I guess since we’re on the topic of mid-engined roadsters (although technically only the Elise, not the Exige, was roadster), rarely seen in the Japanese Attack arena, now would be a good time to post up some shots of this MR-S. Owned by Masahide-san, and tuned by the foremost MR-S tuners in Japan, Techno PRO Spirit, this is one of the only of it’s type in the Attack lineup. It’s aggressive exterior is backed up by some pretty formidable times at TC2000; a 59.4 to be specific.
I had a handful of message requests on Instagram for more pictures of Maruyama’s S2000 – I had some extra time this afternoon so I scrounged around for some to edit and post. The car is very well built, and reflects the great balance that you can achieve with a few carefully selected modifications. It also makes a case for the C-West bumper being among the best looking front bumper choices for the chassis; I think I like it even more than Voltex.
Without a doubt the most interesting thing for me, in following Japanese Time Attack so closely, is getting to see the progression of builds over an extended period of time. We all know that building a race car isn’t a quick task, and for most people at the grassroots level it’s a trial and error procedure; you find out what works and what doesn’t from your initial base, and head back to the drawing board after each event. Everyone has their own method of going about this, but the common goal for everyone, however, is to go faster.
M’Technic Hyper Circuit Machine Producer is, well, a rather dramatic name for a tuning shop to say the least; but one glance into the type of cars they produce in-house, and the name suddenly doesn’t seem so theatrical. Mr. Tsuchida has had the support of M’Technic throughout the build of his GDBE Impreza, and while still a young build, contains many of the qualities that the shop holds in high regard.
It’s always refreshing to me to see productivity in it’s most energetic form. I think their are many positive effects to being constructive and it seems to me that it is overlooked quite often. It’s an aspect of life that adds a great deal of meaning to what we choose to pursue. Instinctively knowing the difference between being busy and being productive gives us the ability to progress through life much more efficiently; ultimately allowing us to experience more, and get the most out of our time. Ryo Kaneko is a man who knows the benefits of productive living, and it shows through his work on the circuit.
Given our illustrious ability to sleep in on the day of track events, I was surprised that when my alarm clock went off at 4:30am this past Sunday morning, I actually got out of bed. As our routine would have it, I met Sekinei downstairs and we set off for Ibaraki stopping only at the 711 right after the turn-off to Tsukuba. It’s been longer than I can remember that I arrived at the track before the sun came up, but we somehow managed to roll through that little narrow tunnel before daybreak. In fact, we were among the first to arrive meeting Under-san and the Evome staff as we entered. It didn’t take long for the flat beds to start rolling in though, and before I knew it the paddock was full of cars with drivers itching to get out on track before the weather took a turn for the worse.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the seemingly never-ending popularity of Mazda’s 90’s classic, the RX7, it’s not uncommon for it’s successor, the RX-8, to get overlooked. At the time, the newly introduced Renesis engine, while a great performer at high RPM, lacked torque and overall power; mainly due to the extreme efficiency of the engine to meet strictly enforced emissions laws. Because of this, the naturally aspirated 1.3 liter rotary seemed to always get passed on for it’s older, turbocharged counterpart. Wanting to prove the RX-8’s worth, and to help stoke parts development of the chassis, Aoki-san at Revolution took on the task of building the ultimate RX-8. The first step? Ditching the Renesis motor for a naturally aspirated 20B.
As we landed back in Narita on the evening of the 12th, I couldn’t help but feel like I hadn’t even left the country. The sun had just began to set through the scattered clouds on the horizon and the diffused, orange glow of the afternoon’s last rays forced it’s way through the aircraft windows and into my eyes. It had only been 3 weeks since I was last in Japan, a travel duration that becomes the norm during this time of year; the hectic 3 month period when time attack events are at their peak. Actually, back in the States, I was so busy with new contracts at work and getting the store up that I hardly had time to post any content on site before heading back. Nevertheless, I had returned to Japan and first thing in the morning we would make our way back to Tsukuba for the second, and final, round of Battle Evome.
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.
There’s a strange equality to winter, I think. It’s a balance that can only come with the sacrifice of life; a level playing field for all beings; a restart to a long year of effort and hard work of rebuilding from the previous season’s eradication. It sounds rather bleak, but it gives us, it gives everything, a chance to reestablish a new, improved form. It provides an opportunity to apply what we’ve learned from the past, to return stronger, an enhanced version, and if all goes as planned, a superior adaptation to that of last year. And so it is each year for the competitors of Battle Evome.
Awhile back, if I recall correctly the day I was leaving Japan, I messaged Kaz to see if he was around the shop; I had 30 or so minutes to spare and was in the neighborhood. Things generally get pretty quiet throughout the summer in the realm of time attack, and I was curious to see if Unlimited Works had anything cooking for this coming season.
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).
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.