This article has been a long time coming, and I don’t have any excuse for putting it off any longer so here we go…
I’ve been traveling a lot this month, and all that time spent 32,000 feet in the air has given me a chance to think over a few things in my life. It always does, something about the solitude of being in the sky; the helplessness of it all. It’s a good chance to free yourself from the daily and the mundane, and really set out your priorities. Anyway, no matter what I thought about, there was always a tiny voice in the back of my head saying I need to get it together on my Civic build. I’m way behind schedule, and albeit for reasons out of my control (i.e. work), there are things I could be doing to get it back on track. Our circumstances are quite different, but whenever I lose motivation or steam on the build, I only need to think about one particular person to get me back on track. A person who for the past two years has been a huge motivation in regards to time attack, and one of the only reasons I didn’t sell my chassis yet; that person is Takumi ‘とら’ Iwata of Garage Work.
From the time I learned what Garage Work was, and the reasoning behind Tora-san’s philosophy on tuning, I was hooked. It just seemed so simple. It’s not how much you can add, it’s how much you can subtract. This had always been in the back of my mind, but when talking to him the importance of it really does set in. In fact I think I may be a little obsessed with it. I’m lucky enough to know Tora well enough to be able to talk often and even bounce ideas off of him.
I’ve thought about his concept so much, that I find myself often applying it to my life outside of cars. It borders on the concept of minimalism and the whole ‘less is more’ mindset.
At first glance, (aside from the carbon doors) you probably wouldn’t be able to tell by the outer appearance of his flagship EG6 that there was any missing weight at all. Although, tipping the scales at an impressive 694 kilograms (that’s a mere 1530 pounds), you’d be horribly incorrect. You just have to take a closer look to see where the reduction comes from…
…but honestly, you don’t have to look too hard. A full array of custom, aluminum arms hold the suspension in place where once the heavy steel counter parts did.
Tora has even gone as far as drilling holes into the rear brake rotors…every ounce counts. OEM rears supplying the stopping power in the back, but you’ll notice that the e-brake assembly is still in tact.
The front brake setup is a bit more of what you’d expect from a track car. Spoon calipers with Endless rotors sit on the converted 5 lug hub. Look at the heim joint converted tie-rods…pretty cool.
Kubo-san, Tora’s mechanic, and young protege at Garage Work, overlooks the car before Tora takes it out for the first session of Evome this year.
Garage Work, uhhh, works, closely with Tein in developing the coilovers used on their track cars, as well as customer cars. A custom set of N1 coilovers handle the extreme driving that Tora puts his car through. He runs extremely high springs rates; most people don’t believe it when they hear it, but a 28k spring (at this time however probably 30k, as he wanted to increase it) is utilized on the custom damper. He points out that Tein is very good about revalving to his driving style.
…a driving style more akin to drifting than grip driving. It seems to work for him though. With a personal best of 58.138 at TC2000, set at the last Attack event of the year, and a 58.144 set at Battle Evome earlier in the month, there is no denying it works. Well, not just a personal best, but the FF record at TC2000.
A driving style so aggressive that you often see him and his EG on two, even sometimes, one wheel going around turns. It’s not for everyone however, and although some try to replicate it (the friends over at Yellow Factory), none can do it as well as Iwata.
A look inside the cabin shows just how far the lightweight mentality has been taken. A truly stripped interior, a full carbon roof, and no sign whatsoever of any amenities found in other vehicles. Riveting every seam to increase rigidity of the older chassis, as opposed to stitch welding which adds weight.
The OEM clutch pedal assembly seems rather thick eh? It’s ok, drill holes in it.
You could even say a little bit of safety has been sacrificed to keep the curb weight down, as he’s opted for a simple Cusco roll bar, as opposed to the majority who have weld-in cages. A testament to the confidence he has in his driving.
Heading out on the session in which he broke his personal best…
Helping out with the rotation of the rear end is the full array of aerodynamics up front. A custom front bumper, in conjunction with a custom canard and splitter setup help keep the front end firmly planted. Aerodynamics have become a large topic of discussion over the past year or so in regards to these grassroots time attack events, with each privateer coming up with new ways to take advantage of airflow. It’s quite interesting to see everyone’s take on the subject.
17×9″ TE37’s up front wrapped in 255/40 Advan A050’s provide enough grip to carry the lightweight chassis’ speed through any turn. In the rear, a smaller 16″ wheel, wrapped in 215/50’s gives just enough for Iwata’s style, and the smaller width helps rotate the rear of the car. Often times, he changes to a 195 series in the rear depending on track conditions.
As you can imagine, this car is very front heavy. To combat balance issues, rear down-force is provided by a carbon Garage Work hatch mounted GT wing. This is a piece the shop makes for it’s track cars, as well as on customer request.
While, naturally, a huge part of performance is in chassis management and setup, but let’s not forget the other key ingredient…
The engine. In this case, a fully rebuilt B18C sits, devoid of any unnecessary systems, inside the little bay of the EG6. TODA was brought on-board to rebuild the engine using many of their super, high-revving components including their full valve-train. An ATS 2-way differential and SPL close transmission take care of getting power to the ground. You’ll notice that the engine retains the OEM power steering unit. When I asked him, of all things heavy, why not remove the PS system, he responded with, and I kid you not, “I am a Grandpa…literally! I get tired with my driving style on track.” Just another great feature of Iwata-san is that he’s always joking. Although, in this case he was actually serious in tone hahaha. He really is a grandpa, and his driving style is indeed quite tiring.
You’ll also notice that there is no radiator support. Instead, replaced by a single strip of aluminum. Also, the theme of hole-sawing various pieces of car is continued throughout the bay. Because the car doesn’t run long distances/times, and is limited to a warm up and a hot lap, the use of a larger radiator is not particularly necessary.
Keeping with the NA tune, ITB’s are utilized in gaining more power from the B-series. Actually, a very adequate 240ps is on tap for Tora to use when needed.
In January of this year, he had broken his PB with a 58.421, only to go on to get closer and closer to breaking into 57’s. Convinced that he can get to it with the car in it’s current state, once he realizes his goal, he will look for more power to eventually achieve 55’s. Talk about setting the bar high…
There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s capable of it though. While over the past few years he’s gained a wild amount of exposure, partially do to his unique modifications that make a real presence on track. But, it’s mostly due to that fact that he is one of a kind; pitting himself against those who have a tremendous advantage, armed with his single weapon. The weapon of lightweight. It’s no wonder he has made a name for himself in the time attack ring, as well as win the respect of his peers time and time again.
Look forward to V.2 of our tribute post when I stop by Garage Work in Chiba to chat more with the master of lightweight.