04:54 PM 23 Sep, 2022
How the Le Mans Winner Became a Drifting Legend – and Why Drifters Need Old Motors
High-speed drifting is popular all over the world, but in the drifting pantheon, the main places belong to Japanese athletes, cars and aggregates.Formula 1 and Le Mans, the world rally and the Dakar - all these worthy competitions we associate with whole lists of worthy names. And to choose from these lists by one name - so that one surname personifies the entire tournament or the entire racing discipline - is simply impossible. Bernie Ecclestone is an outstanding racing team leader and a great promoter, but as a racer he didn’t really show himself (although he went to the start of the F1 stages). And, for example, Tom Christensen and Stefan Peterhansel set records for the number of victories in Le Mans and Dakar - but did not make any marks in administrative work and did not become TV stars.
In drifting, there is a number one name, next to which no other name has stood next to it. Moreover, against the backdrop of popular disputes about whether drifting is motorsport, it is especially funny that this name belongs to a person who has seven starts at Le Mans, a victory in his class and 2nd place in the overall standings (in the crew Toyota team in 1999).
Keichi Tsuchiya, who turned 65 this year, has been racing circuits for 30 years in touring cars, GT cars and prototypes. At the same time, the pilot trained not only on the tracks, but also on the winding mountain roads behind the wheel of the first car that came to hand. Sometimes these workouts turned into impromptu races - and when the track was wet, the most effective way to get around the corner was to control the skid. And then Tsuchiya and his friends began to have fun for the sake of revenge with their tail already on dry pavement. True, in traditional motorsport, such a hobby was initially treated with suspicion: when the pilot tried to use his sideways driving skills in circuit competitions, his racing license was taken away from him for a while.
In the meantime, a group of like-minded people was forming around Tsuchiya, for whom the number one hobby was not motorsport in general, but skidding. And the Japanese became a backbone personality for this party. He was known as the guru of aerobatics and organized the first legal competitions, which eventually turned into a full-fledged, world-famous D1 Grand Prix championship. He wrote about drifting in the famous Japanese tuning magazine Option - and the main character of the Initial D comics, whose heroes were the first drifters, is essentially copied from Tsuchii. He made iconic films about the technique of skidding and appeared in a cameo role in the film "Tokyo Drift" from the "Fast and the Furious" series.
Since Tsuchiya was the manager and judge of the D1 Grand Prix from the very beginning, he cannot boast of victories in this legendary drift tournament. But the authority of this person is an order of magnitude higher than that of any of the 13 pilots who became champions. After all, almost all current drifters - including the pilots of the Carville Racing team - were carried away by driving sideways thanks to Tsuchiya's projects. The best gift for them was a DVD with the film "Drift Bible", and in communication every now and then Japanese catchphrases popped up - like "Speed alone is not enough: a drift car should look cool."
In a word, without this 65-year-old Japanese, most likely, there would be neither the Russian Drift Series, nor 15 thousand fans in the stands of Russian race tracks, nor live broadcasts of races on their own paid video platform. Therefore, having no sports titles, Tsuchiya is known to the world under an informal title - the nickname Dorikin, i.e. drift king. And another owner of this title is unlikely to ever appear.
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