The story begins on an empty, rain-swept island in Wales.
Six months ago, I was on the Anglesi Race Circuit for Drift Matsuri. Standing in the middle of the track (a swamp bug) I was getting rain while taking pictures of the drift car. You couldn’t erase the smile on my face; It was Bright
One of the cars around the track was really going for it, hitting the biggest hairpin on the sideway, at the top of 3rd gear. The black JZX100 Toyota Mark II was powered by Alex Graf.
I can say with confidence and promise in his entries that Alex continues to drive his Mark II. Years I needed to chat with Alex, and fortunately I was able to find him on the paddock after the event, loading all his extra wheels and equipment into the car before the trip started.
That’s right, while everyone else was loading their cars into the trailer, Alex was preparing to return to his bridal bucket seat for the 250-mile stretch home on the long weekend of limited bashing. He never tracked this Toyota at the event, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Alex is no stranger to long-distance travel in his JZX, and the story begins 6,500 miles away in Okinawa, Japan.
As a member of the U.S. military, Alex’s role sent him to various postings around the world for extended periods of time. Her first posting came in 2011 when she was a teenager, and interest in Alex’s cars began in Japan. It didn’t take long for every teenager to survive the JDM fantasy by buying a skyline.
At the time – remember it was 11 years ago – the R33 GTS25Ts were easy (and relatively inexpensive) to come to Japan, so that’s where Alex started. However, a second purchase was made quickly, and naturally it was an R34. His new skyline was NA, but Alex had a plan and was soon to power the R33’s turbo RB25DET R34. This is where Tokyo Drift Lifestyle picking begins. Scroll deep enough into Alex’s Instagram and you’ll find early iPhone videos of Shenanigan flowing deep into the mountains at night.
When the 2013 R34 arrived shaken Was for renewal, but since the engine replacement was not announced in any of the papers, it was a much more headache for Alex. The car had to go, but Alex quickly learned that no one else was interested in the headache. In the end, the skyline was split for parts and the rest was discarded
It was at this point, on a trip to Ibisu Circuit with a friend, that Alex got a taste of his first JZX100. The pair rented a Mark II there and Alex was blown away from the very first moment behind its wheels. The car was very easy to drift, mainly due to the torque nature of the 1JZ-GTE VVTi engine above RB25DET.
That drive sealed the deal, and soon Alex picked up the car we had today. However, it was then lightly tuned with a boost controller, 2-way LSD and coilover suspension.
After four years in Japan, Alex’s posting ended and he was transferred to northern Italy, near Milan. Alex explained that when the US military sends you to your new posting, there is no guarantee that you will be able to bring your car with you. But Alex is lucky, and as always, the military takes care of the Toyota shipping and registration process. It was in Italy where serious modes with a big turbo started.
A little older and smarter, Alex moved from the road to the track drifting at the moment. His local tracks in Italy were longer and faster than those in Japan, so Alex eventually replaced the ECU with an aftermarket system and added a steering angle lock kit in hopes of creating more power. Unfortunately, he didn’t get much out of it.
Alex wanted to teach himself how to map an engine, so he plugged in a laptop, loaded the software, and drove the JZX to an Italian motorway for a street melody. It was there that things quickly moved south when Alex “Delete” Engine after melting a piston. You have to be prepared for these kinds of things, don’t you? Alex brought with him an extra 1JZ from Japan, but again luck was not on his side. Two weeks after the allegedly healthy engine was switched to Mark II, it made a rod knock during a drift event.
The 1JZ engine # 3 was purchased online from a JDM specialist in Europe, and it has relaunched Toyota and without any problems. For peace of mind, Alex left it in a factory ECU.
Alex’s adventures continue in Italy as long as he can join Verona, Castellato de Brandozzo and Modena for as many drift tracks as he can. Castellato was one of his favorites; Due to the on and off nature of the circuit it reminds him of his time Tough Flowing in Japan. He met Formula Drift driver Federico Serifo and connected with his love for motorsport. If Alex’s Japan experience is the cake, Italy was the cherry on top.
In 2017, Alex launched a new U.S. military operation at RAF Crowton in the United Kingdom. His arrival in the UK brought another new engine, which reached the number four of 1JZ. In its last Dino Outing, the 2.5L Turbo Six threw a solid 480hp.
But now a Fifth The engine found its way into the car. This time Alex is gone for long-term reliability and enhanced performance, which means an upgrade to fake interiors and all the necessary supporting changes. He also has plans to make the car more usable, including a slight increase in ride height.
Living through Covid has introduced Alex to the world of SIM racing, and traditional grip racing has grown on him as well. Although he wants to explore these aspects of motorsport as well as drifting, his short-term goal is to prepare for the next chapter of JZX – a new life in the United States.
With the end of his last posting, Alex’s adventures with Mark II will continue when he returns to the country. Yes, there are still many more twists to this story, but hopefully there won’t be too many engines.
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