Chris Phan could be considered a "veteran of the culture"; a soft nod to his actual time spent in the military, he's given himself to his country and now to the underground car community. One doesn't reach "King of Drift" status by small feats. Chris risked it all to give his city the IRL Fast and Furious experience of their dreams through drag racing, making a name for himself and his crew in the process. His wild past is behind him, but his reputation is stuck; he's known for quality.
It takes quality to know quality, and Lexus is king when it comes to it, a sentiment Chris echoed during our interview. Lexus is the ultimate luxury vehicle for Chris and an excellent start for first-timers stepping into the game. Phan is no stranger to their history of excellence, crediting the IS 300, LS 400, and SC 300 as some of the most notable Lexus models in his option. But what does the King of Drift think of the new Lexus IS 500? His description is straightforward: balanced. He even predicts a new wave of car enthusiasts just because of it.
Chris feels cars like the Lexus IS 500 are magical; they can create a spectacle doing donuts with your 19-inch Split-10-spoke Enkei alloy wheels and refuge when you're cruising solo with the hum of 472 horses as your soundtrack. No matter the tunes, listening through the IS 500's Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration just hits different. Honestly, riding in a Lexus hits different, and if you trust the word of anyone, let it be the man A$AP Rocky, Lil Yachty, and Gunna calls their plug.
Some call you the plug for all things car-related. What makes you unique that high-level celebs take your advice as gold? What do you provide that others can’t?
When PINKFLAMINGOUSA was first created, we started it off with heavy involvement in the music scene, and for the last five years, we have worked hard to build a solid foundation on having music be the center of our experience. That’s why we can bring high-profile artists and influencers in the industry to work with our drivers and connect them with the underground car scene. We became leaders within the car community due to the cult following and love that we gained when we were hosting car meets – we brought thousands of people out every night to watch us drift.
The rebellious nature of everything earned us a lot of respect from the people alongside the admiration of our friends in the music scene; [they] saw how real our experience was and loved that we weren’t afraid to risk everything just to give the people an amazing night. Even though we no longer host takeovers, we continue to advise and coordinate car stunts within the entertainment industry, and in doing so, we are keeping our drivers off the streets and putting them in a position to win and showcase their talents on a larger scale by working with the biggest artists and brands that the culture has to offer. At the end of the day, we are true to this … not new to this, and our authenticity and history are exactly why we are the best at what we do.
What makes music and cars click? Does one inspire the other? What type of music, or which track, do you normally think of when you see a Lexus?
I have a friend that has a Lexus, and every time we cruise together, he’s listening to House music or calm instrumentals, and I feel like the smooth and cool nature of those genres complement the luxurious and smooth nature of what these cars are supposed to feel like. I would recommend listening to Mirror Maru by Cashmere Cat during a nighttime drive through the city.
Music and cars have always been neighbors, whether it’s your favorite rapper showing off in front of a fleet of luxury cars for a music video or a cinematic car scene with an amazing soundtrack complementing the action. The two worlds have always been intertwined, and that’s why we want to bridge the gap between both cultures and bring them together as one through PFUSA.
Top 5 cruising songs on GTA. Go!
Clams Casino - Crystals, Aphex Twin - Windowlicker, The Black Madonna - We Will Never Be Apart, Tony Castles - Heart In The Pipes (KAUF Remix), and Fergie - Glamorous.
You’ve developed a style with PINKFLAMINGOUSA that marries VHS-style documentary film with youthful angst and bravado. What are you looking to showcase to the world through this lens?
There’s a lot of amazing nights that we live out here that we’ll never be able to experience again, we can talk with our friends all about it and tell them how crazy it was, but they’ll never truly be able to understand how great these memories were. I felt how important these experiences were to myself and the people around me, so it became a passion for me to capture these legendary moments for all of us to enjoy and remember. One of the main reasons I film using an old school MTV era camera is because I wanted to capture life in the rawest form to help the world feel like they’re right there living in the moment with us.
How does Lexus help bridge that intersection between what the youth wants vs. what they need in a vehicle?
Everybody nowadays wants to look cool, but also people need to have substance to achieve that, and I think this is true when it comes to the Lexus IS 500 when they’re offering a car that commits to both of these standards. With a V8 engine and great looks, I think it’s safe to say that anyone who wants a nice car with some muscle under the hood can find what they’re looking for with Lexus.
Outside of cars looking cool, what power do they hold in your opinion, especially for the younger generations just getting into the culture?
Lexus has a solid and respected history within drifting culture, with cars like the IS 300, LS 400, and SC 300 being some of the most notable examples of what you can do to these simple cars. And the best part is that these cars aren’t necessarily out of reach for the average person, so as a beginner, you could easily start with a Lexus and have it be a worthy and proper intro to the experience.
What do you think of the all-new IS 500?
I think it’s a great sports car and is a great example from Lexus of what a balanced and quality car looks like. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more and more enthusiasts with this car as time goes on.
What elements make a car quality?
Everything. The presentation is what people see first because looking clean is what everyone wants in this art. That’s why car enthusiasts are some of the most detail-oriented people because, similar to a painting, every single detail matters when you’re looking at a car from the inside and out. And with the freedom to customize everything, you can truly express yourself and paint your own canvas through your car. This is also why performance is equally important because what’s the point of a car if you can’t drive it? With the proper style and performance, you can turn any car into something you’d be proud to flex.
What elements do you appreciate most about Lexus vehicles?
Comfort, luxury, and performance.
What’s your first memory/feeling with cars that stuck with you?
I remember being three years old and getting a PlayStation 1 with Gran Turismo for my first video game console. That game stuck with me, and it sparked a personal interest in cars that would last for the rest of my life.
What’s the memory/feeling you get when you look at a Lexus?
I always liked the Lexus IS 300; it’s always struck me as a car with a good balance between comfort and fun. Having good style and being able to perform well is a quality that has been important to me when it comes to cars.