FROM MAGS TO WRENCHES
the story of Pac Rim Motorsports
Everything Drift: How did you get into the T-Shirt business?
Jerry Tsai: I kind of fell into it; it definately wasn’t anything I ever planned. When I was in college back in 1995, I came to the realization that there weren’t any companies out there that catered to imports and the whole import culture. So casually talking with my brother, I told him there’s tons of skate and hip-hop clothing companies, but nothing for imports. He suggested I just do it. I said “Are you kidding? I don’t know anything about t-shirts or clothing” and he said “Well it can’t be that hard”. The next day, I started looking up silk screeners in the yellow pages and just went from there.
eDRFT: When did you decide to get into drifting?
JT: The drift team went hand-in-hand with the e-commerce side of the website, ilovedrifting.com. I had been selling all of the D1 and drifting stuff for two or three years before they had the competition here. When I first learned that D1 was going to have a competition here, I had a show car at the time that happened to be an S13 with an SR swap and everything. I already had the car, all I needed was a driver, and for that I ended up finding Dai through Ken Miyoshi. But that’s another story. At the time, i was advertising with Super street and other magazines, spending $3,000 – $6000 per month. I pulled the money out and put it into the drift team instead, so it all fell together from there.
eDRFT: Now how did you find Daijiro as your driver?
JT: I was In Japan at a show called X5 (cross 5) which is like Hot Import Nights here. I had a booth there selling t-shirts, and Ken Miyoshi was helping me out with everything. Ken had a friend in Japan come in and help us clean up the booth and put all of the shirts away after the show, and that friend brought a friend, who was Dai. As we were cleaining up, Ken and Dai got into a conversation about drifting and Dai mentioned that he drove. Ken kind of blew it off at the time like “Yeah, that’s cool.” Dai offered to take everyone for a ride if they wanted. I had to leave from Japan early because I had some business over here, but Ken arranged to ride with Dai the night I left. When I got back into town, I had a voice mail from Ken saying “Wow! Dai’s a great driver, he’s the one that has to drive your car!” That was pretty much all I needed, and I had him come drive for me at the first D1. The next time I saw him was a month and a half or two later, and that was at the D1 Drivers Search. I picked him up at the airport and had to thank him for putting my shirts away. Then we drove to the track and he got in my car and drove it for me.
eDRFT: How did that turn into a full-time driving position for Dai?
JT: At the time, Ken Miyoshi was going to have his own driver as well but he wanted a US driver like Alex or Andy. I wanted to have my own driver that was from Japan, that’s why we brought Dai over. We were going to have a tandem team, like a two-car punch, but that didn’t end up working out. Dai made it through the drivers search for me and made it into the Best 16 at D1. I asked him if his driving was just a one-time or if he wanted to drive for me again, and he said yes; he would drive for me again.
eDRFT: How have the sales of Pac Rim shirts been since you started the drift team?
JT: Before drifting came to the US, the drag racing community was near its end. In the beginning, it was there but it was never really something that I really liked, it was more like an opportunity for me to market my shirts and was just there. i wasn’t very gung-ho about it; I was more into the car show side of things. But even the show scene was kind of slowing down for me. Drifting brought new blood into the scene, it’s really a mixture of drag racing and car shows. The competition and car looks are combined with drag racing, and everything has translated into bettersales.
eDRFT: Give our readers the scoop. What’s your best-selling shirt?
JT: Right now, it’s our “Get it straight, drift sideways” shirt with Dai on it. But all of our top-5 sellers are drift-related. The two drivers that sell the best are Dai and Ken Gushi, by far. Everyone wants those shirts. Alex Pfeiffer does well, Rhys also does well. I’ve divided the company into two; there’s the clothing/website, and the drift team is its own seperate business now. It started as an advertising campaign and now evolved into its own company.
eDRFT: Originally, you mentioned having a two-car team. Is that still a goal?
JT: It all depends on what sponsors want. I’m open to do it, but not actively pursuing it. But I always keep my eye out for new talent out there.
|Daijiro Yoshihara||Dai & Jerry Tsai|