Time Attack events typically take a back seat during the scorching hot, humid Summer months in Japan. Track conditions are far from ideal for breaking course records, or setting personal bests, so for the most part the sport lies dormant. Not to mention being strapped into a race car, covered head to toe in protective gear, with 100+ degree track temps isn’t fun no matter how into it you are. Even still, while the frequency of events slows, and major shops take the time to rebuild their demo cars; the sport doesn’t completely become extinguished. A fact proven by events like the Endless Circuit Meeting just last weekend at Fuji Speedway. An event that allows both professional tuners and enthusiasts to get in some track time during the off-season.
Being a very niche website, and because of this lull in action, coverage on the site usually ends up cooling off a bit during the middle of the year. This affords me time to catch up with other projects and life in general; but I figured an off-season event would mix things up a bit. I had some schedule changes that left me with an open Saturday which worked out great. Plus, our friends from Advance were attending and Masahiro mentioned bringing out a lot of customer cars. I’ve never really been in the country when they host their shop events at Fuji, so I was excited to see them in action. The top cars at Advance boast the ‘Under 2 Minute’ decal; an indication of their dominance at the 2.8 mile circuit. On top of that, I heard from Hara-san (CSG) that this event pulls in quite the variety of competitors, as they split the day into 5 different run groups. Experienced ranged from professional drivers, to the casual beginner, to everything in between, and I was not disappointed with the assortment of cars in attendance. So we made our way to Shizuoka bright and early Saturday morning, bound for Fuji. Miraculously there was a break in the bad weather for that day, as it had been raining leading up to the weekend, and come Sunday the country was seeing residual effects from the Typhoon that had just crossed over the Philippines.
There were thunderstorms around Fuji and Gotemba the week leading up, so I knew it was going to be pretty darn humid. I was prepared for that. But what I wasn’t prepared for was just how hot it actually ended up being. I don’t know if you can, but try to feel the sun burning your skin by looking at this photo. After I browsed the paddock in the morning, I had decided, for the sake of my health, to only photograph the Group A session track side.
Endless had their GT3 GTR front and center, parallel to their awesome transport rig – complete with giant Endless flag girl photos. It’s always great to see these builds up close and marvel in the details of a true race car – and possibly take some cues back to use on your own car.
Nismo did a number on the GTR when they built the GT3, and Endless has capitalized upon the already great build.
I was sort of hoping for a few exhibition laps from the car, but unfortunately it was only their as a static display.
Similar to HKS Day, Endless arranges vendors to have displays and booths. FET was there and had an incredible deal on Nardi steering wheels. I ended up buying one to take home, and now that I think about it, I should have bought more.
Tomei always has the best displays – clad in titanium. Their Genesis engines are also quite the site to behold.
There were no shortage of 86’s on track, proving that the chassis is still as popular as it was at it’s release years ago.
C.S. Polsche, the tuning shop out of Yamanashi, a neighboring city to where Garage Mak is located, brought out their R35 demo car. I had never seen it before, but it was among my favorite of the day; coincidentally it was also the fastset of the day.They topped the Group A time charts with a 1’52.686 – a time that was a full 3 seconds faster than the second place time of the day (the Advance FD). That’s pretty impressive given the temperatures throughout the day.
It also looked great. So, you know…that helps you go fast.
Here’s some cool footage of it at Ebisu Circuit last year – complete with exciting soundtrack.
Now on to some of that variety I was mentioning…
This FD2 was looking pretty good with it’s minimal exterior modifications. The engine looked pretty stock from what I could see, but still seemed to perform well out on track. I’d always thought of Fuji as a high power track, but I suppose it would still be fun in any car.
It was stopping the clock around the 2’06 mark in the morning – not shabby!
Spent a good 15 minutes or so checking out this Accord Euro R. I’ll have more photos of this in a separate post.
Continuing with some of the more interesting Hondas at the event – this DC2 was as simple as they come. Simple is good though.
Was pretty surprised to see a Mugen RR given their rarity. The owner was replacing something in the rear.
Kumakura-san from TPS was hanging out and getting some testing time in with his N2 AE86. I had a chance to talk to him and Asano after their first session and will have more on this car a bit later.
He was also clocking in just under the 2 minute mark; actually the 6th fastest of the day.
Nice looking E36 that I’ve actually seen, and driven on track with, at Twin Ring Motegi during an Idlers event some time ago. Cool to see it again here at Fuji.
The car that really had me locked in though, was this very unassuming R32. I admittedly don’t know much about it, and I never saw the owner, but I did take a lot of photos that I’ll post up.
My unicorn car of sorts. I will have an R34 sedan one of these days.
There were a couple Z33’s that looked great as well. One was from Advance, which you’ll see a bit later in the coverage. This white one looked great on track. Real simple, nothing really over the top.
One of several good looking 86’s.
The Marche 86 that we ran into during HKS Premium Day – this time with wheels. Great looking car.
Something that wouldn’t normally get posted here, but was too cool not to pass up, was this old Sunny. There were actually two competing in the event.
Something you don’t see every day.
HKS had their R34 on display at their booth where they were giving away cans of green tea modeled after their oil cans. I posted a picture of one on the Instagram story and got about 3 dozen messages from people saying they wanted it. Maybe I’ll raffle one off for charity or something.
ADVANCE FLAT OUT
It was nice having the Advance garage to hang out it during the other group runs. They had rented out an entire half garage, which is good for around 8 or 9 cars; and they used up all the space. For me, getting to see the guys famous for tuning beautiful cars to specifically go fast around Fuji was the entire point of going to the event, so I figured why not have a little section for them in the event coverage. The following cars are all customer cars from Advance, with of course the exception of Masahiro’s NSX and the shop’s FD3S. Well, also their white R32, but I didn’t catch much of that.
This R34 was clocking laps in the 2’04 range; which is a bit off pace for the driver, considering his times are typically under 2 minutes.
The black Advan’s against the bright blue looked exceptionally well.
The work horse of the shop, the FD3S, was in top shape and stopping the clock consistently in the 1’55.4 range all day. Great work all things considered.
Masahiro’s face-lifted NA1 was also firing on all cylinders with the duo being able to capture the 3rd fastest time of the day at 1’58.328. Looks good on the new wheels.
It’s hard to beat the profile of the NSX on track – such a sharp looking car.
Yashihagi, the engine builder at Advance, has a good relationship with the brothers at Garage Mak. It only makes sense then, that his personal car be outfitted with their newest widebody kit.
It was on display for the day at the Enkei booth.
This S13 was something I’d not seen yet in all of it’s salmon colored glory.
A shot of some of the cars the shop brought out.
Wataru Ito’s NA1 actually retains the NA1 front face but is clad in the same yellow. A little bit more simple build, Ito-san was able to put down a 2’05 for the day.
This Z33 was mid-pack in Group A in the 2’04 range, but man did it look cool.
Not the greatest pan, but I had to show you a profile of the car. One could argue that, as a complete package, the Z33 has been the most capable Z car to date – it is definitely a contender for best looking.
Another casual customer of theirs brought out their red NA1. Of course, another great looking car, but on the slower end of the group.
I’ll wrap up it up with this shot on the straight after the first turn. It’s rare that I come to tracks in Japan during the rainy season and I’m not used to seeing so much green. The rolling hills that surround Fuji Speedway give a CG look to the environment, so much so that some photos look like renderings from Gran Turismo. Despite the heat, a pretty fun day! Enjoy.