Manabu (Max) Orido is not new to Malaysia, having raced at Sepang International Circuit several times in Super GT. However, it will be his first time competing in drifting in Malaysia as he takes the RSR Supra down the tight and narrowFormula Drift Malaysia track at Dataran Merdeka this weekend.
There’s something about Orido that makes him so charming even at the age of 43. He has this ability to command attention to his presence without saying a word, as he stands there in full glory with his glittery cowboy hat and blinking colourful racing suit.
Driving for Team RSR Japan this time, Orido will be piloting the Supra (his original Supra he first competed in is gone; the one that got smashed in an accident has been repaired and is his daily street drive now; this is a different one) and in a way he is new to this car because some revamps have been done to it and he has not tested it yet.
At this afternoon’s press conference, we had a quick Q&A with Orido:
Q: When did you start drifting?
A: I started drifting 24 years ago, at the age of 19. I actually wanted to be race car driver so I was looking into it and I found out that the easiest way was to do gymkhana. I tried that but it was the influence from Keiichi Tsuchiya (who was famous at that time for drifting the car when driving) that got me into drifting. Japan started to have drift events and I was competing in drifting for a year when I quit. I quit after winning the CARBOY magazine “Drift GP” event in 1990. After that I found my way into professional driving and I became a race car driver – which was my original dream.
Orido competed in many circuit races, including the Super Taikyu and Super GT series. He became a judge in D1GP and returned to drifting just six years ago.
Q: Why did you return to compete in drifting again?
A: I was judging drifting and I envied the drivers so I wanted to go back. But it wasn’t like a full-time drifting career – I just did some competitions here and there, including Formula Drift USA. I went back to D1GP in 2005 then stopped and came back in 2008 to now.
Q: Welcome to your maiden Formula Drift Asia event – is this one-off or will we see more of you?
A: The RSR team is looking forward to doing Formula Drift Asia again next season and I share the same sentiments but we’ll have to see if my schedule permits.
Q: You did a few Formula Drift USA rounds – like in Las Vegas 2008 and Irwindale 2009. Why did you not go back for more?
A: I think if you are not competing in the full series then there is no point going to do one or two rounds here and there. Anyway my priorities are with Super GT and D1GP so I’ll have to see my schedule, if I can more of Formula Drift USA in the future. Everybody needs to be on the same page – as in, it would be good if the various race series promoters can get together and plan their race calendars around each other so that there won’t be clashes and we can take part in more.
Orido is also known for bringing the style into drifting, with his emphasis on appearance and image. Said Robbie Nishida, fellow Japanese drifter, “I think what Orido has done and is trying to do is wonderful. Guys are such car geeks and they focus so much on the technical details that they forget the importance of bringing in image. Cars are cool, the girls (race queens) are cool, but as a show, drivers need to get more into the appearance side. Winning competitions regularly is one way to get sponsors, but even if you suck, you can still get tons of sponsors if you are famous with a huge fan following.”
Q: Orido, why do you put in so much effort for your image?
A: As a professional, it is important to have an image. I strive to be a role model because there are also kids in the fans.
Wouldn’t it be such a sweetener this weekend if Daigo and Orido were to meet in the final?
Q: Orido, are you looking forward to meeting Daigo in tandem battle this weekend?
A: Yes, ideally we want to meet at the top of the battle bracket (ie. in the final). I would like to meet Daigo here and beat him, because he beats me in Japan all the time!
As for Robbie and Orido, they have met a total of three times and each time something happens to one of their cars when they meet, so both of them are hoping not to be on the same side of the battle bracket!
Ho ho ho… and then I put Orido through my signature driver trivia!
Q: Tattoo or piercing?
A: I don’t like both but if I have to choose, tattoo.
Q: Jeans or berms?
A: In Malaysia, it has to be berms man.. the weather’s so hot!
Q: Slippers or sandals?
Q: Boxers or briefs?
A: I like thongs, especially T-backs! Ok just joking… boxers!
Orido is highly charismatic – even though he can’t speak English, he gets full marks for presence communications. I can’t wait to see this guy drift!
In case you are wondering what’s that can the drivers are holding, it’s DRIVE, the official energy drink for Formula Drift Malaysia 2011. DRIVE Energy Drink is by M7 Japan Research and Development, a Japanese company known to make some of the best performance parts in the automotive market, and Orido is one of the M7 Japan Technical Advisors.
Good luck boys!
For more photos, view this album:
> Formula Drift Malaysia 2011 – Thursday
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> Preview - Can Daigo Saito win a fourth consecutive time?
> Preview - Max Orido is competing with Team RSR!