It is a fine thing when conditions lead to continuity. This particular continuity is also an automotive conundrum in several ways considering the current condition of the existence of the automobile.


The trend that has taken hold, especially here in these United States, is the popularity of the SUV, the crossover variations of five door hatches, the automatic transmission and front wheel drive. All of these would point to a humorless and drab driving culture of A to B with a soccer game or a grocery store on the agenda. The days of fun behind the wheel are drying up.

Or are they…?

There are a handful of new rear drives out there. Of those, fewer still have a manual transmission. This leads to the continuity of cars of the past being rebuilt and re-born by people who seek the slides and the sideways. Yes, America, drifting may be the saving grace of the manual, rear wheel drive car.

On a warm Wednesday tucked in the back corner of an industrial park I was there to bear witness to a mixture of car cultures. The recipe was a good mix of classic British “Top Gear”, American Motor Trend “Roadkill” and a heavy helping of the Japanese origins of drifting. The cars were budget sourced from the pre-owned market and rapidly made “drivable” over the past several days. Now they were here in this slightly barren environment to be compared on a mapped rally / drifting course by (can you guess…?) the same “tame” racing driver.

For the sake of a little background… This group of guys have a mission which is building on their combination of talents. What is the mission…? Loosely defined it is a mixture of Japan’s origin culture of drifting and the extreme styling of it with the back roads mountain attitude of American muscle cars. They call it “Jappalachia”. There have been trips to Japan with driving study in the origins of the legendary Daigo Saito drifting style. Japan is distinguished as the genesis of drifting even as the sport has expanded worlwide. The “Jappalachia” handle has been vetted during these visits with positive approvals.

The drift is no stranger to these men. A recent visit to NASA Haltech Hyperfest at Virginia International Raceway had a Nissan going tandem on the drift pad competition.

On this Wednesday, they have two cars ready to take on the course. These are not their “pro builds” but side projects for the practice and fun of it. One is a late ’80s Corvette and the other is a Nissan 240sx (’89…? ’90…? give or take…) Both of them had less than “garage kept” history. Both put up sideways and dusty shows. I think the Corvette took the time even with bottom scrapes, fuel delivery issues and a lost ass bumper. It was also driven after the 240 so one could say the previous lap in the Nissan gave a nudge of “practice” to the ‘Vette.

The “real” cars involved…? These guys are looking ahead to extreme builds in their shop. They are working up another C4 series Corvette and a 3rd generation Ford Mustang. The cars are being treated as homage to the extreme Kaido or Bosozoku style of Japanese drift builds. Big fenders, shovel forward in front of the wheels and wide body wings over the back. These are American muscle cars treated with anime angles. Engines are being built. Chassis and suspensions are being tuned and going into place. A rough timeline has turns on the calendar for the newly re-opened Southampton Speedway later this year as that track is running a drift schedule. This is Jappalachia.

Connections…? Roanoke, Charlottesville, Japan, backgrounds in design, mechanics, fabrication, travel… They have formed a friendship from chance encounters, childhood history and love of fun in cars.

The “tame” racing driver…? 2016 F4 Champion / 2021 EFO F3 Champion – Cameron Das, visiting from the UK with friends connected through common and crossed paths. His 2016 F4 is in the Jappalachia shop.

2016 USA F4 Champion, Cameron Das, with the season winning car in the Jappalachia shop

Das is currently doing a social media series of video showcases of kart racing and tracks.
Cameron Das: YouTube Instagram
Tay Whiteside – Lift Arc Studios
Gresh Chapman (Instagram):
Jackson Walker
Connor Shupe

Visit the Jappalachia Website

Photos – A visit to Jappalachia – Industrial Drifting

*The dog is “Pickles” – an Alaskan Malamute. He’s a sweetheart in a sweet spot.


There is no doubt he can drive and go fast. The third checkered flag for Montoya and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is certainly a show of driving force. The 01 Telmex BMW-Riley Daytona Prototype held strong throughout the Grand-Am/ROLEX 24 to take the win.

rlx24_01bmw_inside1It wasn’t just the efforts of Juan Pablo Montoya, behind the wheel for the checkered flag, as the 01 regular drivers Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett along with IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball kept the car on or near the point. The team in the garage kept the car smooth in and out of the pits even as the other Ganassi team suffered through issues that eventually removed the 02 from the field.

There was a strong field to contend with. Dario Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay were challenging from IndyCar. Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray were in the seats from NASCAR. Guest drivers from the hottest series were all their to sit in with Grand-Am regulars to get the American racing season started.

However, it was Ganassi and the 01 team with Montoya in for the final laps to take them to the win… again. (more…)

The Grand-Am ROLEX racing has come down to a classic American rivalry. It appears as if the “Chevy vs. Ford” argument is being played out on the course from race to race with Chevy and those new Corvette styled Daytona Prototypes placing some good punches.

Ford and Starworks Motorsport are leading the Driver and Team points marks while Chevy has the manufacturer’s lead. Ford swept the top 3 at the ROLEX 24 with Starworks sandwiched between the Fords of Michael Shank Racing. However, from that point on to just this last race in Detroit, the Chevy teams have taken the top spot on the podium.

Will the “Corvettes” dominate for the rest of the season? Will the Ford folks fight back? Can Chip Ganassi hold on while clinging to BMW power?

It does have to be difficult for the BMW / Ganassi Racing teams being the lone guns up against a field overrun by Detroit muscle. They get little sympathy from the Ford teams as the Corvette DP teams are running the show with four consecutive wins following the Daytona opener. (more…)

California race fans drew a double-shot for racing in the streets of Long Beach over the April 15th weekend with American Le Mans and IndyCar combining forces for a showcase of speed.  it was a “Cirque du So Fast” as speed limits and traffic lights were put on hold amidst cones, tires and barricades.

Don’t worry, east coast fans…  The same show comes to Baltimore in September. However, by then there will be more points pressure to perform as the season will be winding down and competition for the top spots will be more intense. Baltimore should be a great event! (more…)