I could command myself and I know that I'm moving around. Some say this is called lucid dreaming, where you're aware that you're dreaming and you can control yourself inside it with your consciousness. I might be wrong though.
I was deep in my dreams when suddenly I felt a hard slap landed into my head and shoulder, followed by someone shouting "WAKE UP YOU SLEEPYHEAD!". I opened my eyes slowly to find AJ beside me, looking a bit annoyed while informing me that we've actually landed safely at the land of the free, specifically at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, or simply known as DFW. With some of my initial strengths, I rose from my seat and walked off the plane with AJ into the arrival terminal.
As we've passed the emigrations check and picked up our luggages (almost missed mine due to myself still being half-awake), AJ phoned Benny to inform our arrival while I ordered him and myself some cups of coffee and muffin. And of course, we still have to wait the other two of our friends.........
"Hey sorry man, I felt a bit like a nuisance for you back there"
"Nah it's okay, could've been worse. At least you're properly awake now"
"Thanks man. Yeah we could've stuck somewhere else and stranded in London, or Paris, or even back to Tokyo......."
"Eh, just brush it off. Anyways ZIga's already at LV, Benny should be here in a moment, and....." *sees arrival info board*
"Our Korean friends will be here shortly as well. They've just landed it seems"
"Oh nice! We're back as a team after all"
After some time, Soju (well, @Soju
) and 11K (@11000rpm
) pops up from the baggage claim and walked up across the arrival terminal to catch up on us. They're visibly looking excited as always, despite the long flight just like what I and AJ experienced.
E:"Annyeong, gentlemen!" *fistbumps and bro-hugs ensues*
S:"Yoooo glad to see y'all again! Wait where's Muza and Marc?"
A:"Ah, they can't be with us this time sadly. Quite busy times for both of them"
S:"Aaaaaah I see. Anyways have you guys contacted Ziga?"
A:"Yup, he's on the way with Benny"
S:"Good, we'll get some cups of coffee"
E:"Ah I think I'd like some more muffins as well, AJ hold my jacket for a while please"
With all of us stacking on coffee and muffins, we waited for some time with chatter about the flight and our latest life updates. Nothing much has happened to 11K and AJ.....though AJ won last month's Ride of The Month award, congrats!
Soju revamped his legendary Supra inside out and continued building his R33 missile unit along the way, and as for me, um.......scroll up to see what I've been into
And of course the ROTM award wasn't lost from our attention as we kept on demanding AJ to pay for our coffees
Turns out Benny already waited for us in their Raptor pick-up truck near the terminal. We scrambled inside the Raptor as we carry the last of our coffees and muffins. Another chain of fistbumps ensues as we enter the truck. It's a crew cab, so there's a second row seats for us and at least there's a bit of legroom.
B:"Whose muffins are those?"
E:"Mostly mine bossman, you want so-"
B:"Yeah you never change, you fat man!" *massive laughter from everyone*
E:"Says the man whose weight is a 1/8 of a Lotus Elise!" *even more laughter*
And so, we set off for yet another long trip, this time from DFW airport to the heart of gambling world, where greedy and lust blends beneath the bright neon ads and the smell of fresh dollars and gold: Las Vegas. Of course, as I've elaborated earlier, we ain't go there for gambling, but to join the American tuner celebration that is SEMA. Along the way we filled ourselves with banters, quizzes, riddles, meme sharing, impromptu lunch and dinner, and talks about our projects. When you're together with all your friends, even time travelling and achieving warp speed feels like a possible thing to do.
Speaking about SEMA, it actually refers to the organization that hosted it, similar to how NASCAR refers to the organization that hold those oval races and these oval racing championship itself. SEMA is an acronym for Speciality Equipment Market Association, basically an association of aftermarket parts specialists and vendors around United States. As you'd expect, SEMA is formed by several aftermarket company owners, some are quite famous like Bell Helmets and Cragar Wheels which is owned by the same person, then theres B&M, Edelbrock, Weiand, Hedman Headers and so on.
Almost a day later, we finally spotted the famous welcoming landmark of Las Vegas........we finally made it and (relatively) ready to rock!
[05-08 Nov 2019]
With only a few hours before the auto show starts, we rushed our preps as we built our fairly modest stand, consisting of the G35, some of the homemade parts from StS Auto Parts's partners, a nice table and several stools, and.......some pics and videos of us and our cars. Even I and my Silver Queen was showcased as well, ripping around Tsukuba and Nikko with some occassional two-wheeling!
Turns out ZIga and Benny spent some days looking for any media appearances of us, whether it's professionally made or amateur ones. I'm quite elated obviously, I didn't expect my Silver Queen going to made it this far!
Ah anyways, it's time for the moment you've been waiting for! Presenting......the Side to Side and co. Infiniti G35!
At first you might think, "Ah, it's just a slammed G35 on rotiform and widebodies". As everyone would say, don't judge the book by its cover. Beneath this G35 beneath something that you might not expect. Time to pop the hood so we can see the real deal.............
Yup, your eyes didn't deceive you, that's an actual, functioning BMW 5 liter V10 lifted straight from a BMW M5 E60, known as one of the fastest supersedan of it's time (and possibly of all time as well). In the early days of the supersedans the M5 ruled the kingdom of speed and power with that engine, derived from the result of multi-year research and development of V10 engines back when they're still actively fighting their way up in Formula 1 in the early noughties. Along with McLaren, with Mercedes engine, and Ferrari, obviously with their own engine, they formed the trilogy of Formula 1 domination in the early noughties. If you're an avid fan of Formula 1 like me, you'll know that Renault would dethrone Williams later on at the final year of the V10 era and the start of the V8 era. If you're not really into Formula 1, you'll at least know that this trilogy is currently ocupied by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Fun fact: The BMW V10 Formula 1 engine is the fastest of its era, producing around 980-990 BHP despite being naturally aspirated and existing when the concept of hybrid cars is relatively stillborn. And yes, that figure stands for both qualifying and race specification. Sadly though this doesn't automatically translated into victories as they were still struggling to fend off Ferrari and McLaren. And that period, as you know it, is that period where Michael Schumacher steamrolled pretty much everyone with his Ferrari from 2000 to 2004, and only had to work hard for his title at 2000 and 2003. After losing Juan Pablo Montoya to McLaren and Ralf Schumacher to, surprisingly, Toyota, at 2005, Williams began their period of downfall. BMW were back as title contenders at 2007 and 2008 together with Sauber, but ultimately pulled off at the end of 2009 due to global financial crisis.
Back to our G35, as you can see, it's been fiteed with cusom-made Liberty Walk-style bodykit, Rotiform wheels, GT-R R35 exhaust, Rotiform wheels, and several carbon parts. And of course Benny and Ziga got that exhaust system to sound like the aformentioned V10 Formula 1 engine. The result clearly envisioned Benny's motoring vision: A car that is swaggy and savage enough to use as daily, with supercar-matching performance and can be easily thrown sideways. Early visitors everyday were quite lucky as Benny would turn the car up for around half an hour idling and sometimes revving it up a bit to showcase the exhaust system
Sure, there were some ire and jeer from those who wanted quieter experience, but nevertheless the G35 turned to be a eye-catcher everyone wanted it to be, with a lot of people coming to our stand to have a long chatter and taking pics of our G35. Even in a day our G35 appeared in lots of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds!
Of course, we're all here not only to participate in SEMA but also enjoy the spectacles in general. Ziga has selected some of his personal choices here
, so it's my turn to pick mine......which would consists of proper racecars
Sit down, grab a snack and prepare for some lectures and opinions on motorsports.
First off, we know the Corvette C8 has been officially here and even Benny can't stop takling about it, but I'm waiting more for this one. This is the racing version, the Corvette C8R. Set to replacing the aging and battered C7R that competed in IMSA SportsCar Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans every year (plus FIA WEC Shanghai 6 Hours last year) in the GTE class (both Pro and Am), the C8R will employ every single drop of that new mid engine design into racetracks in sporstcar endurance racing. With the C7R being a strong force at American endurance racing and has a LM24 win in its belt in 2015 (and almost another one at 2017, had it could survive side-by-side action against Aston Martin Vantage AMR at the final minutes), the C8R has a lot of legacy it burdened with. Corvette Racing themselves also had a huge job as well since one of their pillars, Jan Magnussen (Kevin Magnussen's dad) left the team, and their GTE-Am program isn't quite successful as their Pro ones (only Larbre Competition bought their used Corvettes. Speaking of which, GTE-Am rules states that the car had to be at least 1 y.o., i.e. you can't buy brand new).
This here is NASCAR and IMSA stand. I don't really pay much attention to NASCAR these days but I'm always looking forward to IMSA races. Their season finale at Petit Le Mans (which is basically 10 Hours of Road Atlanta) was awesome, with drivers dueling until night falls and fireworks blew above the skies, to the point that the GTD class leader ran out of fuel at the final lap
. You can watch the highlights here
. They also enjoyed a huge success this year, particularly at the Sebring extravaganza where they host both Sebring 12 Hours for their own championship and Sebring 1000 Miles for FIA WEC at the same weekend. If you aren't familiar with this championship, there are four classes: DPi, which employs manufacturer-built LMP2-style cars, LMP, which has actual LMP2 cars, GTLM, which employs of GTE cars and unrestricted GT3 cars, and GTD, which has balanced GT3 cars. The one you see here is the Ferrari 488 GT3, running in GTD class, adorned with WeatherTech sponsorship which is IMSA SportsCars Championship's sponsor title.
Okay, this one is a concept car rather than a full-fledged racer, but you can drive this Supra at GT Sport as the Supra Gr. 3 race car. And speaking about Supra race cars, you can soon have an actual one, though in two different forms. If you're looking for the amateur-friendly but still cheap and manly enough to drive around, you can have the GT4 version at the second pic, which has minimum amount of aero, standard race safety equipments, can be raced everywhere and packs up to 450 BHP. Or if you want that cutting-edge total racing experience or if you're a fan of Super GT series, they already announced the GT500 challenger as well at the bottom pic, with 600 BHP extracted from 2 liter inline 4 engine and mad level of aeros as the result of their recent tie-in with DTM. You can only race them at Japan though.
Hyundai over the years has become one of the surprise dark horse in motorsport world, from a mere buttjoke of motor racing (and motoring world in general) into a serious motorsport contender. We've seen what Hyundais can do in the hands of Rhys Millen at the beginning of the 2010s, but for me Hyundai's emerging in modern motorsport world happened in 2015-2016 when they re-enter the rallying world at WRC and announced the Hyundai N performance division, as well as securing rising stars like Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon, as well as recruiting ex-BMW M leaders to lead the N division. They went even further at 2017-2018 when they entered the foray of touring car racing and secured a hell lot of star drivers such as Dani Sordo, Luca Engstler, Norbert Mischelisz and Thed Bjork. Thed and Norbi were the WTCC 2017 winner and runner up. Even they managed to secure seasoned veterans like touring car legend Gianni Morbidelli and WRC titan Sebastien Loeb. The result? Hyundai becomes a total dominator in WTCR and TCR Europe, as well as becoming an even serious title contender at WRC. This one here is the Veloster N TCR, the American-Korean sibling of the ever-dominating i30N TCR, which is only available at Europe.
Honda/Acura really took my heart away when they connected the past and present at their stand. At one side, they have one of the earliest spearhead Honda/Acura had in their motorsport efforts. This here is the Acura NSX ran by RealTime Racing, one of their earliest and most successful Acura customer team for SCCA World Challenge in the nineties. Although that white-orange warpaint has been used by Acura where they ran in IMSA GTP with Spice chassis, said livery became more associated with both Acura and RealTime as they won various races around the states. The SCCA World Challenge has changed into Blancpain GT World Challenge America today, which coincidentally they also contested with the modern version of the NSX. Speaking of which, the NSX brought home the Blancpain Sports Club 2019 title at the hands of veteran racer Jens Reno Moller.
But for me, the winner from all of them should be Yokohama, which didn't only have one but FOUR race cars on their display! Only the Supra that isn't a racecar. Here's the first four of them plus the Supra, in all of their glory
I'm sure that you've been fixated with the BMW M3 GTR up there, so let's delve into that one first. I'm sure that you've been well-versed that this is the star car from NFS Most Wanted, but hilariously enough only a few people knew that it's an actual race car that isn't road legal at all! The engine itself was also pretty much an unobtainium gem. The engine itself was an interesting case: Following their domination at American Le Mans Series which this BMW and other factory BMWs runs in, rival teams was very, very mad and claimed BMW cheated by running a car that doesn't have the same engine as their road-going car (remember, the racer has a V8 engine, whilst the road car has inline 6), therefore classifying it as a prototype rather than a proper GT racer. BMW though claimed that they already have created a road-going version of it. Problem is, there are only 10 of them. The following season, ALMS changed the rules that demanded manufacturers produce at least 100 of the cars and 1000 of the engines to be eliglible to run. BMW retaliated by.....quitting ALMS altogether, forcing their customers to shove back the original inline 6 inside. The M3 GTR though continued to win races by winning 24H of Nurburgring back-to-back. This one is owned by Team PTG, running the v8 engine and ran by Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand, who are now Ford GT GTE drivers.
Team PTG also ran another car, which is the Panoz Esperante GT2 on the upper left. If you ever played the first GRID game, the 2007 ones, you'll know this car and might even prefer it as the only other car in the class, Spyker C8 GT2, is quite rowdy to handle. This Esperante was also ran in ALMS even longer than the BMW, which was up to 2009. Panoz themselves are quite active back then as Le Mans 24 Hours challenger in quite a lot of classes with a lot of teams, including Team LNT which now becomes Ginetta factory team. Panoz still active and running today, running the Avezzno GT4 racer and selling the road car version as well, even after the death of their founder, Don Panoz.
On the bottom you can see two Porsches. Tthe one on the left is the Cayman GT4, which was driven by Travis Pastrana (yes, that motocross racer) to victory in his class at Pikes Peak Hhillclimb. Yokohama is also the single tyre supplier for Porsche Carrera Cup USA and Canada, which is why a 911 GT3 Cup adorned the bottom right side of the trailer.
i could keep on talking about racecars but I guess it's been a lot of it, so right now that is it that I could deliver. I don't want you guys to spend half a day listening to me blabbering about racecars
In the meantime we also met our good ol' friend Mack (@MACKAY
), who turned up preparing an E36 M3 for one of the stands here in SEMA. The last time I met him
, he bought a freaking Ferrari
! But sadly I heard it's been sold ever since. BMWs are Mack's forte anyways, particularly E36s, so I could understand the direction he's going. Still, he's used to be the king of the streets, at the same grade as Soju or Marcus (@marcus915
). He's also a great fabricator, he's been welding and creating a lot of chassis braces and rollcages. And of course this E36 is no exception
After several days of sleeping in sleeping bags, having a lot of minimum amount of lunch, some occassional city tours, checking out rad modded cars and proper racecars, and basking in the American automotive heaven, finally the SEMA curtains closed as the day changes from November 8th to November 9th. We were all exhausted and felt like our flesh has melted all the way to the floor, but nevertheless we are all happy and grateful to be able to experience the huge atmosphere of SEMA. With everything packed back and sorted, we went back for another long trip back home to Ardmore.
[10 Nov 2019]
But first, let me check my wallet a bit..........
It is time for me and AJ to go back to Japan, and for Soju and 11K to go back home to South Korea. But this time, Ziga and Benny will be together with me and AJ to Japan! Apparently they've planned to expand their operations to Japan, as well as moving some of their collections there, to the point that they've moved everything from their Los Angeles garage to Japan (with the rest stored at Ardmore). What will happen to that garage is up to theirs, but I can't wait to finally run with them in my home turf! Stay tuned to see how all of this unfolds
That's all my updates for now, thank you for stopping by and see you soon!