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Event: Central Circuit Time Attack Challenge 2018 V.2

Continuing coverage from Central Circuit, we’ll take a look at the podium finishers of the day, and a few of the close runner-ups.  While most everyone in the Vertex classes were quick, I was surprised at where some of the cars landed on the time sheets.  I think my perception of who was fast at Central was a bit skewed from the events held in prior years.  If I’m not mistaken, Iwata took fastest lap a few years ago before he crashed the EG at TC2000.  Seems like the Kansai guys have been doing their homework recently though.

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Feature: HKS TRB-03 – The Tsukuba Maverick

There’s no doubt that, in Japanese motor sport, one name stands out among the rest.  In almost everything they do, they need to be on top.  The fastest, the most advanced.  HKS will stop at nothing to collect these titles, and the TRB-03 has become their newest vessel to achieve them.  The company has enveloped it’s priority in the project with the goal of being nothing less than the fastest around Tsukuba’s TC2000.  It was even re-branded as the ‘Tsukuba Record Breaker’, from it’s original designation as the GTS800; a tip of the hat to it’s capped power level (which is debatable…).  The car has been through extensive testing over the past year, and last weekend at HKS Day, I was able to finally get a closer look at it.

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Event: Central Circuit Time Attack Challenge 2018 V.1

The days leading up to this event were spent in somewhat of a rush to compile my projects at work so I could afford some time to do a bit of research on Central Circuit, and the event itself.  This would be the first time attending CTAC for both Sekinei and I, and I wanted to have at least an elementary grasp of the track layout and event schedule.  It may seem dramatic, but when I’m presented with a finite amount of time to photograph something comprehensively, I get a bit anxious.  With the top class getting 3 sessions comprised of 15 minutes each, you can’t afford to be isolated from the action for even a minute.  With some of the fastest drivers gathered from all of Japan, I was looking forward to seeing what the day had in store.

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Encounter: Advance/Central 20 Fairlady Z34

Sekinei and I just got back to Yokohama from HKS Day at Fuji Speedway, and before we can relax and bask in the satisfaction that is time attack, we have to get ready for work tomorrow; and by ‘we’, I mean Sekinei.  So, while he is outside in the cold, swapping alternators on a Diahatsu Hijet, I’m inside the office, heater blasting, watching Rick and Morty, writing an article on CTAC last weekend.  I came across these photos in my Lightroom library from a recent visit to Advance, so I thought I’d post them up real quick.

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Feature: A Test of Time – Hiroshi Amemiya’s Garage Mak S15

I had the real pleasure of shooting Ame’s car underneath the Yokohama Bay Bridge back in 2014 before the Winter Cafe.  Back then we had talked a bit online, but that was the first time I met him in person, and being a bit humbled at the time, wasn’t really up to asking many questions.  Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to stay in touch, and continue our friendship from a distance. The car has also undergone some fairly dramatic changes, so when I visited Nagano at the end of last year, I jumped at the chance to photograph the car again in it’s evolved state.  This time, I had the intentions of re-writing an article not just about the car, but about the owner as well.

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Encounter: Shark Attack – Hiroyuki’s Naturally Aspirated FD3S

In a clutch drive at the end of last year, Hiroyuki ‘Shark’ Iiri set a new track record for the naturally aspirated, rear-wheel drive class with a blistering 55.887 lap around TC2000.  Considering that this project hasn’t been in development for very long in comparison to some other builds gives you an idea of both the talent that Hiroyuki has behind the wheel, and the people involved in making this car what it is.  I’m looking forward to getting some time in Hyogo this month to talk to him about the car a little more in-depth.  For now enjoy some photos from the record-breaking day.

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Editorial: 2018 – A Resolution For Growth

They say that the coming of a new year gives us all a fresh slate to work from; a new beginning that allows us a mental reset of our lives.  This is a bit deceiving, as we need not wait until the end of the year to modify our actions, but it does provide an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months.  As far as time keeping goes, a year is a pretty significant measurement.  We typically evaluate our successes and failures based on what we accomplish within a years time, and give ourselves goals for the new year with the intention of having achieved them in yet another year-long period.  We continue this forecast of achievement year after year, basically for our entire lives.  For that reason alone it’s a significant occasion.

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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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Feature: The Future of Time Attack – Yasuhiro Ando’s RX-7

I recently read a somewhat contradictory article published on a popular website that surmised that there were no longer interesting cars in Japanese time attack, and how there has been a split in interest as nobody wants to build record setting cars any longer.  The article goes on by saying that while there are still plenty of mid-50 second cars at Tsukuba (ahem, breaking records), this lack of general interest in being the fastest is allowing companies to take advantage of a new market that caters to the hobbyist.  Of course this is an opinionated perception, albeit factually incorrect, and naturally everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it takes just a few minutes to see the holes in this side of the argument.

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NDF Build: NDF TA Civic Rebuild V.7

It seems like ages since I’ve driven my car, and at the pace that life seems to be moving recently that wouldn’t even be an exaggeration.  It’s been well over two years since I’ve written of any progress (publicly – I keep a notebook), and just about a year and a half since I’ve driven the thing.  I can honestly say, however, that over the past 6 months there hasn’t been a day that I wasn’t focused on finishing this build.  In these past two years I’ve learned more about the nuances specific to building Honda’s than I have in my entire life; from engine building and wiring to fabrication and fluid dynamics.  It hasn’t been easy, but thankfully I have some amazingly talented friends that have helped along the way.

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Encounter: Version 2018 – Suwa Tomoki’s AE86

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen Suwa on track.  In fact, the last time I saw him wasn’t at the circuit at all; it was at Umihotaru of all places.  When we held our last Winter Cafe back in 2014, he stopped by to say hello.  For the past 3 years he’s been laying low, driving in choice attack and one make races, enjoying life and little by little improving his AE86.  You can read a little bit more about here, but it seems like quite a bit has changed in the past couple years.  If I get the time, I’d like to reach out again to see how everything’s been going.

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Feature: Against The Grain – Igarashi-San’s GTR33

Of all the different types of Nissan chassis’s competing in time attack around the world, it’s fairly rare to see the GTR33 among them.  It’s definitely the lesser of the chosen Skyline models for road racing, and if I’m speaking honestly, I’m not overly sure why.  It is a bit heavier than the 32, but not too far off of the 34.  It’s longer wheelbase leaves it prone to a bit more understeer, and some might say it’s lacking in the looks department (now that I list the reasons, I see why).  Perhaps the R33 was just born to be the middle-child; loved, but not destined to be a favorite.  There are some people, however, that refuse to believe the popular mindset, and work outward from the R33’s positive traits to create something so overtly great, you can’t help but like it.

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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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Feature: The Finer Things – Garage Mak GTR35

There are few companies these days that go out of their way to cultivate a culture of quality.  Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people to squeeze out as much profit as possible from mediocre products, sacrificing integrity for a quick buck.  While it may be the more difficult route, those companies that are dedicated to ensuring the experience of buying and owning a product goes further than just fulfilling a desire, are the companies that are likely to be around for years to come.  The Nagano based tuning shop, Garage Mak, falls into this category, ensuring that the reputation of their brand comes before all else.

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Event: VTEC Club – Autumn Speed Festival 2017

This past weekend, Willow Springs International Raceway once again played host to the annual, all-Honda, VTEC Club event; Autumn Speed Festival.  Since the inaugural event last year, it’s one of the only events I look forward to attending here in the US (actually in the past two years it’s the only event I’ve attended).  While VTEC Club usually runs alongside another facilitating vendor to host their normal events, Autumn Speed Festival’s attendance, and management are proof that, time forbidding, the organization can survive on it’s own. With over 80 registered drivers, the pits were packed with Honda driver’s both veteran and new, ready to take on the ‘fastest road in the West’; Big Willow.

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Locale: Garage Mak – Nagano’s Total Tuning Shop

Years ago I had the good fortune of befriending a couple of Garage Mak customers who have close relationships with the Miyagawa brothers; owners of the Nagano based tuning powerhouse, Garage Mak.  Amemiya, Tsubaki, Seki, and others, have become good friends of mine, and have also given me the opportunity to meet, and work with, the two men behind one of Japan’s most comprehensive tuning shops.  This last week I made the drive out to Nagano again to talk to Tatsuhiro and Kazunori Miyagawa about the upcoming Attack season, and get a better look at their new line of R35 GTR aero.

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Locale: Auto House Solid – Gunma’s Engine Cerberus

Tucked away in the Southern countryside of Gunma, situated on a corner just behind a beautifully scarce rice field, in a very cliche Japanese building, lies a haven of meticulously crafted engine bays that rivals that of any other shop in the country.  In fact, if you weren’t looking for it, it wouldn’t be hard to pass it by, writing it off as just another unmarked building in the foreground.  The unassuming tuning shop Auto House Solid, is owned and operated by Hayashi Kazuyaki; the foremost authoritarian on what a clean motor package should look like.

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Site News: Storefront Announcement

In an attempt to expand the communication in regards to storefront opening dates and times, I’ve committed to announcing on the site each time the store is restocked and I plan to re-open it.  I get plenty of emails from people who missed out, or request to be notified each time I open the store; as you know that would be impossibly tedious to individually email hundreds of people.  Instead, the easier solution, is to subscribe to the site via the ‘follow’ button located on all pages, and when I post opening dates you will receive notifications straight to your inbox!

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Encounter: Ziek Power’s SR20 Powered ZN6

I was organizing one of my hard drives making room for the upcoming Attack season and I came across a few shots of the Ziek Power 86 from earlier in the year.  This is one of the more unique 86 builds I’ve been able to see on track, with the main revision being the Nissan motor that now resides under the hood.  Ziek Power has caressed a healthy 500 horsepower from the SR20, which is now 2.2 liter; plenty enough power to get it around any track they choose to in a very respectable time.