Highend Makers isn’t exactly a household name in motorsports today, and, quite frankly, up until a year ago I wasn’t even aware of the outfit. The shop, located on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, has made a name for itself this past year at the Attack Suzuka events. Being located far from the epicenter of Japanese motor sport, the shop gets few opportunities to test their builds in comparison to shops in the Kanto, Kanagawa, and Kansai areas that we’re used to seeing. It’s a big production for them to have a good showing at time attack events, and a venue like Suzuka is well worth the trip.
No-Mark may not be a household name in the Japanese tuning industry, but they’ve been around long enough to hold their own against some of the best. Native to the Western area of Japan, it’s not uncommon to catch Maeda Yukio and his white S15 around tracks like Takasu Circuit, Suzuka CIrcuit, and Central Circuit every so often. The Silvia, a decade long build, has slowly grown from a lightly tuned street car, to a street car that pushes the boundary between comfort and performance.
I stumbled across this GTR33 built by Decide226 behind Suzuka’s pits. The notable shop, that’s based in Fukuoka, raised to fame years ago in Japan’s drag racing circuit. The RH9 accredited garage specialized in tuning high power, 400m focused builds. Concurrently they also prepped a range of cars for circuit racing; everything from GTR’s to EG6 Civics. This GTR is a great example of the street inspired builds the shop has become famous for.
About halfway between Kyoto and Osaka, there’s a stretch of road that houses a handful of ‘under the radar’ type automotive shops. Among the largest is Auto Craft; a rotary specialist shop, that’s slowly turned their focus to a larger population of cars, most notably Toyota’s new reiteration of the 86. While they may be playing to a larger audience these days, they certainly haven’t abandoned their dedication to developing the old Mazda chassis, and their flagship Attack FD is proof of this.
When you think of car tuning in Japan, the last city that comes to mind is probably Kyoto. Well, ironically enough, that’s where Auto Craft Evolution is headquartered; Kyotabe City, Kyoto. Suzuka Circuit, in Mie Prefecture, is a much closer drive than Tsukuba or Fuji, so it’s no surprise to see them attend the Attack events at Suzuka. We spotted this shop car on the backside of the Suzuka paddock as we pulled up in the early morning.
Friends Racing and their re-purposed drift Silvia have made quite the comeback over the past year or so. Making the transformation from the GReddy backed D1 Grand Prix competitor, to a record chasing time attack build was no easy task for the small Tochigi-based outfit. It took the company a few years to get the car to where it’s at now; a journey that is paying off in blindingly fast lap times.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Yuki’s AP1 is proof that you don’t have to have the a full blow race car to benefit from going to the track. Taking on a ‘less is more’ approach to his roadster resulted in a mildly built car, that maximizes enjoyment for him; both on and off track.
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.
Really nice S14 that was lapping around TC2000. The interior was very clean and had a very well constructed roll cage with gusseted B-pillars. The owner was lapping in the low 1’01.xx range throughout the morning.
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.
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…
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.
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.
On hand but off track, the Top Fuel S2000RR was standing by at Fuji Speedway during the Motor Fan Festival.
The Kakimoto NSX wasn’t the only Honda at Fuji this month that’s received a facelift; Esprit was on hand with their NSX, now in special blue edition. Like so many other competitors this day though, they were not to see any track time around the Speedway. Inclement weather doesn’t bode well for fast track times, and certainly doesn’t allow opportunity for accurate testing. So Esprit let their car rest in the paddock, devoid of canards and engine cover, while they waited for the weather to pass. Sekinei strolled over to their garage to snap a few shots.
At the beginning of the year, after seeing Yusuke at both Evome events, I had realized that I never really posted much of his EVO. We chatted a bit after the second event, and he mentioned that the car had been acting less than ideal. Which shows in the lap times; nearly a full second off his January time. Still, he’s come a long way with his build and it was Kaz at Unlimited Works that set him on the right track.
Even at first glance you can see that Kakimoto’s one-off NSX has gone through quite a lot of change; on the surface at least. The once, somewhat rough, unrefined exterior has been transformed into a more sleek, elegant looking exotic. Make no mistake though; despite it’s newly refined look, the car was still bred for the circuit. Sekinei caught the NSX sitting in the paddock of Fuji, longing to hit the track at last weekends Motor Fan Fest.
Dream Workshop FD3S at Tsukuba Circuit. Fastest lap time 59.625
Back in November we took a close look at the Shaft built ER34 Skyline at the Attack event at Tsukuba; you can check that article out here. Being the immense admirer of four-door Skylines that I am, I shot a whole bunch more photos of it at Battle Evome this year. After talking to Suzuki personally about the car, I gained a whole new level of respect for the build.
Hailing from the cold North of Hokkaido, FD specialists Car Shop Dream can claim the rights to one of the most unique looking FD’s in Japanese time attack. As you would imagine, due to the distance, it’s not often that Kurokawa-san and his team get out to Tsukuba. As a result, they don’t get as much seat time at the track as some of the other locals. Despite this, Kurokawa has piloted his 600whp build to a personal best of 57.880. Ultimately, after achieving times more close to the 55 second range at Tsukuba, he’d really like to shoot for competing in WTAC. The car is an ongoing project, so who knows? Check out some pictures past the break.
Senkichi has modified his JZA80 specifically to handle the variety of turns at Tsukuba. Each modification that he chose was specifically tailored for TC2000. The engine’s drive-train has been upgraded and the bottom end built to handle the extra boost from the T78 turbine. Transmission gearing has been modified to put the car in the exact power range needed for each turn. Check out the results below.
Every once in awhile I’ll come across some new faces at Tsukuba that really catch my attention. In most cases though, just because they’re new to me, doesn’t mean that they’re new to the circuit. The Garage PEAX Silvia is one such example and the it’s high 59 second lap times at Tsukuba proves this fact. Taking a little bit deeper look into the build reveals a car, and an owner, who have been gradually making changes to achieve the goal of a sub-minute lap time at TC2000.
Not totally unrelated to, but probably unnecessary to explain, the Japanese word ハニカミ (hanikami) is a kind of cute way to describe ‘shyness’. There’s an old dating show that ran on TV in Japan during the mid-2000’s called ‘恋するハニカミ!’ (love shy). Think the 1960’s TV sensation ‘The Dating Game’ meets Japan’s incredibly unique sense of humor. Now, clearly this has nothing to do with cars, or time attack, but it is the nickname of this Evome contendor, so let me do my best to tie this together.
I wish I had more to say about this FD, but in all honesty this is my first time seeing the car at any event. The owner was registered in the Grooving series, which is a series in itself that, as of last year, runs in tandem with the Evome events. The Grooving events are catered more towards beginning drivers, or those that want to improve their skill on the circuit without having to enter events that host more advanced run groups. You can read more about it on their website.
Sekinei caught this Porsche 987 in the paddock waiting for the rain to cease. The 997 GT3 front end, and plethora of aero parts give this Cayman a wildly unique look.
Mizuno-Spec heated at Umihotaru ~
Exciting Car Sports indeed, Wacky Mate. Expand to see more of the WM FD3S take on Fuji Speedway to the tune of 1’51.759.
It’s always memorable to meet new people (most of the time anyway), especially if you’re a fan of their work or if you share the same interests. It’s even more memorable, however, if there is something attached to that meeting that makes it stand out among the many other encounters we experience. In this case, in my meeting of Damon and Tony, that memorable event came in the form of a Shawano, Wisconsin Sheriff.
As you know by now, Advance builds their shop cars specifically to take on Fuji Circuit. Their FD, which they’ve been developing for some time now, is hands down the shop’s fastest build. It’s able to lap Fuji Speedway in a very respectable 1’56; a lap time most street cars can’t touch.
Last month, when I went to Advance, there was a customer’s NSX parked on the street next to Masahiro’s. After taking chatting and taking some pictures of Yagi’s S15, I snapped a few stills of the NSX duo.
Matt, Sekinei, and Yoshi spent the evening of August 6th roaming around Daikoku, taking in the sights as Corolla owners all over Kanagawa, and it’s surrounding areas celebrated 86 Day. Matt shot a few images of this N2 hatch that was in the parking area.
The diversity of Idlers events is comparable to few other races. Just one glance at the entry list reveals everything from old Citroen’s and Alfa’s to Honda’s, Toyota’s and of course plenty of Porsche’s. Each entrant is interesting to check out as they compete in all levels of tuning, but none stood out to me more than this Silvia from Garage Infinity.
To say that this Silvia has come a long way in the past few months would be an understatement. It’s not all too often we know the background behind a specific car build in Japan, partially because it is not commonplace to make it known to the world what the builders are doing in real time (i.e. build threads or frequent outlets for updates). So it would probably be a surprise to most that not too long ago this car used to be a gloss white, stock-bodied Silvia until it was involved in an unfortunate accident, leaving it in need of some intense repair.
The 2JZ powered Z32 built by C&Y Sports has adapted a much more aggressive looks since last we saw it. While it does look more the part, the cosmetics of this car aren’t the only thing that’s come a long way. The car, since 2013, has consistently improved it’s lap times around the famous Fuji Circuit.
Early morning at Fuji Speedway. G-Force brings out their newest CT9A build to test their work. With Taniguchi behind the wheel, the EVO was able to clock a very quick 1’42.154; proving that Tazawa-san’s camp isn’t all talk. Enjoy the gallery.