Three years ago when Yoshiki ‘Fire’ Ando and the expert team at Escort set out to claim the tuning car record at every international circuit in Japan, they knew it was a challenge that would demand perfection in all aspects of their operation.
Long before this website existed, when I had first started getting into time attack in the mid-2000’s, there was a name I came across often, usually in association with some of the fastest builds of the time. Whether those cars had these parts equipped, or had work done or engines tuned there, Garage Kagotani was a staple amongst the paddock.
I’ve always appreciated the varying degree of tuning style in Kyushu prefecture; specifically the cars that frequent Autopolis International Circuit. From fully dedicated track cars, to light tune approaches, there is something about the cars that standout that’s not quite describable.
Last week we held a small get together at Autopolis International Racing Circuit in the Oita Prefecture of Kyushu. I had 3 photoshoots for 80R scheduled for this particular weekend trip down south, however a few could not make it last minute.
In the heart of Winter this year, I made the trek down to Kyushu to attend Autopolis Superlap. Unbeknownst to me (because it happened when I was in-flight from Tokyo to Kumamoto) the event had been cancelled due to excessive snowfall in the area. For the past week, the likelihood of the event taking place was always brought into question.
The concept of forming an amateur race team is something that appeals to quite a few of us. Aside from the obvious attraction of building race cars with your friends, there’s the added benefits of friendly competition, commradery and support among teammates; turns out there’s more positives to emulating Initial D than just looking cool. As a result we see attempts of this springing up all over the world – some good, some not so good. While we may have a ways to go on this side of the Pacific in making names for ourselves, no one in Japan does it better than the boys from Kyushu – ‘Kyushu Danji’; quite possibly the most notable and dedicated, time attack team in Japan.
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.
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.
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.
A couple shots of the Unlimited Works EVO at Tsukuba Circuit. Kurita-san piloted the EVO 6 around TC2000 in a staggering 57.247. Sub minute laps are no stranger to Japan’s fastest street EVO though. Check out more past the break.
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.
You may or may not remember me mentioning a little bit about Mitsuyoshi’s super pink Evo in the post I wrote awhile back about his conquest in the CT9A; if not, here is […]
“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is […]
If by chance you found yourself driving on the Hachioji Highway in Kitamachi, West Yokohama, there’s a possibility that you may catch sight of a bright red building in your peripheral […]
The whole sport of time-attack has been picking up speed as of late, and over the past few years, one team has stood out amongst the rest as leaders in their own right. Based […]
The brisk grounds of Tsukuba played host to the second round of Battle Evome this morning, and as quickly as it came, the battle has ended. While not all contenders came out unscathed, a […]
Continuing my walk around of the Queen Mary grounds where Wekfest was being held, we pick up around 1:30 pm when the crowds started to get bigger. The tour of shows that Weksos organizes has […]
I can honestly say the last few weeks, for me, have been the busiest I’ve experienced in a long time. Losing a week in Charlotte for work, playing catch up back at the office, and […]
Garage HRS EVO IX spotted in the paddock of Tsukuba Circuit. The owner was competing in the Dunlop Challenge that afternoon.
This past weekend Justin, who runs Autocon, messaged me about a trailer they were shooting in Los Angeles for the upcoming Autocon event on June 1st. It was last minute, so I couldn’t make […]
We pick up on circuit late morning in Tsukuba, where, lap by lap, the times are decreasing ever so slightly. By this time, many of the drivers have recorded personal bests or were well on […]
As the morning sun rose over Tsukuba, and the clock closed in on 9am, the lighthearted paddock conversations gave way to a sound that I’m not even clever enough to describe in words. The first […]
Battle Evome; the name itself invokes a sense of elitism and power. The event, held at Tsukuba Circuit just 4 times a year, attracts the fastest of the street and privateer time attack cars across […]
Over the past weekend a couple of friends and I attended an open event at Streets. Unfortunately, I wasn’t driving, but I still like to come along because you really never know what you’ll find […]
Brake masters DIXCEL Japan and their Shinryo Auto built Super Taikyu EVO will be at Tokyo Auto Salon next week (Hall #6) – be sure to stop by and say hi, and wish them […]
I had to make a quick run to Akihabara one afternoon (I say ‘had’ because I don’t particularly enjoy going there) to pick up something from ヨドバシカメラ, a.k.a 12 story Mega brain hemorrhage electronic/everything […]
If you were to imagine a specific car that, in your own mind, possessed the qualities of protector, or a guardian; what car would you choose? For me, it would always be the Mitsubishi EVO. Something about it just gives off a ‘sentry’ feel. Perhaps it’s the bold, boxy lines, it’s potential for great power or even it’s masculine stature. There is quite obviously a good amount of guardian like character in any EVO, but this one in particular, has more than most. I’ve never seen where Algier lives, but I bet I would feel pretty safe with his EVO standing watch over the neighborhood. Right, I’ll admit that the theme to this feature is a little far-fetched; but it’s still a bit amusing if you think about it. Modified cars coming to life to protect…the…people…oh my god I’m describing Transformers…damn. I knew I had heard of that concept somewhere. Anyway, all that aside, Algier has put together an extremely quality build that I’ve really taken a liking too. This past weekend I flew up to the bay area and made the short trip over to San Jose the next morning to meet up with Algier. He had just spent the entire previous day at HIN so I was thankful that he was able to make it out for a few hours the next morning. Click past the break to see more of this insanely clean 8.
I think I’ll break up the Wekfest coverage with the second post of Super Taikyu from Twin Ring. I have a few fans that are awaiting the continuation of this and it just so happens I initially started posting it right before Wekfest hit town; which was not my intention. Plus, seeing a couple of race cars fight it out on track will be a nice contrast to the show coverage. We left off on the last post somewhere near the start of the race, after the practice laps. By now you have a good impression of the diversity of this series; I’m pretty sure I’ve said that a million times now, but it’s part of why this is such a cool race. Part of the appeal of Group-N racing series’ is that it has the ability to make any regular person feel like they can be a race car driver behind the wheel of there normal, every day car. That’s not to say that they should…but it’s nice to have that feeling. A popular car among the Super Taikyu contenders is the Sturm Motul STi. You can see it here propped up on the air jacks in the team garage; the crew going through a few final tests before it’s unleashed on the track for the 4 hour stint. Check the continued coverage past the break.
This past weekend the Queen Mary park in Long Beach played host to the second stop in the 2012 Wekfest Tour; Wekfest LA. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since the show stormed the grounds in 2011; and as I was expecting, the show was unreal. Honestly, if I could choose one show to attend for the entire year, there is no doubt it would be Wekfest – LA specifically. There really is no better venue than the Queen Mary; great weather, beautiful ocean and downtown views, off-shore breezes, shaded grassy areas to relax, and plenty of room for the 300+ cars and the thousands of attendees. The Wek get better at organizing these shows with each event’s passing and for like minded people, their efforts don’t go unnoticed. I’d like to give a big thanks to Kenneth Li, Adam Luong, Geoffrey Nguyen and all the other behind the scenes people at Weksos that make this tour what it is. I had a blast checking out the builds, catching up with familiar faces, and meeting a handful of new people. With that said, I need to work on getting more sleep before these shows. I’ve slipped into the unconscious habit of getting a maximum of 2-3 hours of sleep before any particular Wekfest show I’ve attended. Somehow I managed to arrive a good two hours before media was allowed in; two hours I spent sleeping in the parking lot. With about 30 minutes to 11am, I walked towards the entrance where I saw my buddy Jon. As we were talking Geoffrey came up to say hi. We talked for a few minutes, got my stamp a little early, and I slipped into the fray of glossy metal that is Wekfest. Check out the first part of coverage past the break – hope you enjoy!
耐久 [Taikyu] – Translate the word to English and it becomes ‘Endurance’, or ‘Persistence’. Both of which are needed in a series like Super Taikyu; where the most average of cars are transformed into octane devouring, tire burning, track monsters for their drivers to tame around the circuit. A series that pushes both man and machine to the brink of exhaustion; endurance racing at it’s finest. Now don’t get me wrong – this is no 24 Hours of Nürburgring. It is, however, grueling in it’s own right – I barely survived photographing it, let alone driving it. It’s possible that some readers are not familiar with the series, although, they may be familiar with the term ‘Group-N’ racing. A particular type of motor sport, governed by the FIA, where standard production vehicles are allowed to be slightly modified for competition; I use the term ‘slightly’ very loosely. No doubt about it that each and every one of these cars is fully built to be race metal. The main reason I fell in love with this series is the amount of classes involved and on track at the same time, all racing to be number one in their own right. In this sense it’s a bit like Le Mans racing, except Super Taikyu has 5 classes. I’m really excited to share this series with you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Click past the break for more Twin Ring action.
It’s now been over a week since Wekfest SF and I’m still finding myself pouring over pictures from the event! I think I’ll just combine the few pictures I have left in this post to wrap up the coverage. Typically people start losing interest in shows after the first couple days, but I gotta say, Wekfest traffic hasn’t slowed at all! In fact, I’m still getting almost as many hits per day as when the first part of our coverage dropped. That’s some bay area love right there. Click past the break to see what everyone has been talking about.
By now I’m sure there is extensive coverage of this show up on every forum, blog, and auto site across the entire internet – so let me first thank you for sticking with NDF. There are a grip of sites out there to get content from, but I want you to know that, although new, NDF is here to stay. From where we are now, we can only get better. So I’ve gone through hundreds of photos and it looks like I still have two or three posts left for this show. Most car shows I just breeze through because I end up seeing the same stuff over and over; but since I don’t go to shows in the Bay area that often (I don’t go to care shows that often anyway; although I may attend more than I think!), I really got to see a lot of different things not from So-Cal. Enough with the talk, let’s get into some more coverage! I got some interesting stuff in this post, so click past the break for part three of NDF goes to Wekfest SF.
After two straight weeks of work, I finally managed to squeeze in a much needed day off. This past Wednesday I had plans to shoot my friends Z32 but, due to a scheduling conflict, had to cancel. Not being one to waste a day off, I sat down and thought of some other things to shoot for the website. I had remembered someone telling me last month that COBB Tuning had opened a new facility in Southern California; I had also remembered reading about an open house for their grand opening. Well, after I had looked into it, I realized their grand opening had already past on the 22nd. No big deal, I figured I’d go ahead and stop by because I had plans on going that direction anyway – and I’m glad that I did. The brand new, 10,000 square foot facility that COBB Tuning inhabits is extremely nice. Upon my arrival I introduced myself to Ronnie, one of the cool dudes in charge of sales & marketing, and they gladly showed me around the facility. Check out more past the break.
OK, so this STi technically isn’t a rally car; it’s actually a race car. However, I figured with Subaru’s ties to the WRC being so strong, I’d include it in the bunch. One of the coolest things about the Megaweb Festa was that show-goers could take turns riding shotty in all the rally spec cars – all smiles there I’m sure. If I had the opportunity I’d probably pretend to be the navigator, but I’d give all the directions in English so the Japanese drivers wouldn’t understand. They’d probably just get distracted and agitated at me – muhahaha. Check out some shots below the break.
I’ll admit, while there were many great builds at MOD this year, there weren’t too many that were built for full track dedication. Maybe that’s why this particular one caught my eye as a possible feature. I really can’t tell you much about it though – I couldn’t find the owner anywhere. It may be built with the assistance of Massimo Power; a specialist in EVO tuning. So for a few minutes, disregard my lack of knowledge, grab the popcorn and enjoy the crispy shots I snapped of it past the break.
Before I continue the coverage of the Skyline Festival, I figured I’d post up a walk around of the visitor’s lot, so you can get an idea of the caliber of the cars that weren’t in the actual show area. As usual, you can find some pretty cool stuff in these lots, as most enthusiasts pour their hearts into their own personal cars. You’ll see too, that even people who don’t own a Nissan can still appreciate the Skyline and what it has brought to the motorsports scene across the world. Click past the break for more.
Welcome back to the second post of our MOD coverage. I’ll start of the next batch of pictures with this LOT built EVO IX. I remember seeing this at the It’s JDM Yo! Anniversary meet, but couldn’t grab a good shot of it. I’m glad I got to see it again at this meet, as it is a very well put together car. Click past the break to see a few more EVO’s.
Disclaimer: Aside from the Evolution, I am not a fan of any model car that Mitsubishi has produced in the US. I respect the potential of a DSM engine, but as far as aesthetics go, ugly is the word. With that said, I should change the name of this post to ‘EOD – Evolution Owner’s Day’, because that is basically all that I shot. For that reason, some of you may get bored with this post. This meet had a full spectrum of Mitsu’s; everything from the cleanest built EVO’s to the worst looking and sounding Eclipses and Galant’s – no disrespect to the owners. So if you’re looking for shots of those or more complete coverage, check out Speedhunters in the next couple days because I know Mike Garrett was there clicking away as well. Click past the break to enjoy some shots of various Evolutions. This post is sponsored by D-Sport, the Import Tech magazine because they gave me free stickers. D-Sport!
I might as well just dive into part three of Wekfest coverage. This post is going to have a lot of Honda’s, and a lot of S2000’s – as if that were a bad thing. I was pretty surprised at the amount that were in attendance, and all of them were awesome. By this point I pretty much lost all determination to cover this show in an organized fashion, so most of these will appear scattered. Enjoy.
Let’s get on with some more Wekfest LA coverage from Long Beach, CA. I ended up writing this entire post before I even wrote the introduction. I never know how to start off the second part of event coverage. This second part has a huge variety of cars, which is pretty cool, but it made it look kind of sloppy. The grass section was gigantic and hard to cover methodically, so my pictures are a bit scattered. At this point I was also running purely on Red Bull and Skittles, so it’s likely that I got a little sidetracked. Oh well, enjoy.