Ian Baker, founder of World Time Attack Challenge has without a doubt created an event for all to enjoy where teams come from all over the globe to set the fastest laps, show their cars off and race, whether that be in a high performance car or a classic there is something for everyone even drifting with some of the world's best attending to compete and put on a show! WTAC is the ultimate festival of speed combining all forms of Motorsport. With each year comes bigger and better surprises. This year it was announced that Keiichi Tsuchiya would be attending as a special guest. Now this breaking news had Ash calling me instantly to tell me moments after it hit our newsfeed. Wait...what??? NO WAY!!! October could not come quick enough!
This was massive news to the both of us and something dreams are made of!
Tsuchiya-san was invited to Sydney to judge the International Drift Challenge, as well as drive one of three Pagani Huayra BC's in the world around Sydney Motorsport Park and to top it all off he was given the keys to Beau Yates' newly resurrected Toyota Genuine Parts AE86.
With most of Australia oozing with excitement and many people's dreams coming true I overheard a comment during the weekends shenanigans that had me giggling to myself. A young boy, probably 10 years of age asked his dad who "that" guy was (which he just posed with for a photo). Well dad's response was the best, he replied with "some famous race car driver". It was like a kardashian moment, you see someone famous and you just want a photo not knowing them, not caring for them or who they are, just simply to get your taste of fame to show off to others. So I wanted to share with you who Keiichi Tsuchiya is, and why he is so famous worldwide and why his legacy will live on for many years to come...
Keiichi Tsuchiya (born January 30, 1956, age 60) is a professional race car driver. He is famously known as the Drift King (aka DK) for his use of drifting in non-drifting events. To maintain speed and position he would brake later then the rest coming into corners which would cause his car to get out of shape, he learnt to control these out of control movements and founded the "drift", he popularized drifting as a motorsport.
(Images sourced through google)
"I drift not because it is a quicker way around a corner, but it is the most exciting way..."
He is also known for touge driving, touge meaning mountain pass, he began drifting the mountains of Japan simply for fun.
Keiichi is also famous for the car he drives, a Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno, which has now become one of the most popular Japanese cars known all over the world also known as a "Hachi-Roku" (meaning "eight six"). Tsuchiya also is a consultant for one of the most popular comic books and manga, Initial D, where the main character Takumi Fujiwara is said to be based from Keiichi's personality and mountain antics.
My favourite quotes by Keiichi Tsuchiya are:
"Speed isn't everything; you gotta look cool on the touge too."
"The important thing is to keep trying"
(Images sourced through Google)
Keiichi Tsuchiya's story is a lengthy one filled with countless achievements over the years and a life filled with great moments in many forms of Motorsport on the track and in front of the camera. His life is one to be admired.
On the Thursday (practice day/media day) I was in the pits doing my own thing shooting the calm before the storm when I noticed Ian Baker walking towards me, I did not notice who was by his side, I was a girl on a mission and took the opportunity to take some candid shots of Ian. As I zoomed in on him I soon realised real quick who was by his side! As they entered the nearby garage I raced over and asked Ian to take my picture with Keiichi Tsuchiya, knowing this could well be my only opportunity I did not have time to adjust my camera's settings and whipped out my phone getting a photo with the man himself. Before I knew it I was left standing there speechless by myself with a photo of dk and I on my phone's screen! And of course uploading it straight to social media!
A few hours went by and I was hanging around the tent where the precious Pagani Huayra BC was resting, I had introduced myself to Dino, who I have been extremely inspired by and have followed his work for some time now, if you know me you know I am extremely envious of the speedhunters family.
As I was talking to Dino, Ian had arrived with Tsuchiya-san to become familiar with the Pagani he would be piloting over the weekend. Dino explained the controls and how to operate the masterpiece before he was due to test drive it later that afternoon, ensuring he would be familiar with the car before he would demonste it before thousands of people.
Waiting for Keiichi Tsuchiya to have his practice laps in the Pagani Huayra I ran around introducing myself to all the teams and getting familiar with their garages.
Before I knew it, it was 4:10pm and that meant it was time to hear that sweet roar of a 6.0-litre V-12 engine scream down the main straight at the hands of Tsuchiya-san. After a spin on the 3rd corner (I bet he sh*t himself there) he found the car's limits enabling him to push the $3million Pagani hard into corners and of course riding these limits with the rear stepping out several times, c'mon it's dk, it just wouldn't be a hot lap without getting out of shape now would it...
Arriving into pit lane he exited the Pagani stepping straight into Beau's AE86, a chassis Tsuchiya-san is quite familiar with! After a quick run down on what is what and where is where, Keiichi was off. This time full lock sideways around every corner he could! This is where we got to witness the legend himself do what he's known best for, I got to witness the one and only DK drift!
The smile on his face when he returned to pit lane was self explanatory, shaking Beau's hand and describing his laps via a translator you could feel his excitement and appreciation for the experience.
He did not back off in front of the crowds either, pushing both cars to their limits on the Friday and Saturday!
Secretly I think Keiichi Tsuchiya liked "my camera" as all my shots have him looking straight down the lens with a cheeky smile. I even managed to get a proper high res SLR photo with the legend himself and this will most definitely be printed and put on the wall with the collection of pics acquired over the years!
At the International drift Challenge we got to witness his cheeky antics he is also quite famous for. As a judge and now I guess you could say a "personality" Tsuchiya-san is known for his mischievous ways in the judges stand. Having watched many DVDs over the years and endless hours of livestream it was a real pleasure to be apart of, along with a crowd 10,000 strong, yes you read right, the International Drift Challenge brought 10,000 people to the hills of Sydney Motorsport Park!
Ian Baker you have out done yourself this year and I must say October 2017 cannot come quick enough, I already want to know what's next and who you could possibly invite as a special guest to top this one!
I know Keiichi Tsuchiya has already asked to come back next year! Will we be seeing him again? I hope so! (I completely forgot to get something signed, so I really hope so)...
Write up and photography by Jasmynne Tudor