In the last week, we’ve been fortunate to speak with Darin Frow, the guy behind the wheel at the Mitsubishi Lancer Register. Some of the things we’ve learned have blown our mind. This might just be the longest interview we’ve ever run on Gearbox Magazine. Grab a drink and settle in for a solid read. We think you’ll be impressed.
What’s your real name? (What’s your screen name?)
Darin Frow (Username: Darin)
Where do you live and what do you do for a living?
I live in Bath, England and my job is running the Mitsubishi Lancer Register
What Mitsubishi(s) do you drive? How long have you had it/them?
2003 Mitsubishi Shogun 3.2 TD LWB
This is my ‘everyday car’ but is unique as it’s one of the actual Support Vehicles for the Long Way Round; the round the world trip that Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman filmed in 2004. I’ve owned it since 2007 after Mitsubishi offered it to me. In addition to the upgrades from TBR UK (OME springs, full length roofrack, bullbar, snorkel and tints) it came complete with dirt from Kurdistan (inside and out), the Shaman scarf that were tied on the rack for good luck and all the teams personal phone numbers on a grab card in the glove box! I’ve managed to get rid of the dirt, but still have the scarf (and the numbers!) Since then have done over 100k miles in it I have to say it’s probably the best vehicle I’ve ever bought.
1999 Evo 6 GSR
#23 of the ‘first official’ UK cars brought in to the country by Ralliart UK (now Xtreme Autos) and was originally ordered by my friend and Rallyday co-organiser Brian. I bought the car with Mechell (who also works for the MLR) in 2008 as I’ve known it from new and it’s still standard with the exception of an HKS air filter and Ralliart exhaust.
Ex-works 1981 Lancer 2000 Turbo WRC
Believed to be 1 of only 3 genuine works rally cars in the world today – out of a total number of 8 built – the other 2 being owned by Mitsubishi Motors Japan (on display in the Mitsubishi Auto Gallery) and the other by Andrew Cowan, ex-Mitsubishi Ralliart WRC Team Director.
Originally built by Denzel’s of Austria for Mitsubishi’s WRC programme in the early 80s, the car features one of the last works 4G63T engines producing approx 380bhp but with multi point injection, larger turbo with integral wastegate and intercooler, dogleg 5speed gearbox and 4.6 LSD. The LHD arched bodyshell was acid dipped, part seam-welded and caged, with revised suspension and engine mounting, and internally features 3 position switchable boost, Recaro seats, Willans harnesses, Halda navigators computer, and rear bulkhead mounted ECU. The boot is dominated by the 20gallon fuel tank, along with the fuel pumps and filters, spare wheel, jack and wheel brace.
What are your build philosophy & goals for your Mitsubishi(s)? How do you use it/them?
I don’t really have a build philosophy but my goals are very simple; buy standard, original and if possible unique cars and keep them that way as much as possible!
The Shogun is a workhorse – and a very good one, pulling the MLR show trailers and being loaded to the roof with other event gear on a very regular basis. The Evo is used by Mechell as her daily driver, and the Lancer Turbo rally car is hardly ever used – in fact I doubt I’ve done 50 miles in it since buying it back in 1995!!! (probably not something I should admit to!)
You run a Mitsubishi community. What’s it called? Why/How did it start?
It’s the Mitsubishi Lancer Register, and it was started by me in 1996 to cater for owners of the Lancer 2000 Turbo, although in those days is was called the Lancer Turbo Register. The “LTR” expanded to include EVOs as the Jap import scene kicked off here in the UK and become the “MLR” in 2000 shortly after the Evo 6 become an official UK model.
Who are your members? How many are there? Where do they come from?
MLR members include anyone who has an interest in Lancer Evos and 2000 Turbos – whether they are owners, ex-owners who enjoy being a part of the club or enthusiasts who currently own other cars.
We currently have around 3000 fully paid up members predominantly from the UK, but approx 10% from overseas, including the Europe, USA, Australia, Scandinavia and Japan.
Every member is important, but describe the ideal community member.
To me the ideal community member is someone who enjoys being a part of the community, gets involved in a variety of different ways and is keen to help others wherever he or she can. As the MLR is more than an online community though, we also hope members step away from the keyboard and attend one of the many national or regional events that we organise or attend throughout the year, or contribute to the magazine, or maybe get more involved in the club by becoming a regional organiser or another role which in turn enables the MLR to do and offer more to our members
How do you keep community members engaged and active?
We genuinely try to offer all MLR members as much as possible as we understand that not all members want the same things, or have the same opportunities (eg: not all members have internet access and therefore cannot see the site or forum), so what we offer members has now grown to include all the following…
• Membership pack including A5 Handbook, ID card and lanyard, decal pack and stainless steel badge (the pack varies every year)
• Full colour 120 page magazine which all members receive on a quarterly basis
• Access to a huge event calendar which includes UK and European trackdays, national MLR Sprint Series, car shows and bespoke MLR events such as 30-130 and MLR500
• Regional events
• Unlimited access to the website and Forum
• Discounted prices for virtually all the items in the MLR Shop
• Huge range of discounts with official MLR traders
• MLR insurance scheme and more
Full details of membership benefits can be seen here.
What’s the best part about running a Mitsubishi community? The most challenging?
Personally I enjoy seeing the members benefit and enjoy what the MLR is able to offer, and know that what we do makes a difference not only to their enjoyment of Evo ownership but is also very likely to have saved them a considerable amount of money. Of course, seeing what other members do and what’s available through the MLR and MLR traders may also cost them more money too, but if it puts a smile on your face there’s nothing wrong with that!
The most challenging part about running the MLR is trying to find time to develop certain areas and continue to improve it whilst having to manage the day-to-day aspects. I wish my success rate in doing both was higher!
Tell us about some of the events your community organizes each year.
As I mentioned earlier, the MLR organises a fairly comprehensive events calendar throughout the year, and this has continued to grow year on year since the club started. To give you an idea of what we offer members, the national 2010 calendar is listed below, and all events with the exception of the Shows and Driver Training are organised by the MLR. This doesn’t include all the regional dates which add a considerable number of events to the calendar.
22 February Brands Hatch – Indy
26 March Anglesey – International GP
23 April Oulton Park – International
7 May Silverstone – New Southern
31 May Spa Francorchamps
31 July Cadwell Park – Full circuit
21 August Castle Combe
9 October Snetterton
22 October Spa Francorchamps
19 November Oulton Park – International
MLR SPRINT SERIES:
20 March MLRSS Round 1 Silverstone – New Stowe
24 April MLRSS Round 2 Oulton Park – Full Rally Circuit
21 May MLRSS Round 3 Rockingham – National Circuit
11 June MLRSS Round 4 Castle Combe
25 July MLRSS Round 5 Ingliston, Edinburgh
6 August MLRSS Round 6 Teesside Autodrome
23 October MLRSS Round 7 Silverstone
30-130 & MLR500
13 March MLR RAF Marham
25 September MLR500 Blyton
MLR DRIVER TRAINING:
19 March Millbrook
17 July Millbrook
16 October Millbrook
SHOWS & OTHER EVENTS:
24 April Modified Live Oulton Park
15 May Japfest Castle Combe
16 May Modified Live Knockhill
5/6 June Rally Show Chatsworth
27 June Modified Live Brands Hatch
4 July Japshow Santa Pod
1 August Modified Live Cadwell Park
7/8 August TOTB8 Elvington
15 August Japfest 2 Rockingham
5 September TRAX Silverstone
10-12 September JAE Wicksteed Park
18 September Rallyday Castle Combe
4 October Japshow Santa Pod
10 October Modified Live Snetterton
If you’d prefer to list a summary, the total is 36 national events split down as follows;
• 14 Shows
• 10 Trackdays*
• 7 Sprints*
• 3 Driver Training events
• 2 bespoke events
* which also include driver tuition
Tell us about something really exciting your members have done or regularly do.
Really exciting?!? Well a number of people would say the MLR trackdays and sprints were all exciting for those who take part (driver and passenger), but as the times for the Sprints are shown instantly on a large plasma screen in the paddock, the competition is so close watching the screen can be enough for some people!
30-130 (which is also a top speed event) is quite unique and guaranteed to get adrenalin rushing as drivers test their cars from a rolling start with the sole aim of getting from 30-130 in the shortest time possible. They can then continue to complete a top speed run if they wish – the quickest Evos we’ve seen so far is 30-130 in 5.94seconds and a top speed on 201mph.
The MLR500 is another unique MLR event where 20 teams compete in a Mitsubishi worth no more than £500 on a dirt oval for a 4 hour endurance. The event includes compulsory refueling, driver changes and a sin bin (for the over excited drivers!) and the winners are the team who completed the most laps. When everyone has calmed down we have party into the small hours with a BBQ, band and a bar – in a word it’s a riot!
We’re also now in the Guinness Book of World Records having successfully organised the largest parade of Mitsubishi Lancer Evos in July 2008, when we had a total of 273 cars on track together. It took some considerable time by a few members to make it happen, but it was a great spectacle and well worth the effort – and we raised nearly £8000 for charity too.
How do you want your community to benefit Mitsubishi owners?
In all the ways it already does, ie: bring people together with a similar interest in a particular subject, help them get more from their interest and help them when they have problems. I think the measure of a good forum / community is too see its continued growth and the regular influx of new members, all wanting to be a part of something informative, interesting, social and good fun.
What steps are you taking to make sure that happens?
We have to continue to offer our members what they want and what they’re used to receiving, but it also important to improve what we do and look at introducing new elements to the club too – whether that’s with the magazine, events, website etc. It’s very important to retain members, but equally to attract new members also think it’s important to get as many members as possible really involved in the club and it would be great to see more members attend events. Away of the visible part of the MLR, we also need to ensure our IT infrastructure is resilient and up-to-date, so the elements that most take for granted remain operational, and we’re extremely fortunate to have an ISP and IT consultant who between them ensures the MLR runs 24×7.
Your thoughts on those who part out otherwise salvageable cars?
As much as I like cars (including Evos!) in general, I’ve always been more interested in the older versions – partly because they’re invariably rarer and in my opinion have more character, so it’s sad to see these cars get broken for spares if the only reason is they’re worth more money in parts. Sometimes of course it’s the only realistic option, but if it helps other people keep their cars roadworthy then it’s worthwhile. We see it happen very often now with newer models too though, purely because there make more money in their component form, which although is fine for the short term gain, it will accelerate their rarity too so I hope there are some owners out there who have the foresight to retain their cars originality – because they’ll be sitting on a very sought after car in years to come.
How do you feel building a Mitsubishi compares to building a Mitsubishi community?
Although I’ve never built a Mitsubishi, I have built other cars and there are similarities in understanding what you want both to achieve and having a game plan on how to get there. So although the details and components are quite different, the ethos is very similar. There’s also a similarity in that neither are ever finished!
Who do you look up to in the greater automotive community?
A long (long!) time ago I was a member of the Porsche Club and I was always in awe of what they offered their members; from the quality of their magazine, the numerous events, the support network with regional areas and organisers, merchandise, and their whole infrastructure. I’m extremely pleased and proud to see the MLR in the position it currently has, but I still think we have some way to go before we’re on a similar plain – it’s good to have goals though!
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car(s)? With the community?
The MLR simply wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of a large number of people who volunteer their time and services – they are all the “MLR Staff” who want to get more involved with the club they enjoy, and because of their involvement, they create a better environment for others.
Is there a particular shop you’d like to recommend? Want to thank any sponsors?
Due to the overwhelming popularity and growth of the MLR over the past 10 years we’ve been fortunate to attract a number of companies who have chosen the MLR to promote their businesses through. All these companies have helped the MLR grow and enabled us to invest, so I would like to thank all of them equally for their continued support.
Other than your own, do you spend time on any Mitsubishi sites? Which ones?
Regrettably no – I really wish I did, but I don’t have the time!
Are you on Twitter? Facebook? How can people find you online?
Me personally? Errr, no! Apart from that ‘lack of time’ factor again, my details are all over the internet via the MLR, so if anyone wants to contact me they’re already able to via PM and email – and there’s always the mobile too which is welded to me 7×24!
What’s next for your Mitsubishi(s)? Your community? (might not be exciting)
There are a few plans I’d like to see come to fruition for the MLR over the next 12 months – some of these are web based, some involve the magazine and there are also a couple of events which I would like to introduce. Whether they become a reality we’ll have to wait and see!
Thank you to Darin – and all the members of the Lancer Register – for helping make this story possible. For that one MLR member who left the visitor message on Darin’s profile requesting pictures of his Mitusbishis, we hope this will suffice.
Now what about you? What was your favorite part of this story? Are you excited? We are!