It is very difficult to build a car that is spec’d to maximize performance at a wide variety of circuits. Especially in Japan, where the variety of race tracks can be very contrasting. What works at Tsukuba, would most likely underperform at Suzuka, and so on. When Tamura-san made the decision to start modifying his GDB Impreza, he wanted to ensure that the modifications he made had the greatest impact on his times.
To describe the RA-R Spec STi as rare would be somewhat of an understated representation of the chassis. In 2006, Subaru made just 300 units of the specially tuned GD based STi for the Japanese market; that accounts for less than 1% of Impreza’s manufactured in this generation.
Despite it’s pivotal role in guiding Lexus towards an evolutionary trajectory of car design, the ISF was a project that was often forsaken in favor of it’s European competitors. However, with over a decade since its initial release, many enthusiasts are finally realizing just how special this car really is.
Seeing as he lives all the way down in Kyushu, I consider myself lucky to have caught Nozaki and his FD at Fuji during Seven’s Day. I didn’t get the opportunity to see him at Autopolis Super Lap and was excited to see the build up close.
As the day wore on, and my duties track-side came to a close, I was afforded more time to spend wandering around the sea of RX-7’s on the other side of the grandstands.
Rotary Spirit was created in 2018 in an attempt to host the most comprehensive Seven’s Day meeting throughout all of Japan. This year marked the second annual event, and I happened to be at Fuji Speedway when the festivities were going down.
This 1995 Mazda RX-7, owned by someone choosing only to be referred to as ‘The Temple of Buddha’ (or something like that I don’t actually know), is so far off the grid that I normally operate on that when I saw it at Fuji the other week, I had to take a closer look.
While I was photographing a race at Fuji Speedway, I took some time to record a walk-through of the Seven’s Day event that was going on in the event paddock.
I came across this R32 GTR at Fuji a few weeks ago. It struck me as an almost ideal build; one that looks amazingly well, performs on track, and retains enough comfort to drive to and from the track. The dated body matched with Volk’s updated take on the TE37 works surprisingly well together. Hankook Ventus Z214 S-type tires ensure that the driver is able to utilize the full potential of the GTR. The time sheets indicated that the driver was able to snag a 2’02.xxx around Fuji Speedway. I never had an opportunity to talk to the owner and get more information, so photos will have to suffice. Enjoy.
Since I’ve been back from Japan, I’ve become so absorbed in a new project that I haven’t really set time aside to sort through the images I took while I was there. I was browsing Facebook this evening when I decided to reach out to Asano-san from Techno Pro Spirit to see how the testing went at Fuji Speedway. He and Kumakura were out there testing a few changes to get ready for the upcoming N2 race Hot Version is hosting next month.
Time Attack events typically take a back seat during the scorching hot, humid Summer months in Japan. Track conditions are far from ideal for breaking course records, or setting personal bests, so for the most part the sport lies dormant. Not to mention being strapped into a race car, covered head to toe in protective gear, with 100+ degree track temps isn’t fun no matter how into it you are. Even still, while the frequency of events slows, and major shops take the time to rebuild their demo cars; the sport doesn’t completely become extinguished. A fact proven by events like the Endless Circuit Meeting just last weekend at Fuji Speedway. An event that allows both professional tuners and enthusiasts to get in some track time during the off-season.
I’ve grown so accustomed to attending Attack events that highlight fully built race cars, that I often forget how much fun a street car that’s prepped for circuit racing can be. This type of compromise is so prominent in both Japan and the US, as in most cases it’s not practical for the majority to own a dedicated race car. I’ve recently acquired another Honda to build in this fashion, and it’s safe to say I’ve been on the lookout for street driven track cars. I happened across this S15 at Fuji last weekend and was pretty taken by it, so I thought I’d post a few photos.
During the Option Fuji Superlap, the Supra meisters from the Tokyo based Material Auto Factory had the most prominent display of JZA80’s in attendance. Some were competing in the main event, others competed in the Hiper Challenge, and some were on display at their booth. I had highlighted Tatsuo’s Supra in our previous coverage, and a viewer had spotted another of their cars in the background that had piqued their interest.
There are always the core shops that participate in the Super Lap event at HKS Premium Day annually. Names like Pro Shop Fukoh, Top Fuel, Garage G-Force, Auto Select, Esprit, Top Secret, Autech and the like; which is awesome because you get to see what amounts to basically a yearly update of how the cars have been getting on. Development in time attack moves just about as fast as the cars nowadays, so it’s no surprise to see builds looking completely different year over year, as they put more and more research into obtaining as much aerodynamic grip as possible.
HKS Premium Day has always been a must-go event for me. It’s an all day event held at a track that’s reasonably close to Yokohama. Because of this, I don’t feel the pressure I usually do at smaller events where I’m pressed for time. It’s a lot more fun for me, and typically I end up taking a lot less photos as I have time to just wander around and look at stuff. Since it’s inception, the event has served as the proverbial ‘whos-who’ of big names in Japanese motor sport. HKS always does a great job of ensuring there are plenty of attractions to keep the fans entertained.
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.
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.
About two years ago I stumbled across Morita-san’s EVO browsing through Minkara; although at the time, I only knew him by his internet handle ‘Hanipon’. I had never seen an EVO 6 as aggressive as his, and after exploring his build a little further, instantly became a fan. Suffice to say I was a little shocked when he reached out to me randomly in an email at the beginning of the year. We exchanged a few words, I sent him some decals, and as some things happen to work out, he was able to make the drive down from Saitama to attend our FRSxNDF meeting last month. Never one to pass on opportunity, we scheduled a photo shoot at Fuji shortly after. I was already impressed with the presence of this build online, but it was nothing compared to what the car looks like in person.
I feel that the aftermarket companies that support older chassis don’t get enough credit. To produce new parts for an application that is constantly diminishing in population isn’t something easily committed to. It takes a dedication, and a love for motor sport, to appeal to these cars. As time passes, because we’re so enthralled by the cars of the 80’s and 90’s, we don’t recognize just how old some of these cars are. The FC, for example, made it’s debut in 1985; celebrating it’s 30th birthday just last year. Appreciating the everlasting potential of these cars is something worth noting, and Atsushi-san of Shizuoka does just that with his Tamon Designs clad RX7.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Exciting Car Sports indeed, Wacky Mate. Expand to see more of the WM FD3S take on Fuji Speedway to the tune of 1’51.759.
The 2JZ powered Z32 built by C&Y Sports has adapted a much more aggressive looks since last we saw it. While it does look more the part, the cosmetics of this car aren’t the only thing that’s come a long way. The car, since 2013, has consistently improved it’s lap times around the famous Fuji Circuit.
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.
White; the presence of all. An achromatic array of all that’s visible in our spectrum.
It’s pure. It’s wholeness. It’s completion. A reflection of all.
It is everything without anything. It’s a complicated simplicity. In psychology, it stands for new beginnings, a clean slate; for setting a new standard. It’s only appropriate then, that Top Fuel chose to dress their time attack dominating S2000-RR in a shade of white.
Cockpit Tatebayashi, purveyor of all things under the umbrella of Japanese automotive parts, proves to us once again that they are not restrained by chassis or make when it comes to tuning cars. No doubt the producers of variety, their newest car to make an appearance at Fuji is this tastefully tuned E46 M3.
My first encounter with T-Get came in the form of a R35 GTR; the last team car they commissioned at HKS Premium Day in 2014. That car, however, was visually very factory looking, with only a GT wing and mild canard setup added to the exterior (if I recall correctly it was still on factory wheels). Their 2015 entrant, the shop R34, is quite the contrast from the previous years.
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.
Kiyosu City, in the heart of Nagoya, is home to Shell Engineering; a shop that focuses on the total tuning of both circuit and street cars. Kogai-san, the owner, unveiled his newest project 86 at HKS Premium Day this year. Cloaked in the complete Blitz Aero Speed package, the new body panels are coated in a richly dark blue/black color that, much like the shop, elicits an aura of mystery; a mystery that sets this 86 apart from the rest.
When Eiichiro Sawa founded Osaka based Auto Select in the early 80’s, his main goal was to share his knowledge of tuning and racing spirit with not only his friends, but with a wider range of enthusiasts as well. In 1985, after establishing himself in the industry of aftermarket tuning, the popular magazine Carboy did a feature on Auto Select that highlighted Eiichiro’s story; this story resulted in a tremendous boost in customer base. Their decades of continuous R&D of new parts and tuning methods has kept them alive through many lulls in the industry, and is a major reason why they’re so well known to date. You’d be hard pressed to attend an attack event in Japan, or a motor sport event in general, without the Auto Select flag being flown.
The last time I saw this car was literally a year ago; and I can tell you, it looked nothing like this. Yes, this is the same FD chassis that PanSpeed commissioned last year at HKS Premium Day, except that this year the car has gone through quite a cosmetic transformation. Actually, you can see it’s previous reiteration here. Over the course of last year, the car was stripped of it’s exterior and fitted with an entirely new aero kit that PanSpeed has been developing. I know this is a bit late in the day, but I finally stopped fiddling with my new audio equipment that I got for the new Podcast long enough to get the article out.
One of the funner things to do when the action on track grinds to a halt due to delays in the race, or fluid clean ups, is to walk around the paddock where the owners of the race cars and teams park their daily drivers. Case in point, this Ferrari 360 that was nonchalantly parked amongst mini-vans and flatbeds at Fuji.
On many occasions, probably due to lack of my creativity, I’ve written excerpts on this site comparing certain managerial techniques to a variety of car builds. That may or may not have something to do with my education and work background in the business sector, but I feel it’s something I can comfortably relate to. These topics, at surface level, I would imagine to be somewhat obscure on an automotive website. The truth of the matter is, in almost all regards, the processes discussed are very much applicable to time attack builds. The practice of Continual Improvement is one such business practice, and in the realm of time attack, not many shops demonstrate this practice better than Esprit in the ongoing development of their NSX.