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Justin Kaehler

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WEBMINING> VW Vanagons at Hockenheimring

While I spend most of my free time dreaming about JDM minivans, I often find myself wanting a sport-tuned German kid hauler. Germany seems to have an abundance of Porsche-powered VW Vanagons out there, and the Deutschlanders just love to take these hopped-up vans to the track. Here we have a vid of a blue VW T3 Vanagon tearing it up around the famed Hockenheimring.

While it’s hard to pick a favorite van, the campervan seen at the 0:40 mark is my favorite just because it’s so absurd. Anyone out there want to help my dreams come true by setting up a Vanagon vs. Estima race?

::Justin Kaehler


CARSPOTTING> Toyota Mark X ZiO TGDA Concept

Despite my inflated sense of self-importance, I have to admit that no one in the industry really knows who I am. But that’s okay. Even though I spent years working at some high-profile media companies, I’m at best remembered as “that one guy with the hat”. I’m flattered when people remember me enough to recognize the fact that I often enjoy wearing hats, but that’s neither here nor there. To be honest, I rather enjoy the anonymity; it keeps people’s expectations of me low. But for the one or two people who actually care about what I have to say, I would like to state here and now that I am absolutely addicted to minivans. Tricked-out JDM minivans, to be precise.

Back in 2008, I – the guy with no “steez” or a functioning media outlet – somehow convinced Toyota Japan’s corporate types to let me into the Toyota Technocraft facility in Yokohama to shoot the van you see here, the Toyota Mark X ZiO TGDA Concept. Toyota Technocraft, for those who may not be aware, is where Toyota Japan builds all its “specialty” vehicles. Everything from ambulances to JGTC cars, plus the Mark X ZiO TGDA Concept, is made at this top-secret facility, and Toyota let me in to run amok in the place.   Read more...

COVERAGE> Seibon Customer Appreciation Day

Living close to the beach, as I’m sure you are aware, certainly has its fair share of advantages, most of which I’ve grown numb to. Sure, I can enjoy a nice dip in the ocean every now and then, but dealing with the crowds and limited parking associated with a day at the beach does start to annoy after awhile. So much so that, despite living mere minutes from the ocean, I prefer to spend my free time sitting in the comfort of my home watching reruns of Dr. Who.

One of the many benefits of beach living I now take for granted is the constant cooling effect of the ocean breeze. The weather in my ‘hood is always mild and pleasant, and if I ever see the thermometer crack 80, I panic and feel that my life, if not the world, will immediately come to a global warming-induced end. Moderate weather is good weather, and it is for that reason I humbly suggest that carbon fiber goods manufacturer Seibon ditch its grounds in Walnut, CA and move west towards the ocean.

Seibon just so happened to hold its Customer Appreciation Day smack dab in the middle of a heat wave. As the hills across California burned to the ground, the ground at Seibon was cooking me alive with an ambient air temperature of 108 degrees. The acres of asphalt surrounding Seibon’s warehouse trapped this heat, melting my shoes and roasting my feet in the process. The sky-high temperatures made me want to cry like a little girl and run home, but as I made the hour-long trek from the beach to the 626, I did my best to man up and tough it out.   Read more...

NEWSWORTHY> Factor X NSX wins Redline Time Attack at Willow

The cars of the Redline Time Attack continue to dominate racetracks all across the country, and at the most recent Redline event at Willow Springs International Raceway, long-standing record lap times were shattered not once, but twice.

Redline Time Attack golden boy Tyler McQuarrie and his Unlimited Class carbon fiber-bodied C-West/BC Honda S2000 showed why they are a dominating force in the time attack scene by running the 2.5-mile “Big Willow” course in 1:20.454 seconds. Not only was that lap time the fastest of the day, it was the fastest ever recorded at Willow Springs International Raceway. With a lap time like that, it seemed safe to say that McQuarrie would walk away with yet another 1st place trophy.

But records, including newly set ones, are made to be broken. Billy Johnson, piloting the lime green Unlimited Class FX Motorsports/Cricket NSX ran the same Big Willow course in just 1:18.555 seconds. For those of you who hate to do math at home, that’s almost  2 seconds faster than McQuarrie. And for those who need help in the art of deductive reasoning, this also means that Johnson walked away with the new track record. But that’s not all Johnson walked away with; he also scored the first-place trophy in Redline Time Attack’s Unlimited Class.

At the end of the day, the Redline Time Attack Unlimited Class results were as follows:

  • 1st: #5 (Johnson) FX Motosports NSX 1:18.555
  • 2nd: #1 (McQuarrie) Cwest s2000 1:20.454
  • 3rd: #489 (Bonarito) Sierra Sierra Evo 1:20.838

There are still seven races left in the Redline Time Attack Series, and the next event at the New Jersey Motorsports Park is just two weeks away. Be sure to check back with us later in the week for our gallery of the Redline Time Attack at Willow Springs International Raceway.

::Justin Kaehler


WEBMINING> Was INXS the first group of JDM Insiders?

Don’t try to front and say you’re old-school JDM just because you saw an Option magazine way back in 1998. Just as the title says, kids: Australian band INXS was down with Japanese car culture before you were even born. Released in 1984, the video for INXS’ Original Sin brought JDM staples like dekotora and bosozoku to Western TV screens long before anyone outside of Japan knew what either of those things were. Watching this video reminds us that we need to hit up a dekotora show the next time we’re in Japan…

Only low-res rips of the video exist online, but you can catch the video on VH1 Classic from time to time. In the meantime, here’s a low-res version for you to enjoy.

:: Justin Kaehler