Turn 14 Driver’s Project: A Blast from California Cool to SpeedVegas Heat!
Words: Jonathan Wong
Photos: Sam Du
It goes without saying: 2020 has been a (choose your own adjective) kind of year. We certainly hope you’ve remained safe and healthy, and perhaps have found solace in a weekend drive or by finally making progress on that garage project you’ve put off far too long.
One of our industry partners – Turn 14 Distribution – decided it was time for a select group of industry friends and family to take a few projects on a long weekend drive; one that would take drivers on a journey throughout California, on through Nevada with a midway break at Turn 14’s West Coast distribution center, before finally reaching the SpeedVegas Summer Meet in Las Vegas. A total of almost 1,400 miles crammed into three days of driving.
This experimental rally, the brainchild of Sam Du, would be dubbed the “Driver’s Project.” He was joined by friends representing Turn 14, Titan 7 Wheels, Sparco, CSF Radiators, KW Suspension, Injen, Turbosmart, Meguiar’s; YouTuber, Dustin Williams; and our very own ENEOS Ambassador, Dai Yoshihara. Oh, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to sneak along for the ride ourselves!
LA TO LAGUNA SECA
Starting early Thursday morning from Pirelli P ZERO World in Santa Monica, CA, the drivers were briefed and the line of impressive vehicles began to present itself for the rally: Sam’s ENEOS-sponsored Toyota Supra A90 (the undeniable leader of the pack), Daryl Sampson representing Turn 14 in the Titan 7 Lamborghini Huracan, Eddie Lee in the Titan 7 Jeep Rubicon, Spoon Sports in their Civic Type R, Alan Viado in the Sparco E90 BMW M3, Ravi Dolwani in the CSF Porsche 991 Turbo S, Dustin Williams in his R35 Nissan GT-R, and Dai Yoshihara rotating through a couple of different Lexus sports coupes: the LexusTuned LC500 and a stock RC F.
The first leg of the California route took us up Highway 101, diverting onto a few winding roads that would take us to our lunch stop in downtown San Luis Obispo. Having been on various rallies over the years, you control the level of fun you want to have based on your driving ability and comfort level – after all, you are on public roads and should obey the rules of the road.
After a quick photo-op at Morro Rock following lunch, we spent the remainder of the afternoon taking in the sights of the California coast while driving Highway 1 through Big Sur up to Monterey (a highly recommended route). Our evening stop brought us to the world famous WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca racing circuit, and racer/driver Scott Pruett (courtesy of Lexus) would give us an unforgettable tour of the world-class facility, stopping at each of its most memorable turns for photo-ops, including the Corkscrew.
THE BAY AREA TO RENO
It was another early start to make our way to Reno, NV, but first the Driver’s Project would take a short, spirited drive over to San Mateo (just south of San Francisco) for a lunch stop at Mark Arcenal’s illest/Fatlace Paddock. We also had a stop planned in Sacramento to visit CA Tuned but a delay forced half the group to detour and book it the rest of the way to Turn 14’s Reno distribution center in order to arrive in time for dinner and a tour of the facility. If you were armed with a radar detector and nerves of steel, this was easily the fastest leg, loaded with elevation changes and sweeping turns before reaching the calm of Reno. We had an early night because the last day of driving would be the longest.
VEGAS, BABY, VEGAS!
Drivers Project wasted no time getting on the road to Vegas, using a 450+ mile stretch of largely one-lane (in each direction) on the US-95. Without much to see other than desert, caffeine was necessary for mental focus. There were plenty of stretches to go well over the posted speed limit – something necessitated by groups of slow moving traffic, unaware of the luxury exotics and sports machines that cannot rest idly by. Yet caution had to be exercised through the various small towns sprinkled along the route, which had been rumored to be armed with speed traps waiting for a group such as ours.
One absolutely noteworthy stop, located smack in the middle between Reno and Vegas, is the Tonopah Brewing Company. This is the unlikeliest of places in the world, which serves some of the best BBQ we’ve ever tasted (and if we stayed the night, apparently offers the best beer in town as well).
The last couple hundred miles to Vegas flew by, as we were eager to reach the SpeedVegas Summer Meet on time. Those with the more exotic (aka faster) rides snagged the primo parking, and once we reached our destination, we knew it was going to be a good time: Spread out before us were nearly 600 cars, many traveling from as far as California to attend. It was a fun, yet very hot afternoon of looking at a largely JDM crowd of show cars and watching attendees try their hand at the different supercar and off-road driving experiences offered by SpeedVegas.
Once the Summer Meet concluded, we took a few minutes for photoshoots on the track in order to complete the content creation for the weekend.
The Turn 14 Driver’s Project was a weekend we’ll never forget. It allowed us to safely reconnect with our old industry friends while allowing us to form new relationships, all thanks to our love of cars and driving. We’re excited to join you on the next one!