Final Bout Special Stage West 2020 Coverage… Part 1…

Admittedly, looking back on these photos and showing them to you now bums me out a little. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all going a little crazy and experiencing some cabin fever now that we’ve been self-isolating for the past month. Seeing these photos just reminds me that Final Bout Special Stage West was the last automotive event I went to and there’s really no telling when I’ll be at another one for the foreseeable future. Things are just in a very unknown place right now and with the Coronavirus pandemic still yet to peak out here on the West side, we just don’t know when we’ll ever return to some semblance of normalcy. Who knows if things will ever be “normal” again. If anything this pandemic has taken the world by its throat and there is a very strong possibility that we’ll never have what we considered to be normal after all this passes. I think we’ll just have to settle on a new form of normal which is unlike anything we’ve experienced in the past. For now we can only look back fondly and appreciate what we had…

Final Bout Special Stage West at Horse Thief Mile was one of those events that I was really looking forward to. I’ve grown to enjoy the Final Bout events and have traveled to experience them out in the Midwest a couple times so it was cool that they were actually in California for a change. Normally I’d be out in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin to shoot one of these events. To be able to go to a Final Bout event and go home at the end of the day to my own bed sounded fantastic. I was still in Japan when Ilia from Final Bout had contacted me about their schedule of events for 2020 but knew I’d make it home in time for the Southern California stop of their nationwide tour. The Special Stage South event in Texas sounded intriguing to me but having spent a good chunk of my funds traveling to Japan made it difficult to justify a flight straight to Texas after I came home. After seeing some photos from Texas I lowkey regret not going, especially considering how we got the “Stay At Home” order placed on us some weeks later. Having been in Asia when the COVID-19 pandemic was coming our way, I already understand that there was a strong chance it’d hit us pretty hard—I just had no idea how terribly unprepared we were for it. About a week before Special Stage West was going to happen, I think collectively that all involved were a bit on edge not knowing if California was going to step-in and prevent events from occurring. It made sense if they did because there were already many confirmed cases here in California but at that time, it hadn’t gotten anywhere near as bad as it did now. I remember a few days before they had already stated outright that California was to not have any gatherings of more than 250 people. Considering how we can’t even have a group more than a typical household now, 250 sounds like A LOT of people in one place…

With this being their first event in California, I think there was a lot riding on this for the long-term success of the Final Bout series. There was so much excitement leading up to it and I’m confident in saying that the organizers were expecting a huge turn-out. Limiting the event to 250 people just days before the event really shook things up. Would they still do the event? COULD they still do the event? There were a lot of unknowns. We all kind of sat there and waited to see what the final decision would be with the unsettling feeling that it likely wasn’t going to happen…

Ultimately, a decision was made. A compromise was necessary but Final Bout Special Stage West would go on as scheduled. The only exception was that it had to be kept small, limiting the number of people at the track and eliminating spectators altogether. Only the drivers, their crew, Final Bout staff and qualified media would be allowed on the premises. Final Bout SSW then became a “private” drift event, so to speak. Thankfully the guys from Final Bout worked incredibly hard to make the event presentable to an online audience by working with Falken Tire and Hoonigan to create an online stream. If you wanted to spectate, the only way you could do so was to hop on a computer or laptop to watch it from the comfort of your own home…

Times like this are when I’m happy I’ve worked my ass off over the years and am considered to be a member of the “qualified media”. I don’t shoot much drifting or motorsports in general but I’m glad I’m appreciated by the guys from Final Bout. They’ve always been so welcoming since the first time I went when I was a complete unknown to them. I even managed to get Ryan Der media credentials so he could attend a Final Bout event for the first time. He ended up bringing a fucking Hello Kitty film camera which would likely gotten us kicked-out of most motorsports events with required media credentials but Final Bout is unique enough where they’d actually appreciate shit like that…

I ended-up taking more photos than I thought I would but it was actually really nice having the opportunity to shoot a drift event with no spectators. Everyone who had media passes were very respectful and gave each other plenty of space to shoot. Call it social distancing, intentional or not, but there was never a scenario where anyone got in anyone else’s way. And that’s hard to come by in 2020….well, it was hard to come by. You can’t even be near breathing distance nowadays but I digress. There’s gonna be a total of four parts to this coverage. I know many of you aren’t used to seeing drifting content on The Chronicles but let’s be honest, we ain’t got too many options right now, lol. And this coverage will be good. Final Bout always brings some pretty unique builds that you wouldn’t typically see at any other event. I don’t really know when I’ll even be able to go to another event so who knows when there will be more content coming. There’s a strong possibility I may have to dig into my archives and show you guys some stuff that I’ve kept tucked away for a long time that I never posted. Who knows. It’s an interesting time with so many unknowns that we’re all just kind of floating around in limbo. All we can do is make the most of it…

Enjoy…

309A8929-Edit

The first photo I took that morning at Final Bout SSW was Joey Gonzales’ purple KA-powered 240SX coupe from RUN UP! drift club…

309A8930-Edit

Richard Ribeiro’s BN Sports FC3S from RUN UP! was one of the cars that caught my eye prior to Special Stage West when I spotted it at the Final Bout pre-meet. Just something so incredibly ’90s about it and how it sits just right…

309A8937-Edit

One of my goals was to follow the Auto Factory Realize guys that day to document their process throughout the competition but only two of them were there that morning. Teddy had finally put his broken aero back on the car, Jay’s RPS13 was parked not too far away but noticeably absent were Chuck and Gary…

309A8944-Edit

Panasport G7 C5C2 wheels also play a huge role in making this RX-7 look great…

309A8954-Edit

Final Bout brought a special guest out for their Southern California stop with the famed APEXi FD once piloted by Youichi Imamura on display…

309A8957-Edit

The car still sits exactly the same as it did since the early 2000s and is normally just stored inside APEXi’s facility in Orange, California. Nice to see it out and about stretching its legs a bit…

309A8961-Edit

Not too long after, Chuck pulled-up and parked with the rest of his Realize brethren…

309A8971-Edit

As it turns out, they showed-up late because Gary had been busy putting his transmission back in just hours before Final Bout SSW…

309A8982-Edit

Ilia from Final Bout taking a test lap around the Horse Thief mile section of Willow Springs Raceway where the competition would take place…

309A8984-Edit

Julian Jacobs from ANIMAL STYLE letting loose during some practice laps…

309A9000-Edit

Never too far away from Julian is Jason Bostrom and his S13 coupe from ANIMAL STYLE

309A9013-Edit

Gary Sukrattanawong in his Toyota 2JZ-GTE powered S13 running Origin Lab Racing Line aero…

309A9027-Edit

It was nice to finally see Rodney from Royal Origin’s Mark II-faced Cressida in action after knowing him all these years and never see him drive…

309A9030-Edit

309A9029-Edit

With Formula Drift events postponed or cancelled this year due to the worldwide pandemic, pro-driver Ken Gushi turned his attention to his IS300 and teamed-up with Rodney to form the HANDSOME BOYS team for Final Bout SSW…

309A9036-Edit

309A9038-Edit

Making the trip all the way from Chicago to drive Horse Thief Mile at Final Bout SSW was Josh Maghirang from PROCEED and his RPS13…

309A9044-Edit

Cole Seely’s driveshaft from his S15 fell-out during practice but luckily some members of the media were there to lend a helping hand…

309A9048-Edit

Gary’s S13 is easily recognizable even though the car wears a matching livery to the other three REALIZE builds thanks to his bright pink Gram Lights 57DR wheels and the silver gradient on the bottom of his aero kit…

309A9065-Edit

309A9061-Edit

Rodney Moenadi’s JZ-powered Cressida sporting BN Type 2 aero wrapped completely in dark purple vinyl…

309A9072-Edit

309A9076-Edit

Even with all the crazy liveries and brightly color drift cars, the one car that likely stood-out the most was this BMW E36 coupe owned by Palmer from ANIMAL STYLE wearing a full, and quite rare I might add, Bomex aero kit…

309A9078-Edit

Love that Mark II front-end conversion on the MX83 Cressida…

309A9086-Edit

309A9089-Edit

Formula D pro-driver Kazuya Taguchi brought his 180SX out for some fun at Special Stage West to represent Up Garage USA…

309A9093-Edit

Another PROCEED member that brought his car out to drive at Final Bout SSW was Eric and his 2JZ-GTE powered Lexus 2GS…

309A9100-Edit

Art nearly destroying his rare GT1 front bumper as he went off course during practice. You can also see his GT1 sideskirts laying on the floor by the Koyorad flag…

309A9107-Edit

Daniel Nguyen and his Mark II-face Cressida from Drift Team HAMMERTIME…

309A9112-Edit

Nieko’s PS13 and Jairo’s Onevia from HAMMERTIME

309A9115-Edit

Nieko leading the way with David Lim’s IS300 following close behind…

309A9126-Edit

Julian and Jason getting reacquainted in their S13 coupes…

309A9145-Edit

309A9148-Edit

Josh from PROCEED went with a different look this year opting to replace his rare Ikeya Formula front with what looks to be a modified GP Sports front with added side canard pieces and center vent piece for that Hot Road-inspired look…

309A9157-Edit

Christian Santos’ beautiful 1JZ-GTE powered IS300 on SSR Vienna Courage wheels from BLVCKMOON car club…

309A9176-Edit

Looking straight out of the cover of Drift Tengoku magazine was Ribeiro in his BN FC3S…

309A9182-Edit

309A9187-Edit

Such a photogenic car that it almost made it too easy to shoo even when it was in motion…

309A9190-Edit

Two of the most popular and well-versed competitors that weekend at Final Bout SSW were Julian and Jason from ANIMAL STYLE

309A9198-Edit

Full Origin Labo aero and a D-Magic livery on Julian Jacobs’ S13…

309A9201-Edit

I should also add that they have some of the best-looking drift cars on this side of the world…

309A9210-Edit

Simba Nyemba from PROCEED took some time away from working the Final Bout event to hop into his S13 for some fun…

309A9222-Edit

Never thought I’d see these two cars all the way out here in Southern California…

309A9224-Edit

Ryo from SEXY KNIGHTS’ FC3S which was built and sent over to the U.S. from Japan last year for the Final Bout event series was actually raffled-off to Nieko from HAMMERTIME. Not much has changed since he won the car and he brought it out to display while driving his S13…

309A9226-Edit

Yuta loves his EK sedans but he looked back in his natural habitat hanging out with drifters and helping some of them out with their cars…

309A9231-Edit

Nic Michuda’s 1JZ-GTE VVTi powered Lexus IS300 looked stunning with its full Elixir aero kit…

309A9235-Edit

Bostrom’s SR-powered Origin Aggressive Line S13…

309A9238-Edit

Gary from REALIZE had his passenger strapped-in with full headgear…

309A9244-Edit

309A9254-Edit

309A9253-Edit

Wrapping Part 1 of 4 with some more shots of Kazuya Taguchi’s Japan-imported 180SX in action. Crazy to think that after all these years Up Garage is finally coming to North America. So far, early details aren’t very definitive and the general public has no idea what it is supposed to be yet I’m starting to see it being promoted everywhere so there must be some major things in the works. Anyways, there’s still much more to come this week so stay tuned!!!…

Leave a Reply