Is This The First Japanese Drifting Video Ever Made?
It’s difficult to trace a line through history back to a single artifact, but I can at least say that Keiichi Tsuchiya’s illegal street racing film, known as Pluspy, arrived before a lot of other things that help define my generation of “Millennial” enthusiasts.
Tsuchiya himself honed his skills doing deliveries for the family metal shop, and was very much an “everyman” driver as his racing career began in 1977. I’m not sure what compelled him to strap a camera to a Toyota AE86 and head through a touge (mountain road) at breakneck speed, but the resulting 1987 video release, Pluspy, got him suspended from racing and helped spark an incredible chain of events.
After Pluspy, he served as the inspiration for the main character in the Initial D manga. He was a consultant and star in the (initially banned) Megalopolis Expressway Trial films, was the title of one of the very first—and most influential racing video games—Shutok? Battle ’94 Keiichi Tsuchiya Drift King, and was a longtime host of the Japanese VHS car magazine Best Motoring. Founder of the world’s first drifting championship, too.
These things matter, because they’ve influenced everything from how car magazines look to what angles cameras use when video taping cars—even in slow-motion. Sure, cameras have been strapped to vehicles for years, but Tsuchiya’s projects featured some of the first “professional amateur” footage of cars, even graphic overlays and picture-in-picture footage of the pedal box.
And between all of this, he was able to continue as a legitimate racer, finding time to race in Nascar, SuperGT, and for both Honda’s NSX GT2 and Toyota’s GT-One Le Mans efforts. So if you’re ever wondering who the modern master of showboating for the cameras is, why “pedal cams” look so awesome, or why the Ford Focus RS has a “Drift” mode, there’s a good chance you’re not many degrees of separation from the name Tsuchiya.