Back in November I had attended Super Lap Battle at Buttonwillow, not to cover the event, but more or less just to hang out with friends and chat about racing. It’s nice to reserve my local events for spectating and socializing rather than work, however there were a few cars in attendance I wanted to grab a couple photos of.
Attack Tsukuba is one of the most anticipated time attack events of the year in Japan. NDF was on hand to to provide a walk through of the paddock area, an overview of drivers and cars, as well as on track action during super lap at the famed TC2000 course at Tsukuba.
The day before the Attack Tsukuba Championship event at TC2000 (February 21, 2020), the organizer Zummy holds an event that allows competitors the ability to practice and get their cars set up properly for Attack. A lot of times the event is just as exciting as Attack and this year was no exception.
The end of January saw my return to Suzuka Circuit after a 3 year absence from the international racing course. After 2017, the timing of events in Suzuka were just always out of reach for my current schedule; needless to say, I was excited for my return in 2020.
The day before the Attack event at Suzuka took place, the circuit held an open test day that many of the main participants took advantage of. I happened to time my arrival to the course with just enough time left in the day to grab a few shots before heading to the track hotel.
It’s been a busy couple weeks for me between work, traveling (Google tells me I’ve been to 3 countries, 19 cities and 53 places in January alone), and preparing for next week’s pre-order shipments (yay!). It hasn’t left me with much time to process photos from the first Attack event of the year at Suzuka Circuit.
Take a walk through the paddock of Suzuka Circuit the day before, and the day of Attack Suzuka last weekend. There was an intimate amount of cars for this half day event, which ensured the heavy hitters had plenty of track time.
Coming out of a two year hiatus, Justin Yoo returns to CVR for the NDF Attack Challenge hosted by VTEC Club and is met with surprising success.
There is no doubt that the shear excitement of driving a purpose-built race car on the edge is enough for any driver to justify the money and work that gets put into building it. Although, surprisingly there are very few people that understand the actual amount of work that goes into building a race car; Amir Bentatou is not one of those people.
Without a doubt, Philip Robles has become a household name in the time attack scene around the Southwestern US. Having competed in a wide variety of sanctioned events throughout Arizona and California over the past several years, he has solidified his place among motor sport’s most dedicated drivers.
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.
If you happen to follow our Facebook or Instagram page, you may have noticed a few images promoting an upcoming event we’re headlining with the organizers of VTEC Club. NDF Attack Challenge is our take on emulating a Japanese style of time attack that is not often found in the States. Naturally, with the countries being almost polar opposites of one another (in both size, demographic, and culture), there are some very notable differences between the execution of the two; the most striking difference being that of classing.
It may be obvious to most people, but after surrounding myself with Japan’s fastest time attack cars, I often times need to remind myself that there are several cars not built to an extreme that are very noteworthy. In fact, sometimes its the cars that are very tastefully modified that stand out the most; as is the case with Yuma Koide’s EK9. While the bright blue exterior is quick to catch the eye of a passerby, it’s what you don’t see that keeps you staring.
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.
Winning just one first place trophy, for any class, in the World Time Attack Challenge would be a lifetime achievement for most people. Claiming two would be a way to show the world that it wasn’t a fluke. However, taking that top podium spot three times would undoubtedly leave a mark on the time attack world that not many teams can achieve. A true champion can prove that they have what it takes to keep winning; evolving to meet new challenges. That’s precisely what the guys at JDM Yard have done.
I was looking through my hard-drives searching for a particular image I’m using for a project that I’ve been working on and came across a folder full of cars that I had meant to share a few months ago but, for a multitude of reasons, never got around to it. One of the cars was an Accord Euro-R I happened upon at Fuji Speedway. The owner mentioned that he was local to the Fuji area and has his car tuned at the Yamanashi-based shop C.S. Polsche. I like seeing these street oriented builds at major circuits, so I took a few moments to look it over.
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’d wager that ASLAN, the Osaka based Honda outfit, is one of the leading shops in the development of K-series Honda swaps in Japan. Following in the footsteps of America, it didn’t take long for them to capitalize on the benefits of the next generation motor. Having no adherence to a traditional form of tuning like some shops abide by, Tani-san’s approach to building cars becomes very unique to say the least; giving each a very specific, what I can only surmise as an ‘Osaka flavor’ to them.
There seems to be at least one privateer in every class of time attack that is always looming just behind the top teams record times. They typically don’t have the resources afforded to them from owning a shop, and usually rely on the knowledge of a particular ‘support’ shop to assist them in getting their cars to where they want them. Despite their disadvantage, they close the gap to the frontrunners of the sport, time and time again. Yoshitaka Ishii and his bright green S2000 are a prime example of this.
There are so many cool builds in the paddock of any given Attack event in Japan, that I often fail to acknowledge just how in-depth some of the builds are. As the sport progresses, and the participants seek to go faster and faster, their machines eventually begin to become a reflection of their drive. Putting budget aside, I’d have to say that the ASM Yokohama S2000 is one of the premiere examples of this idea. This particular build, which ASM has been developing for over a decade, all but reached the peak of it’s very active life in the last weekend of February.
It seems like ages since I’ve driven my car, and at the pace that life seems to be moving recently that wouldn’t even be an exaggeration. It’s been well over two years since I’ve written of any progress (publicly – I keep a notebook), and just about a year and a half since I’ve driven the thing. I can honestly say, however, that over the past 6 months there hasn’t been a day that I wasn’t focused on finishing this build. In these past two years I’ve learned more about the nuances specific to building Honda’s than I have in my entire life; from engine building and wiring to fabrication and fluid dynamics. It hasn’t been easy, but thankfully I have some amazingly talented friends that have helped along the way.
This past weekend, Willow Springs International Raceway once again played host to the annual, all-Honda, VTEC Club event; Autumn Speed Festival. Since the inaugural event last year, it’s one of the only events I look forward to attending here in the US (actually in the past two years it’s the only event I’ve attended). While VTEC Club usually runs alongside another facilitating vendor to host their normal events, Autumn Speed Festival’s attendance, and management are proof that, time forbidding, the organization can survive on it’s own. With over 80 registered drivers, the pits were packed with Honda driver’s both veteran and new, ready to take on the ‘fastest road in the West’; Big Willow.
This past weekend I was able to knock out a lot of work on the car. For whatever reason I had this idea in my head that the rest of the build would be smooth sailing after the new motor setup got tuned; boy was I wrong. Getting the motor running properly was a huge milestone, but it far from marked the completion of the build. There is still much to do, and among them was to replace the overweight front calipers with a reliable, lightweight alternative – APG Performance answered that call.
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.
In the realm of time attack, most often than not, the phrase ‘less is more’ can be aptly applied in most circumstances (I think power and tire size being the exception). Even those competing in street cars forgo the extra amenities in favor of shedding overall weight in their car; a willing sacrifice if it means quicker times. More and more we see entries into the sport that push the boundaries of limited modifications; some even entering the circuit with untouched motors. Such is the case with Shoutarou and his Integra – a pair that push simplicity to it’s limit.
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.
Something happened last month that honestly didn’t get the recognition it deserved; at least from publications that I frequent. In hindsight I probably should have made it more of a priority to highlight the news on my end other than social media, but in my defense I was busy with work and part of me wanted to wait until I talked to a few people about it. When a guy like Suzuki Under breaks records it’s, because of his amassed following, it’s pretty easy to hear information about it. I remember when he clocked the 50.746 back in December everyone I knew was talking about it; and rightly so, it’s amazing. So when I heard that during last month’s Attack Tsukuba Championship, Yusuke had broken the 57 second barrier to clock a lap time of 56.748 I thought the internet would explode.
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.
Even in sunny Southern California, the mid-day heat is giving way to brisk mornings and chilly evenings; a sign that Summer has finally, albeit very late, left us. The ushering in of the holidays reminds us we’re already well into the Fall season, and with that comes a time that everyone involved with this website is very excited for; Attack season. Japan kicked off with a rather casual shakedown/practice meeting at Tsukuba this past week, while here in the States, VTEC Club held their first all Honda Autumn Speed Festival. Two strikingly similar events where many personal bests were broken.
At the last VTEC Club event I attended (which admittedly due to time constraints was quite awhile ago), Kristian and I met Juan Rodriguez, the owner of this EM1. It was the first time we’d seen the car at any event really, and as soon as I saw it towards the back of the paddock at Buttonwillow it immediately caught my eye; for a few reasons.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.