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The King of Drifting— Keiichi Tsuchiya

Back in the mid-1970s, drifting was nowhere to be seen. There were no drifting competitions, and there certainly were no cars built and designed specifically for that purpose. This, however, changed with the emergence of one man: Japanese driver Keiichi Tsuchiya.

Tsuchiya’s Humble Beginnings on the Street Racing Scene

Unlike most professional drivers, Tsuchiya had a hard time finding financial backing. His love for the sport, however, would not let these financial limitations impede his dreams.

James Wolfcale of Road and Track says, “Unlike most professional racers, Keiichi came from humble beginnings, and he successfully climbed the ranks with little financial backing. He started out in the Japanese street racing scene and even had his license suspended at one point.”

Slowly, over the course of a few years, Tsuchiya began building a name for himself as one of the most fascinating drivers in the entire Japanese scene, gaining particular attention for his emblematic ‘drifting’ style. In fact, things got so big that by 1977 there was a line of magazine reporters and tuning garages looking to produce videos of Tsuchiya’s touge runs in his legendary Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno.

Tsuchiya Blows Up

Pretty soon, every fan of both underground and mainstream driving in Japan was well-aware of Tsuchiya, who was now being referenced by the public as the “Drift King.” His surging popularity helped to spur the entire movement of drifting as more and more competitions started to appear centered around the art. For the first few years, these competitions remained largely underground, but by 1996, drifting had completely blown up and was featured on national television in Japan and across the world.

Not surprisingly, the spread of drifting also increased the notoriety of the Drift King. The UK’s Car Magazine says, “Japanese comic books, a cartoon series and Hollywood moved [Tsuchiya] from motorsport into the mainstream, and it’s been his relationship with Toyota’s AE86 that’s turned a humble hatch and coupe popular with race and rally teams into a cult icon.”

Today, even though being retired, Tsuchiya is still a relevant fixture in the drifting community. All over the world, he makes appearances at racing events and hosts videos across the internet. A few years ago, as part of an inside joke-cameo, Tsuchiya was even featured in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Without a doubt, he’s the most important man in the history of drifting.

Get Your Car Ready to Drift

If you’re all about drifting and becoming the next Keiicha Tsuchiya, then it’s important that you give your ride all of the tools it needs to become an elite drifting force. The best place to start transforming your ride is with the wheels. Undoubtedly, one of today’s best drifting wheels comes from the Drifz Wheels line offered right here at 4wheelonline: your go-to place for everything drifting.

By: Tim Snyder
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