When Awano Kisaragi was a little girl, her dad worked for an airline, which helped instill a love of vehicles in the Osaka native. As she got older, though, Kisaragi’s vehicular affection shifted to cars, and after she graduated from high school, she became a race queen, as Japan calls models who work in the motorsports and automotive accessories promotion industries.
▼ Awano Kisaragi
Kisaragi still works as a spokesmodel, but that doesn’t mean that whenever you spot her at the track she’s there at the behest of some corporate sponsor. Yes, in the shot below she is posing next to a competition-spec drift car and holding up a placard with the driver’s name on it, but that driver’s name is Awano Kisaragi.
A few years back, Kisaragi was at a drift competition at Tsukuba Circuit, one of the Tokyo area’s premiere motorsports venues, where a drift competition was taking place, and after a day spent watching the cars slide and smoke their tires, she decided she wanted to experience the thrills from the driver’s seat. So she went out and purchased a Toyota Cresta, one of the company’s rear-wheel drive sedans, and turned it into a drift machine, and got a racing license.
▼ Kisaragi shows off her drift skills at the video’s 1:10-mark.
▼ Kisaragi’s Cresta now boasts a 2JZ engine swap.
Kisaragi made her drift debut in 2014, and in 2015 began competing in the Ladies League division of D1, Japan’s largest professional drift series. After placing eighth overall in 2016, in 2018 she moved up to the mixed-gender D1 Lights division, where she plans to compete again in the upcoming 2019 season.
A professional-grade motorsports campaign takes more than just guts and skill, though. Maintenance costs, entry fees, and travel expenses all add up, especially since Kisaragi also competes internationally, traveling to the U.S., Thailand, and Taiwan to take part in drift events and endurance races.
▼ Kisaragi poses with a 6th-place trophy after completing a 10-hour endurance race in Thailand
So to help make ends meet, Kisaragi is currently holding a campaign on Japanese crowdfunding website Campfire, ahead of the D1 Lights 2019 kickoff in May. She’s seeking a total of 1.5 million yen (US$13,500), with the raised funds to be split evenly between tuning, travel, and competition entry expenses.