Event: Beyond The Emotion – Attack Sugo 2019

On the last weekend of October, Sugo Sportsland played host to the 2019 Attack event, officially kicking off time attack season in Japan.  The event, which typically has a smaller turnout due to location, was paired with the Goodluck Challenge; a local motor sport event at Sugo.

The outcome was a paddock that showed a lot of variety; Attack competitors coming from hundreds of kilometers away, and a bunch of Miyagi prefecture locals shared the track throughout the day.  This was my first time visiting Sugo and between the racing and beautiful grounds, I was not disappointed.

The past few years, I’ve tried my best to make this website more like an online magazine rather than a simple blog; and, speaking honestly, it’s been pretty difficult for me given the smaller niche we cover.  The flip side of that though, is getting to sometimes write posts like these.  I like these sort of articles because they’re very easy to write.  I simply have recall my actual experiences from the time I was taking photos; absorbing my reality and portraying it in a visual way that appeals to those who share the same mindset.  It’s not really like writing the magazine, it’s a much more editorial way of doing things, more akin to an actual blog.  On that note…

As proposed on Instagram, I’m going to start the event coverage off with a review of Poifull jelly beans (are they actually jelly beans though?) from the Japanese candy company Mieji.  Poifull should actually be categorized as ‘gummi’s as opposed to jelly beans, as their fruity centers are just that;  a chewy, springy gummy like texture that can be split in half if enough pressure is applied.  I read somewhere that they actually infuse collagen into the centers.  Because they are more like gummi’s, you don’t find yourself eating handfuls of them like you may a jelly bean.  Instead, I found myself eating them one at a time, deliberately tasting the flavor and trying to split it in half with my teeth.  It was oddly satisfying.  This zip-lock pack, which included the flavors grape, raspberry, lemon, and kiwi is a bit larger than the typical pocket sized box they are usually packaged in.

Anyway, I ate 2 bags of them at Sugo; they get my recommendation.  It’s a nice departure from your run of the mill gummi.

The view looking out from the backside of the paddock, behind the main straight.  The massive grounds of Sportsland are filled with lush green foliage and visible rolling hills that surround each of the courses.  Wherever I pointed my gaze, I was treated with a beautiful landscape.

I ended up driving out to the circuit by myself.  Sekinei was going to come along as usual, but recently he’s been super busy with work, and it also just so happened his Corolla was being photographed for a magazine the day of the event.

The benefit of working for a seat company is that you’ll always have a place to sit.  Caught the Bride guys taking a quick break after setting up the booth in the morning.

The main straight of Sugo is just about .70 kilometers (in comparison, Fuji Speedway’s front straight is 1.45 km), and has a neat little elevation change coming out of the final corner, cresting just under the Dunlop ring.

Aoki gave a quick driver’s briefing followed by Ando and Iiri giving some pointers and words of encouragement to the Attack group.

As tradition mandates, the group photo takes place just after the drivers briefing and in this case was organized by Haji, good friend and official Attack photographer.  The majority of videos and images you see on the Attack website and promos are taken by Haji; some of you diehards may remember his Minkara – Smiley Shot.

My new favorite thing to get people to do in photos – the symbol for money (お金).  Looks like Taku was actually wishing he had more with his eyes closed like that.

Craft Company boss man Masaki Kitajo was on scene helping a friend/customer with her Porsche setup.  He had recently changed the suspension out in her car and they were testing at Sugo.

Before the first session started, Haji was kind enough to walk the course with me.  Not having been to Sugo before, all I had to go off of was a course map I saved off the internet.  You can’t really see the slight elevation changes, or what you would have access too on a paper map though.  My favorite section of the track ended up being the S-curves just after turn 4.  They provided a cool perspective from both the infield and outer track, and you were able to see the drivers slam on the brakes entering Hi-Point Corner just after.

Probably one of Sugo’s most defining features are the colored seats that spell out the circuit name in the grandstands.

I processed these photos in a sort of faux-tilt shift style because it’s funny to make things look like toys.

There is an unspoken tradition between photographers that transcends all language barriers in all countries; and that is that, when facing one another from across the track, you must take a photograph of each other.  It just happens, you have no control over it.  If I ever get the photo that Haji took of me, maybe I’ll post it in the next article.

It goes without saying, the highlight of the event was Ando and Team Escort shattering their time goal, and in doing so setting a new tuning car course record at Sugo.  They beat their goal by a surprising half second at 1’18.522.  You can read more about the car here.

The takeaway from all these records that Ando is setting that you should be understanding is that you can make a fast car look great.  There’s no compromise, and anyone who says to you ‘function over form’ is just trying to make an excuse for having an ugly car.


Shiobara celebrating the victory.

Taku Kanno was in attendance driving his 180 with a couple off-season updates.  You’ll notice a couple changes in the car since his 80R feature earlier this year – mainly the new center exit exhaust.

Hopefully his eyes were open now.

Still rocking the Goodride Sport RS tires, he was registered in both the Attack event and the Goodluck Challenge.

Exiting the S complex with Yoshiaki in close tow.

Hard on the brakes into Hi-Point.

Throwing on some A050 to put down a time for Attack.


Yu and his cement colored FD were looking good out on track.

I’ve always liked this car as a departure from the typical style FD you see around circuits.  He’s put some unique styling cues into the body that sometimes I don’t agree with, but I appreciate that it’s not your typical build.

Scoot Sports outfitted the car’s suspension setup, and tuned the 13B to a healthy 400ps.

Another powerhouse that has been ramping up their testing program as of late is the CSD/Deep Stage Racing FD; a car that went to Sydney in 2016 to be the first Japanese Open Class entry at WTAC.  Tetsuhiro dominated the Northern are of Japan for years before shipping the car down South to compete in the more popular areas of Japan; i.e. Tsukuba Circuit.

The team managed a 1’23.535 – just shy of their goal of breaking into the 22’s, but good enough for 3rd fastest of the day.  They set that time during the second session after swapping motors.

They weren’t able to improve during the last shootout portion of the event.

However, the teamwork they showed in getting the blown motor out and the new one installed in just over an hour was incredibly impressive.  They used the winch on their tow rig as a hoist.

They’re always one to put on a show in the paddock.  Running through the gears while the car is on jackstands is a proven way to draw a crowd.  Check out a video of this picture on our YouTube channel.

I recently posted a gallery of Tajima’s Nismo 380RS.  A fan favorite for sure, the N-One Racing backed Z33 was able to clock a 1’31.293 in the morning session, and was pretty consistent in the 31/32 range for the entire day.


You can see more photos in the link above.  Always good to see this car at the track.

Over the past few years, Yasuhiro Ando has become a good friend of mine, and I draw a lot of inspiration from him and his FD.  He’s always made me feel welcome wandering around the pits, even if I’m not taking photos, and it’s just generally nice to feel comfortable around the people you’re interacting with.  Not having to be apprehensive in asking questions or feel like you’re bothering people is just generally a nice feeling; regardless of where you are.

He has been focusing a lot of his time and energy on his new drift-spec FD, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw his name on the registration list a few weeks before the event.

The car’s been finished for awhile now, and from event to event, Ando concentrates on improving his times with the car as-is.

Sugo wasn’t a particular success for Ando, as he wasn’t able to best his fastest time, although he got close to matching it.  A 1’27.972 put him in fifth for the day.

But he always comes first in ride height…

Still one of the best looking FD’s in Japan.

This ended up being one of my favorite photos from the event.  The lighting and composition made the scene pretty emotional.


Toru Inose and the Friends Racing S15 – predominantly the reason I came to Sugo in the first place.  This build has seen some incredible changes over the years to get it to where it is today.

I couldn’t get over the amount of detail that went into this car…


Inose drove the S15 around Sugo in an incredibly fast 1’21.533 – second fastest time of the day behind Ando.  I’m guessing it was the weather or track condition, but for whatever reason some people were off-pace; Inose included.  The team were about a half second off pace, and came nowhere near their goal time of 1’19 flat.  No doubt Inose is capable of hitting that barring perfect conditions, however.

It looked amazing out on track.

315/30 fronts and 335/30 rear Hoosier A7 tires give the car plenty of grip.

The engine bay on this thing is a work of art in and of itself.  It’s a trip to see the firewall cut and the engine pushed back so far.

Tuned to 700ps at a modest 1,200kg, the car could stand to lose some weight, although I’m not sure from where as it’s already pretty stripped down. Maybe I’m just used to Civic weights…

Catch more details in Volume 3 of 80R.

Bara-san and his day care garage was the only S2000 competing in Attack, although there were a few in the other competitions going on that day.

The Maroya backed AP1 is mildly tuned with roughly 260ps and weighing in around 1,200kg.  It is still very much a street car.

Looks great though – could probably stand to be a little lower; but then again, not a dedicated race car.  He threw down a respectable 1’34.722, besting his previous time and breaking into the 34’s.

These two characters…you can sort of just tell when someone owns a FD in Japan.  From left to right, some cold Sunoco girl, Yoshiaki Itagaki, and Hara-san from CSG.  Hara wasn’t driving, but just hanging out with his peers – I also dropped off another dozen or so copies of 80R to him.  He kindly purchased a good amount to distribute through Glow; they sold pretty quickly though.

Quick plug (gotta pay for this site somehow) – I counted inventory last weekend of what we have left in 80R copies.  Volume 1 is sold out, and aside from what I’m keeping for stock at Unit B and Dogfight Japan in Yokohama, I have about 20 copies left of Volume 2 that are listed on our site store.  That’s about 40 less than yesterday, so they’re going quick – Thank you for your support!

 

Yoshiaka brought out his FD with his recently refreshed motor.  The shakedown went well as he was able to beat his best time by half a second, netting a 1’28.987.  The red of his car is so brilliant, I always like the way it photographs; it’s a very photogenic shade of red.

Not to mention is one-off widebody makes it one of the most unique in the field.

 

 

 

 

Another wave maker, Hiroyuki ‘Shark’ Iiri, the rotary meister.  He was shooting for a 1’24 flat, which may be possible when the temps drop, but he ended up settling for a 1’26.784 – besting his previous time of a 26.999 and setting a new N/A course record.

Interesting to see the team running different rear aero for Sugo.  Contrary to their wing and diffuser setup for Tsukuba and Central, the car had on more traditional wing end plates that didn’t tie into the rear section.  I wonder if it was intentional for this track, or if they are doing some applied testing.

I’m not sure which look I like better, they’re both pretty great.

 

The 3 rotor in all it’s glory.

 

That made up the majority of cars competing in the Attack competition; although there were a few more I didn’t picture – perhaps I’ll make a follow up post if I have time.

A couple other cool cars that were in the Goodluck Festival – this R33 was really nice.  I like to consider the R33 the Boeing 757’s of the automotive world…they’re so long.

 

This FD had a really nice engine bay.

I’ll see if I can’t find the time to process a few more photos from the evening sessions.  It was cool seeing the cars driving in the dark – especially the ones without headlights!  Or maybe I’ll just throw a couple up on Instagram.  At any rate, hope you enjoyed.

 

2 Comments

  1. I love that last shot, definitely one of the top photos that you’ve produced.

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