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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The beauty of being involved in a global hobby is that you get the opportunity to connect with a multitude of awesome people. I’m fortunate that the majority of them come from simply supporting the website; I need not travel further than my inbox to find a handful. I try to answer everyone in a timely manner, but sometimes I get really backed up. It just so happens though, that this week I’ve been held captive in my own home due to knee surgery. While the inability to move has it’s downsides, it has allowed me to catch up with correspondence. This weekend I was able to chat with Masao Otani, a resident of Chiba who happens to be associated with a mutual friend of mine. I’ve been following his build for awhile now, but until we talked, I had no idea just how parallel his mindset was with that of NDF.
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
Don’t worry; I’m still alive.
After the dust had settled from the store opening with the new shirt and pre-sale of the tech jackets, I ended up taking (almost unconsciously) a week break from the site. During my absence I was reintroduced once again to just how finite time is. The few hours a day I had set aside for the website were definitely not thrown into the leisure category; well, maybe a few. But instead, they were reallocated into a combination of my day job, travel, shop work, my day job (did I already say that?), relationships, and probably a whole bunch of other things that makeup life that I can’t even remember.
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.
‘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.
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.
There’s a small community of time attack drivers in Japan that dedicate themselves to the FF base; a chassis that has, arguably, many more challenges to overcome on track than it’s counterpart. Despite the handicap that these cars have initially, to the people who have devoted their time and knowledge into producing the best, the joy that comes along with victory outweighs any doubt of potential. As is the case with all Garage Work cars, and especially so for Yusuke Tokue and his EK4.
The last weekend in February marked the start of the new season of VTEC Club at Willow Springs International Raceway. WSIR was once again packed with some of Southern California’s most dedicated Honda enthusiasts for a full day of track fun. The local popularity of this series was more than proven last year, and if the first round was any indication, 2016 looks to be on the same track.
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.
Central Japan’s Gunma Prefecture is home to a handful of Japan’s well known tuning shops. There is one in particular, however unique, whose discipline lies in building Mazda Roadsters; a car that, despite it’s nimbleness on track, hasn’t garnered much popularity in the Japanese Time Attack arena. The tuning shop TCS Usui, nestled at the base of Mt. Akagi (go figure), has been in business tuning, selling and procuring Roadsters and various Suzuki Kei cars for some time now. It wasn’t until the owner built this demo car that TCS became known world-wide.
The Sunday after the first Evome event of the year, I commandeered Sekinei’s Nissan Cube and trekked across the Tokyo Bay towards Chiba to visit Iwata and the boys at Garage Work. Jay came along as well as he’s never been to the shop and wanted to meet everyone. The plan was to hang out for a little bit, and talk about some pending business stuff, but the shop is such a laid back place that it’s easy to spend hours there hanging out.
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.
Excited to announce the release of the next reiteration of our Frontrunners T-Shirt, celebrating a handful of the fastest Time Attack shops in Japan. We’ve developed close relationships with each of these companies and paired together to create a really cool piece of apparel that everyone can enjoy.
There is a consistency to the cars that come out of the Work camp. They most certainly take a different approach to other shops in the same discipline, and I think that that is what sets them apart from the rest. Mildly modified, naturally aspirated B-series engines that are catered more towards reliability than high power are what you’ll find in nearly every car the shop works on. Not one for high horsepower builds, Garage Work shines in the area of suspension tuning and chassis modification of their lightweight Hondas. This distinct facet of Iwata’s tuning shows throughout each car he touches. Sato Kakuchi’s DC2 is a perfect embodiment of the shop’s raw persona.