Finding Automotive Devotion

Oil? Filled

Power steering pump? Shrieking

Exhaust? Rattling

Handbrake cable? Stuck

Screwdriver? Ready

Balls? Squanched

P604 radio? Blasting 

Oh yeah. It's Vangan time. 

Coming from a city gripped with a well founded fear of a single officer, to spending a weekend among enthusiasts who aren't afraid to throw down and back up their talk on the streets was as inspiring as it was refreshing. But there I am getting ahead of myself again. 

Where should I begin? 

Perhaps a realization I had; vintage Triumphs and vintage Nissans have one thing in common. It turns out that both will make you an expert in roadside/parking lot mechanical repairs in no time. Considering the day started with a stuck parking brake cable almost causing a brake fire on the S12, we knew then it was going to be a fun day. 

Western speedway is the host to an autocross club that schedules cone killing events regularly. A friendly and welcoming environment, spectators can watch as an incredibly varied lineup throws down to compete for the best time around the course, all while honing their seat time skill. In a high decibel sea of turbos spooling, tires squealing, and radios squawking, nowhere to be found were the the words "I need coilovers first". The pits filled with thrashed drift cars, modern sports cars, vintage projects, and even a couple electric vehicles showed that it was an all-are-welcome type of event. Bragging rights were earned with lap times and skill, not vape clouds and comments on social media.

Just a short drive up the highway from Western Speedway a number of enthusiasts gather at a scenic overlook, staging for an impromptu meet before heading on a back-road-bomb style cruise. Drift BMW's, Mustangs (new and old), winter beaters, JDM icons, and even a wide and unique FR-S, and thats saying something, filled the lot and buzzed in anticipation of the lake circuit they were about to embark on. All catching up on each other's builds, discussing project stages, and photographing each other's rides. With a single shout, dozens of cars fired up and roll out. It's touge time.

Ever since I started to develop as an enthusiast I have been one to encourage getting seat time whenever you can, no matter what you drive or where you are. Becoming familiar with your car and it's limits, and more importantly, your own, are how you learn to become a better driver. Prepared tracks can give you lessons that the blacktop could never hope to teach you, but the opposite has proven quite true as well. Bombing around the undisclosed lake had me practicing weight shifting and quick shifting up and down through endless curves, all with a scenic background straight out of a Hollywood film. On one side, cliffs and mountains so close you could almost touch them, then a moment later the road quickly drops to beach level. The water so close you swear you could open your door and drag your foot through it. Cars ahead to watch to evaluate road flow and conditions, cars behind you chasing you in the rear view, motivating you to keep pushing it. A moment of peace, the car humming along happily, eating up the asphalt eagerly as you fly along. There are few joys in life greater than driving with your crew on an all out run like that. I’m certain that the S12 was having just as much fun as I was as we attacked every curve, chasing down the car ahead of us. 

I had recaptured the magic of my childhood time spent playing Need For Speed: Carbon. The idea of ripping through cities with your crew in a uniquely modified car, built and set up through your own work and style. No posturing, no chasing recognition, no drama. 

A stop for dinner with friends, and then we were off to "Slapjacks Speedway", where you see loud and clear how so many of us get caught up in talk, but few of us really live for the moment. But on the island, those rare few that back up what they say come here, where everything is settled on the streets. No drama. A simple mentality of throw down or shut up. Within five minutes of arriving, someone had binned a E36 over a parking curb while trying to get close on an ambitiously fast entry. After his car was dragged away, another pair of E36 builds stepped up and threw the hammer down harder than when Stalin slapped Hitler with one of history's most brutal "you shall not pass" moments in WW2. High speed drift entries will always be a breathtaking spectacle in person, especially viewed within inches of the car as it drops in harder than Macho Man Randy Savage as the engine bangs off limiter.

A walk around the packed lot showed the dedication everyone put into their cars, whether it was a rowdy track build or a winter beater. Enthusiastic car builders stood proudly by their creations, newcomers who were just entering the scene asked for advice and ideas, and excited walking encyclopedias of everything automotive pointed out the little details and trivia about anything that caught their eyes. Incredibly, even the S12 got attention. I was astonished that something that was so rough and in its early stages of building was treated with respect and encouragement. I managed to walk away with useful input on what path to take on my upcoming suspension setup. All of this excitement and community was set to a soundtrack of roaring engines, screaming tires, and cheers/gasps from the crowd as these outlaws threw down in today's version of a wild west shootout. 

It felt like a homecoming to stand among others who weren't afraid of what others thought, who's actions spoke of courage and defiance of the concept of giving in and living in a world ruled by fear. Fear of other people's opinions, fear of an oppressive legal system that is hell bent on taking our hobby away from us, or even fear of the unknown where they stand waiting to make a jump but can never find the courage. Among this community, the only thing that was "ruined" was a handful of tires and the occasional sent and binned car. See you around Slapjacks, we will be back.


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