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SP Rides: Dreaming Big, Kamakaze-Style

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BY MICHAEL KITCHENS

Name: Keoni Rodrigues/ Team Kamakaze
Age: 33
Occupation: Painter
Hobbies: Wrenching, Drifting, 4-Wheeling, Dirt Bikes, Super Moto Stunting, RC
Year, Make, Model: 1991 Nissan 240SX LS1
Color: Red with Violet Pearl
Engine: LS1 Swap With T56 Trans , Full Exhaust With Headers
Exterior: Full Custom Cut Lexan Windows , Front And Rear Bash Bar
Interior: Special K Welded Diff Custom 6 Point Dimple Dye Roll Cage Fabricated By Kamakaze Crew, Sparco Racing Seats, Autometer Gauges & Tachometer with shift light, Drift Button, Bubble shift knob, Removable steering wheel, Harnesses
Suspension: Fortune Coils, Welded Brace Sub Frame,  Custom Kamakaze High Angle Knuckle Kit , Extended And Knotched Kamakaze LCAs
Wheels/Tires/Brakes:  Polished Forged, Nitto Neo Gen
Shout-Out: Farmers Market Hawaii

Few may realize it now, but in the early 2000s, Oahu was known for putting drifting on the map. The legendary Drift Session, formerly held at the now-defunct Hawaii Raceway Park, was instrumental in creating some of the best drifters, many of whom have went on to bigger fame while competing on the mainland.

Keoni Rodrigues, is one such DS alumni, as evidenced by his skill behind the wheel. Now, he’s dreaming big and planning to take it to new heights by also making the move to the mainland with this fully prepared, Formula Drift Spec 1993 Nissan S13.

This ride has been built with a purpose…the plan is to start off in FD Pro Am as well as Vegas Drift and other similar entry level events until finally culminating in the big leagues of Formula Drift competition. Team Kamakaze must get their name out there, building up a following, while showing that they have the skills to make something big and crazy happen.

Hand-built from the ground up, the entire chassis has been worked over. Every inch of the vehicle has been stitch-welded for improved torsional rigidity. The interior has been completely gutted and then an incredibly beautiful FD-spec roll cage created and welded into place. The tremendous amount of work that has been put into this car makes this one of the best examples of a modified S13 chassis that I’ve seen in Hawaii.

Just look at the mind-blowing amount of steering angle that the front wheels can achieve. “It’s just mental now. It feels like you can’t spin out. You can come at turn and just throw it into a reverse angle.” says Rodrigues. A peek into the wheel wells reveals the colorful magic that’s been used to reach this level of performance…most it created by hand with a self-made jig.

Of course, to keep an insane ride like this competitive, big, reliable power is needed. The car was purchased with an already swapped-in LS1 from a Corvette, currently pumping over 400+ horsepower. Bigger horsepower is on the horizon, but for now, this is decent usable power for a driver that understands momentum drift better than most people. Having been the media director for Drift Session, I’m fully aware that Keoni learned how to make the most with the least after going balls to the wall in an underpowered KA24DE for so many years.

The rest of the car also has the necessary interior modifications that are required with a machine of this quality, including the Sparco race buckets, removable steering wheel, tachometer and various controls for shifting and braking. This includes the heavily modified suspension and wheels/tires/brakes.

Keoni has always been known for taking chances. I watched this young man grow up on the track, becoming one of the most amazing and electrifying drivers ever to drift HRP. Knowing he’s going to put himself out there and go for it, couldn’t make me prouder.

“I don’t want to be that guy that says, ‘what if?’. That’s why we’re banging out. You only live once so I’m going all in.” says Keoni. Thanks to his mom & dad, his girlfriend Kimberlyn, family and friends as well as help from his sponsor, Farmers Market Hawaii, he’s got a chance to make it to the big leagues.