Author: Sean

Auto, photography, and Japan enthusiast
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Event: Dora Festival – Zummy Racing Family

A couple weeks ago Zummy held one of the first open time attack events of the what is considered the ‘prime’ season at TC2000; temps have dropped, and track conditions are ideal for fast times.  Many of the amateur drivers used this as an opportunity to shakedown their summer upgrades.  We saw a lot of modifications to existing builds, as well as the debut of many newer entries to the ever-growing niche.  It didn’t take long for the returning drivers to see the fruits of their labor, and within laps personal bests were being racked up across the board.

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Event: VTEC Club – Autumn Speed Festival

Even in sunny Southern California, the mid-day heat is giving way to brisk mornings and chilly evenings; a sign that Summer has finally, albeit very late, left us.  The ushering in of the holidays reminds us we’re already well into the Fall season, and with that comes a time that everyone involved with this website is very excited for; Attack season.  Japan kicked off with a rather casual shakedown/practice meeting at Tsukuba this past week, while here in the States, VTEC Club held their first all Honda Autumn Speed Festival.  Two strikingly similar events where many personal bests were broken.

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Feature: Occupy Fuji – Morita’s Dominant CP9A

About two years ago I stumbled across Morita-san’s EVO browsing through Minkara; although at the time, I only knew him by his internet handle ‘Hanipon’.  I had never seen an EVO 6 as aggressive as his, and after exploring his build a little further, instantly became a fan.  Suffice to say I was a little shocked when he reached out to me randomly in an email at the beginning of the year.  We exchanged a few words, I sent him some decals, and as some things happen to work out, he was able to make the drive down from Saitama to attend our FRSxNDF meeting last month.  Never one to pass on opportunity, we scheduled a photo shoot at Fuji shortly after.  I was already impressed with the presence of this build online, but it was nothing compared to what the car looks like in person.

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Feature: Ito Atsushi’s Tamon Design FC3S

I feel that the aftermarket companies that support older chassis don’t get enough credit. To produce new parts for an application that is constantly diminishing in population isn’t something easily committed to.  It takes a dedication, and a love for motor sport, to appeal to these cars.  As time passes, because we’re so enthralled by the cars of the 80’s and 90’s, we don’t recognize just how old some of these cars are.  The FC, for example, made it’s debut in 1985; celebrating it’s 30th birthday just last year.  Appreciating the everlasting potential of these cars is something worth noting, and Atsushi-san of Shizuoka does just that with his Tamon Designs clad RX7.

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Feature: The Semblance of GT – Jun Tanaka’s Silvia S15

Finding originality among the masses these days seems almost like a lost cause; difficult to say the least.  It seems we’ve fallen into an echo-chamber, driven by internet popularity, that promotes the trendy favorable over imagination.  Very few choose to forge their own path of innovation and ingenuity, and it’s left us with more ‘inspired by’ designs than one should have to endure.  This sheep-like quality is absent in Mr. Jun Tanaka, however, and the S15 that he’s created is unlike any other.

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Archives: No Stone Unturned – K2 Racing RX8

There’s nothing quite like seeing a chassis pushed to it’s very limit.  Regardless of make, model and drive-train, watching a car get transformed into a full fledged circuit machine is one of my favorite pleasures in this medium.  It’s not something that happens often, and a lot of times (based on a plethora of factors) people end up settling; believe me when I tell you, I know all too well.  So when a shop takes the gloves off on a build, it’s something I get excited about.  In the case of this RX-8, K2 Racing takes Mazda’s last rendition of the Renesis to it’s peak, and maybe just a little bit further.

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Locale: Tomisato, Chiba – RE雨宮

The amount of influence that Amemiya-san has in the field of tuning Mazdas, specifically the RX-7, is arguably untouchable.  The popularity of his designs and the overall originality of his creations are known not just throughout Japan, but the entire world.  Walking through the showroom of Isami’s flagship shop in Tomisato, Chiba, you’re given proof of how much weight the name carries.  Trophies from race events, car shows, and manufactuer recognition are plastered from one wall to the other.  Momentos of achievement past and present line the glass cases along the walls of the showroom, surrounding the beautiful blue, Super GReddy clad demo car sitting front and center.

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Event: Final Bout 2016 – Special Stage East V.1

This year, the collective minds behind Final Bout set out to unite a country over the sport of drifting; instilling in the nation a certain set of qualities they feel are necessary for the sport to thrive with it’s Japanese roots intact.  Each carefully selected location of the Special Stage events provided their own unique characteristics in both venue and demographics that helped define what drifting is in each corner of the nation.  Uncovering, and highlighting these places allowed others to experience different parts of the country, both first and second hand, that we wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to.  I think this alone is reason enough to undertake a project as massive as Final Bout has been in 2016.  This time the crew headed to Canaan Motor Club in central New Hampshire to host the third, and final stage of the trio of special events.

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Editorial: Inspiration vs. Influence

Thursday morning Kayla and I set off to Tokyo via the Tokaido line out of Yokohama Station.  I really dislike going into the city with a car, especially to Tokyo.  I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of Tokyo in general, and it’s just further compounded when I’m driving there; it’s not so much the driving, but the parking really.  We were walking around Meiji Shrine when I got a message from Kubo at Garage Work.  He was asking if I wanted to stop by the shop that afternoon.  I was literally in Chiba the day before visiting Masao at Technical Motor, and from a fiscal standpoint wasn’t quite in the mood to be going back again, but honestly, I could never pass down a visit to the one shop that influences me in a way no others do.

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Event: NDF x FRS Invite Meeting V.3

As the rain faded away, and the afternoon sun burned off the remaining clouds over the Speedway, some people hit the road to head back towards Tokyo.  The little award ceremony we had towards the end went well.  I’ve never really had to judge, or rank cars before (although we all do it silently), but despite the choices being difficult it was still pretty fun.  Everyone was pretty stoked, and it was a good way to wrap up the meeting.  Before everyone had left, we were able to gather some of the main FRS members and take some photos closer to the track.  Hope you liked the coverage, and I look forward to holding a couple more of these in the next couple months.  Enjoy the photos ~

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Encounter: Naturally Aspirated S15 – Fuji

About halfway through our meeting, while I was across the lot taking some individual photos, I had heard an incredibly loud, distinct sound coming from off in the distance.  As it grew closer, I got up and turned around to see a white S15 absolutely screaming down Fuji’s access road.  I instantly knew it was a naturally aspirated SR because, well, there is really only one sound like that; it’s that perfect combination of awesome and obnoxious.

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Event: NDF x FRS Invite Meeting V.2

I’m finally back home, and had a chance this evening after work to edit another group of photos from our gathering at Fuji Speedway.  You can check out the first post here if you missed it.  Basically we wanted to try to create a more intimate approach to car meets; less hype, and more conversation.  I think it turned out rather well and am already looking to organize another one when I return to Japan in the coming month.  Like I mentioned in the previous post, getting the opportunity to chat about each build was pretty neat, and I walked away learning more than I’ve had in the past with hundreds of cars on the table.  This way it gave the opportunity to for everyone to play the host role, and made for an overall more fulfilling time.

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Event: NDF x FRS Invite Meeting V.1

It’s interesting to see how an individuals ambitions, and desires transform over time.  As we experience more and more of life, and slowly grow to accept who we are, it’s not uncommon for our thought process to undergo a change that not necessarily limits our goals, but makes them more specific.  It’s something I’ve been experiencing myself for the past year or so, and there’s a subtle satisfaction from it.  I’ve seen a lot of those new attributes show themselves on this very site; for me it’s predominantly been an increase in the value of time.  I suppose it’s common knowledge that the more time you spend getting to know someone, the more notable that time is.  I’m pulled in a lot of directions when I’m in Japan, and believe it or not, it’s taken awhile for that simple concept to soak in.

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Garage Life: USA x JPN NORUSH BBQ

This past week a couple good friends from Japan came to Los Angeles to visit; two of them for the first time ever.  Among them was my dear friend Takashi Sekinei, someone who’s helped me countless times during my time in Japan.  We were all pretty excited to finally introduce them to everyone here in Southern California, especially since most of the guys from the shop have talked to Sekinei one way or another online.  Jay and I put together a little pot luck at our shop and invited a couple people over for a low-key Sunday evening.  After cooking I snapped a couple pictures I thought I’d share.

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Encounter: Takigashira’s Widebody GC8D WRC Replica

Despite keeping myself busy with work and travel throughout this Summer, there’s part of me that can’t help but feel like these middle of the year months have just dragged by.  In the website’s perspective, time may as well have stopped altogether.  I suppose if there’s one downside to running a niche website, it’s that for a good portion of the year not much is going on.  Typically I’m able to head out to Japan for a few weeks in between Attack seasons, but this year, much like the last, has been way too busy.

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Encounter: Garage Kagotani Street-Spec FD

When self-proclaimed rotary enthusiast, Doctor Wada (an actual doctor by the way), set out to enhance his weekend track car, he wanted to do so without sacrificing the daily drive-ability of the car.  He tasked Garage Kagotani to boost the performance of his RX-7, while still maintaining the comfort inside the cabin.  Without a doubt, this is a very good example of a dual purpose build.  With a simple boost up to about 13 psi, as well as some supporting modifications, he’s able to clock a best time of 59.617 around TC2000.  While future plans to turn this into a dedicated track car are still on the table, I’d say that for the time being that’s an extremely good time.

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Encounter: Nakashima’s Off-Season FD3S

It’s been awhile since we’ve come across Nakashima and his red FD.  No stranger to Attack and Evome events, Tomo has been competing in the Japan based time attack events in his RX-7 for years now.  Stumbled across here in a Saitama parking lot, you can see a couple obvious changes since last year.  New GT wing element, and Craft Square mirrors replace the Ganadors that were once affixed to the doors.  Carbon side strakes line the skirts and help tie together the front and rear aero of the car.  Looks a lot more aggressive!

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Feature: Team Driver – Justin Yoo’s AP2

If you follow the blog (or Instagram @naritadogfight), it’s likely that you have heard of Justin, or seen his car posted several times.  Justin is one of the two team drivers we have on NDF, and while he’s made several appearances (like the Podcast interview, and a few cameos) I’ve never really gone out and shot his S2000 with the purpose of featuring it.  The car has come a long way in the past few months with the assistance of some pretty weighty modifications.  This past weekend, we took to the streets with the idea of showcasing his build for the site.

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Close-Up: Back to Basics – Juan’s K20A EM1

At the last VTEC Club event I attended (which admittedly due to time constraints was quite awhile ago), Kristian and I met Juan Rodriguez, the owner of this EM1.  It was the first time we’d seen the car at any event really, and as soon as I saw it towards the back of the paddock at Buttonwillow it immediately caught my eye; for a few reasons.

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Encounter: Trial and Error – しんののFD3S

A lot of what goes into running fast lap times is nothing but trial and error.  We try out new parts, that on paper should work, and in the process of application we assess the results, problems or issues that may arise and we decide if the choice was a good one, or if we should try again with a different method or part.  Experience tells us that the most cost effective decision is to keep this trial and error to a minimum.  There are some people, however, that find pleasure in the possibilities of change.

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Event: Mazda Fest 2016 – Tsukuba Circuit

Once every year, on July 7th, tuners and enthusiasts from around the country celebrate Mazda’s shining triumph of engineering.  The RX-7, to many, is so much more than a car; it’s an engineering marvel. The unique rotary motor a triangular pariah in a sea of ordinary, piston driven combustion.  The chassis of the FD so perfectly geared towards time attack, has become a symbol of the sport in Japan.  On this date, thousands will come together in honor of this car worldwide, with the epicenter being Tsukuba Circuit.

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Encounter: Auto Garage TBK – REsonance FD3S

It goes without saying, that 9 times out of 10, wheel choice defines the way a car looks.  Coming from a background predominantly in Hondas, I’ve always viewed the Desmond Regamaster as the wheel to end all wheels.  It’s a choice that looks good on nearly every car; quite similar to the TE37.  Up until I started to frequent Japan some time ago, I didn’t realize just how utilized the wheel was on other platforms as well.

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Encounter: ぽりぽり Dream Works FD3S

Dream Works is no stranger to building cars that inhabit the race track.  In fact, some of their customer cars are more well-known than their own demo cars.  Super Battle Evome class competitor ‘Pori Pori’ (which I think is the sound effect in Japanese used to describe the sound of scratching something) is one such customer.  This Super Battle Evome competitor drives to Tsukuba, lays down a sub-minute lap, and drives home in time for dinner; that’s reliability that you can’t get just anywhere.

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One Shot: 進行中の作業AP1

進行中の作業 (Shinko-chu no sagyo) means ‘work in progress’; a word that clearly illustrates this random S2000 at Tsukuba.  I posted a picture of it on our Instagram account (@naritadogfight) yesterday and a friend asked to see some more shots of it.  This was back at the beginning of the year, I wonder what it looks like now? Click past the break to check it out.

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Close-Up: AG-Y Body Shop Takase GTR32

This Auto Gallery Yokohama R32, built in part by Body Shop Takase, has been a veteran of TC2000 for some time now.  In fact, not much has changed in the 2 years I’ve been following the car.  I guess you could say it’s a testament to the saying, ‘If it’s ain’t broken, don’t fix it.’  The owner, Mr. Harumichi, is by now without a doubt among the fastest around Tsukuba, throwing down consistent low 57 second lap times in the GTR.   I remember seeing this car back in 2014 at an Evome event and it solidified my love for the Yokohama based Nissan tuner.  Let’s check out what has changed over the years.

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Encounter: Toshi’s Grooving FC3S

I get used to seeing some pretty serious builds around Japan; a lot of times it’s all or nothing.  It’s almost as if the middle ground is the least popular place to be when it comes to time attack.  More often than not, because it’s all interesting to me, I try to find a balance between sharing both the ‘all’ and ‘nothing’ builds.  Every once in awhile, however, I’ll come across one of the more minimal builds and start to question the aggressive look of the in-depth, competitive builds, and why I took my personal car down that path.  Toshi’s FC is among those that make me question why I don’t have a spirited daily anymore…

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Close-Up: More Power, More Speed – Auto Works K2 Racing RX-8

The rotary specialists at Auto Works K2 have recently begun producing the framework for a SE3P that will, without a doubt, take the Time Attack scene by storm.  The shop’s new flagship made it’s debut at Mazda Fest last week and was able to get some solid lap times in on TC2000. The chassis, acquired by a customer directly from RE Amemiya, used to serve as RE’s old D1 car.  With the Summer downtime between seasons in Japan, the shop has already started the car’s transformation to a full time attack build; consider this post as a preview to a full article.  Matt is scheduled to shoot the car next week and we’ll have a full feature on Attack’s newest competitor soon.  Check out the pictures past the break.

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Feature: The Pleasure of Drive – CCE FD3S

In the furthest Southeastern part of the Saitama prefecture lies the small commuter town of Misato City.  The suburb that serves as home to many employees of Tokyo, also serves as the headquarters for CCE; a fairly new, by some standards, tuning shop that offers a one-stop option for a variety of cars.  The president, Yoshihiro Nakamura, chose this FD3S to serve as the companies flagship build.  It’s gone through minor changes each year for the past several years, but I think that it’s current state is one that strikes a good balance between street and track; a goal that many enthusiasts in Japan strive for.

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Encounter: Toshio’s Mid-Season Comeback

Although a tough choice, sometimes starting over from scratch is the most effective way to rebuild; I’m sure we’ve all experienced the difficulty of having to undertake an entirely new project from step one and the frustrations that come along with it.  In certain circumstances,  however, we invite the opportunity to change with open arms.  A chance to rebuild something with the knowledge we’ve gathered from our prior attempts.  Such is the case with Toshio Tomizawa’s new time attack FD3S.  After blowing the motor in his old FD, he decided it was time to begin anew with a fresh chassis.

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Close-Up: Ballade Sports K-Powered S2000

The S2000’s that are backed by Ballade Sports are, no doubt, among some of the best looking in the paddock. The Southern California tuning shop has consistently chosen quality parts to adorn their shop and customer cars with.  Carving a niche out for themselves by shadowing a very Japanese style of automotive tuning, they’ve proven time and time again that often times less is more.  It should come at no surprise then, that they’re also among the best performing; their flagship S2000 is a perfect example of this.

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Garage Life: Franklin’s Revised Z32

Last weekend our friend Franklin had come down to our area to grab dinner before he left on vacation to British Columbia.  I hadn’t seen him in quite some time and it was nice to catch up over sushi.  As an added bonus, he brought down his newly made-over Z32 and I was able to snap some pictures in front of our shop.  Click past the break to see more.

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Encounter: Circuit Comeback – はるななのDC5

Up until this past attack season, I had never met Mr. ‘Harunana’ but I had stumbled across his Minkara page a few years ago.  Back then his DC5 looked quite a bit different.  The car’s exterior was much more sparse, and I can imagine the car was actually a lot heavier as well.  But a lot can change over the course of a couple years, and this DC5 is testament to that.

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Event: Final Bout – Special Stage West V.2

Picking up from where we left off in Portland, coverage in V2 will review the remaining teams that were competing over the weekend.  I gotta say though, the first article on Final Bout was so wordy that I really don’t have much to say for the follow up; I kind of broke the dam gates on that one.  For those who missed it, to get an overview of the event check out the first article published last week.  If you’ve done that already, I won’t put you through it again – so let’s jump right into some photos.

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Event: Final Bout – Special Stage West V.1

There’s something to be said about those who go out of their way for the preservation of ideas.  These people, when sensing a degradation in quality or process, will consciously take on the role of safeguarding origins.  There are quite a few of us who, in our day to day, fail to see the importance of upholding certain ideologies.  While the majority of us don’t fall into this category, it’s safe to say that those who do, have the ability to carry many.  To them the priority lies in guidance.  It’s about the teaching and the development of a new generation.  A generation that may not be exposed to the superior pedigree of the past, but hold with them a desire for growth.  Having spent the lesser side of a week with a few of these individuals, I can tell you it is a rare quality they possess.  It is their calling, and they answer to it; and how they’ve answered has ignited a world-wide call to arms.

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Feature: Less is More – Makoto’s Garage Work EK4

I messaged Makoto today to catch up and inquire about some things I’ve been waiting on from Garage Work.  I realized that, out of all the spotlights on Garage Work cars I’ve posted, I never really posted much about his EK4. We got to chatting about his car and what he’s working towards with it.  As you would imagine, his build is another prime example of the ‘less is more’ mentality that comes out of the Chiba outfit.

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Close-Up: Mr. Orange’s Orange DC2

Self-proclaimed amateur time attacker ‘Orange-san’ has made quite the impact in the small world of Tsukuba time attack.  Not only because of the bright orange accent color of his DC2, or his youthful, comedic track side manner; who jokes that his main support comes from Yahoo Auction and Super Viva Home Kasukabe (think Japanese Home Depot).  While those qualities alone would make people gravitate towards the Integra in the paddock, it’s what people see up close that garners the most attention to the DC2.