Growing up with his father, Akira, Yusaku Shibata was embraced with motor sport from the moment he arrived in this world. His life would see him behind the wheel of numerous race cars throughout a number of series, and eventually coming full circle to own and operate the tuning shop his father founded in 1985; ARVOU Motor Sports Service.
Before we headed out to Buttonwillow Raceway for the Club Racer event back on the 25th, I needed to address the issue with the new iCode exhaust we installed on the ISF; specifically, how it was melting my rear bumper.
This season of time attack has been quite exciting. With events being held multiple times a week leading up to the Attack Championship at Tsukuba, we’ve seen many records being broken, incredible progress on builds across the paddock, new rivalries forming, as well as a handful of new entrants stepping into the ring. The anticipation in the days leading into Attack Tsukuba were as high as ever.
With time attack in Japan being dominated mostly by an older generation, modern government regulations, and a waning interest in automotive culture in Japan’s urban centers, it often leaves us questioning if the allure of motor sports is bright enough to draw in new participants. There are arguments that can be made on both sides, however, we tend to agree that it is as bright as ever, and conversing with individuals like Shoya Okumura only helps to solidify our feelings on the subject; and we’re not alone.
After an arduous and rather busy off season, we’re finally back behind the wheel of the ISF for more testing. Scaling up the company this past year had unfortunately pushed this project down on the list of priorities, but we’re excited to be able to post some updates again.
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.
The ‘Kagayaki’ (かがやき) is a high speed train service that operates between Tokyo and Kanazawa on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. It is jointly owned by JR East and JR West, and is the fastest train on this particular line reaching speeds of up to 260kph. It also served as the inspiration for the livery and overall appearance of Oya-Ji’s widebody Evolution 5.
Within Japan’s small group of elite tuners, there lies a select few who continuously take it among themselves to set the bar higher; taking their chosen projects and transforming them into something more akin to a factory backed race program. The team at M’s Machine Works, led by Takayuki Mizumoto, are a shining example of this, and exactly why they were chosen to be featured in 80R Volume 3.
We’ve all experienced the ebb and flow of motivation; the slow, but seemingly permanent, oscillation of decline and growth in development. Albeit difficult to admit it for the majority of us, as time passes, our incentives naturally change. That is, until we come across a new catalyst that stokes the tides in the favor of progress. Such was the case with Hiroki Sakamoto.
In the realm of time attack racing in Japan, when one mentions the Silvia S15, our mind wanders automatically to Under Suzuki and his quest for a sub 50 lap time at Tsukuba. However, with the growing determination of Toru Inose’s campaign, that mindset has slowly been shifting.
Continuing into the new year with our 80R Archive series, I’d like to introduce the Wacky Mate built GTR32, driven by none other than Kato Masayoshi himself. Currently the second fastest R32 at Tsukuba, and what I believe is still the fastest R32 at Suzuka Circuit.
I had the opportunity to see what was left of Tokue’s EK shell during my last trip to Garage Work early in 2019. Iwata didn’t want me to photograph it, for various reasons, but for a fan of the Honda Civic, I can only describe the scene as melancholy.
The new season of Attack kicked off on the weekend of October 25th with the always anticipated Attack Tohoku event at Sportsland Sugo; a track that, with it’s lush forested backdrop, and unique layout, has quickly become among my favorites in Japan.
When the Good Luck Festival driver lineup was announced towards the middle of last October, I was quite surprised to see the Kurumadoh S2000 on the list. Not that this car is a stranger to the circuit, but that Sportsland Sugo is very far from the shops home base in Oshu City.
There aren’t many NSX as iconic as Epsrit’s 900 horsepower demo car. A longitudinally mounted C30, with twin turbos, a custom aero package, piloted by one of Japan’s most iconic racing drivers; it’s a recipe that’s hard to beat. That’s why we had planned on featuring it front and center in Volume 3 of 80R.
With the down time I’ve had due to an inability to travel, I began organizing my media storage several months ago in an attempt to be proactive in how I store all of the assets I’ve accumulated over the years. What I thought was going to be a simple sorting exercise, turned into an idea to publish a photo book showcasing my time spent around race tracks in Japan.
Since we last spoke in person back in February, Sato has been keeping me filled in on the progress of his FD build over the past few months. Determined to have the car ready for Attack next season, the progression has been rapid to say the least.
Tom Nook And The Economy – April 17, 2020 Kristian and I go over questions and comments related to adjusting to ‘the new norm’ and we talk to Duane about how business has changed for […]
It’s always exciting to see new builds get unveiled each year. It shows progression of the sport; both in the growth of drivers and the need to increase the performance of their cars. In the case of Kengo ‘Lock’ Suzuki, it was an interesting combination of both that led to what you see here.
General Tso’s Coffee Grinder – March 26, 2020 Socially distanced inside the Unit B office, Christopher Wong and I discuss the financial savings of grocery shopping, why conical burr coffee grinders are essential to a […]
Some of the most seemingly small modifications we can do to cars, often have the largest impacts; especially when you’re talking about visuals. The exterior of cars that we build have a direct reflection of our personalities, and are one of the main ways we express ourselves through cars.
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.
It’s always enjoyable when we get to see a variety of car makes at race events across Japan. And while it’s true that domestic built cars dominate the circuits of the island, every once in awhile we’re treated with some love from Europe. Among them, it could be argued that none are more iconic than the cars from RWB.
Two Very Big Words – March 19, 2020 The day is March 19th, and at Midnight Pacific Standard Time, California will be on lock-down in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19; a respiratory […]
The energy that the time attack community in Japan has for this motor sport is unmatched by any other country, and I can say this with the utmost confidence. It’s a source of propulsion for the entire attack community and something that I feel has a positive impact not just in Japan, but throughout the world.
I ran into Mitsuyoshi at Suzuka Circuit late January during the Attack event after not having seen him or his car for some time. Having a background in drifting has given him a strong grasp of car control, and now with a car that’s becoming finely tuned, his lap times have been getting very quick.
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.
With the Super GT Championships kicking off each year around April, Tokyo Auto Salon is scheduled at the perfect time off-season for competitors to showcase their 2019 season winning cars, as well as their new 2020 builds. One of the main reasons I attended the Salon this year was to get a closer look.
Let me preface this post by saying that the amount of travel to spend a single day in Japan is surprisingly achievable. It’s not like I would recommend it, there are definitely more efficient ways to go about it, but to say it wasn’t a fun experience wouldn’t be wholly true; at the very least it’s a conversation starter.
On the last weekend of October, Sugo Sportsland played host to the 2019 Attack event, officially kicking off time attack season in Japan. The event, which typically has a smaller turnout due to location, was paired with the Goodluck Challenge; a local motor sport event at Sugo.
A walk through the paddock at Sugo Sportsland during the recent Attack event. Sugo usually hosts a smaller group of drivers due to it’s distance from Tokyo, but the ones that do attend are very serious. Check out our behind the scenes video of the action…and the downtime.
Every so often I like to check in on cars and drivers that we’ve spotlighted in the past to see how the development of their build is going. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to talk to Tajima Hirotsugu about his Nismo 380RS, but that was months ago and he’s been busy over the off-season.
Haven’t done an Encounter post in quite some time now. I usually reserve them for random cars that I come across that seem worth sharing with everyone. This particular car fit the bill almost perfectly.
In the most recent post about my trip to Sugo I mentioned shooting a little video before I had the opportunity to photograph Escorts EVO 9 – well, here is that video!
Last week, Escort founder and owner Hiroshi Shiobara invited me out to Sugo Sportsland the Saturday before the Attack event to get a closer look at the team’s rebuilt Evo and to get a closer look into their test program. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to see their process in person, I would gladly make the drive to Sendai Saturday morning.