“Even sea bream is not delicious when eaten in loneliness.”– Japanese Expression
Day 1 – An American Welcome
The United States of America. Regardless of wether you hold the belief that its the greatest country on Earth, or a social experiment that got way out of hand, you have to admit that it is a truly incredible place. Being British (stop booing) I have always found America and its people extremely interesting, but only during this trip would I be able to fully delve into just how different our people, our cultures and our lands really are.
Its rather fitting that it would be whilst doing one of the few activities that our countries have had in common for many many years: working on Japanese cars. In this blog post I will be delving into the week-long process of preparing a variety of legendary Japanese cars for the biggest kaido racer event of the year outside of japan, North American Nonsuri.
But what exactly is a Nonsuri?
The word nonsuri is derived from the lazy Japanese slang for “non slip” (aka welded diffs that cannot slip), used to refer to a meetup of kaido racers performing simple yet rebellious maneuvers such as tight donuts and figure 8’s. You will commonly see pairs (or sometimes more) of cars doing these actions together, attempting to mirror the movements of the other in a synchronous and rather mesmerizing display.
And so, this is why N.A. Nonsuri (@n.a.nonsuri) is named as such. It’s an entirely unique attempt to create as much of an authentic Japanese kaido racer experience as possible to a new continent, and it absolutely did not disappoint.
Returning to the topic of the trip itself, I can only assume that TSA workers have some form of extra-sensory ability that allows them to pick out the most excited people that come off the plane. Well, either that or they randomly select people to go through the day-ruining process of a free trip to border security holding area. After my experience, I would honestly have to rate it 0/5 stars, not recommended.
With no electronics allowed and only a game of patriot hand-egg being displayed on the TV’s, it was 2.5 hours that did a fine job of killing my energy and excitement before I’d even set foot out of the airport, however (thanks to my top tier British complaining skills) I was eventually cleared as a threat and escaped into the welcoming arms of the wonderful Astrid Vergara (@moonlightrunners_ms_moon), most known for her role as 50% of everyones favourite duo, Moonlight Runners. (@moonlightrunners)
“We now live, eat, and breathe kaido racers”– Mr. Jon Moonlight
“Don’t take any photos of me”– Astrid Vergara
As what seems to be a growing tradition at this point, the preparation for Nonsuri took place at Phil’s (@2000tc24) house. With the combination of having enough space for many cars, multiple access points, extremely calm neighbours and a close proximity to AutoZone, its the natural first choice for a location to converge and build.
When I first arrived, the only person there already was Nathan Wohlander (@nathanwohlander), a truly lovely person to be around and very talented photographer. Unfortunately, at the time of my arrival he was feeling how many of us have felt in the past, extremely frustrated and confused as to why his car would not run. The car in question is a well known Celica XX wearing what remains of its half removed, happy and colourful striped FET paint job (as can be seen in the first image on this page and below).
The car not running made absolutely no sense, by all measure of a car it had everything it needed, and everything was either new or proven to be working. His frustration was clear, and as I would regretfully soon find out, rightfully so.
Phil’s yard itself is something to behold, with classic Japanese cars and full blown kaido racers strewn about the place in various states of disrepair and functionality, its the perfect place to immediately put you in the mood to build cool stuff. Both the BBR (Beautiful Boy Racing) new years touring “Nampa Car” and red 83 have permanent residence in the yard, being left to the elements between events and getting reworked each time to keep things fresh, embracing one of the key kaido racer spirits, constant change and progress.
Another notable member of the oversized garden ornaments is Ryan Blackwood’s (@blackwood_ryan) Mitsubishi Galant which can be seen in its second iteration, lying under a tree looking rather sorry for itself. It does hurt to see the cars you’ve been following to adamantly throughout the years through social media in this state, but its important to remember that this is the essence of these cars. They’re built crazy, used hard, then left to sit up waiting for their next pheonix-moment, commonly returning even better and more impressive than before.
The extremely mild and predictable Californian weather also lends itself massively to the success of this ethos, with windows being left open (or missing entirely) and large holes in body panels causing no issues whatsoever, something you could never do in Britain. Well, unless you really liked severe mold and absolutely ruined electronics.
Some of the first to arrive at the house was Dan (@brocamdan) and Zach (@zaso.4247) who had already been working on the @beautifulboyracing 1985 Cressida for a few days before I arrived. At first, I didn’t realize what it actually was due to the front end being nearly unrecognizable, I soon found out that this was due to the addition of an “iron mask” and creative use of Chevrolet Sprint headlights.
These could be considered small changes to some, but paired with some other small creative features they combined to truly change the look and character of the car dramatically. I found myself having to hold back from unleashing a barrage of questions on the newly-aquatinted pair, as they struggled with a multitude of paint reaction issues.
A lot of people believe a kaido racer is simply a car with a huge front chin (deppa), giant arches (works flares) and some stolen street sign poles glued to the back (takeyari exhaust), but cars like this are proof that there are so many directions you can go when building one if you truly take the time to study, understand the subculture and are willing to put in the time and effort to do it right.
“We’re having fun lately playing with more radical conceptions of what makes a kaido racer”– Ryan Blackwood
With my third american sunrise and another black coffee thoroughly enjoyed it came time for the red BBR GX81 team cars awakening from its slumber, amazingly starting on the first key turn (my car wont even do that after a week let alone half a year) and driving itself under the rather decrepit gazebo that would shade us from the relentless sun for the next few days.
The first job was removing the old vinyls and residue from the car, as it would be recieving an entirely new paintjob and livery for event. It was slow going by hand but thankfully sped up a fair amount after I picked up a toffee wheel from Autozone, the shop that I would quickly come to find is a godsend to live near and a lifesaver when trying to prep so many old cars for a day of abuse (and fun).
Seeing everyone come together to pitch in on whichever car was further behind at the given time was one of the most enjoyable things about the preperation week, nobody considering themselfs more important than anyone else, nobody complaining about having to share space, or tools, or time, just friends working together to create and build.
I really wish I could figure out how to condense the week into just one succinct post, but I cant escape the feeling that I wouldn’t be doing all the work that went into these cars the justice it deserves. While it was only a week, it was also 7 days of intense, 12 hour (and sometimes above) days of the most high energy and passionate groups of people ive ever had the pleasure of being a part of.
Upon reflection, I think thats the most important thing when taking part in this subculture; passion. Regardless of your knowledge level, there will be someone who knows more, regardless of your mechanical skill, there will be someone who can fix something you cant, but passion? It’s an immeasurable quality, one that I believe is absolutely crucial to have as the foundation you build and develop your life upon.
Hopefully our passions align, and you’ll join me for Part 2!
“I would rather die of passion, than of boredom”– Vincent Van Gogh
My full gallery of photos and videos along with a detailed breakdown of each day can be found on my instagram