As you can see from the picture above, Tom Tang is a pretty serious guy. A serious guy who wears a lot of different hats. Even in this picture he’s wearing his “Director of Marketing & Public Relations for N1 Concepts” hat, although it’s invisible to the untrained eye. His other hats are no joke either, as Team Principal for N1’s racing team, proprietor of the well known site Tuner Playground, and more, he certainly has his hands full.
So here’s the long convoluted story of how the Life Blasters Tom Tang article came to fruition:
(Moments before the interview)
Geoff: Is Tom Tang in the country? I wanna give him that special TD shirt.
Drew: I think so. I’ll text him.
Drew: Hey Tom, where are you?
Tom: I’m at N1
Drew: On my way!
Geoff: Hey there’s cool stuff at N1, right?
Drew: Yea, like race cars and stuff.
Geoff: Let’s surprise interview him for Life Blasters!
Drew: Down! [throws camera gear in car]
Lab17 and N1 go way back, in fact this Honda Fit was only the second full-car graphics scheme Drew had ever done, way back in 2007. Looks like it’s holding up pretty well, Drew!
Geoff: What are N1 Concepts and the N1 Race team all about?
Tom: The idea for N1 Concepts actually started back in the ’90s with my partner Norm. He was big into import drag racing back then, and it was always a challenge for him and his racing buddies to source JDM parts for their cars. It became apparent that a place where one could reliably buy those hard-to-find parts would be a valuable asset to the community, and in 2003 that idea became a reality. We stock a ton of highly sought-after JDM parts from exterior bits to full RHD conversions, front clips, engine swaps…
Tom: I like dinosaurs!
Geoff: No kidding, I took a moment to walk around this place and there is an awe-inspiring amount of stuff here! I assume based on the impressive stack of stock back seats that you guys prep a fair amount of race cars here too?
Tom: Yes, but mainly for customers. Our racing efforts have only been active for the past year and a half under the N1 Concepts name, but I’ve been very happy with the team’s progress so far. Our Honda Fit was the first with a K-series powerplant in the U.S., and that earned us a cover shot and feature article in Super Street Magazine.
Tom cont’d: Our other race car, the S2000, had an eventful first season of Redline Time Attack with a few exciting twists along the way. One of which was blowing the motor on the dyno at 10:00pm the night before a big race. We faced the task of getting another motor, installing it, and having it up and running before our 8:00am qualifying session the next morning. Fortunately we succeeded, and that ended up being the race where we clinched the championship title in points, a full month before the season finale.
Geoff: That’s some serious adversity to overcome, you guys must be a hell of a team to have pulled that off! It sounds like you had a pretty smooth series, what cars would you say were your biggest competitors on track?
Tom: Because of its prep-level Redline TA stuck us in what is essentially an unlimited class, restricted only by which wheels the engine drives, so the S2k’s big brother, the NSX, was our only real problem on the track.
Geoff: I think that’s still saying a lot for the team, I mean… the S2k starts out pretty low on the totem pole when you consider all the RWD options out there.
Tom: Well, we’re coming back even stronger this year! Our new power plant is being built in collaboration with Comptech and will be a Brian Crower & CP Carillo F2.47L with an AFI Turbo and Garrett GTX components. I’m excited to see the results. I’m also proud to announce that we plan to prepare a TSX or a DC2 Type R for wheel-to-wheel racing in the Moto IQ Pacific Tuner Championship.
Geoff: Awesome. Moving along to Tuner Playground, pretty much all I know is you hang out with super hotties all day long. Is it difficult? What are some of the challenges you face as a hottie-wrangler?
Tom: Well, haha, the girls are going give me grief about this, but yes it’s very difficult. I’m sure your male readership has experience with girlfriends and how long it can sometimes take them to get ready for an evening out, now imagine that times ten, or however many models I’m managing for a particular event. It can be stressful at times, but we always manage to come through in the end.
Geoff: Okay, so what’s the most models you’ve had to manage for a single event?
Tom: Last year for Spocom we had 80 models working for various companies at the show. I think that’s the most.
Geoff: Whooeee! That must’ve been a challenge. Thanks very much for taking the time to let us interview you surprise-style! Drew, got anything to ask Tom?
Tom: Hey, thank you guys for being interested in what I do! I really wasn’t expecting this, I thought Drew wanted to come over and give me a Lab17 invoice!