I first met Mr. Hiroshi “Kaicho” Takahashi (better known as Running Free 86) on a trip to Japan in 2019 when he took me to a Friday night meeting at Daikoku PA. He’s renowned in the old-school AE86 community for his elite driving ability. I love raw, low-power drifting and have been dreaming of drifting at Gunsai Touge for years. So when one of the best drifters I know told me to come out for the 4AG drift event hosted by Garage Infinity and get a ride-along, I knew I couldn’t pass on this opportunity before I left Japan.
My friend Kenken offered to drive me there, which meant leaving at 5:00am so that we could get to Gunsai from Tokyo before the event started. Despite the overcast skies and light rain, it was a stunning drive through the mountains. I was immediately greeted by hachiroku’s as far as the eye could see, in every style imaginable. It was truly a beautiful sight to see.
The most exciting moment was seeing how luxurious Kaicho’s passenger seat was. I knew that someone who would go as far as to remove every feasible trace of cushion in order to achieve the maximum weight reduction was a driver as serious as they come. Due to the rain, the driving had to be more conservative to avoid crashing into the guard rail (again) or falling off the mountain. However, that didn’t detract from the most insane ride-along of my life.
Mr. Takahashi is seriously awesome, and by awesome I mean he’s completely crazy. I’m so grateful that he invited me to come out and have the opportunity to experience this event. I’m also so thankful to Kenken for offering to drive me. As with all of the events I’ve attended in Japan, I met countless people who were so kind and welcoming to me, showing me their cars and being excited to meet me as well. The people that I’ve met along the way have been the best part of my trip, and I cannot express how much I appreciate them making me feel welcome as a loud foreigner who barely speaks Japanese. That said, お疲れ様でした!
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(Professional drivers on a closed course, do not attempt.)