Wekfest Texas 2014 Coverage…Part 1…

I love Texas. I really do. I don’t want to live there or anything, but visiting is always guaranteed a great time. Don’t tell anyone, but Texas is usually my favorite stop on the nationwide Wekfest Tour. I look forward to it every year because of two reasons; 1. The people are always incredibly nice and courteous and 2. The level of growth from year-to-year with their builds is very apparent. I think I’ve been doing the tour the last three years now and it is very obvious how much better their cars have gotten. New Jersey/New York is always good too but you have certain expectations for their builds and you expect them to be at a high caliber going into it. Texas started out as probably the “youngest” of the cities on the tour. The West is obviously the dominant region, the East incredibly competitive, and Texas was always seen as the region that was up and coming. Sure there are heavy hitters out there that have been building great cars for years now but for the most part, the crowd consisted of a lot of younger enthusiasts who were still trying to define their builds with their own style. Not all of them had figured it out yet but it didn’t stop them from bringing their cars out for display. This most recent Wekfest event in Texas was a real eye-opener. There are many factors to consider but this year’s WFTX show was the best because it brought out their best crop of high-quality builds to-date. Granted, there were still some cars that left me scratching my head and saying “what are they thinking?” to myself, but a bulk of it was good….really good. The jump from 2012 to 2013 showed me that these guys/gals were really understanding what it takes to build at a high caliber but as a whole, it is pleasantly surprising to see how much has changed since I first jumped on the tour…

What I love about the enthusiasts there is that many of them genuinely care what you have to say in regards to giving them input on how to make their cars better. Junior typically says at the end of an event that if you want to chat with the judges and ask them what they are looking for, you have the freedom to. Most of the time, no one ever asks or says anything. They just wait to go complain online about something because they feel like they should win something. In Texas, there were actually people that came by to ask questions and talk about the show. I don’t mind at all. I mean, I would want someone to tell me if they had valuable information to pass along to me. It is just good to know that people go into these events with an open-mind and don’t just come in feeling entitled to win something. This is the same event where a previous “Best of Show” winner conceded the award to someone else because he wanted to give another enthusiast the opportunity to win the award. You wouldn’t see or hear that happen anywhere else. I don’t know if it has to do with upbringing or what but the people in Texas are just good to be around. If you’re a Honda guy, I hope you realize that Texas produces some great hondas. If you weren’t aware, you will be after you get through this series of coverage to come. These guys don’t mess around when it comes to putting a Honda together. You like traditional VIP builds? Texas has them too and like the Honda builds from this state, they do not fuck around. They take their VIP cars seriously and build at a level you’d think you’d only find in the East or West….

One thing that I wasn’t worried about going into Texas was the whole Ebola scare. Okay, I fucking lied, I was worried about it…but only ever so slightly. You won’t believe how many times people brought it up when they found out I was going down to Houston for Wekfest. Everyone around me talked about it so much that I somehow ended up being worried about it. To the point where I was fucking Googling information about it. And you know how the stuff you read online is always the worst case scenario type of shit. I remember I was in the restroom and saw some blood in the sink and fucking ran out screaming. Again, I lied…I totally covered my mouth to muffle the scream. Truth is that it takes some very close contact and fluid exchange to contract Ebola. I didn’t plan on exchanging fluids with anyone so I think I was okay. My fluid exchange usually consists of rigorously spraying something on somebody’s back and/or stomach so it was highly unlikely that I would be doing any of that. Still, I was weary of shaking hands with people so I had non-Ebola fighting hand santizer on me at all times. Shit you never know. It’s humid in Texas, people’s hands sweat, it comes in contact with my hands, fluid possibly exchanges, I get grossed out, I throw up on someone’s face, and they get E-Joe-La. Okay, I’ll stop. This shit ain’t anything to joke about. Ebola is serious people. I was worried, but only ever so slightly. If it was Wekfest Dallas I would have stayed my ass at home, luckily it wasn’t so you get to see coverage of WFTX today….

I’ll tell you more about the show when we actually get to that section of the coverage but today, I introduce you to my activities prior to Wekfest. Someone mentioned last week that they liked what I did, but sometimes it was a little Anthony Bourdain-ish with the way I cover foods I eat….like it was a bad thing. If anything, that would be the greatest compliment in the world to me, haha. I thoroughly enjoy what Bourdain does so if I can do anything that has any semblance to his stuff, that’d be awesome. That is kind of the direction I want to go in this year and in the future. There’s something incredibly interesting about documenting food the way he does and covering car lifestyle stuff in the way that I’ve been doing it for the last six years. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think there is anyone else out there doing coverage the way I do it and it works. People love food and cars. Why not have both?…

Today, you’re going to see just that. Most of the people that come along on the Wekfest tour are foodies. They love to eat and being allotted the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country/world presents new opportunities to eat new things…When we’re not busy doing show-related stuff or planning for the show, we can be found seeking out new food adventures. There is no better way to pass the time than to eat delicious foods with friends in an unfamiliar city. That is an adventure in itself. I embrace the memories that develop from the journey and document as much of it as I can. In Part 1, you’ll get to see a big chunk of food spots that we enjoyed on our first two days in Houston, along with coverage from the official Wekfest Pre-Meet, hosted by Texas’ own Mayday Garage. They have a huge following in Texas so any event they put on is almost guaranteed to generate a huge turnout. I think I remember them saying that they stopped counting how many cars showed-up after 1100 cars came through the meet. Not sure how accurate that number is but if it is indeed true, that’s remarkable. Also worth mentioning is that the local police let it all go down and didn’t try to be assholes about the whole thing. Everyone seemed to respect the rules and the meet went on without a hitch….Some assholes think their trucks are better than everything on the planet so there was some annoying revving and what not but everyone was pretty civil and courteous…

Everything after Part 1 is all car show coverage from Wekfest Texas. This post covers our arrival to Houston, eating with friends and catching up, plus some quick photos from the Mayday Garage meet….Enjoy…

IMG_0288-Edit

One of the first spots that we hit upon arriving in Houston was this local Vietnamese Pho spot on Bellaire Blvd called “Pho Binh By Night”. This area is home to a ton of really good Asian spots to eat at and when speaking to many Houston natives, this particular Pho restaurant was one of the best in town…

IMG_0290-Edit

I know, you’d think that I’d eat something different while I was in Texas but you know what? I’ve been eating all over the world. There are certain things I’d like to eat and Texas BBQ has been done already. Might as well enjoy some good Viet food because it is one of my favorite things to eat. What made this place special was that they serve Pho with a side of fatty bone marrow. This is the gelatin that is inside beef bone that you can scoop out and eat. Eating a little too much of it might not be a good idea because of how fatty it is but the right amount in some rich Pho broth is amazing….

IMG_0292-Edit

My boy and fellow Wekfest judge Aaron Paule got some bone marrow on his mustache. He made the mistake of drinking the fat broth and paid for it later….

IMG_0295-Edit

Not only was I out there for WFTX, some of the other Phaze2 guys came out too just to visit and for a little weekend getaway….

After dinner, we spot by at a lounge in the area to just hang out and grab some drinks. Some of the Mayday Garage guys were with us too so we just shot the shit for a couple hours before getting some rest back at the hotel. The next day, we had to grab some items for the show on Sunday and run errands before hitting the Wekfest Premeet hosted by Mayday Garage….

IMG_0308-Edit

We needed a place to eat that was a little different than the norm so Mikey and Slappy from Mayday Garage recommended we go to a spot called “The Hay Merchant”. If you like beer, this is the place for you. They got a ton of beer and some good eats there. I wasn’t sure how I felt about drinking this early in the day but fuck it, “when in Rome” I guess the saying goes….

IMG_0315-Edit

I decided to try the St. Peter’s Sorgham. Why? I don’t know. The name sounded interesting. I’m not much of an Ale-type of guy so it was just okay for me…..

IMG_0298-Edit

Phaze2 Salem apparently was not aware that we were in Texas so he decided to wear a beanie in the heat….

IMG_0302-Edit

We had some dart boards near our table so we all pretended like we knew how to throw darts….

IMG_0321-Edit

Ken from Wekfest showing good form…

IMG_0304-Edit

I thought that “Houston Mud Turtles” was some sort of local group anal sex position but it turns out that it is a program that The Hay Merchant offers where you can sign-up and win prizes for how many beers you can drink and identify. The anal sex is just a bonus…

IMG_0326-Edit

For food, I decided to order the Corn Beef Fried Rice because it sounded delicious. Not sure if it is meant to be an Asian dish or because I was Asian but they served it to me on one of those old plastic plates from Chinese restaurants. The food was good but only because they put a fried egg (x2) on top. You put a fried egg on anything and I’ll probably like it….

IMG_0329-Edit

Salem has terrible depth perception because one of his eyes isn’t the greatest so his dart game was interesting….

IMG_0332-Edit

Sweet buns aka “Bao” filled with ground meat….

IMG_0336-Edit

Dougie seemed to enjoy it….

IMG_0338-Edit

Beer-battered chicken strips with fries and honey mustard dip….

IMG_0340-Edit

Crispy fried pig ears… And yes, it was quite tasty….

IMG_0348-Edit

After lunch, we walked across the street to grab some coffee at Blacksmith, which if I remember correctly, was managed by one of the Mayday Garage guys….

IMG_0344-Edit

As a fan of Queen, it was cool to see this Freddie Mercury piece on their wall. I guess when Queen plays, Freddie pays….

IMG_0345-Edit

The guys ordering up some coffee both hot and cold. I enjoy coffee but not right after tons of beer so I passed…

IMG_0352-Edit

Cool to see a Wekfest Texas flyer posted on their cork board…

IMG_0362-Edit

We grabbed our coffee and then went for some quick sightseeing….

IMG_0371-Edit

There was this waterfall that we had to check out….

We went to Target to buy shit for the show but that wasn’t anything worth documenting. I drank a Red Bull, it was exciting, but now let’s jump ahead to the Mayday Garage Meet. During the late afternoon, I had started to see photos of the meet pop-up on Instagram and it looked huge. Sure enough, by the time we got there, it was a full-on block party filled with cars packed from street to street. The meet had started pretty early and we got there right around the middle of it so it was at its peak. Luckily the weather was nice because it was cold as shit last year when they had a similar meet. Everyone out there seemed to have a good time and I grabbed my gear for some photos….

IMG_0376-Edit

Really clean Infinti M on VIP Modular wheels parked on a crowded street corner….

IMG_0378-Edit

Tom Syhachack aka Tomsiik’s turbo S2000 with newly installed aero. You’ll be seeing plenty of his car in this WFTX coverage from start to finish….

IMG_0380-Edit

It was hard to get long exposure shots because of how crowded it was….

IMG_0382-Edit

….but luckily the guys came through and stopped traffic for a couple seconds so I could get a clean shot of Jay Calderon’s RCG-built Mugen Integra. They were out in Texas for Wekfest to defend the “Best of Show” title, which the car had won previously in both L.A. and San Jose…

IMG_0387-Edit

Another visitor from out of state was Bradley Lafayette and his full carbon J’s Racing widebody S2000….

IMG_0390-Edit

IMG_0393-Edit

David from Mayday Garage’s FD RX-7 build….

IMG_0395-Edit

Black VIP UCF30 on Avant Garde wheels….

IMG_0397-Edit

Jessyca Blood’s Aimgain Lexus IS Convertible is a mainstay in Texas and one of the more recognizable builds from that region….

IMG_0400-Edit

IMG_0416-Edit

Justin Rogers’ Kouki S14 drift car on concave Volk TE37….

IMG_0402-Edit

Chan Le’s widebody Subaru WRX STI reppin’ PROPERGARAGE….

IMG_0403-Edit

Khiem Pham’s Toyota 2JZ-GTE swapped RX-7 build from Mayday Garage…

IMG_0406-Edit-2

I thought that this shot of Bradley’s S2000 VGS came out pretty cool….

IMG_0413-Edit

Mayday Garage founder John Peterson’s Acura NSX…

IMG_0419-Edit

A visit to Texas wouldn’t be complete without at least one R35 GTR sighting….

IMG_0423-Edit

Z33 with a Powerhouse Amuse Superleggera aero kit and INGS+1 GT wing….

IMG_0424-Edit

The back end of Tom’s S2000 featuring a Spoon Mooncraft top and Spoon rear over fenders….

IMG_0421-Edit

One more of the J’s Racing GT widebody S2000….

IMG_0411-Edit

We stayed at the meet for a good hour or so while we waited for the rest of the guys to meet up with us for dinner. They were back at the hotel to pick-up Elissa Alva and also because they had to pick up Justin from IMPRM from the airport….

There was another spot that the Mayday Garage guys recommended for dinner so we headed over with some of them to eat. This particular eatery was called “Tout Sweet”. This started out as just a bakery but became so popular that the owners ended-up opening a larger restaurant space just so they could have a big enough kitchen to bake more. They served sandwiches and drinks there so it sounded like a nice light dinner before the Wekfest storm that followed in the morning….

IMG_0427-Edit

Here’s the Club Sandwich that I ordered that came with a side of chips….

IMG_0429-Edit

Elissa got this dessert. We all tried a little bit of it and it was pretty good…

The drinking laws are a little interesting in Houston. You can’t buy hard liquor after 9 PM and can only purchase wine and beer until midnight. We wanted to get some drinks so we purchased a ton of beer and headed back to the hotel to chill. We had access to an Executive Suite that was available at the hotel so we hung out there….

IMG_0434-Edit

Much of our downtime before the Wekfest show is spent playing “Head’s Up”, which is a guessing game app that was made popular by Ellen Degeneres. It’s like a trivia game where you hold your phone to your forehead while others give you clues so you can guess what is on the screen. I’m sure many of you have played it before….

We could be at a bar and going crazy but again, many of us had to be up by 4 AM to get ready to work the show….

IMG_0431-Edit

I don’t typically play this unless I’m on the tour and even guys like Justin from IMPRM got in on the fun….

IMG_0435-Edit

Apparently we were making too much noise because some lady decided to narc on us and the security guard came upstairs to tell us we couldn’t drink inside the suite. That ended the night for many of us but I’m not used to sleeping that early so some of us decided to just chill until it was time to go to the show. I think I slept maybe an hour that night which is always a terrible idea, but spending quality time with friends that you don’t see very often is worth the sacrifice…

IMG_0439-Edit

We got hungry so the guys wanted to try the Whattaburger that was down the street from the hotel. Nothing like a good helping of anal leakage before a long day at the show but these guys like to live dangerously….

IMG_0443-Edit

After some greasy burgers and late night television, it was time for whatever rest we could muster. The next day was Wekfest, and that is what we will get into in Part 2 of our coverage….stay tuned!!….

Final Fight 2014: The Final Fight and Offset Kings Coverage…

Before I start with the hoard of photos from my recent trip to Houston, Texas for Wekfest, I better unload this set that I captured from the final Formula D event of 2014. I almost forgot that I even had these photos with all that has been going on lately but I’m honestly pretty happy with how the shots came out so it would be a waste if I just never posted them. As with most of my other previous Formula D posts, they don’t consist of any actual drifting at all, haha… I mean, you can find photos of the action elsewhere and find the results of the series on the Formula D site. I just like capturing everything that goes on during the event outside of the drifting. Most of my time is spent in the pits or in the vendor area just looking at cars and chatting with friends. Formula D is such a popular event that almost everyone is out there every year and I always run into people that I don’t get to see very often. Drifting is very much alive and well in America and the ambiance is almost incomparable to any other event series. It is just a very diverse group of car enthusiasts, many of them like me, don’t even pay attention to the results most of the time and just go to go because it is fun to be there to see it all go down. You guys have heard my thoughts on American drifting in the past so I won’t bother you with it. I’m happy to see that the sport is thriving here in America but I always do miss the cultural side of it which originated from Japan. Still, you run into guys and cars on occasion that still try to keep that Japanese tradition alive, and that’s a great thing. It’s good to know that their are people who still remember where it all started…

I had some friends who brought out some cars for the “Offset Kings” car show that took place alongside the Formula D event. The car show area isn’t huge but like the crowd, it is also pretty diverse. You’ll run into a lot of the usuals but every now and then, there will be a car there that is new or just doesn’t get out very often unless there is an event like FD. I just enjoy seeing how cars are put together and how they are executed so I spend a lot of time checking out the cars that are in the pits and in the show. It was a great event. From what others were telling me, the competition was great and the people who were there to watch the action were fully immersed in it until the very end. Below is what I captured while I was there from the afternoon until the evening. Enjoy and make sure to come back for the start of the Wekfest Texas coverage because it is a good one…I promise…

IMG_0150-Edit

Mark from Fatlace had one of his Porsches trailered down to Socal so that he could trade cars with James from Floss Design. I guess Mark wanted one of James’ NSXs so they traded straight-up. Must be nice on both ends…

IMG_0152-Edit

IMG_0153-Edit

Always nice to see an RX-7, FC or FD, that still has a Rotary engine in it. Seems like everything has an LSx swap in it these days so it is refreshing to see the motor that is meant for the car to still be there… strange how the world works these days, haha….

IMG_0156-Edit

James aka Floss’ Porsche 997.2 GT3…

IMG_0158-Edit

Creaminz’s Vollkomen Design widebody Porsche 997…

IMG_0159-Edit

One of LTMW’s many Liberty Walk E92 M3s…

IMG_0162-Edit

Phaze2 Mizzark’s BMW M5 on Airrex suspension….

IMG_0164-Edit

Floss’ custom E91 BMW wagon with a host of integrated OEM E92 M3 body pieces. Everything is so subtle that you’d almost expect it to look this way from the factory but it was indeed a lot of work to make this happen. The front end, hood, and fenders are all M3 components and even the rear quarter is OEM M-parts that were grafted into the stock wagon body….

IMG_0166-Edit

Kyoei USA’s Aimgain LS400….

IMG_0167-Edit

Kyoei USA’s Aimgain Toyota Prius which I had the opportunity to shoot last year from Aimgain….

IMG_0175-Edit

IMG_0171-Edit

Jeff Wolfson’s 2JZ-GTE powered Scion FR-S drift car with full Aimgain aero kit…

IMG_0176-Edit

The tires of Wolfson’s FR-S has definitely seen better days…

IMG_0182-Edit

IMG_0177-Edit

Chris Jeanneret’s K24 turbocharged Honda S2000 made it out to compete in the Final Round of FD but ultimately did not qualify… Still some minor things to work out but the future of these build looks promising….

IMG_0186-Edit

IMG_0187-Edit

GM LSx turbo-swapped FC3S RX-7 reppin’ Animal Style…

IMG_0190-Edit

IMG_0191-Edit

Ron Ewerth’s LS-supercharged (LS9?) Scion FR-S also wearing full Aimgain aero….

IMG_0195-Edit

Sarto Racing widebody E36 M-coupe on display in the Nitto Tires booth….

IMG_0197-Edit

Rocket Bunny V2 Subaru BR-Z that is currently getting a makeover in time for the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas….

IMG_0199-Edit

Liberty Walk-kitted BMW Z4 convertible…

IMG_0201-Edit

Yet another LB*Performance widebody E92 M….

IMG_0202-Edit

R35 GTR that probably makes like a million horsepower from SP Engineering… I had a chance to ride in one that made 1500HP and I swear it is the scariest shit EVER…haha…

IMG_0205-Edit

Toyota Sienna SE sitting on brand new SSR Professor SP4…

IMG_0207-Edit-2-Edit

Nicely done Aimgain FR-S on bronze Work Meister S1….

IMG_0208-Edit

Ayeeejayyy’s bagged stock body LS400 on Work VS-KF wheels….

IMG_0209-Edit

EF Civic hatchback on Manaray Turbina S wheels…

IMG_0210-Edit

Track-bred CR-X with 2-piece Work Meister’s up front and Work RS-Zs in the rear…

IMG_0218-Edit

IMG_0216-Edit

Really clean single-cam Civic hatchback from City Stars with a nicely done engine bay….

IMG_0221-Edit

IMG_0220-Edit

Kerwin’s H22-supercharged RHD Civic hatchback….

IMG_0223-Edit

Custom widebody GS400 from Liberty VIP on SSR Professor SP3s….

IMG_0224-Edit

CD Accord on some AG wheels….

IMG_0226-Edit

Sang Pham’s J’s Racing GT widebody turbocharged S2000 on new Advan Racing GT wheels…

IMG_0228-Edit

Tim Macasero’s Powerhouse Amuse GT widebody S2000 on red Volk Racing CE28N….

IMG_0229-Edit

Jamie Cano-Carter’s Subaru Impreza Wagon from Project Zero on bronze TE37V…

IMG_0231-Edit

This deep wine-colored AP2 S2000 with Amuse (or Amuse-style) front bumper was on a set of WED’s Kranze wheels that I haven’t seen before….

IMG_0235-Edit

IMG_0234-Edit

Really liked this 2JZ-GTE powered Toyota Cressida on SSR Formula Mesh…

IMG_0243-Edit

S14 Kouki drift car with a beefy V8 swap protruding out of the hood…

IMG_0260-Edit

Two of the best-looking drift cars at Formula D: The Final Fight were these S-chassis Nissans from Animal Style. They represent a dying breed of Japanese drift cars that still carry that traditional look of drifters that we grew up enjoying when the sport was first introduced to our car community. I personally stopped to stare at these cars for a length of time because I couldn’t help but be a bit nostalgic. It’s rare to see Japanese-style represented in American drifting these days and it is good to see that there are a dedicated few that still try to keep this look alive…

IMG_0257-Edit

Just the aero set-up with the big vented hoods, wheels and all is just spot-on with a car you’d see from Japan…

IMG_0258-Edit

I couldn’t help but appreciate these cars even more after seeing the Animal Style guys drift at the recent Final Bout event. I haven’t been much into drifting at all the last couple of years but I’m honestly thinking about checking out Final Bout next year…. On another note, love the V-OPT.CO.JP banner as an homage to Japan….

IMG_0252-Edit

IMG_0254-Edit

Garage Autohero’s 1JZ-GTE powered S14 Kouki had a pretty interesting turbo and dump pipe set-up…

IMG_0269-Edit

IMG_0267-Edit

Angel’s K-supercharged Civic is undoubtedly one of the best Honda builds of the calendar year. Not only was his build put together exceptionally well, he always regularly made it out to almost every event in California…

IMG_0271-Edit

Closing out my FD coverage with a shot of Brian Duong’s EVO X which was parked at the Mackin Industries booth showcasing the new Gram Lights 57Getter wheels… That’s all for today. Thanks for looking!!!