The Road Less Traveled

Cover Photo

This always happens to me- I setup a feature shoot, take the photos, edit those photos the following day which is also usually the same week I’d like the article to go live. Taking the photos is always fun, especially when the owner and everyone else involved in the shoot all click well together and we just talk about whatever might be going on that week…hangovers, car scenes, and back to hangovers. Then comes the editing, which can be a very time consuming process but lately its been therapeutic in a way- I’ll open up Lightroom and Photoshop, put on my headphones, and spend hours on end choosing the best shots, figuring out color tones, then getting to work. So why am I barely writing this at 4am, just 7 hours away from this feature going live?


In a few days, 11 to be exact, Gear-Trends.com will have been up and live for 3 years. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, I’m pretty sure any one of my old English teachers would fill these articles I’ve written with red marks – but it is something I’ve started to enjoy. I’m not sure when it happened but it started to become an outlet for me, as if I need another one. I can tie in almost anything to the automotive community – I think that’s why I’ve never strayed to far from the car scene. I’ve written about friendships that have started in the scene, trends that come and go, MY definition of what a real enthusiast is, you name it and I can go on and on for hours on end; I’m not a man of many words but I tend to really let things go when it comes to pen and paper…er…text in this case.

Front end down the road

I’ve known Derrick for a few years now and met him through a good friend of mine, Steven. He and a few other guys were the local “Drifter guys”, and as lame as you may think that sounds – you have no understand that locally there was no other way to describe them. In a scene majorly comprised of Trucks or Hondas, anything else stuck out like a sore thumb, so when a group of a few Nissan 240s rolled in along with a slightly rough looking RX7 – AN RX7 NONETHELESS – I couldn’t help but do my social butterfly thing and become acquainted with them. This RX7 here has had a rough history but throughout the 7 years of owning it I can’t imagine ever wanting to quit on getting something like this on the road. The R1 FD was purchased back in early May of 2007 – now the R1 was Mazdas highest trim package with only 1015 being sold in 93, these models featured stiffer suspensions, an aerodynamics package, purple-hued microfiber seats, and Z-rated tires. Sure those main factors of the R1 have been upgraded to keep up with the current standards, with some upgrades from Enkei, Falken, and Stance GR+ to name a few.

Rear end down the road

Now I’m sure Derrick wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes to sit down with me and really explain how these rotary motors work- but with most things that make no sense to me, like Miley Cyrus’s musical career, I’ll chalk it up to sorcery. The car was ultimately taken to Omar and the guys over at OJ Imports, where if you’re serious about your rotary powered vehicle – this is definitely the place to hit up down here. The setup under the hood is no laughing matter, even though I almost chuckled a bit when I realized how small these motors are – but who am I to talk…I’ve owned several single cam civics…sigh. But seriously there’s a part on this list called “Steel Thermal Pellets”, regardless of the funny rotary parts, this 13B with help from a Precision 6262 Turbo, a meth injection system *sans Heisenberg…pa dum pshhhh*, and a few other goodies will really set things off once you drop down that pedal.

Rear 1/4 flare

The gentlemen that are part of “ZeroGrip” are still the type to all get together over the weekends, jack up the cars, and get down to doing some work on their own as well. Things like dialing in suspension and camber settings, some engine mods, down to complete builds at times are things that these group of guys look forward to every now and then. Now I titled this feature “The Road Less Traveled” partly because of the mentality that these guys have and it is something I’ve always admired in fellow enthusiasts but is becoming something of the past. All to often you’ll buy a car, join a forum, and follow a sort of “cookie cutter” model without any real knowledge behind why things were done that way in the first place. Derrick and the rest of the “Drifter guys” own the cars they do because of the passion, not the trend. They build the cars choosing quality parts, which often time has led others to believe they were “stuck up rich boys”. They can drive the cars the way they were intended to, not just looking the part. When you engage in a conversation with these guys you will tell within seconds that they have a strong passion for this and is not some phase that will fizzle out over the course of a year or two. Building a car and using that car for its intended purpose seems to be fading away- meaning if you’re gonna build a fast car, take it down the strip; if you’re going to build a cruiser, don’t be scared to take it out and drive it; if you’re going to build a track inspired vehicle…well…you get the picture. This is now becoming the road less traveled.

Front flare collage

Owner + Car

Rolling Shot

Derrick Avila’s 1993 Mazda R1 FD RX7

Performance :
Monster Ported Intakes
Steel 3mm Apex Seals
Steel Thermal Pellets
Oil Metering Pump Removed
Ported and Polished Throttlebody by BDC Motorsports
Greddy Throttlebody Elbow
Precision 6262 .81 A/R Billet Aluminum Turbo
PTP Turbo Blanket
50mm TiaL BOV
44mm Tial Wastegate
FD3S Manifold
3″ Downpipe
850cc/1600cc Primary/Secondary Fuel Injection
KG Parts Custom Secondary Fuel Rail
Aeromotive FPR
LS3 Ignition Coils
NGK Platinum Spark Plugs
Aluminum AST
Aluminum Radiator
ACT 6 Puck Clutch
Alky Control Methanol Injection System
AFX Wideband O2 Kit
Haltech Platinum Sport 1000 ECU
5 Gallon Fuel Cell
Fuel Surge Tank

Cosmetics :
R1 Bumper Lip
FEED Sideskirts by Shine Auto Project
RE-Amemiya Style Street Diffuser by Shine Auto Project

Interior :
Prosport Water Temp Gauge
Prosport Boost Gauge
AFX Wideband Gauge
Greddy Profec Boost Controller
Battery Relocated to Storage Bin

Rollers :
Enkei RPF1 17×9.5 Front – 17×10 Rear
Falken FK452s – 235/40/17 Front – 245/40/17 Rear

Stiff Stuff :
Stance GR+ coilovers

Sounds :
JVC Head Unit

Special Thanks :
Omar and the guys at OJ imports for helping me build this car. Brian D. Cain for tuning it, my crew Zero Grip for supporting me over the years and inspiring me to become a better driver, and to all my friends and relatives who stood by me on this project!


Photos and Story courtesy of : Bobby Villarreal