Guys, regarding D1, the long and short of it goes like this…..
Like every other body, D1 was going to get two invites. We actually met with them in Long Beach and they presented a proposal to us. That proposal consisted of them wanting 6 invites for specific drivers they wanted to bring. After we discussed it with everyone and Red Bull, we found a way and told them yes.
In waiting for their confirmation, we reached out letting them know that we needed to confirm their presence so we could start making all the arrangements necessary. At that point D1 came back and said they needed a few more things to confirm. They said they needed to be able to film on-site and produce a DVD of their drivers. We went back to our team and after many days of hard work, we got permission to allow them to film everything but the actual top 32 tandem. However, Red Bull was willing to give D1 all the shots they took from every camera angle including top 32 tandem and D1 could use it in their DVD. They only request was that they name the event properly somewhere within the DVD, “Red Bull Drifting World Championship”. A very fair deal considering the embargo on filming in general on this event. A huge concession for D1.
We presented this info back to D1 and asked for a confirmation. (Again, remember from the start they asked us for 6 invites and all these other requests). After waiting until really the 11th hour, we got a call from their US rep that essentially said, they’re probably “gonna walk” unless they can bring their entire crew and film top 32 from predesignated spots and create a DVD. This would mean we would have to rework media areas and pockets to make space another big film crew. Bare in mind the production going into this is massive as is. There is even a helicopter. At that time we went back to the team and told them what D1 wanted thinking there was no way it was going to happen. Our attitude was if this is what we need to do to get those guys here and try to promote relationship building with D1, then lets push for it. Well, sure enough, we got that approved too after a massive effort. Guys, this was a huge effort for all of us to make this work, but we got it approved. Now D1’s part to confirm….
….We asked them if they are good to go and can get get final confirmation. After another wait passed the 12th hour and into “damnit” land we spoke to their US rep who said, they are gonna pass (insert balloon deflating feeling here). A week or so later we received an official letter from their new president thanking us for the opportunity to be a part of the event and alluding to the fact the Trust going down has not allowed them to participate in the event. Take that as you will.
All in all, every time they made a request we said, “yes”. Not once did we say no. We went down a long path with them on this deal and never once said no. Everything they asked for we got for them.
We originally dealt directly with D1 out of respect. Because knowing how things have happened in the past if we went directly to the drivers D1 might feel that we were not respecting them. So after that whole debacle and we were basically at the start again, we went to the drivers directly. NOB, Kazama, Orido all drivers that knew were were talking to D1 had already made arrangements to do other things (demos, other racing, etc). Other top D1 guys had deep interest in being at this event and had sponsors to come, but alas when it got down to coming they were persuaded to not be here. We were deeply grateful to pick up Ueo and then brave Saito came along. We could not announce him until after the last D1 event for risk of anything “odd” happening at that event. He put a car on a ship and has made preparations to come out. So we are back to where we started: 2 D1 Invites, 2 confirmations.
Last part….. In the short time after we announced Daigo Saito, we have already heard that he is being pressed not to come and that it would not be good for him to be here. Remember he put a boat on a ship! Anyway, we will see how it pans out for all the drift fans. 14 other drivers from farther parts of the world than Japan had absolutely ZERO issues confirming and getting cars here even in a crappy economy