Category: Close-Up

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Close-Up: Takaya’s NDF Japan SPL 180SX V.2

At the very end of last year I had posted a few photos of the build progress of this car on the website.  Since then, aside from social media and the release of 80R, I haven’t really gone over this car in detail yet because I wanted to save the main reveal for the book.  Now that the last of the books that have the feature are slated to be dispatched next week, I figure now is a good time to release some previously unseen photos of the car right after it’s completion.

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Close-Up: The Power of K – ASLAN EF9

I’d wager that ASLAN, the Osaka based Honda outfit, is one of the leading shops in the development of K-series Honda swaps in Japan.  Following in the footsteps of America, it didn’t take long for them to capitalize on the benefits of the next generation motor.  Having no adherence to a traditional form of tuning like some shops abide by, Tani-san’s approach to building cars becomes very unique to say the least; giving each a very specific, what I can only surmise as an ‘Osaka flavor’ to them.

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Close-Up: Yusuke Tokue – The Vanguard of FF

The Garage Work camp has been hard at work on several of their shop cars for the 2018 season.  Iwata has chosen to put his personal build aside in order to concentrate on the advancement of a few select customers; which is a somewhat noble, but necessary thing to do when you own your own tuning shop.  The dedication is paying off though, as all 3 of the cars they have competing have broken personal records.  One of them stands out among the rest, however, and it all started last year when he broke a very important record at Tsukuba.

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Close-Up: Takaya’s NDF Japan SPL 180SX

You may remember Takaya’s 180 from our little FRS pop-up meet at Fuji last year.  At the beginning of the year he was involved in an accident at the track that resulted in a necessary rebuilding of his front end.  Instead of going the easy route and buy OTS parts once again to replace the ones he had, he decided he wanted to do something totally different.  A one off kit, hand crafted by his good friend Masao, that would be sure to get the attention of enthusiasts on a global scale.

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Close Up: The Forgotten Samurai – Autech’s Flagship GTR

It’s been 3 years since I had the privilege of seeing ATTKD’s GTR  take on the titans of Japanese time attack at Fuji Speedway.  Witnessing the somewhat lesser known car back then clock times within seconds of the fastest at the time was something that really impressed me.  I know it’s not intentional, but when cars like the Top Secret S2000RR and HKS R35 GT1000 take center stage, their opponents seem to get put on the back burner.  When the ATTKD GTR32 hits the track though, it’s performance alone will demand the attention back from everyone in attendance.

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Close-Up: Ready Go Next – 青木FD3S

Since things have been a bit slow during the off-season, I’ve been using the time to try and design a few new products for the site and make some progress on my own car as well.  It’s been a long time coming, but just a few more things to wrap up and it’ll be ready for it’s first startup.  Although the car won’t be completely done for another few months, I’m looking forward to the first shakedown with the new motor shortly after it’s tuned.  I was browsing some shots from earlier this year to gain some inspiration for my own car and came across some shots that Matt took of Aoki’s FD.

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Close-Up: Carbon Junkie – Takumi Hayashi’s AE86

To say that Takumi Hayashi has an affinity for the Toyota AE86 would be a rather dramatic understatement.  The peppy, 130ps 4A-GE motor combined with the car’s FR drivetrain became an instant hit with not only himself, but many other tuners in the mid-80’s for that matter.  It didn’t take long for the Corolla to be a favorite worldwide, and Japan was no doubt leading the pack in motor sport development of the chassis.

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Close-Up: Step-Up Fairlady CBA-Z33

I almost didn’t recognize the Step-Up Z33 without it’s massive rear diffuser and front splitter attached to it’s exterior.  The car in this state takes on an almost street car look, aside from the chassis mounted GT wing.  It wasn’t running in the Attack event, but was there supporting other drivers.  I would have liked to see how it performed around Suzuka in the wet compared to some of the other similarly powered RWD cars. I included a video of a hot lap around Suzuka below.

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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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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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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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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.

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Close-Up: オートソニックFC3S – The Circuit Samurai

‘Motobei’ jokes that, back when he bought this RX-7 in December of 2007, he did so with the intent of using it as a daily commuting car.  Like so many of us have experienced, our intentions get brushed aside real quick when we start modifying our daily drivers.  As was the case with the Super Now/Auto Sonic FC3S.  A car that, ironically enough, can no longer be legally used on the street.  With a personal record at TC2000 of 56.495, motives aside, there’s no doubt that the path that the samurai has taken with this car has paid off – big time.

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Close-Up: Smoke and Fire – VTEC Club Spotlight

Before I get to processing and writing about the coverage of this past weekends VTEC Club season opener, I thought I’d try out a new idea for these events.  Covering VTEC Club when I could last year was a lot of fun for me.  The committee that puts these events together happen to be not only great people, but good friends of mine as well.  Come to think of it, photographing these events combines almost everything I enjoy in life into one location; perhaps that’s why it feels nothing like work.  Maybe that’s the feeling people get when they do what they love for a career.  Anyway, I’m getting way off topic here.

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Close-Up: Masaki Kitajo – Craft Company’s Flagship

I ran into Masaki this weekend at the second round of Battle Evome at Tsukuba Circuit.  He was not driving his shops demo car, however, but his street ‘practice’ Porsche 996.  On radials, he had hoped to get a still respectable 1’05.000 out of the German made sports car (and if I recall correctly he ended up lapping in the 1’03 range).  We made small talk about his drive to Tsukuba from Kobe, and the day’s unseasonably warm weather.  The conversation didn’t linger on the day’s drive for too long though, and I soon changed the subject to that of his flagship build; the Craft Company FD3S.

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Close-Up: Atsushi Shimaya’s Endless FD3S

Out of the thousands of cars at TAS, it’s always exciting to see, in person, a car you’ve followed online for years.  Every once in awhile a build will snowball into something so involved that it makes you wonder if the end result was ever really envisioned.  A perfect example of this is Atsushi Shimaya’s FD3S.

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Close-Up: G-Force Yamazaki CT9A

Just two short months ago, G-Force took this EVO to TC2000 to let Tanaguchi fling it around some corners during an open test day.  The car ran an impressive high 55 second lap; and I can assure you, it looked nothing like this.  The car’s exterior, then, was clad in a variety of Varis parts, and while it was a bit wider than OE, it was still relatively non-threatening in appearance.  Fast forward to TAS and the car that was displayed at their booth was a new beast entirely.

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Close-Up: 2016 APR Toyota Prius GT300

Among the various Super GT cars on display, APR was one to unveil their 2016 GT300 take on the new Prius.  We got a close look at the previous model a few years back at Fuji Speedway; however, since Toyota has released a newly remodeled production version of the hybrid chassis, it was time for it’s older counterpart to be retired.  Unlike the previous model, which utilized a mid-engine setup (as it was built to the somewhat controversial JAF GT300 rulebook), the 2016 will be using the now mandated front-engine setup, as this is the factory engine layout of the Prius.

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Close-Up: カーモディファイワンダー & ヒマワリ TAS

Car Modify Wonder had several cars on hand to introduce their somewhat new lineup of Glare aero parts, and as usual, they did not disappoint.  It’s refreshing to see a truly unique and creative offering, especially for older chassis’.  It’s a stark contrast from what we’ve recently been used to seeing; which is more or less a cookie cutter approach to exterior styling (I don’t need to say anymore than that for you to catch my drift).  Check out the shots below and let me know what you think.

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Close-Up: Shaft Auto Service ER34 – Class 1 Heavyweight

Shaft Auto Service, a small outfit in Hachioji that specializes in four door Skylines.  Foremost a car dealership that holds inventory in a wide variety of Skylines, the owner,  Shibuya Taro, offers many ancillary services ranging in everything from fiberglass work, to engine tuning.  Usually a company that stays off the grid, you’d easily recognize their work with the D1 Blitz R34 that Nomuken drives; as Taro-san has a very good relationship with Blitz.  This year they decided to try their hand with a certain take on Time Attack; in steps the Shaft ER34.

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Close-Up: A Labor Of Love – Kou Lor’s RE Amemiya FC3S

When I had first decided that I would be attending Final Bout, to be honest, it wasn’t the event that I was actually looking forward to; it was seeing this particular car.  Don’t get me wrong, I was excited for the event, but getting to see in person, and more so getting to meet the builder, of what I perceive to be the most well executed FC in the country would become the highlight of my trip.

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Close-Up: Mister ヮ タ ヮ タ’s Dogfight FD

I’d say that, after three years of attending Evome, the one thing I really get excited for is seeing everyone again, as well as meeting new friends.  The privateer ‘Attack’ season in Japan is such a short lived experience each year that my time with the drivers is fairly brief.  This is somewhat of a Catch 22 because while it does make each encounter much more special, I end up having to divide my time between talking to people and photographing the hour long event; and with just 3-4 Evome events a year, my time becomes very limited (especially not living in Japan).

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Close-Up: Ejima Kiyotaka’s TFR FD

Last year I was able to chat with Ejima-san about the car he has built over the past several years, at his shop TFR, to compete in the sport of Time Attack. Just by being around him, I was able to get a feel for the type of person he is and how his personality ties into his driving.  It’s a duo I’ve come to enjoy watching over the past events, and it’s nice to be able to revisit the build again this year.

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Close-Up: The Sum of Spectrum – Top Fuel S2000

White; the presence of all.  An achromatic array of all that’s visible in our spectrum.

It’s pure.  It’s wholeness.  It’s completion. A reflection of all.

It is everything without anything.  It’s a complicated simplicity.  In psychology, it stands for new beginnings, a clean slate; for setting a new standard.  It’s only appropriate then, that Top Fuel chose to dress their time attack dominating S2000-RR in a shade of white.

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Close-Up: The Father of Time – Philip Robles’ EG6

There’s something to say about the people around us who promote self-efficacy.

The capacity to unknowingly emanate a trait such as this is rare, and when you come across it you can’t help but be positively influenced.  Even a simple exchange of dialogue can have a major effect on the goals and beliefs you’re currently pursuing.  This is exactly the type of feeling I had when I had the opportunity to meet Philip Robles this past weekend.

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Close-Up: J’s Racing S2000 – Autocon LA

I usually like to entertain myself at car shows by scrutinizing each car that I pass by.  Obviously, you’ve seen from my past coverage of any car show, that I’m fairly particular in the cars I post.  This makes for a less comprehensive view of the event, but I’ve always done my best to keep the site to a specific niche, and not posting just for the sake of posting.  That being said, I like to pick a car at each show that I like the best, and give it the imaginary NDF award.  At last weekend’s Autocon show, it was this S2000 here which received such a pretentiously made-up honor of the NDF Choice.

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Close-Up: What’s Up With Yoo? – Justin’s TA S2000

Justin has been a good friend of mine for a few years now.  Towards the end of last year, he approached me with some new plans for his S2000 build.  We discussed the goals he was wanting to achieve in both the build and participation.  Wanting to get more serious in competing in events like the Redline Time Attack series, Justin expressed interest in the venture of garnering sponsors.  Much like our other team driver Kristian Wong, we agreed to partner with Justin and provide on-site media coverage of his progress.  Much of our updates come in the form of Instagram posts (@naritadogfight), which has easily surpassed Facebook in terms of social interaction.  If you don’t currently follow us, feel free to do so!  In the coming weeks, you’ll see a few updates regarding our team drivers and you’ll learn that they all share one common trait; they’re fast.

 

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Close-Up: Ken’s G-Work☆CR-X

While no doubt popular in it’s day for it’s nimble handling, performance, and excellent gas mileage, I wonder if Honda ever imagined the capability that their CR-X would have on circuit nearly 30 years after it’s inception?  This particular example, hailing from the camp of G-Work, is no doubt a testament to the capability of the tiny chassis.  Barreling through TC2000 in a mere 1’02.419, the NA B-series powered CR-X can hold definitely hold it’s own.  Click past the break for a gallery of shots on track at Tsukuba Circuit.

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Close-Up: The Circuit Scalpel – Esprit’s NSX

On many occasions, probably due to lack of my creativity, I’ve written excerpts on this site comparing certain managerial techniques to a variety of car builds.  That may or may not have something to do with my education and work background in the business sector, but I feel it’s something I can comfortably relate to.  These topics, at surface level, I would imagine to be somewhat obscure on an automotive website.  The truth of the matter is, in almost all regards, the processes discussed are very much applicable to time attack builds.  The practice of Continual Improvement is one such business practice, and in the realm of time attack, not many shops demonstrate this practice better than Esprit in the ongoing development of their NSX.

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Close-Up: こみぃ♪ – ガレージWORK EK9

Over the past years we’ve spent quite a bit of time at Garage Work; both at the shop in Chiba, and on track at Evome and Attack.  It’s a shop that is known for pushing the boundaries of Honda’s FF chassis far beyond what anyone has ever imagined.  Tora-san’s rich history and incredible foresight into the sport of time attack has been unmatched by many, and through Garage Work, he is able to channel that gift to not only his personal vehicles, but to his customers as well.

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Close-Up: Snowflake On Fuji – Arvou’s White Capped AP1

Arvou; a name that, over the past few years, has become synonymous with time attack focused S2000 builds (and more importantly Lotus for all you Euro fans) – with good reason too.  With their focus pulled toward developing their HKS Supercharged demo car, it’s hard to think that they were involved in anything else.  You might be surprised to hear then, that Mr. Shibata Mie actually founded the company in 1985, making Arvou nearly 30 years old.  That’s a lot of racing history attached to the company!

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Close-Up: プライムガレージ HC35 Laurel – An Unconventional Attack

As I weaved my way in and out of the garages along the Fuji Speedway paddock, my eyes were drawn to many an interesting machine.  Mostly revisions of cars that had run in the previous year’s Option Super Lap; the Esprit NSX, Pan Speed’s FD, the pair of Arvou S2000’s, the endless bounty of R35’s that seem to radiate an enormously unnecessary amount of power.  So, basically it was your typical HKS Day lineup.

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Close-Up: かずや様♪ Takes On TC2000!

 

I know my recent posts haven’t been very lengthy by any means, and this one is going to be no different (that’s not to say I don’t want to type more, I’m just pressed for time).  If you’ve followed the blog for that past year at least, you’ll know this car.  Kazuya-san, a.k.a. Kotora, a.k.a Baby Tiger, a.k.a. Fastest NA Civic around TC2000 on radial tires, a.k.a….just kidding I have no more names.

 

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Close-Up: Evome Profile – SEYAMAX // ADMIX GTR

 

Like the majority of people competing in time attack events in Japan, Takanori Seyama is the owner of a shop that deals with car sales and procurement.  Located on a quiet street in the heart of Ryugasaki, Ibaraki, his shop, Seyamax, not only houses his inventory of cars for sale, but is also headquarters for what Takanori really loves to do; and that is to race.  Over the past couple years he has built, and perfected his car of choice to become as fast as possible.  His R32, dubbed ‘Real Of The World’, is no slouch on TC2000.  His 2015 target time is set at 57.5 seconds around Tsukuba, and with a personal best of 57.970 to back it, it seems a very reasonable goal to accomplish.

 

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Close-Up: The Nagano Rush – Team Garage Mak Z33

 

I wonder if it’s acceptable, in the off chance one falls victim to writer’s block, to type freely their thoughts?  I mean, this is a blog after all, and blogs are typically written in an informal or conversational style.  It would be difficult to keep it informational to the topic however, if I were to just start spouting off about a random thought.  In the case of the Garage Mak Z33, I could start typing about Nagano; the hometown of the shop.  Or perhaps about the Miyagawa brothers, the two creative powerhouses behind the brand.  I could always fall back to uncreatively (is that not a word?) listing off the modifications to the Z33.  To be honest though, I’m pretty sure I’ve covered all that basic stuff in prior articles – it seems redundant to keep typing it.  I could talk about how I was naked in a public bath again…does anyone even read this?

 

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Close Up: ENDLESS E89 Z4 GT3 – The Final Act V.1

 

Have you ever had this strange urge, when opening a new book, to read the last paragraph before you actually start to read it?   I have. For whatever reason, I’ve always been compelled to turn to the last page before starting.  Often times, it doesn’t yield any spoilers or give any of the plot away, but sometimes it can give you a pretext of what to expect throughout the new literature.