Driver Spotlight: JP Hunnicutt


If you’ve been to a Drift Indy event at Kil-kare in the last 5 or so seasons, you’ve doubtless noticed the bright yellow cars parked in the pits right by the track entrance. That specific yellow, Lemon Sting, has graced several different cars over the years, but with the common thread of belonging to the Dayton Boys, one of the Drift Indy community’s most ever-present teams.


2JZ Hyundai Genesis


In recent seasons, a Hyundai Genesis, an uncommon sight at drift events, has factored into the ranks. Dayton Boy JP Hunnicutt pilots that 2JZ-swapped piece of Korean engineering. His history with drifting and the story of how he came around to whipping the Genesis is an interesting one!

I sat down with him to talk through his drifting philosophy, how the Dayton Boys came to be and what his favorite memories from 9 seasons of drifting have been:

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Could you just introduce yourself and give me some of your drifting background?

So, my name is JP Hunnicutt. I've been drifting since about 2015. I'm 34 now. I've been into cars since I was young. Before I could drive. Started out in the DSM market and did a lot of all-wheel-drive Eclipses back in the day. I played with some Hondas. Ended up trading one of the Hondas for a right hand drive s13 with an SR in it and kind of got hooked from there. 

I had a blast with that car. I didn't really get into drifting at the time, but I really enjoyed the car. Started building another S13 after that. It was another SR car. I ended up caging it and doing everything I need to do. Suspension, you know PBM, trying to do it right.

Did a big turbo SR setup in that, and 2015 was like my first real year of drifting. I brought that car out, had an absolute blast in it, drove it for probably two years with the SR in it. I ended up blowing a head gasket in it. And then at the time I had an opportunity to put a 1J in the car. Swapped the 1J in it and continued to drive it. It was absolutely a riot of a car, but you know me, nothing's ever good enough.

So I had an IS300 that I started to build, put a 1J with a R154 that was my next primary drift car. So had a blast with that. Drove it for probably two and a half, three years. And in the meantime I'd picked up a BMW 335 as a daily driver. But when you're into cars, they don't stay daily drivers.

So I ended up doing Wisefab on the car, doing the first wide body on it. I forget what company made that. It was the ABS plastic, but it was really cool at the time. It was kind of something different. The car ripped. It was a blast. Unlimited breaking of axles, got tired of that, finally got rid of the car.

The car was great, aside from putting axles in it all the time. And at that point I had an S14 that I built with an S14 SR. Big turbo, made good power, drove it for a few events. Got an offer I couldn’t refuse on it, so I sold it and that's when the Genesis came about.

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When I first came around to a Drift Indy event, JP was driving his 335. Coming from mostly seeing beat-to-hell Japanese cars that were already 20+ years old at that point, I thought it was wild to see a new-ish BMW getting tossed around. I also remember that it felt like he would pop an axle every other run I watched. Still, I saw him and his car out at damn near every event.

The Genesis started out as a fun street-car build. He kept the stock 2-liter and threw on an angle kit and coilovers, but it didn’t take long for the stock motor to show its weaknesses and he blew it up almost immediately. 

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So at the time, the best choice was to put a 2J in it. I mean, the stock motors were so expensive for them, and I could do all the fab work, so I fabricated the motor mounts, all the swap stuff in it, put it together, and I’ve pretty much been driving it ever since. We’re going on season three and a half now with it and the car is just an absolute riot. It's something different. I enjoy having something that you don't see all the time, you know, it gets attention.



But all in all, it's just a really good driving car for what it is. It’s a surprisingly underused chassis in the sport, realistically, but that's kind of where I sit currently. I am building a New Edge right now as a fun car, doing a turbo 4.6 in it, so I’ll hopefully have that out this year at some point, depending on when I have the time to finish it.

New Edge Mustang Drifting


So what made you decide to go with these less common chassis over something like a 350?

So the Genesis I just fell into a deal on it. I never anticipated drifting it when I bought it, it was like a secondary car, like a street car that, if my car was down, I could take it to the track and enjoy a weekend with it.

And then once the engine blew it was kind of like a crossroads. Like, what do I do at this point? Do I put another motor in it and then lose money on it, or do I move forward with it? Once I realized that a 2J was a good option for it, it was just like, man, let's run with it. Let's see what the car can do. And since then, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on it, which is great to hear, but that's not why I do it. I just enjoy building cars, I enjoy fabricating parts, I enjoy welding, I enjoy doing all that stuff.

So that’s cool in itself, but also just to have something different that also works that, like I said you never see at events.

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It’s evident that JP takes a lot of pride in the cars that he builds. Drift cars inevitably end up with some battle scars, especially if you drive as hard as the Dayton Boys do at times, but even JP’s ziptie drift stitching is pretty neat and tidy.

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How did the Dayton Boys come to be?

It was never something we started, it was just something that we were called when we came to the track. You know, ‘the Dayton Boys are here,’ or whatever, and it just kind of stuck. It's just a genuine group of guys that are ride or die, you know, willing to help out, whatever the case.

We’re true friends, and I love that because it was just so natural. There's no effort put forth for it. It's just a genuine group of guys and it's organic as hell. 


How does drifting fit into your life? How much of your time do you devote to it?

Realistically for always like cars have always been a huge hobby, but drifting is still a hobby to me and I never want it to be anything more. I want to enjoy it. I don't want it to be a job. I already have a job. I don't want to stress about it. As you grow older, you have more responsibilities. There's more stuff put on your plate.

You can't enjoy it if you're stressing about it. So I want to keep it to where it will always be fun to me and when it stops being fun to me, that's the point where I'll stop doing it. But until that point, and I'm never going to try to push myself to get to that point, I'm going to continue to enjoy it.



But that's how I view it. A  lot of people will make themselves broke over it or miss a meal over it and stuff like that. I don't think that's the point behind it, but everyone's different. Everyone has a different outlook on things, but it will always be a hobby to me and an outlet to, you know, express myself or enjoy my time with my friends or with my family or whatever.

But, you know, it's an escape from reality. I always want it to continue to be that. I don't ever want to think about it as a job. It’s fun. I want it to stay fun.

What's your favorite kind of driving to do? Are you more into the comp, DISL side of things or the bash side?

So I love driving the DISL events. They're a blast to drive, but like I said, I do it for fun. I'm not super competitive with drifting, nor do I ever aspire to be, so  the more fun events, the bash events and stuff like that, that's primarily what I'm interested in. 

Shootouts and competition stuff, None of that really interests me. I don't have the money or time to invest into that. It's like any other racing. To be competitive, you’ve got to really push and whether it's money, the cutting edge parts or whatever it may be. I don't drive as much as others. I drive when I can fit it into my life schedule. 

The bash-style events and the more fun events are more so what I'm interested in, that's what I enjoy the most.



Do you have a favorite Drift Indy memory in general or a favorite event that comes to mind?

Man, a lot of them. I've been driving Drift Indy for, what, nine years now?

I have countless memories of them, but to have one stick out from the others is kind of tough. You know, I come into it with the perspective that I'm going to have a good time regardless of whether I break my car, whether I'm blowing up my car, whether I’ve had issues with it, etc.

But at the end of the day, it's the crowd that you're around. It's the people you surround yourself with. And that makes it all good. Like it doesn't matter what happened that day, It doesn't matter if someone wrecked their car or someone broke something, whatever the case may be. At the end of the day, you know, we can have a couple of beers, some pizza or whatever and just have a good time, and I think that's what it's all about at the end of the day is just enjoying yourself, enjoying the sport, enjoying the people around you. And once you lose that sight, like what's the point of doing it if you make it a hassle? Certain things do suck, but you can't let it get you down and let it take away the fun that you had earlier.

You don't want to suck that good out. One day of bad stuff isn't worth all the good days that you had before that.

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If it’s not evident already, JP is a down-to-earth dude with his head in the right place when it comes to the motorsport we all love. It’s easy to get caught up in internet BS and stress over stuff that doesn’t matter, but at the end of the day, drifting is about doing cool stuff in cool cars with your friends. If you lose that, then what’s the point?

Finally, a summary of JP’s whip:

In his words, it’s a pretty basic setup. PBM front angle kit, PBM coilovers all around, stock subframe in the rear with solid bushings and adjustable arms, a stock Genesis diff and stock axles. 

For the drivetrain, he’s rocking a built 2JZGE VVTi motor with HKS 264 cams, BC valve train, dual springs, titanium retainers and a G35-900 Garrett Turbo. A front mount intercooler, Link ECU and Radium surge tank round it off under the hood. A BMW ZF 6-speed transmission ties it all together. 

For the body kit, it’s a combo of Extreme Dimensions and Monster Service. It sits on Advan TC4s and TC3s and is nicely wrapped in that signature Lemon Sting yellow.