Recently I had the chance to chat with Robert Ljuba, coming on 10 years as a collector he like many other progressed from the ranks of the Dunk SB to now collecting mostly New Balance. Rob tells us about his love for New Balance as well as cars more specifically the art of drifting. Check out the interview below.
So Robert, introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you?
My name is Robert Ljuba. I’m 24 and currently reside in my hometown of Vallejo, CA. I work as a Public Works Maintenance Worker for the City of Vallejo in the Grounds Dept. (Landscape oriented) as well as a Public Relations Rep. for CorteX Racing and Manager or the Northern California Drift Team Burn The Most.
How long have you been collecting sneakers and how did you get into it?
Little did I know growing up, my dad had 2 pairs of original Jordan’s that I’d soon acquire when I fit them. My father and I had matching Fire Red V’s when I was a baby, and as I got older I inherited his Taxi XII’s.
I started collecting sneakers my freshman year of High School in 2005. My friend and I were already into Dunks when we stumbled across the SB Dunk line of Nike. I was hooked from then on out! I remember my 1st SB purchase being at HUF SF, and they were UNLV Nike Dunk SB
Highs. I actually still have them to this day, but they have been worn to the point where words cannot describe. The UNLV’s have traveled with me internationally/nationally to Rome, Tokyo, Germany, and Washington DC.
I remember being at Vallejo High School from 10thon being voted “Best Kicks”. I could wear a different shoe for a little over 2 months without repeating the same one. Unfortunately they took the category out of the yearbook my senior year, yet that didn’t change the fact of my peers knowing that I was “the guy with the shoes”.
Once I graduated I immediately had a change of priorities, and that was getting more into the import scene of cars now that I had a valid drivers license, which brought me to the point of selling my SB collection to fund a car I wanted at the time...a Silvia. In SB’s alone I made in upwards of $6000.
What made you decide to make the shift from SB to New Balance?
After many years being away from sneakers I naturally missed having that connection with them. I missed the selection process every morning of deciding what to wear and what shoes go with what hat. I remember when I was seeking SB releases I came across a pair of New Balance’s I thought were very attractive, but I never acquired them because I didn’t know what the kids at school would say. I believe they were the SBTG x Meth (Heaven and Hell) 576.
Now that I’m around a lot of incredible racecar builders; I have learned to take pride in the quality of work it takes to make a great product. In my eyes New Balance is the pinnacle of quality when it comes to sneakers, and that is why I chose them.
What is your favourite model of New Balance and why?
My favorite model right now is the 580. It has a bold appearance to it depending on the colorway you choose, and is a very supportive sneaker. This model is very comfortable for my low arched feet.
How would you describe the brand and what it stands for?
Being that I’m a Libra...balance is in my blood. I think the New Balance brand is represented by what centers you to earth; whether that may be running, walking, or if you’re like me and you’re an exclusive sneaker collector who just likes showing off from time to time.
Everyone has his or her release of stress, frustration, anger, etc. By releasing this negatively built up energy in a positive way such as running; you’re bringing yourself to a positive balance within yourself when the run is over.
So you mentioned you’re associated in the drift scene, tell me about your team and what drew you to the sport?
Drifting...wow where do I begin? It all started with my friend and now teammate Elijah Wright. He was one of the first in the area to start drifting. Just being around him while he drove was motivation enough for me to do a drift practice day at a local racetrack in a rent-a-car. I rented a kids’ FC3S Mazda RX7, which by no means was even set up for drifting. Even though the car couldn’t do what I wanted it to do I was still in love with the fact that cars could burn rubber, and you could control them while doing so.
Team Burn The Most really didn’t show face until last year (2013), but the name has been around since 2006. Yes we were a group of 4 who all share similar interests, but I don’t think any of us thought this would happen as fast as it did. Before we knew it we were partnered up with Ignited Clothing making our own team shirts, doing photo-shoots with world renown import models, and even building our own website for product sales and event coverage. Our name has rapidly spread across California over the past year, and I owe it all to my friends/teammates because they are the ones behind the wheel, while I’m the one behind the keyboard filling in the fans, sponsors, and partners! Chris Filippi, Joe Tardiff, and Elijah Wright are our current drivers who all drive Nissan Silvia’s (240sx as we call them stateside) powered by LS Corvette engines.
By us forming this team and competing on a regular basis, we have started a team-forming trend in our area. It seems like there is a new drift team every month, so with that said I’m happy to say that we paved the road for up coming teams in our demographic.
Not only does he drive, but Chris Filippi is also our team fabricator who builds drift spec suspension components, roll cages, and other race oriented product. These products are available for purchase through our website!
This year we have had 5 podium finishes and are looking to increase that number as the season comes to an end.
You drive a modified WRX, why not go for something simpler like a Silvia or Cefiro?
Correction...I am building an Impreza GC8 (basically a 2-door WRX). A Ford 302 V8 now powers the car, and I am looking to get it done by the end of September 2014. The reason for this build goes back to “standing out” and being unique in my own way. I wanted something that wasn’t common to see at a drift event. Being that I already owned 3 Impreza’s prior to this it was safe to say that I love the exterior styling of this car so I thought it would only be necessary to bite the huge financial bullet on making this car a track worthy drift machine.
As a weekend car I drive my 1991 Toyota Celica GT4. I owned this car 5 years ago and regretted selling it a lot of the time so when I heard the owner was selling it I was very persistent on getting it back. I bought it back earlier this year and have been fixing the little problems to make it a reliable driver. It’s not abnormal for me to drive through the Napa Valley and receive a “thumbs up” from a fellow enthusiast who actually knows what kind of car it is. I love having that unique edge!
So what's next, what are your aspirations for the future?
As a young, ambitious young man I have many goals. I’d love to see my teammates go pro in drifting if that is what they want to do. I’ll be there to support them in anyway I can. Maybe even do a collaboration project with New Balance on a team shoe for us!
I’m focused on excelling in my current line of work with the City of Vallejo. I’d like to tackle new certifications that will help me progress within the city.
My girlfriend Jaime and I have been together for about a 2 1⁄2 years so building a future with her is a very important goal of mine!
I’ve been in College since 2009 and am determined to get my AA in Business Marketing. This achievement will be a huge success for me as it will help me on future endeavours.
Any last comments?
Honestly I’d just like to thank you for the opportunity to participate in this interview. I had no idea simply by contacting you to introduce myself would lead to this.
I’d like to thank Brandon Hallmark of Gearbanger Studios for taking all of my on-foot photos! This guy has been a huge help to my team and myself as he does shoot for us at events. Check out his page:
If you have interest in my team please check us out at:
Facebook: Team Burn The Most
All pictures taken by Brandon Hallmark