Friday, May 14, 2010

Sitting Shotgun: Hendrik Kuyt Switchback Racing/HK Welding

Now to finish this up I had an interview for Hendrik. And here is what he had to say about Switch Racing, fabrication, and of course drifting!

Hendrik Kuyt- Switchback Racing

How long have you been fabricating? Well, in one form or another for over 10 years, however only professionally since 2005

How did Switchback racing come to be? The name "Switchback" was derived from a handful of sources ... it's a passing technique in racing, a term for a twisty road or trail, in drifting for transitions, etc... I came up with it several years ago ('01 or '02) with a few friends. The shop part (Switchback Racing) was the long term idea, but we mostly were a crew (Team Switchback) to start with. Years past, we added a bunch of new members over time, and we'd attend different meets and help each other and our friends out with car stuff, but things were pretty casual. In '07 I officially started HK Welding, LLC and registered "Switchback Racing" and "Team Switchback" to it. After a couple years working in industry I started looking more seriously into getting my own facility. Then in April '09 I finally got my own space, and May 2nd was Switchback Racing’s official shop opening!

What is it like sharing shop space with Auto Expectations? Things are pretty sweet . . . we work really well together as a team, and the way things are right now, we all get to focus on what we’re good at.

What are the people you work with like on a daily basis? I really enjoy our shop environment. We’re always messing with each other, and there’s always lots of shit talking. For onlookers things sometimes look and sounds serious, but that’s what makes our odd sense of humor work!

Whats the craziest thing you've fabbed to date? hmm, that’s a hard one . . . I’ve done tons of odd, random, and artistic stuff over the years. But if I were to single one thing out, I’d probably have to go with that 1200rwhp (on 93) Viper I did. That job had so many factors to consider, in order to get it done right. There were tight clearances all over the place, components and systems that had to be moved, eliminated, or have one-off replacements fabricated. All in all, the end result of like a week and a half of hard work with 16 to 18 hour days paid off with huge improvement in every single category! . . . and here’s a bit of a spoiler for ya; that same customers looking for an ’06 SRT 10 Viper coupe, so we can do the same thing ;) 

How did you get into fabrication in the first place? Really, I’d have to say it was mostly out of necessity because of the lack of aftermarket support for the hooptie I used to drive . . . then as it turned out it was something I really enjoyed and was good at, so I ended up running with it! =)

What put you into the drift world? I grew up in Australia, where Rally (WRC, etc.) is hugely popular. Me and my goofball buddies used to go around tearing up the neighborhood streets, sliding “rally-style” as we called it, around every sweet corner, roundabout, or whatever we could find. The word “drifting” to me back then was what touring car and F1 drivers did when pushing their cars to the maximum slip angle their tires allowed without spilling out! ;) . . . Then when I moved here in ’99, like most of us, I discovered the Japanese drift scene in magazines like “Option” that I picked up at the Tower Records in Fairfax (R.I.P. Tower, we miss you)

What do you plan on doing as far as business goals and fabricating for the future? I want to keep doing good work, and growing my business so I can get a nice group of people working for me, and expand to a large operation, fielding several top level competition cars, and producing our own extensive line of highly developed top quality parts =D

What’s the future look like for Hendrik in the drift world driving wise, or is there one? Lol, we’ll see how it goes, but right now I’m in the process of building my fly-ass-hooptie (beige ’85 Rx-7) . . . last time she drifted was the US Drift Nationals @ Hyper fest 2, back in 2003. At the time the 68hp the original beat-down 12a was pushing wasn’t exactly cutting it! This time she’ll have a black-top SR, and lots of other new goodies, so things look a little better. I however, I am a little rusty, so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t go and total my baby, first time out =p

What are your final thoughts on drifting? Drifting’s without a doubt, the best sport I’ve ever been involved in. And it keeps growing and getting even better with every event!

What are your final thoughts on 1k DRIFT? I really appreciate what you’re doing here, helping to promote our scene, and in the process bringing everyone closer. Everyone working together’s the best way to get our scene to really blow up and move to the next level! . . . Thanks Corey, see ya at the track!

Now I must say, this was one of most bad ass of trips I have ever made to any shop. The crew at Auto Expectations and Switchback Racing will surely take care of all your automotive needs!

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