The evolution of time attack builds in Japan is, for me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the sport. The dedication of the teams and the drivers to improve performance each season typically results in a year over year change in the appearance of the cars. Especially given the fact that most of the Attack competitors are ghosts on social media in comparison, it’s always a surprise to see what they unveil at the start of each season.
It takes a dedicated enthusiast to consider time attack a spectator sport; and trust me, I don’t say that lightly. I’ve spent almost a good portion of my life promoting the sport, the last thing I want to do is discredit my own work. That’s not my sole opinion though, it is simply a statement that is rooted in factuality. Unlike other mediums in motor sport, time attack is more of an intrinsic, individual type of racing when compared to wheel to wheel events. It’s something you’d rather be doing than watching. At the top levels, the tracks are somewhat deserted in order to give the driver a clear shot in getting the fastest lap possible – having no traffic is essential.
Friday morning a few other track hosts held open events for those entrants that wanted to do some testing the day before the Attack event on Saturday. Many of the top tier teams took advantage of the time, as did the overseas competitors. Since this day was a little more relaxed, I took some video around the paddock and pit.
At some point in time, my friend Duane mentioned to a few of us that, barring interest, he was thinking of starting a spec-B20 class within the VTEC Club events. As you can imagine, it was an idea that didn’t catch on too quick. In fact, anybody we mentioned it to had a decent laugh at our expense. B20’s, in their stock form, don’t have the greatest appeal in the realm of racing Hondas, so the idea that enough people would want to be involved to even warrant it’s own class was comical at best. Boy, were they all wrong.
Easily the most recognizable Silvia in the paddock, the Friends Racing S15 has had quite the journey from it’s roots as a competitive D1 car. The unique build is unlike any other in the field; in both looks and performance. With a best time of 53’821 around the proving grounds of TC2000, Toru Inose is without a doubt among the frontrunners of time attack in Japan. A couple years ago we caught Toru and the team at Tsukuba setting that personal best – but with a new goal in mind, the team has since gone back to the drawing board.
Hiroki Sakamoto may have possibly built, not only one of the fastest, but also the cleanest RX-7 in Japan to date. With a best time of 55.801 around Tsukuba, and a 2’14.399 around Suzuka it can definitely hold it’s own among the frontrunners of Japanese time attack.
I first became acquainted with Masao Otani back in 2014 when he attended our Attack Meeting in Doitsu Mura, Chiba. He had brought his 180 to the gathering which, 3 years ago, looked much more tame than it does now. That was back when the Attack community felt a little tighter knit than it does today, given the recent popularity increase. Which isn’t to be taken as a negative; with growth comes sacrifice in some areas, and the truth is that there are a lot more people involved in the sport today. Later that year, Masao and I had the fortune of connecting again through some mutual friends, and actually began talking quite regularly.
1990’s motoring in Japan, for a few people, has recently increased in popularity, becoming somewhat of an abstract study into a very unique culture. A lot of what we see today, especially in drifting, is an amalgamation of trends and lifestyle cues from that era; things that we aren’t necessarily privy to (unless of course you were a teenager in Tokyo in 1995). Yuji Hasunuma, owner of Pro Shop Wave, was a prominent figure in the peak times of ‘hashiriya‘; a time where the older generation today, was growing up and exploring the world of motorsports. Despite the change in trends, Yuji and his shop is still around today in Kanagawa, and as a ‘tip of the hat’ to the age his generation loved, he began the Bari Dori Heaven events.
As the rain faded away, and the afternoon sun burned off the remaining clouds over the Speedway, some people hit the road to head back towards Tokyo. The little award ceremony we had towards the end went well. I’ve never really had to judge, or rank cars before (although we all do it silently), but despite the choices being difficult it was still pretty fun. Everyone was pretty stoked, and it was a good way to wrap up the meeting. Before everyone had left, we were able to gather some of the main FRS members and take some photos closer to the track. Hope you liked the coverage, and I look forward to holding a couple more of these in the next couple months. Enjoy the photos ~
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.
I’m finally back home, and had a chance this evening after work to edit another group of photos from our gathering at Fuji Speedway. You can check out the first post here if you missed it. Basically we wanted to try to create a more intimate approach to car meets; less hype, and more conversation. I think it turned out rather well and am already looking to organize another one when I return to Japan in the coming month. Like I mentioned in the previous post, getting the opportunity to chat about each build was pretty neat, and I walked away learning more than I’ve had in the past with hundreds of cars on the table. This way it gave the opportunity to for everyone to play the host role, and made for an overall more fulfilling time.
It’s interesting to see how an individuals ambitions, and desires transform over time. As we experience more and more of life, and slowly grow to accept who we are, it’s not uncommon for our thought process to undergo a change that not necessarily limits our goals, but makes them more specific. It’s something I’ve been experiencing myself for the past year or so, and there’s a subtle satisfaction from it. I’ve seen a lot of those new attributes show themselves on this very site; for me it’s predominantly been an increase in the value of time. I suppose it’s common knowledge that the more time you spend getting to know someone, the more notable that time is. I’m pulled in a lot of directions when I’m in Japan, and believe it or not, it’s taken awhile for that simple concept to soak in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did ya get that one?
There’s no doubt that when Nissan developed the GTI-R version of the N14 Pulsar, they were in it to fill a performance niche. The three-door hatchback was not only AWD, but sported the ever popular SR20DET engine producing 227 horsepower. Boasting an incredible power-to-weight ratio, Nissan had influence to produce such a car to compete in the WRC. I wonder if they knew other people would have similar ideas though…
It’s a bit crazy to think that the car you’re looking at used to be the iconic HKS CT230R EVO – the one that used to be wrapped in red HIPERMAX vinyl (and just bare carbon before that). The same car that ran TC2000 in a staggering 53.5 and was subsequently shipped to the US to destroy the Buttonwillow record (1’48.5). That’s right; cue the ‘pour one out for your homies’ soundtrack of your choice, because this car is now powered by natural gas.
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.