In case any of you thought D1GP and JDM Option magazine front-man Daijiro Inada only comes to town for cameo appearances at the D1 events, guess again. Not only did Dai, himself, drive Friday and Saturday of the Anaheim event, but he also rented El Toro airfield in Irvine, CA, the very next day, for a come-one, come-all grip/slip instructional track day. With help from Shogun Style Performance (Course Management), Garage Boso (rental and demo cars), Ross Petty (driving instructor/translator), and Taka Aono (driving instructor/translator), Dai invited any and everyone to learn the tricks of high-performance driving on a drift skid pad, intermediate and advanced drift courses (that offered triple digit speeds, for the brave), a Gymkhana course, and an autocross course.
The event also served as an official D1 Underground event, meaning Daijiro was able to select up to four promising U.S. drivers to skip sanctioned D1 drivers' searches, and run D1 Pro qualifying events. Without spoiling any surprises, let's just say the AZ crew (Forrest Wang's bros) led the pack.
A car, helmet and signed waiver form were all that was needed to participate (along with a small entrance fee - afterall, tracks rentals ain't free), and even yours truly took a couple laps around the pavement in the Project Miata, at one point narrowly missing an out-of-nowhere mystery driver in a Hyundai Genesis coupe drift car that grazed the imaginary line separating his private practice course from ours. We leave you with a transcript of the conversation that ensued between me and my co-driver Nick Risk:
Me, clutch-kicking the Miata into a 180-degree right-handed sweeper at the far end of Gymkhana course, to Mr. Risk:
"Who the F--is this idiot?!"
Mr. Risk, as the mystery driver, engulfed in a cloud of tire smoke and looking way better at what he's doing than us, initiates nearly the same maneuver, opposite us; our rear bumpers a few feet away as we pass each other around the apexes of our turns:
"Dude, that's Rhys Millen in the Red Bull/Toyo Genesis!"
Me, after a short pause:
"Do you hear that...? Is that-- is someone playing a New Zealand national anthem/ Superman theme re-mix?!"
"...No. Can you let me out now?"