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Encounter: フライラット Levin – Steady Advance

Automotive, Encounter, Japan, JDM

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I can’t remember what day it was but I do remember Alex, Park, Noogz, Matt and I ended up at Up Garage sometime during our last trip; big surprise there right?  Not really.

If you’ve follow this blog for the past, I don’t know, two years or so, you’d know that you’d be hard pressed to find a place in Japan I like to spend time at more than Up Garage (maybe Uniqlo).  You’d also know that the Up Garage in Machida is neighbors with the tuning and used car sale shop Fly Rat.  Specializing in older 80’s and 90’s cars, Fly Rat produces some really cool stuff, and if you’re lucky enough (not you per say, but someone in Japan), they’ll have it for sale in their lot as well.
Anyway, while Alex and the others looked around the store (I had been there just the other day buying wheels so wasn’t too interested), I meandered towards Fly Rat to see if I could find anything cool.

 

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I saw this Corolla sitting in between a few Kei cars towards the garage.  It had a pretty cool, ‘homemade’ circuit feel to it that I really enjoyed.  It didn’t take long for the owner to notice a strange foreigner taking pictures of his car, and he made his way over to Park and I.

 

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He was very nice and excited I was taking interest in his car; I’m sure he put a lot of time into it.  I asked him if he could open the hood and he gladly obliged.  I’d be lying if I had said I was surprised at what I saw under the bonnet, because I had an inclination there would be a built 4AGE underneath anyway.  I really liked the color of the ITB stacks though; kind of a light blue/faded teal color.

 

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A closer look at the engine setup.

 

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The interior was on a whole other level though.  Not my cup of tea, but the owner certainly took to personalizing it quite well.  flyrat9

The SSR Longchamps looked right at home on the older chassis, with sizing and offset to match the widened exterior.

 

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Really liked what he did with the front fenders and sides.  I need to find a way to incorporate something like this into my car.  The tiny URAS decals were a nice addition.

 

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Like most of my finds in Japan, this one was completely random.  Goes to show it pays to always keep your eyes open in Japan.

 

 

 

 

Event: Circuit Soul Grand Opening Matsuri!

Event

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This coming weekend, Circuit Soul will officially be opening their doors, and launching the initial line of merchandise and services.  To say that Alex and the help at CS has worked hard to see this day come would be the understatement of the year.

Come celebrate and take part in something that will be a staple in this community of ours for years to come.  Lot’s of great people and a handful of special guests will be there to take part in the festival and we all want to see you there.  If you have any questions about the matsuri, feel free to contact me through the contact page, or hit up Circuit Soul directly through their FB page.

Looking forward to seeing some of you there!

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Event: Fight To The 12th Hour – 2013 Idlers Games v.3

Action, Automotive, Event, Japan, JDM, Motor Sports

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As the sun rose over the grandstands of Twin Ring Motegi, I knew that the time to start the endurance was getting close.  Not yet tired, despite being up a solid 24 hours at this point, I did feel a rush of excitement as soon as we finished the driver’s meeting with Seike and Nakai.  After the driver’s meeting, we all tied up loose ends, went over strategy with our teams, and I went to smoke a cigarette.  My first planned stint wasn’t until around 0930, so I headed up to try and snap some pictures of the beginning of the race.  I knew that I wouldn’t have much time during the actual race to take pictures, so I took advantage of the time I had in the beginning.  Not before Alex and I made some modifications to the time table though haha.  Shinji, a.k.a The Doctor, was originally planning on only racing for half the race, and Alex and I were hoping the others would get tired as well so we could finish the last half on our own hahaha.  Far fetched but worth a shot.  I was actually glad Shinji decided to go the full length; he’s an awesome dude.

 

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Final shot of our car before I headed out to take pictures, and to fetch Park from his sleep the Alto as well.  Alex needed his camera equipment, which was in the car with Park inside snoozing.  The Idlers logo on the canard was a result of a sticker being pealed off and taking some of the paint with it.  It made a cool effect so we did it to both sides.

 

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I was stupid for not taking my camera out when we pushed the cars onto the straight.  I just ended up taking a bunch of cell phone pics like an Instagram hero.  There was a lot of good opportunities too, so that kind of pissed me off; oh well.  I wasn’t too worried about it because in about an hour and a half I’d be driving a RWB 964, and well, how mad can you really be about things after that?  Here’s a shot of Alex getting some film of Rough Soul and Hooters.

 

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As I was walking around the track I ran into a couple of these Lotus race cars.  I thought they were pretty cool; especially because all had TE-37’s.

 

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A lot of the places I usually shoot at around Motegi were blocked off, so I settled for a couple high spots I was able to make my way too.  Unfortunately the angles I could get weren’t the best.  Plus, if you didn’t know already, Motegi is a big track.  I had no transportation other than my two feet and I didn’t want to tire myself out before my first go.

 

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A lot of these will be repetitive, but I wanted to get a shot of all the Porsches on our RWB Team.  At least I got to practice my zoom panning.

 

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Lovers Rouge 993 was such a great car.  Definitely my favorite on the track that day; and the funnest to drive.

 

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Our car, Rough Soul, looking pretty dark as it shoots by some traffic.

 

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We drove in planned stints of 30 minutes; although some came in early due to mechanical issues (me for one…actually twice).  Nakai stayed up through the whole race; tending to all issues the cars or drivers ran in to.  It was pretty amazing – Nakai is a machine.

 

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Nakai making sure that the driver changes went without any issues.

 

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There were some other pretty awesome cars on grid as well; like this Ruf & Scuderia Honda S2000 that was pitting right behind us.  I didn’t get an opportunity to really go around and explore the other garages during the race because I was helping out with each driver change and fueling.

 

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Another shot of the S2000 leaving pits – you can tell by the condition of the car that this is pretty far into the race at this point.

 

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These are pretty out of order, the 993 is looking pretty darn clean.  I’d say that this is during the first or second driver change on this car.  With each car that came in, I kept getting more and more excited to go for a drive.

I mean, Motegi is a track I’ve been to several times.  I’ve seen Super GT battles, Taikyu races, time attack machines all rip around the circuit and I always wondered how I would fair around the course.  My chance to find out was finally approaching.

*Insert Go Pro footage of me driving the 993*

Which of course I don’t have yet…Alex has all the footage but is busy getting Circuit Soul ready for the grand opening on August 31st.  I’ll upload it to our fan page when I get it though.  I don’t have any footage of my drives in the 964, but I can tell you they were pretty exciting.  I spun once as a result of the engine cutting out at 4k due to what we eventually found out to be a bad MAF sensor.  Other than that it was just pure, fun driving.

 

 

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Lovers Rough leaving the pits as the sun begins to set on the circuit.  Unfortunately it was timed so I didn’t really get to drive at night, I would have loved that.

 

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Our car coming in for one of it’s final driver changes.  You can see how dim the lights were in our car; they didn’t get much brighter than that.

 

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At this point, everyone was showing visible signs of fatigue.  I was drawing close to my 36th hour of being awake, as was Nakai.  I took some time to rest in between drives, but I never fully fell asleep.

 

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Yoko catching up on messages and eating her bento.

 

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The final fuel up.

 

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Signs of damage from a day of dog fights.

 

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Night World

 

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And just as soon as it started, the race was over.  12 grueling hours of torture for these cars, and pure bliss for the drivers.  I was tired, but so happy to have experienced it.  This is Seike’s car; the organizer of the event, and saying that it was fast would be an understatement.

 

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After the last lap all the cars pulled back into the garage to be ‘legalized’ again, and to put back the passenger seats in place of the fire extinguishers that were once there.  Again, I don’t have many photos of the aftermath, as I was busy helping to get out of there as we had a long drive back to Chiba.

 

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Quick stop at 711 and we’d be on our way.  I’ll leave out the part where Alex and I got lost in Chiba because we had to pull off about halfway down the Expressway because our brakes had no pressure from the fluid being boiled over during the race…

 

I have one more special post regarding this race – Nakai’s drive.  Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.

 

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News: 2014 SUPER GT Calendar announced

Automotive, Japan, JDM, Motor Sports, News

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With the 2013 season of Super GT wrapping up this weekend with the Pokka/Sappora Special 1,000KM race at Suzuka, it’s about that time we look forward to next year.  I’ve seen a lot of the new GT-500 NSX and Lexus LF-CC unveiling around the internet lately, so thought it would be a good time to update with some Super GT news.

 

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Actually, we’ll be able to see the new concept NSX GT-500 car this weekend at Suzuka, as it will be running in the special event.

 

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We’ll have to wait until next year to see the LF-CC in action though.  But there is more to look forward to in the 2014 season than just the new cars; if you remember last month during a press conference with Super GT, DTM, and Grand Am organizations, Mr. Bandoh, of the GTA, mentioned that from year 2014, the GT-500 Class machines of the Super GT will be standardized with those of the DTM’s and operated under new technical regulations, and in terms of preparing for that, this year will definitely become crucial.  Furthermore, with confidence Mr. Bandoh also emphasized that, “The know-how that GTA has built up to now, and with our three makers and teams joining forces to cooperate, overall the season should proceed successfully.” What is in the plan at the moment is that the three – Lexus (Toyota), Nissan and Honda – will complete building of the cars within this July and should be ready for a showdown in the Rd. 5 Suzuka event, as giving a demonstration run over Suzuka’s track. Following that Mr. Bandoh stated to the international press that, these three makers will jointly carry out a Test, and have new GT500 machines lined up at the Start of the season-opener round of next year. [taken from Super GT official website]

 

These three organizations have planned to meet each year until 2017 until identical technical regulations of the three series can take effect.  Very exciting stuff for international motorsport!

 

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On August 12, 2012, GTA Co., Ltd announced the 2014 SUPER GT series schedule. The planned schedule for the coming 2014 season will feature a total of ten: nine regular series rounds and one non-series race. (Photo: 2013 season opener *image from Super GT official site)

 

According to the announcement, the regular series will consist of the nine rounds on the same six Japanese circuits as this year and two foreign circuits. The opening round is scheduled for April 6th (race day) at Okayama International Circuit and the final round will be held on November 16th (race day) at Twin Ring Motegi. Round four and eight will be the overseas rounds in the Republic of Korea (Circuit TBA) and the Kingdom of Thailand (Buriram United International Circuit) respectively. The one non-series race is planned.

Please note that this 2013 schedule has been filed for approval by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and changes are possible subsequent to changes in other world championship races.

2014 SUPER GT Calendar (FIA application pending)

Rounds Dates Circuit Pref./Country
Round 1 Apr. 5-6 Okayama International Curcuit Okayama Pref.
Round 2 May 3-4 Fuji Speedway Shizuoka Pref.
Round 3 May 31-Jun.1 Autopolis Oita Pref.
Round 4 Jun. 28-29 TBA Rep. of Korea
Round 5 Jul. 19-20 Sportsland SUGO Miyagi Pref.
Round 6 Aug. 9-10 Fuji Speedway Shizuoka Pref.
Round 7 Aug. 30-31 Suzuka Circuit Mie Pref.
Round 8 Oct.4-5 BURIRAM INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT Thailand
Round 9 Nov. 15-16 Twin Ring Motegi Tochigi Pref.
Special Event TBA TBA TBA