Wekfest Texas 2015

Between all the things that come up in life (work, school, families, etc), I was starting to feel like I hadn’t really had a weekend with the people I used to kick it with all the time. Wekfest Texas 2015 was a weekend for friends. It was that simple, just a weekend where most of us would gather again and act like fools. This was our first time renting an AirBNB house, and it was worth it. We arrived the day before the event to do a bit of hanging in Houston  as well as go to the pre-meet.

Our first stop was Waffle House. It should be noted that no real road trip is complete without at least one meal consumed at waffle house.

Lets look at Charlie’s silly ass communist face in his integra.


Biss’s new Fried150 transporting Cody’s ruckus and Chris’s grom


Arick’s actually clean car on the way there. He threw some Advan SA3r’s on there (Which I’m obviously partial to as my last car rocked them as well :P)



Our original plan was to see some damn space ships. Aall I wanted was to see some damn space ships and of course, robots. My lazy ass friends got the idea that it was too far, so we ended up at Screwed Up Records where my nerdy ass sure didn’t belong. However, I actually am a fan of Houston rap, grey tapes, SUC, bangin’ screw so I actually was excited when we rolled up.




We did do some quality hangs, ended up eating some tastey food truck food, and also wound up at an anime store…. All things that I do in fact enjoy. (As a side note, I was very proud of myself as I wondered into the anime store and did not spend a single dollar. It probably was due to everything that I thought was cool was well over $50 and I turn into a cheap skate unless it comes to motorcycles these days). We went back to the house soon after where we chilled and eventually fell asleep.


This says it all.



On to the show. I tried to get most of my shots before the public were allowed to enter as I like to avoid the traffic. With such a large event, however, there is never a shortage of people. The Wekfest crew always know how to put together a great show they did not disappoint this round either. The venue was actually double the size of the last two events, which made the show even more of a spectacle. As crazy as amassing enough quality cars to fill the original venue is, Wekfest had the near impossible task of finding enough quality cars to fill a venue double the size of the last one.

I apologize to the owner of this Z as I forgot your name, but I do remember that he was representing for Proper Garage. I spoke to the builder for a good bit and was really excited to hear about everything this car brought to the table. It seems to be harder and harder for me to find car builds that really rile me up, but this one did the trick. Everything from the stance, to the wheel choice, and color combo were on point. I mean, look at the headlights! Mad props






Taste the rainbow. Flashy is making a comeback, and I can say that as I become more open minded I really begin to dig all sorts of things, this build included!










A challenger I really was into. The lines of this model are timeless







American VIP? Yes, please






Say it with me now….



My buddy Fryer has had this damn car for forever. Each year it gets better, gets the shit beat out of it, and gets another single cam. Keep on keepin on good buddy!











Reverse stagger is still the tightest shit since sliced bread.







Lets have a moment of silence for this all Mugen EK4 SIR. Still one of my favorite builds, and it’s evolution from last year did not dissappoint







First you gotta line’em up and then attack…. or something


Got Sol?




The homie Jon Hansen is always building something sweet. We all look forward to kicking it with him when he makes it down here. It’s a shame he doesn’t live closer or he’d end up at our BBQ’s and other random bullshit we occupy our spare time with. His Merc took a well deserved 1st place in the Mercedes category this round. He always themes his builds and ties them together very well. He doesn’t spend his time throwing pointless money at his cars, but rather takes the time to think out a theme and executes it. Much respect, amigo








The 2000’s are back. So much yes here





Every angle of this timeless car looks great.















Roy from Annihilator Customs always has to out do himself each year. From green to red, I must say that this color really sets his IS300 off. Keep up the work dude!












I remember growing up and thinking that the Honda Primo/Verano banners were a must have to any “real” Honda




I hear the scooter game was in fact on FLEEK








The resident Texas prelude guy, Chris H. went full Mugen on his BB6. He’s had this car since it was brand new…. jealousy






This wagovan didn’t run, but it was still styled to my liking. Wheel choice is on point.






The home Hong’s food runner. He’s my resident Houston “large Asian”. If you’re going to any city where you have real friends, you’re bound to have that one “Large Asian” friend that will always be down for two things, chillin and food.


Vinson brought his race car to a show 😛






















The Downside of Racing

I’ve been in a little bit of a slump recently. This season, I’ve been riding a 2008 cbr1000rr that has been through the hands of two of my friends. The bike is an absolute monster with every bazzaz bolt on possible, as well as a quick shifter and all the suspension mods I’ll ever need. This bike set up to get as much horsepower out of the 1000cc engine as possible, and that leaves no room for error. The following video is a small clip of my last fall at TWS the time before last.

The go down happens right at 14:28 (Video curtesy of Umayr Kaleem, subscribe to his videos)

So lets step through what has happened here.

  1. It’s the third session of the day, my second. It had been a while since I’d ridden this bike and I was already trying to work towards my old pace, instead of remaining calm  and working on my basics throughout the day.
  2. That body position. Why is my body position not like how I usually ride? I narrowed this down to my vision. This season I seem to have taken a step back and have not raised my vision up to where it usually is. Always look as far ahead as you possibly can and work with reference points. If your vision is anywhere near the front of your bike, you tend to go there and your body reacts accordingly, thus modifying your body position. Normally, my shoulders are much lower then where they are here, and that would have helped me keep my line tighter
  3. This line. The horseshoe at TWS is a notoriously slow corner as is, but if you remain on the middle/outside of this part of the track you get caught up in the garbage that flies off of people’s tires as they take the more correct, tighter line. Here, I believe that caught up with me and allowed for my front to slip out from under me.

It’s these three factors that I contribute the most to my fall this day…. But that’s all fine and well. A few weeks later, I fixed the bike (new fairings, clip ons, exhaust, MBC, and throttle), and we were back out there.


At this point I took the bike to Harris Hill for it’s initial shakedown since rebuild with my friend Ben Hunter. That day was enjoyable as I made it out slowly picking up my pace, and made it home with my bike intact and a few things adjusted to my own liking.  I think it’s paramount that after adjusting your bike, or not riding it for a while, to really take the time to feel it out, and get back to basics. Any small change on a motorcycle turns out to be a big change on a motorcycle at high speed. Please remember this. As an example, take the movement of clip-ons in or out a few millimeters. From a distance it’s hardly noticeable, but when you actually ride the bike it can be a completely different beast. With this change your leverage become drastically different, your wrist position become drastically different, etc. Take into account these small changes, and learn to work your way into them when finding out your own personal preferences.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 11.00.41 AM

Cool, we got the bike adjusted, time to ride at TWS again! Labor day Monday was spent with my friends Ben, Noble, and Jorge. Here the plan was to still work into the bike, since it still had only been one full track day since I rebuilt it. The day started out well. Two sessions in, and I was riding slower, but was picking up my vision and working on my basics. Then it all stopped…. I came out of turn 10 and noticed a strange knocking noise coming from the left side of the bike. Shift into another gear…. okay the bike sounds fine but I need to get off the race line and limp it into the pit…. Up against the fence at the pit… oil… all over the right side of the bike. What the hell? oil filter? tight, Drain bolt? tight. At this point I pushed the bike back to where we were pitted at, and took a closer look. Quickly I noticed that I had a small hole in the motor underneath my starter….. so that’s it. Rod pushed through block and the motor is toast. I cant tell you how demoralizing this is. Three goes at TWS and 3 times, I take the bike home not running correctly.

I have had literally the worst luck with this bike. I’ve had people mock me and tell me to give up on this bike. I’ve had people tell me about how great my last bike was because it never broke. For me, I’ve thought through it all. Do I give up on this bike? Do I fix it and sell it? Do I just part it out and move on? Not this time. I know this bike is a beast. It may very well be too much bike for me and it may very well be a huge pain in my ass every time it breaks down, but what these people don’t understand is just how much fun this bike is when it’s on point. I feel like a damn fighter pilot out there with my squadron taking down the enemy bogies as we battle through each and every turn. It’s literally a raging bull and holding on to it induces a rush that gives me that quick fix of adrenaline that all racers are chasing. But even more than that it’s the challenge. I’ve given up on a few projects in my life, and have regretted it each and every time. This time I won’t give up. I must persevere and show MYSELF that I can push through these obstacles. It’s all a part of riding motorcycles fast, and anything that’s worth it will take hard work and determination, and that’s what I’m going give.

So is my riding season done? My hopes of racing in a CMRA race this year may be, but riding all together? no. I’ll slap some race tires on my RC51, and ride out a few track days because I can’t stop myself from riding motorcycles. It’s what I love to do. It’s what I look forward to doing on weekends when I’m not hanging out with my better half and our dogs. It’s ingrained in my soul, and I can’t deny myself that passion. In the mean time, I’ll be motor shopping for the CBR and pinching pennies to try and make it happen in order to make it through the less glamorous side of racing motorcycles. Keep your head up, focus, and work towards your goals.

Cupcake Meet 20

*Edit* Sorry for such a late post (2 months) Sometimes I forget I write for this thing. Please forgive me friends */Edit*

Car events are always, for me at least, a place to gather with friends that you don’t get to see all the time, check out each others current projects, and have a good time. The Cupcake Meet has been doing that for quite some time now, and they did not disappoint this time around either. A main plus for these events is that all of their proceeds go towards a different charity each time, which makes the even small entry fees that much more worth it.

During this meet, I did quite a bit of thinking. Years back, going to a meet always seemed to be a rushed ordeal with large amounts of excess stress, planning, and frustration. I had some time at the start of the day to think about how much more I enjoy the whole process once I take a deep breath and just appreciate the fact that I get to have some of my closest friends in one place. It doesn’t happen often due to life changes and people living in various areas of the country/world, but when it does it’s a beautiful thing and I hope you all partake in taking in the moment much as I have.

So on that laid back note, we started the day out at First Texas Honda where Cody and Billy work.




Arick loves to think that he can look hard…. even when owning  a FIAT


The Dodge Dart is a relatively new platform. I’m interested in seeing how this unfolds.


Our friend Angel has one of the coolest cars in Austin IMO



An interesting part about this meet was the fact that the entrance was a 2 way road. This created a huge traffic jam on the service roads leading to the entrance. Some people would be annoyed or even angry at this… us? We took it as an opportunity to have some fun.



Upon entering, we were immediately hit with some awesome looking cars. This s13 coupe sitting all by itself looked awesome with the widened fenders.


Roy’s IS300 is never something you’re sad to see. The amount of handcrafted goodness that has gone into this thing is ridiculous.



Squirrel Squads Lexus is on point



The homies at JDM Freshness have some really cool cars.



A lonely Z spotted


Thaison always ends up with some super cool old corolla. Peep his latest creation.


My God daughter Addy wanted to make an appearance.


The Pinkies Out homies peepin’ us as we rode by in the wagon


Who doesn’t love an s13 coupe though?



Your neighborhood dyno show


Just one more of the Squirrel Squad lexus


Blob eyes


The homie Everette’s car is raw and beautiful. Who would have guessed a drift car with some VIP wheels would flow so well?


Drew’s already stunning work in progress



The Lineup


Steven “The Thai Food Guy” Edge



Some homies just having a good time


Closing this one out with Melvin’s 5 lug, h swapped hatch


2 Wheel Fetish

Long time no see! I’d like to apologize for my absence. I broke my trusty Nikon d60 and have been AWOL since then, but I’m back! I recently purchased a Sony Nex-3NL, which is a pretty cool mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses that is about the size of your average point and shoot.  I bought it after missing the whole art of photography, and some good convincing by my friend Patrick Lu who is a seasoned photographer. 


Since I’ve been gone we have been up to a lot of different things. I’ll take this time to let you all in on our latest craze… 2 wheeled machines. Some of us here love motorcycles, others are scooter heads, but regardless of what we ride, we all have a blast. There is nothing like a motorcycle track day, adventure, or even just rolling out to the nearest In n Out (Thank you Austin for now having 2) with your friends. All in all, we greatly enjoy modifying, restoring, and riding 2 wheeled machines. Let’s take a look at what we’ve been up to!


We all know Cody has a Ruckus. He’s been modifying it a whole lot lately and, as you can see, he has it’s stance dialed.





Recently, Billy also picked himself up this awesome 1986 Honda Spree. It’s a 2 stroke scooter with oil injection so you don’t even have to mix the fuel! Technology has always been cool…. even in the 80’s



The family photo of that day





Needless to say, our scooters are not the fastest things on the planet…. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t eek every last bit of performance out of them that we can get. Checkout Cody swapping out weights to get his variator belt as far out as it would go!




But really, what’s left other than to bring the Ruckus!



I myself have managed to pick up a Honda Passport (c70 cub) from Thaison’s little brother, and have managed to get it running, break it, and get it running again. Typical Natsukashi Garage style….



On top of that, last weekend I managed to ride my bike over 600 miles round trip to Harlingen, Texas to visit my grandparents. The ride was long, and yes my butt did hurt after a while, but still it was enjoyable nonetheless. Traveling by two wheels is by far my favorite way to travel these days.



At the end of the day, 2 wheeled vehicles have brought me closer to family and friends. To me, this is what our community is about so enjoy it while it lasts and cherish every moment!



Renegade X Sarapbuhay Meet

On Saturday Renegade and Sarapbuhay held a meet in the parking lot of Thaison’s slaughter lane Pho Thaison shop. It was a lot of fun with a turnout larger than we were expecting. At one point Thaison was even worrying about whether or not all the cars would fit in the lot, but sure enough everyone did. Jash holds regular meets under the Renegade alias up at k1 speed in Austin, Texas. From what I heard the initial reason for this meet was a farewell deal for Sarapbuhay. I’d like to think it was really because it was my birthday, but hey I’m conceited.  The meet was interesting in that all sorts of cars showed up for the good time. Unlike most meets this went off without a hitch in that there were no burnouts or other forms of stupidity that usually occur at these things. It was a nice breath of fresh air and since it was in Austin, I got to see a lot of good friends that usually don’t take their cars out for other meets.

In this collection of photos I have the honor of posting on behalf of Vinson as well as a guest photographer and good friend of Natsukashi Garage, Warren Chan. Warren is an awesome photographer and him and his brother are starting a new clothing line called “Redline” We will be sure to keep you updated on their doings as well as possibly planning a meet with them in the future?

Thaison also decided to have Natsukashi Garage host the “pre-meet” at his William Cannon Restaurant a few hours before the meet. We all agreed it would be fun and thus we did just that! Anyways, on to the photos, I hope you all enjoy!

Lets kick off the pre-meet with a photo by Warren of our boy Evarett’s sick s13 coupe


Drift fenders
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Late Night Photoshoot

Last night some of the Natsukashi Garage boys decided to get together to showcase some new additions to our rides, or at least modifications. For Thaison, Cody, and I it was all about slamming our cars. For Arick, we were just celebrating the fact that his car still worked…. for now…. because we all know that won’t last long.

The rest of the night was fun, and involved things such as Charlie getting pulled over in my car (which has expired registration) and us spotting a fire from the top floor of a parking garage. Also, no night is ever complete these days without Thaison getting mistaken as a girl (apparently “she” was driving around with a suspicious car). Luckily for him, the Pho game is kickin and the police knew him from the Pho shop.

In the end, it was to get these shots. Here are a few from the night that I personally really liked


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Branden’s first track day

Two weeks ago I saw a link to meetup.com that was something along the lines of  “Austin Sportbike Riders.” I immediately thought “Shoot, this is cool I need some people to ride with!.” With that I headed to their Noob event and met a bunch of great people. Long story short, after talking to some fellow members, (Ignacio, Art, May,Candace, Dannen, Cory) I was given a chance to go to a track day with a few of them. Normally I would have had to go through a lot of trouble to find transportation but ASR’s Ignacio coordinated it all for me. These people really know how to make someone feel like family, and did all they could to make sure that I could go there at any cost. Cost was another problem as I’m still in school and paying for my first super sport, so the fact that all things were worked out just so I could go and race around a track in a safe manner. You can’t really ask for better people than that.

Long story short, after trying to sell my xbox (failed), I still found a way to make it out, even though it was only for one of the two days of the event. Before we go any further I would like to give special thanks to my amazing friends Ignacio, May, Candace, and David for helping me so much these past two weeks, and for being truly awesome human beings. Through them I have started to realized my dreams as a racer.

I arrived with my duffle bag on my back. Since I had to ride over to David’s place I was trying to be a minimalist



My friend David has a pretty awesome race bike. He’s a fellow Honda head as well, and used to own a variety of great cars. He now, however, has moved on to racing motorcycles…. something that I could see in my future.



Close up on that awesome exhaust


Shout out to David’s sponsor


That Honda Racing life


After Candace showed up at about 6:30 PM we loaded up (we as in Candace and David) and head off to Cresson




So by 11:30 we made it to the track. After unloading the bikes we headed to our sleeping quarters and got some rest.

We started the morning early at about 5:30 AM. When we woke up it was time to get everything prepped for the day. Needless to day I didn’t have much work to do, but while everyone else was putting their bikes on stands and firing up those tire warmers I walked around and snapped some shots of the place.


Prep Complete!


Even the cruisers had their own class! ‘Merica


Race bike out and out. Sometimes farings just get in the way.



Most of the day’s ASR group



Don’t worry friends, even your fit’s can tow you to the track!


May has a cbr250r like I did, except her’s is all tracked out. Unfortunately someone (not pointing fingers) forgot her key and so she ended up riding some else’s ninja 250. Ignacio’s track bike on the right is a little track monster. For those who don’t know the 07-08 600rr is the fastest 600rr to date, and his was a testament to this.


May and Ignacio posted up like champions, leanin’ like a cholo




When you don’t race, you read. Get your education on noobs.



All types of bikes show up. As always I’m partial to the 600rr, especially 07-08’s (those little monsters), but those super motards are boss




For those of you who don’t know, racing bikes that run slicks or DOT tires use tire warmers to get their tires up to operating temp so they are ready to run right when they get on track. They also serve as a safety precaution since cool racing tires are hard.



This bike reminded me of my old hatch with the paint pens everywhere.



The man told me his niece’s and nephew’s went crazy on it. You gotta love My Little Pony right?



Our bikes in prime form



IP’s wife May and their son Zane having fun with the pit bike




There was no shortage of money at the track.



Street fighter GSXR. This bike just looked awesome, sadly he went down later in the day and had to replace a radiator. The awesome part about RideSmart is that everyone there extremely nice and helpful, and people were immediately ready to help him as soon as he was back in the pits.




That day there was a CMRA mock race for those who were getting their liscense. My two friends Candace and David  were there doing just that. Here is a little pre-race mind game action for you.



Candace and David in their battle stance



The rest of the day went well. I was feeling much faster and much more confident in my riding. This was one the best experiences I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to go back (I am actually on my way to Texas World Speedway as I write this to do some corner working for RideSmart).



Later Candace!





I would again like to give special thanks to ASR (and all my friends there) and RideSmart for making this a great weekend. If anyone in the Austin area is looking to ride please look up ASR on facebook at http://www.meetup.com/austin-sportbike-riders and also RideSmart for your Texas track days at http://www.facebook.com/ridesmart1


Import Alliance End of Winter Meet

When I first found out about import alliance back in high school I made it a goal of mine to make it to one of their meets. Ideally I would want to go to the Nashville or Atlanta ones since that’s where all the heavy hitters attend, but money and time always lead me away from it. To my luck, however, they hosted one at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and a few of us Natsukashi guys (and gals) took to go.

The quality at this meet was outstanding. Yes there were the typical fake parts and no heart builds but you can really see the cars that shine with their creators heart. It’s the builds and the people behind them that constantly remind me of how fortunate I am to be apart of this scene.

P.S. I took a stab at editing photos for the first time, any criticism is welcome!

We decided to stay at the Best Western in Roanoke, Texas. This was the first time that we were stationed at some place that wasn’t way off in the boon docks. It was great!
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Natsukashi profile: Thaison Nguyen

So recently I was asked to do a photo story on someone interesting that I know for a photography class in school. I enjoyed the project so much that I have decided to give a more in depth presentation to those of you out there that follow us here.

Thaison is one of the co-founders of Natsukashi Garage and also one of the most interesting people I know. By day Thaison works and operates a Pho restaurant rightfully named Pho Thaison by his parents. This once small operation has turned into a restaurant chain of over 6 restaurants here in the local Austin area. (Really if you get a chance stop by the William Cannon restaurant and eat some of his amazing food) At night, however, he focuses all of his energy on building and maintaining any one of the 4 Toyota Corollas that he owns. Now knowing Thaison, his love for Corolla’s is unprecedented and his creativity when building them is top notch. I’ve appreciated his philosophy of always doing what he wants on a build regardless of what anyone else says. That’s a hard trait to come by these days, especially in our scene. Even more so, Thaison is one of the few people who are truly involved in keeping the art form of the Toyota Corolla alive. Being a cult classic favorite the cars are hard to come by, but when he gets one he holds on to it forever.


Like every build Thaison’s cars go through different phases. Everything from slam the crud out of that car to raise it and race it has been done by him. Being privileged with the internet also leaves him to be inspired by peers from across the world.  His cars sometimes go with the trends and at other times go completely against then.  However, unlike most people who would send a car off to a shop to perform the work they have in mind Thaison does everything by himself in a small garage with the most basic of tools. A true artisan of his craft.

What follows is a small window into a normal day with Thaison Nguyen and Natsukashi Garage



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CCM 15

It’s that time of year again. Another CCM down. This time a few of the boys and I drove/rode to Houston to gather for CCM 15. The cool part this time was that we got to stay with big brother Vinson in his Houston diggs for the weekend. We tried to keep it nice and clean…. besides breaking his garage door and having Joseph pass out within the first few minutes. My non consumption of alcohol led me to be the first one to fall asleep and luckily not be held responsible for these travesties .   This weekend marked my first big trip on my motorcycle (900+ miles in 3 days total) and I found out a lot of things about motorcycle riding including the frequent need for rest stops. On one of these such rest stops we even met a guy on the outskirts of Houston who turned out to be quite the character. After first rolling up in his 5.0 soft top he made Thaison and I stay there so he could go home and get his older Celica. We didn’t think much of it until he returned in a purple older gen celica (Thaison help me out here) which was completely gutted and swapped with a 4runner motor. Needless to say the car looked like a lot of fun, and the owner had tons of fun doing the only thing you’re required to do in rural America…. burnouts. Shortly, we made it down and stopped at Mai’s restaurant in down town Houston. Little did we know the place was all kinds of fancy and we were all under dressed ( me in a motorcycle jacket and Thaison’s ripped shorts didn’t help our case). The food however was great and we sure did eat it all. We left there and made it to Vinson’s house to get ready for the next day.
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