Final Bout Gallery 2019 Coverage… Part 1…


My quest to see cool shit has led me to some pretty interesting places. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to many different parts of the world to experience car culture, but if you were to tell me that I’d somehow end up in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin, twice now, I’d think you were crazy. Even crazier would be the notion that a little go-cart track in Shawano, WI hosted one of my favorite events—ever. And that’s saying a lot, I guess I can say, when I lump all my experiences together…

About four years ago, I found myself in Shawano at the second-ever Final Bout event. It was a different time back in 2015. The event wasn’t nearly as big and though it was just their second time running this drifting competition, I could already feel a very special ‘aura’ surrounding it. Just the general vibe of it and what it did for the automotive enthusiasts there, I knew it was going to be something unique. Back then it had rose to popularity as a true grassroots drifting event featuring a lot of cars that were very dedicated in styling to those of Japan’s glorious drifting past. Many had grown tired of the commercialization of North American drifting and the monster that was Formula D. They wanted change but more importantly, they wanted to pay homage to Japanese drifting. A couple of guys in Chicago decided to make that change by creating Final Bout, a competition with a unique twist—it would be a team event where similarly-themed cars from different groups of friends would drive together…

Thanks to a good team of people who knew how to make some pretty cool graphics to brand the event, a good network of car people who had cool cars that came to compete, and a few select individuals on the media-side, people began to notice after the first Final Bout event took place. Even someone like me, who was completely unrelated to the event or the people involved, took notice. Der and I were at our old shop back then, watching some YouTube videos when we came upon a Final Bout 1 piece. I forget who put the video together but it was so well done. The idea of a team drifting competition was so cool and the cars just looked great. We planned on going to the second one but some scheduling conflicts arose which prevented Der from being able to make the trip and I ended-up going because an opportunity came-up with my friend Yogi who worked at Falken Tire at the time. This grassroots drifting event had definitely caught the eyes of the nation. So much so that even Falken Tire jumped on board to be one of the main sponsors…

Fast-forward to 2019 and much had changed. Final Bout held multiple successful events in the years that followed the one that I went to, including a three-stop “Special Stage” tour in different parts of the country, a Japan event, and more. The guys stopped altogether and didn’t even host a Final Bout event in 2018, touting the 2017 event as the last one they’d ever do. Somehow that didn’t last very long as they announced a return in 2019 with a special “Final Bout Gallery” event…

I regretted not going back since the second Final Bout. It was a lot of fun. I think in the years that followed, I also got a lot busier and had more things on my plate where I just couldn’t find my way back to Shawano, WI or their other stops. The want to return was there, there was just always something that prevented me from making it back there. I remember going in 2015 and nobody knew who I was. Yogi had to pull a favor and essentially got me onto the media list last minute. It was so cool being in a completely new environment, wide-eyed, not knowing what to expect and suddenly being given access to everything. I’ll never forget it…

Traveling this year has been pretty crazy for me. I’ve been on an airplane for what seems like the entire year thus far and we are barely dipping our feet into June. It’s been busy, to put it simply. When I found out that Final Bout was back, I knew I had to go. It’s not lost on me that this doesn’t necessarily ‘speak’ to my core demographic. I am as responsible for this as anyone else but I’ve always been considered a “Honda” guy who just follows Honda stuff religiously. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you really look at the content I’ve been providing the world for the last decade or so, you’ll notice that my content is pretty diverse in what I cover. I like Honda stuff, yes, that’s my core. That’s what built the site to what it is today but I’ve always been into a wide array of things, whether it be car shows, Hondas, VIP car culture, some stance stuff, and yes even some drifting here and there. I just don’t cover Formula D because it doesn’t interest me. I’m very much invested in seeing cool shit, it doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it’s Japanese automotive-related. That’s what piques my interest. Most of the time its Honda content because that is just what I am surrounded by. And I’m from Southern California and nobody really does Hondas in this country better than we do out here on the West Coast. Don’t @ me either, lol. You know it’s true…

Consider this a minor break from the norm. A passion side-project, if you will. Me going to Final Bout Gallery is very much something that I wanted to do for myself. I don’t care about what numbers it produces or how much traffic it will bring to the site or my social media outlets. Not that it ever mattered really, but I am casting all that aside because I just want to show you guys cool shit, whether some of you want to see it or not. It’s just a lot of fun for me to shoot this event and to experience it. There’s just something so very unique about Final Bout and I hope the videos and photos that I provide you speak to that. If it doesn’t, well, that’s okay. I’m very much content in knowing that it was an experience I’ll remember forever…

Final Bout is very much a love letter to Japanese drifting culture. And its done very faithfully. Nevermind that it is a Motorsports event or drifting-related. You take the drifting out of the equation and you have very cool automotive projects and builds that are devoted to Japanese car culture. That also is done very faithfully by many of the people that compete at Final Bout. Just being in that environment to see the cars and to share the experience with others is, in and of itself, very VERY cool. If you dissect it, at the core of it, it’s really just sharing a hobby with others and enjoying it together. It doesn’t really matter what it is. The foundation of it is just bringing people together to share something they all enjoy…

Before we officially get down to the nitty gritty, let me offer a friendly reminder that I don’t shoot drifting stuff often. If there are rules to it and how to shoot it, go ahead and toss those out the window as well because I don’t know them, lol. I just shoot the way I know how to do it. Sometimes people don’t like it. I don’t fucking care. There were so many people covering this event that I am sure you’ll find something you like if you don’t see it here. I just do things my way and it’s worked for me for like ten years so I’m going to keep doing that. Such is my existence. I will, however, do something a little differently than what I normally do and I am presenting you with Final Bout Gallery coverage BACKWARDS. As in, I’m going to start from the end and work back to the beginning. Why? Well…I don’t know. I always wanted to do that when it comes to presenting event coverage and it seemed apropo. Being that I don’t shoot this stuff often, it also took some time for me to really get my bearings and adjust to the climate…

…and to be honest…

That just means the photos at the end are better, folks. Lol.

Enjoy. Or not.

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Mike Martino and his fellow Canadians having a good ol’ BBQ on Memorial Day Weekend in Shawano, Wisconsin. No better example of Final Bout bringing people together from all over…

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Chuck Uemura from Auto Factory REALIZE made the trip to Wisconsin once again with his Toyota 1JZ-powered S13 coupe. Always good to see some familiar Southern California faces in the Midwest…

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PJ Prendergast’s FC3S RX-7 wearing BN Sports Type 1 aero representing the guys from BOSSTOWN out in the East Coast…

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If you’re a fan of the S-chassis, Final Bout was definitely the place to be hosting what seems like the entirety of North America’s S-Chassis owners. I don’t recall ever seeing so many of them in one place my entire life…

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Antanas Lingis’ Origin Aggressive Type 1 PS13 coupe…

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The last time I saw Jimmy Yates’ SR-powered R32 Skyline sedan was at last year’s Wekfest Houston event, when it was just red, sans graphics, on Volk TEs. He’s switched it up quite a bit with a full livery and polished Work XT7 to match…

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Josh Maghirang from PROCEED’s RPS13 powered by an S15 SR20DET wearing Ikeya Formula aero and Volk GT-N wheels…

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AJ Gillett’s IS300 is looking fantastic these days with a full Modellista Qualitat kit and C-West hood…

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Kevin from SERIAL NINE’s pink Toyota Altezza making the trek all the way from Vancouver, BC…

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Simba from PROCEED, one of the men responsible for Final Bout, doing a wheel swap on his S13 coupe before heading onto the track…

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One of the coolest cars at Final Bout Gallery this year was Liam Kirby’s R34 Skyline GT coupe with its clear taillights and full URAS Type GT kit…

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Julian Jacobs from ANIMAL STYLE’s freshly repainted S13 with new D-Magic livery and brand new Origin Labo headlights which should be available now or soon to the public…

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As an IS owner myself, I always stop to appreciate how AJ’s IS looks sitting on those concave GTR-face Advan RG wheels…

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Sebastian from GARAGE MOON POWER’s SR20DET swapped HCR32 Skyline sedan…

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One of the most talked-about builds to pop-up at Final Bout Gallery was Dominic Sacco’s Z32 from Northern California, which was freshly-painted just in time for the event. After getting everything dialed-in he actually drove straight to Wisconsin from the Bay Area to drive at Final Bout…

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The BEAMS 3S-GE-powered “SQUEEZE 86” getting things going during the evening portion of the event post-competition…

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One of the cleanest cars at Final Bout this year was this RPS13 wearing a Sexy Style Type 1 face…

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Carter Jackson was one of a number of JZX owners driving at Final Bout Gallery…

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Julian Jacob’s S13 looking pretty fantastic wearing Origin Labo Aggressive Line aero and Type III fenders…

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The SQUEEZE 86 looks to be running a Run Free front with Vertex sides and rear…

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Chris Debowski’s RPS13 from VANISH wearing GP Sports aero with a slightly modified front…

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GOLDSTAR from Northern California, PROCEED from Chicago, and SERIAL NINE from Canada all in one photo…

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Dominic from GOLDSTAR making his way through a plume of tire smoke…

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Simba and Josh from PROCEED doing some tight tandems at USAIR. These guys probably drive together all the time and are familiar enough with one another to get this close…

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Vince Leone’s Sexy Style RPS13 running a newer S14 SR…

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One more of Debowski’s GP Sports 240SX…

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Some more close encounters with PROCEED…

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Chob giving some friends the full Final Bout experience by packing his car full of people for ridealongs. See how many heads you can count inside his 2GS…

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JR Wayne’s RE Amemiya FC3S was breathing some fire all evening at FB Gallery…

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Yasu originally flew out to America to check out the Wekfest Chicago event but while we were out at the show, I convinced him to go to Final Bout as well and literally booked his flight while we were at Wekfest. The ticket wasn’t cheap by any means, and I don’t think he’d ever heard of Wisconsin before, but I’m sure it was an experience he won’t soon forget…

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GOLDSTAR leading the pack…

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Frontstreet Tom and Frontstreet Josh having some fun with their Origin Labo S13s…

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Had to grab that close-up….

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Only way to get a good-looking car to look even cooler is to add some fire to the equation…

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One of the best drivers all weekend was Billy Lemke in his JZZ30 wearing Origin Labo Stylish aero…

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Nice orange to yellow fade on this PS13 Silvia from DARING PARTNERS wearing BN Sports aero…

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Gary Sukrattanawong from Auto Factory Realize moving in his 1JZ-powered Origin Labo Racing Line S13 coupe…

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Jay Kubota’s newly completed RPS13 from Auto Factory Realize running a built SR-motor and Sexy Style aero…

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Chob’s 2JZ-GTE was putting in all the work carrying all those people inside…

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Martino and the Car Shop REACT Vertex S15…

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Cool to see a complete URAS Type IV aero kit on Joseph Pacione’s 240SX from Car Shop REACT…

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More Dom GOLDSTAR because this car just looks sick hammered to the ground and sliding around in Candy Apple Red paint…

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A bit of peace amongst all the madness going on at USAIR Motorsports Raceway…

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I was trying to figure out what engine set-up this 2GS was running because I could hearing it whining all weekend and right before I left on Sunday, I got a peek under the hood to see it was running a factory Toyota V8 with a supercharger and retrofitted V8 intake plenum…

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AJ Gillett was one of the best drivers all weekend finishing in the Top 3 of the Final Bout Gallery competition…

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Lavender Kouki S14 from GLEAM running URAS Type II aero…

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Daigo Miura from SEXY KNIGHTS came all the way to the Midwest with his Sexy Style RPS13 180SX to drive at Final Bout…

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Ryo Miura’s Sexy Knights World Wide FC3S from Japan with the matchign SEXY KNIGHTS livery…

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Since we are starting from the end, these photos are from the Sunday free run day, which offered a reversed course to that of the competition course the day before. This not only offered a new challenge for drivers but a completely new backdrop for photos…

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Mike from GLEAM in his 13B Rotary-powered Miata. A car that we just saw recently at the Wekfest Chicago event…

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Lingis and his black Origin Lab PS13 with SSR Minerva up front and SSR Vienna Courage in the rear…

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Rich Whitemane in his JZX100 Chaser was the crowning champion of Final Bout Gallery 2019, offering both great driving and a very good-looking vehicle, which some would add is more important than anything…

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Alex Cook’s two-toned 1JZ-GTE powered IS300 from RISKY DEVIL…

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Tony  Zepka’s Onevia from GLEAM…

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Now seeing all the photos of this S13, I guess you can say I’m a fan…

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Ilia and Liam coming around the corner during a cool-down lap…

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Ilia from PROCEED, for those new to the community, was the previous owner of a Toyota Cressida that he beat the hell out of. He now has this white FD wearing what looks to be T&E Vertex aero powered by a 13B-REW engine and upgraded turbo…

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Kirby’s URAS Type GT R34 Skyline was once a COCKPIT Tatebayashi democar which was purchased and imported to the States. It hosts a HKS GT3040R turbocharged RB25 NEO engine with some Tomei goodies inside…

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John Ruiz’s 1JZ-GTE swapped Lexus IS300 running full BN Sports aero and a Koguchi Power GT wing…

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Mike from GLEAM putting that Rotary engine to work…

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Dustin Miles from GARAGE MOON POWER and his S13 coupe…

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Some more of Liam Kirby’s R34 Skyline…

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Rich Whitemane in his Toyota Chaser…

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A few years ago I remember seeing one of the guys from RISKY DEVIL with an SR-powered E30 BMW. I didn’t see it this year at Final Bout and as it turns out, the owner now has this E46 BMW M3 coupe running a StreetfighterLA widebody kit…

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David Kim aka Battledriven, constantly wondering what the hell to do with his life…

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One of my favorite cars at Final Bout Gallery this year was Aaron Eschmeyer’s Kouki S14, running a set of Work VS-KF wheels and a complete GP Sports G-Four kit…

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Should have led the coverage with this photo and did one of those BET “You’re probably wondering how I got here” movie openers…

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Rob Parsons 180SX is looking great these days with the new livery and was one of the few S-Chassis builds to run a GM LS-swap at Final Bout Gallery. Oh, I should add that it was also a supercharged LS-swap so it sounded fucking crazy…

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Gary from REALIZE probably had to go back to grab is rear bumper after this run…

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SEXY KNIGHTS Japan in Shawano, Wisconsin. Let that sink in…

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Chairslayer shredding some tires in his Vortech supercharged LS. Probably the only engine the residents of Shawano, WI recognized the entire weekend…

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Maghirang blastin’ Stevie B while thrashing on his 240SX sans Ikeya Formula front bumper and rear valance…

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I saw a surprising number of boy hugs throughout the weekend, which was cool. A lot of camaraderie in this community. Its great to see how everyone was so nice to one another and helpful…

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And though this is the end, it is just the beginning of the Final Bout Gallery 2019 Coverage. So much more to come so I hope you long-time readers stick around for the rest and greetings to our new ones. Thanks for looking!!…

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1 comment

  1. Hi Joey! The Blvckmoon GS has a 1UZ with a Ford super charger on it! Def not a Ford V8. Thanks for the coverage and for coming out!

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