When I really sit down and try to think back on what got me started on this ‘journey‘ of sorts into the automotive media world, one of the first websites that come to mind is a site that didn’t even document car culture out here in the West Coast. I know, it seems strange to read but I can honestly sit here and tell you that one of the digital media outlets that really inspired me to later create ‘The Chronicles’ was DOHCresearch. It was an incredibly well laid-out website that detailed events and hosted car features from Hawaii. I don’t even remember how I stumbled onto the site, probably through photos linked to an automotive forum like Honda-Tech or something, but I found myself just in awe of some of these cars that were photographed. Back then, I’m talking like early 2000, probably closer to 2002, I had no aspirations of being on the media-side of the automotive industry. I was just a guy that had a regular job at an auto parts store that was just into cars. I wasn’t even particularly interested in Hondas back then. I think I actually found DOHCresearch because they had a feature on a Toyota Camry of all things, and that just so happened to be what I was into because that was the car I had then. I would look at Hondas of course, and I appreciated them, but I’d be lying to you if that was the first thing I looked for when I was online looking for automotive content. On any particular night I’d just be on a Honda forum just perusing the ‘appearance’ forums to look at photos and to try to see what parts these Hondas had so I could see what I could adapt to my own car.
At the start of the 2000s, huge body kits were starting to die-off and this whole mentality of building cars to look like the ones in Japan was consuming the masses. I remember being on DOHCresearch and seeing these Hondas that just had great style. Most were built like race cars, had a cage of some sort, whether it be a Cusco bolt-in or a Safety21, and had parts that I had only seen in photos from builds in Japan. These cars mimicked those overseas and they were pretty damn close. It almost seemed as if people in Hawaii had a closer connection to enthusiasts in Japan or something because their builds were so on-point. We had guys like FF-Squad out here in California doing amazing things in terms of bringing “JDM” to America but their cars were so clean and simplistic. Out in Hawaii, guys were building Hondas but they had a little bit of grit to them, a sense of rawness if you will, that you’d probably only see in Japan. They just sort of understood that. I don’t know if that was by accident or just happenstance but man, these cars were great. It was especially eye-opening seeing these Civic hatchbacks and CR-Xs with huge APEX’i Skyline GT-R front-mount intercoolers. Obviously the Bergenholtz brothers and a few others had them on their race cars over here but I’d watch these videos of these turbocharged Civics in Hawaii just ripping it down the street with these massive intercoolers. It was really cool to see.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized that DOHCresearch was the creation of one man and this guy, Colin Waki, just sort of did everything on his own. From shooting photos to even coding the website himself. I actually even met Waki years later but never got to tell him how much I appreciated what he did back then. Through his website I also discovered other Hawaii-based automotive car culture websites like Green-Bottle and Teamrice.org. The community wasn’t too big because it was an island so you could get a lot of content from the same few cars out there and they were always featured throughout on these media hubs. The had everything you could want when it came to staying in touch with the car community in Hawaii. Photos, videos, whatever you can think of, they probably had it. Let me remind you that this was almost two decades ago. There was no social media like Facebook or Instagram. Just automotive forums and messenger services like AIM. It was incredibly valuable to have resources like these sites. I credit them with being the early inspirations to what eventually became ‘The Chronicles’. Even before I knew I wanted to have anything to do with it.
Of course, I can’t give all the credit to Hawaii, but they definitely played an integral part in what I created later. I think that’s why I always have a special place within me that I save for Hawaii. The major inspiration here at home for me was a popular automotive website known simply as JTUNED. Some of you will remember it and have very fond memories of it, like I do. It was THE website, I think, that really set the gears in motion for me, other than DOHCresearch, and of course, print magazines like Super Street. But I think I’ll devote some time to talking about JTUNED a little later when I can get guys like Brandon Leung from BOWLS to tell me about it. It definitely deserves its own piece of literature. Today, we’re talking about Hawaii and what made things interesting out there for car guys in the 2000s.
Thinking back, I recall there being probably a handful of builds in Hawaii that really stood-out to me. The first one that caught my eye was Brandon Fujimoto’s gold B18C1 turbo Civic with C-West aero and a huge front mount intercooler, Aaron’s dark green EG which was also turbocharged sitting on Work RSZ-R wheels, Gerilyn’s Imola Orange all-motor DC2 Integra, and a mocha-colored CR-X with a cut-out Wings West kit, giant JUN Auto decal plastered on the hood, sitting on Spoon SW388 wheels, owned by a guy named Wayne Denman. If you have a chance, go ahead and click on the links to see exactly what I’m talking about. These builds were pretty incredible. Again, let me remind you that these cars were roaming around Hawaii back in 2004.
You can say they were ahead of their time but this was just regular life for guys and gals over there.
Some time, 12 years later, fast-forward to current day, I’m scrolling through my Instagram ‘Explore’ feed and mentally filtering-out the monotony of supposed Fit Tea ‘preten-fluencers’ and multitude of re-posted photos of cars with ‘Financial Mistake’ decals on duckbill wings. I’m going through the motions when out of nowhere, I spot an old photo of Wayne’s mocha CR-X. This was one of those photos that have come to be re-posted probably thousands of times over the last decade but I hadn’t seen it in awhile so I was click-baited. Thinking that it was just another one of those car-repost IG pages that just reuse old photos from others, I didn’t pay much attention. I decide to click on the page to see if perhaps they had stolen some photos of mine and the name of the page caught my attention.
It had a nice, soothing, ring to it. There was no understanding on my part what the name meant, but I wasn’t in the position to judge. I’m also the guy that decided it would be cool to call himself ‘stickydiljoe’.
I’m scrolling down to look at his feed and I noticed that there wasn’t just one photo of Wayne’s CR-X, the entire feed was of the car, along with a lot of photos of his white CR-X (we’ll get to that later). Most of the photos I had never even seen before. They looked like private photos that most re-posters wouldn’t have access to. I go through the comments and realize that whoever this “August Cascade” person was, was actually working on the car in 2016. How crazy is that? I found out that one of the Civics that I admired from Hawaii was sitting in a backyard somewhere, left for dead, and I had assumed that is what happened to most of these cars over the years. Wayne Denman was alive and well, working on his CR-X over a decade later, but he definitely wasn’t living in Hawaii anymore…
How did he end-up in Oregon? Why was his CR-X there as well? What the hell happened in the last ten years? Wait, He’s a white guy?
I had to know more. The 23 year-old me, along with the now 35 years-young automotive journalist side of me, was intrigued. Wayne probably had no idea who I was but I decided to comment on one of his photos. I like to do this thing where I try to collect as much old content as I can for my own private archives so I asked if he had the originals of his CR-X shoots. All we had ever seen previously were really small versions of the photos because when the photos were taken and uploaded, the internet was very different. Technology was also very different. Screen resolutions and all that were not really anything anyone worried about because there wasn’t anything that was able to display large photos considering internet speeds then. To have these old photos in their true size would be a treasure to keep, personally. Most would probably not care but I like to hold on to that kind of stuff. He sends me a direct message soon-after and was kind enough to send this stranger he had never met before his archive.
These were busy times for me. I forgot I had messaged him with my personal Instagram account…and uhhh…I totally forgot about it and didn’t even check if he responded. He probably thought I just took his photos and then proceeded to completely ignore him. What an asshole move.
For the record, I didn’t. It just skipped my mind.
Fast-forward to a couple months ago, during a trip to Seattle for a Wekfest car show, I actually got to meet Wayne. I guess you can say it was a meeting 13-years in the making. I was running around that afternoon doing the judging and collecting content for The Chronicles when my boy David came-up to me and said “Hey, that guy Wayne from August Cascade wants to meet you. He’s here.” I knew that he had moved to Oregon but didn’t know he was interested in attending car shows anymore, and being that I was such an asshole for not responding to his messages, I thought it would be a great opportunity to finally chat with the guy. He came by my booth at the show and we had a good conversation about what he was up to, his thoughts on the car community in 2017, how life had been (briefly summarized of course) since he left Hawaii, and everything else two people can talk about upon meeting. Think of it like running into someone you knew in high school that you really didn’t talk to before, but you both kind of knew of one another, but without all the awkwardness and unpleasantness. On the flight home from Washington, I thought about our encounter more and realized that he was the perfect person to talk to.
He was ground-zero at the core of a time period in a car community that was admired from afar but never really spoken of.
People just grew-up and those memories became distant ones.
I wanted to really devote some more time into developing this story, so I held-off on talking to him until very recently. Granted, I’m still quite busy but I also didn’t want to put it that far back on the queue because I tend to forget about shit. It’s a terrible habit. On a random evening a few weeks ago, I sat down and wrote out all the questions that I had for him. There wasn’t really a deadline for him to respond, but he did so rather quickly. Some days went by and he had already jotted-down all his thoughts and came up with answers for all the questions I had. The guy just continued to impress.
And it didn’t end there.
Though I can’t say that The Epilogues is heavy on visual content, I do need photos. It is a digital media outlet that has a heavy focus on the individual who’s story I am telling to the world. With the other guys previously featured, it was rather easy to capture photos of them, they were local to me and all I had to do was convince them that they wouldn’t look stupid on camera and set-up a time to do it. Wayne was somewhere in Eugene, Oregon, both a city and state I had never ventured to. I could fly-up there, but these are pretty busy months for me. If I waited, there’s no guarantee this story would even make it online until late in the year or possibly even next year. Wayne asked me if I needed photos of him and we both understood the conundrum that we were in.
Ever the problem-solver, he responded telling me that he could have his wife take photos of him. She had been a photographer in the past and had even shot weddings. This was all too perfect. Not only could I get photos of him, but how much more candid can you get by having a significant other capture these images? There’s an immeasurable amount of comfort-ability that two married people have with one another that can probably only be captured by each.
Kristina Denman, we have never met, but I thank you wholeheartedly for making this possible.
NAME: Wayne Denman
KNOWN ALIAS (Social Media or Otherwise):
@augustcascade and JUNcr-x ( old forum days )
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Self-Employed
WHAT YOU ARE KNOWN FOR (Why do people know you for doing or accomplishing):
My Mocha CRX, white CRX and Imola Orange DC Integra. Endless Garage and old school Teamrice.org, http://www.dohcresearch.com and Green-Bottle.com features and videos.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE “CAR COMMUNITY”:
I started with Hondaʻs in 1998 until around 2007, took some time-off and have been back at it for the past couple years.
AGE: 4 decades and some
HOMETOWN/CURRENT LOCATION: Honolulu, Hawaii but now Eugene, Oregon area
This was a fun one. I didn’t really know Wayne at all so getting to talk to him for the first time was a great experience. Instead of just telling you about my friends or people I have worked closely with, I get to learn about Wayne Denman just like the rest of you guys. The first and probably most important question, was coming to an understanding of where and when he first got into cars, Hondas in particular, and what the ‘good old days’ were like.
“I first got into Hondas heavily during the later part of the ’90s.” Denman recalls. “It pretty much all started when my friend Emmanual would drive all of us to go surfing in his lowered 4-door Civic EF. I thought that thing was super cool, so eventually over time, I saved-up enough money and bought my own. It was a sedan like his but mine was bone-stock. I saved some more money soon-after and ended up getting some O.Z. Fittipaldi rims, some cut-springs, and a chrome muffler tip. I thought it was the shit. I think within a year of owning it I even did my first motor-swap! My friend Chris was selling his SOHC VTEC engine so I picked it up. We did the transplant together. He had skills, and showed me everything he knew about Hondas and swaps. I think thatʻs when the interest in building cars really started.”
A couple of years go by when one day, a friend of his asks if Wayne wanted to trade his sedan for a 1988 CR-X HF. The friend, Mark, just needed a roomier car. Faced with what might possibly be the easiest decision since ‘should I put milk in my cereal?’, Denman handed-over the keys and pink slip. Unless you’re a diehard EF sedan nerd, you’re going to take the CR-X, right?
The rest, I guess you can say, is history.
“I didn’t really dive into building the CR-X right away. The car actually sat for a while because I was focused on building my then-girlfriend Gerilyn’s Integra at the time.” Denman explains.
Well, this makes a lot of sense for those of us on the outside-looking-in. It’s no wonder why the two cars eventually became so closely associated with one another. For those who haven’t put the two together yet, this Integra is the one that would eventually become the Imola Orange DC2 that was just spoken-of in an earlier part of this story.
“We were basically trying to turn a bone-stock Integra into a JDM Integra Type R-clone. It went through a couple phases before we painted the entire car (NSX) Imola Orange Pearl. We poured a ton of money into it, and we were pretty stoked on the end result. I learned a shit-ton while putting that car together as it was my first actual extensive build. After we finished her car, I started quick work on the CR-X. It was now 2003, and we had already been in the scene for a while. We had done some car shows and had the Integra shot for some magazines, but now was time for me to bring-out the CR-X. I put it in the StreetCar Showoff event and to my surprise, it got a lot of attention. It was really an odd color for the time. Mocha color outside, and Battleship grey on the inside. That was the idea, I didnʻt want my CR-X to look like anyone elseʻs. Originally, I was going to paint it 1967 Volkswagen Savannah Beige, but that ended-up being a little too light in color.”
“The inspiration for painting the CRX such an off mocha-type color came from seeing the FFsquad cars. Some of their cars had unique colors and that helped set them apart from the crowd. Their style was also years ahead of everyone else’s.”
“I didnʻt want my CR-X to look like anyone elseʻs on the planet. So mocha it was! The car started-off with a turbo set-up, but I ended-up going all-motor and painting the car all one color. Within a year, I built a B20 VTEC that made around 217 WHP. There were plans to do some ¼ mile drag racing and then transition into road racing, but I had a bit of a hiccup along the way.”
Less than two weeks after putting the new motor in, Wayne wrecked his CR-X. He was doing some ‘sampling’ in his CR-X on some industrial back roads and lost control on an off-camber corner. The car was completely destroyed.
“I got pretty busted-up, had broken ribs, and a concussion. Having a roll-cage is pretty much what saved my ass. Lesson learned.”
“I bought another CR-X within 48 hours and finished building it in six months. The motor survived the crash, so I swapped it into the new shell, got a re-tune, and started doing some drag racing (legally). I didnʻt get the chance to run the car a whole lot, maybe less than twenty full-runs but I did manage to pull out a 12.1 or .3 or something as my fastest 1/4-mile time. The car was undoubtedly capable of being an 11-second car with more seat time but I never got to see that time-slip. In 2006 our racetrack closed. I think that is when a lot of us had a decline in motivation to build anymore. I sold my CR-X a year later to my closest friend Shaun and moved up to Oregon.”
The closing of Hawaii Raceway Park played a pivotal role in the huge shift that occurred in the following years. After the track shut down, it seemed like there was a huge disconnect with many automotive enthusiasts and the scene just withered away. It’s hard for many of us out here to fathom the idea of a simple racetrack creating such a dramatic change in a community but you have to remember that Hawaii is a much smaller place, with a much tighter community. I remember when I first started going to events out in Hawaii a few years ago, I asked a lot of enthusiasts from there what caused this huge disparity in their scene and most, if not all, repeated the same sentiments. This race track served as the epicenter of their automotive tuning community. Without it, there was no need to build the fastest import on the island or a need to build a D1-spec drift car anymore because there wasn’t a place where you could use these vehicles. Worth noting is the fact that many of these enthusiasts who built their cars actually used them for the purpose of racing and drifting. They would just bring their cars to car shows as well. Everything just sort of tied together.
“There were still great cars coming out of Hawaii from the real die-hards. It was never a question of quality and style because it was established. It almost seemed as if half the community disappeared after the track closed. If we still had a track, the import community I believe would still be very solid and I for one would never have moved. Itʻs such a bummer!” Denman says. “Before the closure, the scene was really thriving. It was pretty insane to be honest. It seemed like there was something import car related every month. There was car shows, drift events, drag racing events, car meets, and cruises all of the time. The scene was huge and even mainland guys like the great Shaun Carlson and Ed Bergenholtz all came down for some events. I remember Carlson running his Ford Focus at our track. It was wild. Signal Autoʻs Komatsu and Chunky Bai brought their drift cars from Japan and tore up our track. It was nuts seeing their tandem drift runs. Our car shows got pretty crazy too. Back then, we didnʻt have Instagram and Facebook so we actually had a few real models at the shows. There was a lot of street racing and drifting going on, and sometimes in specific cases, we had scheduled uphill battles in the mountains (documented in Green-Bottle.com Videos). Still to this day a lot of the younger generation go up to drift this mountain area called Tantalus where we used to go back in the day. Itʻs cool to see recent footage of kids drifting the same lines as everyone did almost 20 years ago. I think that era was just a really great time to be into cars!”
Instead of going back in time to talk about what changed and made the scene slow-down, I felt that it was important to talk more about what made Hawaii so great during the early 2000s. Sure it was great to see people from foreign lands make a statement on their home turf, but there were definitely some notable locals who really helped push the community forward with their builds. As someone who grew-up during that era, I wanted to know who inspired him and who he still holds in high regard all these years later for their work.
“Some of the first guys I think of are Forrest Wang (green S13,14 from Endless Garage) and Brandon Fujimoto (Gold Turbo EK from Endless Garage). Their builds were always light-years ahead of everyone elseʻs, and they only built cars from the ground-up. Nothing untouched. Baron Tajiri (Endless Garage white turboJDM-style EG hatch) would for sure be the next. Baron built a Spoon Sports-themed EG Civic before anybody in Hawaii even knew what that was. Those guys always set the bar high for those who were building in the same chassis category. Marcus Ho, the owner of Endless Garage which was our local shop, was another. He always owned a million cars, but the one that stood-out was his blue BMW E36 M3. If you are from that era then you remember, he was the only guy back then drifting a BMW.”
“The ‘go for broke’ mentality is kinda how everybody was back then! I think that at the shop everyone always challenged each other, and that was a big motivator.”
“My CR-X was pretty much one of the last ones built. I was able to see what everyone else had done, and I tried to incorporate some of that into my own car. Another crew separate from the shop was the UltraSpeed car club guys. They always had great cars. The main guys were Roy Cabibbo, Aaron Fukumoto, and Gil Deliz. They were affiliated with Teamrice.org and we all ended-up becoming friends. They were actually Hawaiiʻs first HONDATA tuners. So eventually they were the main tuners for both of my CRXs. If anyone can remember the old Teamrice videoʻs, Roy had the Del Sol, and Gil had the gold EG hatch. Some pretty classic stuff back in the day! There is actually a long list of influential rides, but that could take forever so I will just leave it at that.”
While on the topic of his CR-X, I wanted to figure out how and why his car ended-up in Eugene, Oregon with him. Originally Wayne had mentioned that he sold his CR-X to his good buddy Shaun, and he did, but re-acquired it some years down the road—sort of. As it turns out, the CR-X you see pictured with Wayne is actually a third one. Maybe you might consider it version 2.5. It’s really not that confusing, I swear. I’ll have him explain more thoroughly…
“When I moved, Shaun kept the CR-X for a while but he ended-up in need of some money. He sold it to a friend he trusted that would take care of it, but that didnʻt work out too well. The guy he sold it to just left it outside under a car cover for years! He eventually bought it back only to realize that it had a pile of rust damage. His plan was to restore the CR-X and swap-in all new goods along with a K20 engine. None of that worked-out, so he decided to salvage what he could and ship me my old B20 VTEC motor. Initially he was going to just send my old motor, but instead, he pretty much put half a car on a pallet. The CR-X you see now is a completely different 1988 HF that I purchased locally, but it was pretty incomplete. I used what was salvaged off of our old CR-X to basically complete the car.”
“I wanted another ’88 HF because of how much I missed my original one that I crashed. This one already had a cage in it, but was driver-specific and set-up for drag racing. I ended-up cutting the cage out and making my own. When I got back into this after all those years off, the scene changed a bit and everyone seemed to have dimple die roll cages, bad camber, and horrible wheels (slight exaggeration of course). I knew the only thing that I could take from that was the race car/dimple die ‘look’. I made this contraption of a cage with dimple dies everywhere, and after I finished the cage, I painted the interior. A month later I cut the cage out—It just wasnʻt my style. I realized that after staring at it for a couple of weeks. Donʻt get me wrong, I love the dimple die look, I just didn’t like the one that I fabricated. After I cut the cage out, I ordered a partial Safety21 cage from Japan and finished the rest myself. Fabricating a bolt-in would be harder than just welding it in, but I was down to do something different.”
“When the car is finished it will look a lot like my original mocha CR-X. Iʻm going to use the exact color paint as I did back in 2003, and probably keep the same color combo. No (Spoon) SW388s though. It will have the JDM SiR front, but this time around, I wonʻt be using a Wings West kit. The motor will of course be the same B20 VTEC that was in the other two CR-Xs, but itʻs all refreshed and will be updated with new goodies. It now makes 230WHP, will still have 12:1 compression, and use the same JUN ITR cylinder head with Stage 3 cams.”
“The main reason for building the semi-clone of my old car is that I actually never really had enough time to enjoy the original. I do miss it, and seemingly so do a lot of other people.”
It’s honestly very cool to see an older car guy be so dedicated to his hobby. In a world of microwave culture and trends, it is refreshing to see people so invested. Wayne himself finds motivation from others like him who are still tinkering with their original builds even at an older age. Through their different stages of life, they still come back to cars as their passion.
“A good example is Mike Ghadimi and his Civic from Southern California. We are a few years apart in age but he still has his original Civic. His car was built and finished before I ever even got my first CR-X and thatʻs awesome. It’s pretty epic because there are still a handful of examples like him around. When I left the scene I thought the older guys would just rotate-out and a new generation step-in (like sports), but thatʻs not the case. Seeing cars like his and others motivate me to build again and bring back something that I had once and lost.”
Through all this information and trips down memory lane, there was still a very important question I wanted to ask him. When I first came upon his Instagram account, I just assumed his name was ‘August Cascade’ who was some guy operating an account with photos of Wayne’s CR-X. Like most of you are wondering by now as well, what exactly is ‘August Cascade’?
Wayne responds, “‘August’ is the month I decided to build another CR-X and ‘Cascade’ is the mountain range area in Oregon where I live. When I decided to start another CR-X project, I figured I would try to make a contribution somehow to the import scene by creating a small brand based around the lifestyle. T-shirts, stickers, etc., is the standard drill for starters. Iʻll be getting on it soon enough.”
And how is Oregon compared to such a picturesque place like Hawaii?
“I moved here almost ten years ago! I went from seeing modded cars to seeing modded fixed-gear bikes. Out here, there was virtually no car scene and Portland, where I first moved to, was considered more of a hipster-town. There would be more exotics than sport compact cars on a daily basis, so I wasn’t exactly motivated to start another build. I pretty much just put cars behind me for a while, and just ended-up digging into the social scene here. Later I discovered some drift events that I attended, as well as some smaller car events. They were cool, but there was nothing around that really kick-started my urge to get back into the car scene again. In Hawaii, I would see fixed-up cars everyday and everywhere. It was kind of a shock that I didn’t see much here. I didn’t even hang-out with many car people again until years later.”
Once he was able to reconnect, it must have been an interesting feeling. I for one, would not know what to do with myself without cars, as I’m just constantly around them every day. I couldn’t even imagine what I would do be separated from this entire community and being away from something that I really cared about for days, months, and years. Maybe it was a necessary break for Wayne, to re-evaluate his life and get situated with what we consider to be “adulting”. He’s not necessarily a young gun in the scene anymore so plugging himself back into the ‘game’, if you will, must have been a challenge in itself, especially considering he was in a completely new locale.
“I feel a bit like Iʻm still on the outside looking in. I was so detached from it for so long, and so much has changed.”
“It’s going to take a while for me to get back into the swing of things, meaning all thatʻs current. When I went to Wekfest Seattle this past July, I felt that it was kind of like a rebirth for me car-wise. The experience of going to a real car show again brought back a lot of great memories, and I think that is a big motivator for me. The scene nowadays is definitely different, but not as much in the Pacific Northwest as it would be in other places. Itʻs almost like the car scene there has moved a bit slower than a place like SoCal, or so, the East Coast. That might seem insulting to some, but itʻs actually a compliment. Now, in terms of the current state of the scene in general, I think there will be a small shift. I believe that the older and newer generation will start regarding our sport compacts in more of a ‘Import Hot-Rod’ sense, like how the old timers do with their classic Chevys and Fords, etc. The restoration-effect is already in full-swing, and older OEM parts are becoming harder to get. More and more enthusiasts will start to treasure their old imports as a collector like the old-timers do with their’s. There’s no set age restriction for car enthusiasts so I donʻt think this scene will actually ever die-off. “
Relocating and eventually reconnecting with the car scene has probably opened his eyes to see the scene from different perspectives. He grew-up in Hawaii experiencing mostly only what the island had to offer, with some glimpses here and there of the outside world via the internet. As technology improved and social media becoming such a huge factor in what we all get to see, he must have formed a better idea of how each area built their cars, how styles were different, and the general direction in where each sub-community was heading. I wanted to pick his brain and see how everything compared now that he’s matured and seen so much after he moved away.
Being at the heart of it during Hawaii’s prime years, did he consider their builds to be ‘better’ than those in the mainland?
If they weren’t, were they right up there in comparison?
And whether they were or not, what did he think set the Hawaii car scene apart from the rest?
“I donʻt think Hawaii builds were better than the mainland back then—I think the angle of car building was just different. Hypothetically, if there was a car show that featured both mainland and Hawaii cars…the judging would be pretty interesting. I do believe for ‘car show’ purposes, the mainland has better cars. That being said, the majority of Hawaii builds were never ‘show cars’.” Wayne proclaims.
“We would all beat the shit out of our cars one weekend and then put them in the show the following weekend. “
“I think one of the major differences with Hawaii, was that we drove fully-caged race cars—that were actually street cars! I do remember Honda-Tech forum morons talking shit about how we built show cars to look like race cars, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. In actuality, isn’t that what everyone is doing nowadays?”
“Personally, I have never had much up-close experience with any mainland builds except for the ones in the Pacific Northwest. I know for sure though, that there are amazing builds in all the areas of the U.S. They’re all uniquely styled in their own particular way. Northwest builds remind me a lot of the Hawaii cars, and simply just for the raw-ness factor. I never have a problem seeing small flaws, or a chassis still running a D or B-series motor. The overall style and execution is what really draws my interest.”
“A lot of guys tend to ‘over-build’ their car, and in my opinion, itʻs a waste of time. The possibility of no improvement, because youʻve done it all, leaves yourself open to faded interest later on. I do appreciate all builds though, donʻt get me wrong, I would never try to degrade someoneʻs hard work.”
I can agree with him when he speaks about that element of ‘rawness’ that comes certain builds. It is a very specific quality that can often be attempted, but most will never truly execute it correctly. He says that people can ‘over-build’ a car, and that is certainly true, but it is also important to note that many people also try way too hard to make their cars ‘raw’. It just comes off cheesy, I feel. You can build with intentions to just make a car ‘raw’. It just is or it isn’t. You have to have an understanding of what ‘raw’ is and despite what most will think, ‘raw’ is not keeping shit unfinished or making a car ‘hood’. That special ingredient of ‘rawness’ for guys like Wayne and his friends from Hawaii is something that was adapted from Japan.
“Japan track cars in general were 90% of what all of us looked at. I personally loved the Top Fuel, JUN, and SS Works cars! Many of the local shops in Hawaii had a strong connection with the Japanese drift scene. I can remember multiple shops including Endless Garage storing the drift cars from Japan when they came over for exhibition events. It was always cool to see the cars and to actually drive them around to shuffle space in the shop. We all got excited!” Wayne says laughingly. “The drift ‘style’ definitely had a big impact on how a lot of us built our cars. I mean, we were up-to-date on what was going on with how mainland guys were building—it just wasn’t totally our style. Hawaii has always had its own style that is somewhere in-between. I remember there were always plenty of Best Motoring and Option videos playing at the shop as well as stacks of Hyper Rev and other Japanese mags all over. For sure that helped with influencing us. That’s no knock on the mainland of course. I credit guys like Jason Whitfield and Ed Bergenholtz for specific aspects of my CR-X build. Their builds made me want to have a body kit and an over-sized intercooler.”
Now we approach that moment of reflection, not in terms of just looking back on the ‘olden days’, but just as a whole. I asked all the other previous guests on The Epilogues this, and I wanted to know if Wayne would do anything differently, whether it be in his regular life or with his endeavors as a car guy.
“I think everything happens the way its supposed to happen, like its predetermined or something. I wouldn’t want things to go differently, because if it could be changed, then that action could ultimately affect my current situation which I am 100% happy with. On a lighter note, I do regret getting rid of certain car parts and memorabilia. Always sell your shit to a hoarder who you know will never get rid of it. Then there might be a possibility of buying it back in the future!”
I never had a chance to know Wayne Denman when he was younger, thrust into a thriving car scene in Hawaii, with his whole life ahead of him, but he seems like a man who has found his peace. The guy just seems like he has this comfort-ability with life and it might be the perfect time to build his CR-X. Like many, his car is more than just simply, a ‘car’. It encompasses many elements from his past and serves as a vehicle (all puns intended) to keep him connected with the automotive enthusiasts community. He took some time away but is now focused and dedicated as ever.
“The plan right now is just to finish my current CR-X by the next Wekfest Seattle event in 2018. I needed a target day, or this whole ordeal would take forever to finish. After completion, I think it’d be fun to take the car out to do some road racing and attend other events. I’m happy with how things are, I’m having a good time with it. The future of the car community overall is bright, I feel. Itʻs headed in a positive direction. There were a few bumpy years, but itʻs back around and hopefully it just gets stronger and stronger. I do think that there are way too many builds out there that look the same. The originality of building cars has faded a little in some aspects.”
“Everyone wants to do what the last guy did, but itʻs already been done.”
“Instead of folks looking for inspiration in their same chassis model, maybe look to other cars, different years, or even a entirely different manufacturer. That’s what many of us did back in the day to try to set our cars apart from the norm. Now, instead of taking that idea negatively… I will say this; the quality and details of the builds today are absolutely superior to anything that any of us ever did or could ever dream up in the past. It’s pretty mind-blowing to see the details that go into some of these builds. Whether it be a restoration, race car, or everything in-between—itʻs amazing.”
“Once the CR-X is done, I’d love to really devote some time into building August Cascade as a brand. At some point, being more involved in the workings of car shows, or race events would be something Iʻd love to do as well. I really like the idea of companies collaborating to put on automotive events. It would be nice one day to be one of those companies. If money weren’t an issue, I think I would still have the same goals. Nothing would really change. I’d probably achieve my goals much faster because there’d be no financial obstacles, but I’m perfectly okay with moving at the current speed of life.”
I honestly had no idea how all of this was going to go. When I first set-out to do this project, I wanted to speak to my friends who were directly involved motivating me and helping me get to where I am today. Meeting Wayne Denman was something that completely happened by chance but as he mentioned, he believes that ‘everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen’, as if it were predetermined. Perhaps that’s true. Sometime over a decade ago, I was stumbling around the internet and came upon some cars that inspired me to be a better car enthusiast, to have a better understanding of how people built cars in a place completely unknown to me, and to have a better appreciation of that. Sometime over a decade later, I was stumbling around the internet and found one of the guys who was instrumental for making that happen.
Life is crazy.
I had some idea of what the car scene was like in Hawaii before all this. People like Colin Waki from DOHCresearch and many others who dedicated so much of their time documenting the community out there did an impeccable job. Their photos and videos spoke true to what Hawaii represented and the cars will be forever ingrained in the minds of many. Some would say that these cars were iconic in their own way. The best part about that is, they never tried to be that. These guys just built cars and fucking enjoyed them. There was never a point when people set-out to be famous or known in any type of way. Their cars weren’t a means to become a ‘public figure’ in a world now filled with so many empty social media accomplishments.
You can’t help but respect that.
It will be an incredible moment when that CR-X is completed. I can’t wait to hear more about it. Salute to Wayne and the rest of the enthusiasts from Hawaii then and now. Keep doing your thing. Have fun with it. That’s what made you guys great in the first place.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kristina Denman
Parting Thanks: Thank you Joey for taking the time and interest in myself, my builds, and the old school Hawaii import scene. I think we all owe you some gratitude for always pushing forward and trying to keep the community going strong. I donʻt think the scene would be the same without your involvement. -Wayne