Q: What is your general “car-culture” experience, and could you briefly put into words your love for automobiles and/or motorsport:
FRANK O’CONNOR (Creative Director): I love all things car. I love motorsports, with a deeper fondness for Rally and Formula One – especially old-school bonkers make-up-your-own-rules Formula One (six wheeled 1977 Tyrrel, anyone?). I’m a decent driver, with some experience doing track days and technical 4WD off road stuff, but haven’t done as much as I’d like to. The most difficult car I ever drove was about twenty minutes in a Lamborghini Diablo VT, whose clutch and gated gearing absolutely terrified me – above and beyond the engine. On the other hand, I’ve also driven a Reliant Robin which was equally terrifying – because of gravity and physics. The best looking car of all time is the Lamborghini Miura, and I’d secretly like to get a fully modified whale-tailed De Tomaso Pantera.
KIKI WOLFKILL (Studio Head of Transmedia): I will try to be brief but will likely fail because cars and motorsports have always been a huge part of my life! I grew up jammed in the back of a Porsche 911, and with a father who had raced cars all his life. My earliest family memories were of being at the race track watching my father or family friends race; GT racing, rally racing, Indy Cars, you name it. I first learned to drive when I was 13 and nothing felt more natural then going fast when I got my learner’s permit at 15. I LOVE DRIVING. I also happen to love competition. I raced professionally for almost 10 years and even longer before that as an amateur.
I have been known to take to the streets competing both in the Gumball 3000 and the Cannonball: One Lap of America. While I grew up with and have an affinity for German rear-wheel drive cars, I am not picky when it comes to competition – I will literally race anything anywhere. Getting the most out of any vehicle whether a rental mini-van (the official ‘unofficial’ race weekend track car [I can vouch for this – Grim]), a scooter (I <3 my Vespa), or a go-kart… if it moves I’ll race it. I pretty much watch every motorsport out there when I can. I love Formula 1 and follow it pretty religiously, I appreciate all forms of motorsport so long as the competition is tight; guess it’s just in my blood! [she's not lying... - Grim]
JAMES BACHICI (Lead Playtest Coordinator): I don’t remember a time where cars weren’t a major part of my life. Since I was raised by my grandparents and my grandfather was a mechanic, engine bits, bumpers, wheels, wrenches and sockets were a pretty common sight in our backyard/garage. I was taught to drive a manual at the age of 11 on a 1983 Ford F-250 truck. It was a bronzy brown; I’ll never forget it. Falling in love with the automobile and racing was therefore inevitable. Since racing cars was so expensive, I turned to videogames instead. I distinctly remember reading up on all the auto manufacturers in Gran Turismo and losing my mind when Forza Motorsport came out on the original Xbox. I once raced against what looked to be a bone-stock Civic, but turned out to be a proper drag-strip sleeper and was depressed for a month. I distinctly recall BMW scoring a 1-2 finish in the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in 98 and smiling for a week afterwards. I consider a car to be one of the best physical expressions of one’s style, values and even character – and I think this applies to both the creator (manufacturer) as well as the user.
KEVIN PAUL (Program Manager): Briefly: I wanna go fast -Ricky Bobby, 2006. Longly: My growing obsession with the Forza Motorsport series is what inspired me to go out and try my hand at motorcycle track riding. I didn't care much for motorsports (or racing games, really) prior to that, but there's something awfully satisfying about chaining corners together and shaving tenths of seconds from your lap time. Washington has a couple of great tracks and a welcoming community of riders and teachers that make it fun and safe to learn how to put a knee down. Now I can't get enough MotoGP and WorldSBK coverage and I'm branching out into F1 as well. Aside from track riding, I still get out on the weekends to carve canyons at a responsible speed.
LANDIN WILLIAMS (Video Editor/Lord of Epic Trailer-making): I guess you could consider me a part of the “Fast & Furious” generation of car nerds. The original movie came out just when my friends and I were getting our licenses, and I’ve been into cars ever since. I spent a few years driving my 2001 Honda Civic before I was introduced to Initial D – a Japanese anime that solidified my love for cars and more importantly drifting! I’m all about style and drifting is the epitome. Many will say it’s the coolest thing you can do with a car…and I tend to agree! By combining my love for drifting with my childhood hobby of shooting skateboarding videos I ended up landing a job at Turn 10 Studios back in 2006 after re-creating an episode of Initial D in the original Forza Motorsport. As you can imagine this was very early in the world of videogame machinima, and my now long-time mentor – and fellow 343-er – Che Chou (who worked at Turn 10 at the time) caught wind of the video and e-mailed me. The rest is history! I went on to create over ten stunt drifting videos in various Forza games with my team Project Blackjack while also working as the Cinematic Lead on Forza for many years. This would explain the amount of drifting that ended up making its way into the game trailers and eventually the game itself ;)
Q: What are some of your favorite cars you’ve owned or driven over the years?
FRANKIE: I’m what you’d call a mid-range enthusiast whose dreams are deeper than his pockets. I’ve driven loads of stuff over the years, from a brief stint with a company-leased Ford Escort RS Cosworth, to Formula Ford racecars, to beach buggies, exotic sports cars and beyond. Sadly, until recently, my full-time grown-up cars have been boring or value-minded. But I’ve loved ‘em all. A Nissan Micra, an Audi 90 (5-cylinder sedan), a Mazda Protégé, a Honda Fit (oh boy, when the VTEC kicks in…) and a Mazda CX7. The latter just got traded in for a 2017 Audi A4. My first proper big boy car. It’s comfy, quiet, quick off the mark (0-60 in 5.3 seconds according to a leading car magazine test. I of course would never drive like that.) and it literally has a better nVidia GPU than my current home desktop PC. I love it. And am terrified of dings and scratches.
KIKI: I have admittedly owned and driven a lot of cars in my life… it’s definitely a personal indulgence. I’ve owned everything from a Mazda rotary truck (rx-7 engine + my first car) to a ’79 VW Rabbit (PRE-catalytic converter) to BMW Dinan-tuned M-Coupe (still one of my favorite cars). I’ve raced mostly Porsche and BMW with a Panoz Esperante GT thrown in for good measure. I’m currently swapping between an Audi RS5 and a Porsche Cayman S because everyone needs both a V8 and a V6 in their lives
JAMES: My family traveled frequently, so I had the privilege of seeing a lot of European countries and in turn, drive a fair bit of their roads. Also as I mentioned earlier, my grandfather was a mechanic, so that didn’t hurt. Whenever I had to drive in a foreign country, I did my best to try and drive a car that was actually FROM that country. In France I drove Citroen’s and Peugeots. In Romania I drove Dacia. In Germany (my favorite) I got to drive Mercs, Audi’s and BMW’s and this one time, in Singapore, I got to drive a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. I know, a Lambo is Italian, but hey, I wasn’t going to turn down a chance at driving the raging bull just because it wasn’t “home turf!” But honestly, ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you I bleed blue and white. I’ve had more BMW’s than anything else. My current car is a 2010 BMW 335i M Sport Manual, and my favorite car I’ve ever driven has to be the original E30 M3. It’s the car that embodies BMW at its apex and is, in my opinion, the genesis of what the “Ultimate Driving Machine” motto stands for.
KP: Motorcycles called to me from an early age and they're pretty affordable, so I started riding when I moved to Seattle (and kept it a secret from my mom for years). After finishing MSF, I started with a Suzuki GS500, then moved on to a Yamaha FZ6 and a track-only R6 that was as fast as it was terrifying. I recently upgraded to an Aprilia Tuono which is just a beast and downright beautiful from every angle. I would park it in my bedroom if I could manage the stairs.
My car history is more functional than fun, my first car was a 92 Honda Civic that died when I reached Seattle. The BMW 328i that replaced the Civic drove great but had frequent problems, so I got a Honda Ridgeline to make track days easier. Just last year, I replaced the truck with a 2006 BMW M5 which I had lusted after since its introduction. That was simultaneously the best and most irresponsible decision I've ever made. While I have no regrets, I do have a mountain of service receipts in the glovebox. 10/10 – would buy again.
LANDIN: When I moved to Seattle for the T10 gig I had to get rid of my pride and joy…the 2001 Honda Civic, however by this time I was obsessed with another compact: the Toyota Corolla GT-S also known as the AE86 or Hachi-Roku. Initial D got me…I’m an absolute Toyota/Corolla nerd and will probably drive one until the day I die. The driving experience is something I haven’t been able to find anywhere else, and they’re a great platform for drifting. I currently own two Corollas that I’ve built in my garage over the years. One for the street (1985 GTS Hatch) and another purpose built for the track (1987 GTS Coupe). You can find me driving at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex in Canby Oregon with music blasting and tires smoking… [Check out Landin drifting his beloved Toyota here in this epic shot from Chris Haas at everythingdrift.com - Grim]