The day before the Attack event at Suzuka took place, the circuit held an open test day that many of the main participants took advantage of. I happened to time my arrival to the course with just enough time left in the day to grab a few shots before heading to the track hotel.
I left Yokohama around 10:00 on Thursday morning, bound for Mie prefecture. It was a drive I’d done a few times before so I knew what I was in for distance wise. I stopped at a convenience store to grab some coffee, filled up the tank and hit the expressway. The drive can be anywhere from 4 to 5 hours, depending on how often you stop along the way to stretch or grab snacks (or in my case more coffee), and how much time you spend exceeding the speed limit. The distance between our shop and the circuit is about 380 kilometers give or take, which is about 240 miles. I equate it to the drive I take when I go home to visit my parents, except that I’m not driving 90mph in Japan, so it takes a bit longer.
The drive itself, in my opinion, is much better than heading the other direction to Tsukuba, Motegi, Nikko, or Sugo, mainly because you don’t have to drive through Tokyo. Heading East from Yokohama you also get to drive through Shizuoka and along the coast which is actually a beautiful drive. Passing through Gotemba and on through Hamamatsu, you’re treated with views of the Suruga Bay as well as a full landscape of Mt. Fuji; weather permitting. It’s a much better alternative to bumper to bumper traffic in Tokyo. I get enough of that in Southern California to be experiencing it here.
I arrived into the small town of Suzuka a little after 2:30 in the afternoon. Pulling into the main entrance of the circuit I was fully prepared to recite my standard greeting/explanation when to my surprise I drove right through the gates without even seeing a single person…anywhere. Like, nobody was even in the vicinity of the gate area. So I just kept going and eventually parked where I usually do behind the paddock.
Making my way into the hot pits I promptly saw the NSX I posted about earlier this week – can see more of there here. It’s always nice to see a few friendly faces when you’re traveling from so far away.
I saw Haji right away talking to Aoki and we were able to discuss a little bit about the plan for tomorrow’s event. With such limited time to photograph everything, there actually is a lot of planning that goes into where to position yourself to get the greatest return on your time so to speak.
Bando and company arrived shortly after I did and promptly offloaded the Soarer to begin it’s assembly and start prepping it for Attack. This was my first time seeing the car since it’s latest makeover pre-WTAC stage and I had a good time looking over all the detailed changes.
Sugikou’s Esprit backed MK4 Supra was among the cars I was really looking forward to seeing. Earlier in the month I had lined up a photoshoot with him for this evening, but ended up having to postpone because during testing they ran into issues and had to tow the car back to Esprit to diagnose. We met up very early Friday morning to knock it out before the drivers meeting.
The highlight of the test day had to be Ando resetting his course record with a 1’57.035 – you can see the lap on his YouTube channel. This car and team program seriously never ceases to impress me and if they stay on this same course I have no doubt that Ando will be the next to sub-50 at TC2000. Calling it now; weather permitting, he will do it on the 22nd.
Posted this car up on our Instagram today – I was surprised to see it here again after first seeing it at Fuji Speedway during the Rotary Spirit event. Surprised, but pleasantly surprised as it’s one of the best examples of a maziora paint job I’ve seen.
It was cool to see Naoki’s Tomiyoshi built, K20 Lotus again after seeing it in Kagoshima last year getting it’s new transmission installed. He had been testing it prior and this event was to be the true test of the new setup. The car looks amazing.
Another photoshoot I had managed to line up for this evening was with Mitsuyoshi-san, more widely known as Totomaru, and his pink Evo 6. When I met with him he was cleaning the rocks out of his aero from a small off earlier in the day.
It was super cool to finally meet You-chan after talking online for the past couple weeks. I’ve been following him and his Esprit supported Supra for a few years now and while on the outside it may seems somewhat mild in comparison to the others on grid, the engine puts out over 800 horsepower; it’s definitely no slouch.
Was also stoked to see Mitsuyoshi and his bright green PS13. Will have a lot more of this car in the event coverage. Mitsuyoshi is friends with Casey from Shirtstuckedin, and Casey actually stopped by the circuit to hang out and snap some photos. I hadn’t seen Casey for years so it was nice to sort of chat and catch up for a few minutes.
Registration was opened for a small period after the test day had ended to sort of speed up the process for tomorrow morning. Having completed my little walkthrough of the paddock, I went to take care of one more photoshoot and then promptly went to dinner, and ultimately back to the circuit hotel.
I’ll be busy over the weekend processing orders to ensure I get them all dispatched before heading back to Japan. Will do my best to get some event coverage up somewhere in between the two! Enjoy ~