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.
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.
Tajima Hirotsugu embodies the traditional spirit of a motoring enthusiast. With his first venture to the circuit taking place back in the late 1990’s, he’s been driving in time attack for the better part of 20 years.
Takanori Seyama has never been one to turn away from a challenge; choosing to define himself by his hard work and willingness to sail through uncharted waters on his own. His hard work has proven itself in the fabrication of his GTR32, which has crowned itself among the fastest Skyline’s in Japan.
At the very end of last year I had posted a few photos of the build progress of this car on the website. Since then, aside from social media and the release of 80R, I haven’t really gone over this car in detail yet because I wanted to save the main reveal for the book. Now that the last of the books that have the feature are slated to be dispatched next week, I figure now is a good time to release some previously unseen photos of the car right after it’s completion.
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.
I don’t think it’s a secret that I prefer racing events to car shows. One look at the past articles on this site will paint a pretty clear picture. I get a lot of questions regarding if I’d ever consider hosting a meet here in the US; and the answer is generally ‘I don’t think so’ (maybe an invite only track event…). Despite it being held almost 4 years ago, the Winter Cafe was overwhelming for just 2 people to manage and I’d hate to run into that situation again. That’s precisely whey we began these little casual meetings between NDF and FRS.
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.
From the time I began to take an interest in Japanese Time Attack, I’ve had the chance to see Takanori Seyama’s R32 evolve year after year, slowly transforming into one of the countries fastest GTR’s. With that one fact being known, you’d think that the car would be a household name for fans of the sport. However, Takanori keeps such a low profile that the exposure of his build doesn’t quite hit the reach that others do. It’s a testament to his humble character that, despite knocking on the door of 53’s, he’s a frontrunner that tends to stay in the shadows.
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.
There’s something to be said about the privateers that push the limits of what they can achieve in a street-trimmed car. When it comes to modifying cars, abiding by the restrictions of the state isn’t something most people are looking forward to doing. However, there are those that don’t mind the constraints. Those that look forward to the challenge, and prefer to have the convenience of a street car in addition to a car they can track regularly. Tamiya-san’s entire ethos is to see how much he can push his GTR under these regulations.
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.
I had the real pleasure of shooting Ame’s car underneath the Yokohama Bay Bridge back in 2014 before the Winter Cafe. Back then we had talked a bit online, but that was the first time I met him in person, and being a bit humbled at the time, wasn’t really up to asking many questions. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to stay in touch, and continue our friendship from a distance. The car has also undergone some fairly dramatic changes, so when I visited Nagano at the end of last year, I jumped at the chance to photograph the car again in it’s evolved state. This time, I had the intentions of re-writing an article not just about the car, but about the owner as well.
You may remember Takaya’s 180 from our little FRS pop-up meet at Fuji last year. At the beginning of the year he was involved in an accident at the track that resulted in a necessary rebuilding of his front end. Instead of going the easy route and buy OTS parts once again to replace the ones he had, he decided he wanted to do something totally different. A one off kit, hand crafted by his good friend Masao, that would be sure to get the attention of enthusiasts on a global scale.
Of all the different types of Nissan chassis’s competing in time attack around the world, it’s fairly rare to see the GTR33 among them. It’s definitely the lesser of the chosen Skyline models for road racing, and if I’m speaking honestly, I’m not overly sure why. It is a bit heavier than the 32, but not too far off of the 34. It’s longer wheelbase leaves it prone to a bit more understeer, and some might say it’s lacking in the looks department (now that I list the reasons, I see why). Perhaps the R33 was just born to be the middle-child; loved, but not destined to be a favorite. There are some people, however, that refuse to believe the popular mindset, and work outward from the R33’s positive traits to create something so overtly great, you can’t help but like it.
It’s been 3 years since I had the privilege of seeing ATTKD’s GTR take on the titans of Japanese time attack at Fuji Speedway. Witnessing the somewhat lesser known car back then clock times within seconds of the fastest at the time was something that really impressed me. I know it’s not intentional, but when cars like the Top Secret S2000RR and HKS R35 GT1000 take center stage, their opponents seem to get put on the back burner. When the ATTKD GTR32 hits the track though, it’s performance alone will demand the attention back from everyone in attendance.
There are few companies these days that go out of their way to cultivate a culture of quality. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people to squeeze out as much profit as possible from mediocre products, sacrificing integrity for a quick buck. While it may be the more difficult route, those companies that are dedicated to ensuring the experience of buying and owning a product goes further than just fulfilling a desire, are the companies that are likely to be around for years to come. The Nagano based tuning shop, Garage Mak, falls into this category, ensuring that the reputation of their brand comes before all else.
Years ago I had the good fortune of befriending a couple of Garage Mak customers who have close relationships with the Miyagawa brothers; owners of the Nagano based tuning powerhouse, Garage Mak. Amemiya, Tsubaki, Seki, and others, have become good friends of mine, and have also given me the opportunity to meet, and work with, the two men behind one of Japan’s most comprehensive tuning shops. This last week I made the drive out to Nagano again to talk to Tatsuhiro and Kazunori Miyagawa about the upcoming Attack season, and get a better look at their new line of R35 GTR aero.
Tucked away in the Southern countryside of Gunma, situated on a corner just behind a beautifully scarce rice field, in a very cliche Japanese building, lies a haven of meticulously crafted engine bays that rivals that of any other shop in the country. In fact, if you weren’t looking for it, it wouldn’t be hard to pass it by, writing it off as just another unmarked building in the foreground. The unassuming tuning shop Auto House Solid, is owned and operated by Hayashi Kazuyaki; the foremost authoritarian on what a clean motor package should look like.
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.
RS-Takagi is a tuning shop that specializes in Nissan applications, namely the 180 and Skyline, that’s based in the Gifu Prefecture; just Northwest of Nagoya. Their demo cars range from extremely high powered drag cars, to very well-balanced time attack cars – they even assist in some drift events. The owner states that no customer request is too big or too small, and that they are able to tailor projects to meet any customer’s needs.
Highend Makers isn’t exactly a household name in motorsports today, and, quite frankly, up until a year ago I wasn’t even aware of the outfit. The shop, located on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, has made a name for itself this past year at the Attack Suzuka events. Being located far from the epicenter of Japanese motor sport, the shop gets few opportunities to test their builds in comparison to shops in the Kanto, Kanagawa, and Kansai areas that we’re used to seeing. It’s a big production for them to have a good showing at time attack events, and a venue like Suzuka is well worth the trip.
For over 30 years now, Eiichiro Sawa and the Auto Select staff have been tuning and racing cars throughout Japan. Using the knowledge they gain from track events, they’ve been able to succeed in developing quality parts that work well alongside their OE companions. Over the years Auto Select has made a niche for themselves in the GTR market and, as a result, have several demo and customer cars that frequent time attack events regularly. This gives them the ability to collect a wide-range of data from cars built in varying degrees; from street cars to dedicated track cars. All of which they can take back to their headquarters in Osaka, and use in development of their future services.
I almost didn’t recognize the Step-Up Z33 without it’s massive rear diffuser and front splitter attached to it’s exterior. The car in this state takes on an almost street car look, aside from the chassis mounted GT wing. It wasn’t running in the Attack event, but was there supporting other drivers. I would have liked to see how it performed around Suzuka in the wet compared to some of the other similarly powered RWD cars. I included a video of a hot lap around Suzuka below.
Friends Racing and their re-purposed drift Silvia have made quite the comeback over the past year or so. Making the transformation from the GReddy backed D1 Grand Prix competitor, to a record chasing time attack build was no easy task for the small Tochigi-based outfit. It took the company a few years to get the car to where it’s at now; a journey that is paying off in blindingly fast lap times.
Really nice S14 that was lapping around TC2000. The interior was very clean and had a very well constructed roll cage with gusseted B-pillars. The owner was lapping in the low 1’01.xx range throughout the morning.
Last weekend our friend Franklin had come down to our area to grab dinner before he left on vacation to British Columbia. I hadn’t seen him in quite some time and it was nice to catch up over sushi. As an added bonus, he brought down his newly made-over Z32 and I was able to snap some pictures in front of our shop. Click past the break to see more.
The beauty of being involved in a global hobby is that you get the opportunity to connect with a multitude of awesome people. I’m fortunate that the majority of them come from simply supporting the website; I need not travel further than my inbox to find a handful. I try to answer everyone in a timely manner, but sometimes I get really backed up. It just so happens though, that this week I’ve been held captive in my own home due to knee surgery. While the inability to move has it’s downsides, it has allowed me to catch up with correspondence. This weekend I was able to chat with Masao Otani, a resident of Chiba who happens to be associated with a mutual friend of mine. I’ve been following his build for awhile now, but until we talked, I had no idea just how parallel his mindset was with that of NDF.
Back in November we took a close look at the Shaft built ER34 Skyline at the Attack event at Tsukuba; you can check that article out here. Being the immense admirer of four-door Skylines that I am, I shot a whole bunch more photos of it at Battle Evome this year. After talking to Suzuki personally about the car, I gained a whole new level of respect for the build.
Car Modify Wonder had several cars on hand to introduce their somewhat new lineup of Glare aero parts, and as usual, they did not disappoint. It’s refreshing to see a truly unique and creative offering, especially for older chassis’. It’s a stark contrast from what we’ve recently been used to seeing; which is more or less a cookie cutter approach to exterior styling (I don’t need to say anymore than that for you to catch my drift). Check out the shots below and let me know what you think.
Shaft Auto Service, a small outfit in Hachioji that specializes in four door Skylines. Foremost a car dealership that holds inventory in a wide variety of Skylines, the owner, Shibuya Taro, offers many ancillary services ranging in everything from fiberglass work, to engine tuning. Usually a company that stays off the grid, you’d easily recognize their work with the D1 Blitz R34 that Nomuken drives; as Taro-san has a very good relationship with Blitz. This year they decided to try their hand with a certain take on Time Attack; in steps the Shaft ER34.
Mizuno-Spec heated at Umihotaru ~
It’s always memorable to meet new people (most of the time anyway), especially if you’re a fan of their work or if you share the same interests. It’s even more memorable, however, if there is something attached to that meeting that makes it stand out among the many other encounters we experience. In this case, in my meeting of Damon and Tony, that memorable event came in the form of a Shawano, Wisconsin Sheriff.
When I left off the first post, I had just got done making my rounds in the pit, getting acquainted with a few people, and generally just getting a lay of the land. It was my first time at US Air and really wasn’t familiar with any of the track layout. After Mico introduced me to Nick from Touge Factory, I was able to get a media pass and head out to the infield to start getting some shots of the open practice session that was going on.
Being on an airplane nearly every week for the last year has somewhat numbed me to the miracle of flight. Commercial airlines have figuratively made the world a much smaller, and more obtainable place. The opportunity of creating new relationships and experiences are increased exponentially because of our ability to understand flight. As I travel for work quite frequently, I often have to step back and view the act existentially as to remind myself of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the help of those winged metal tubes. Arriving home Thursday after a 4 day stint in Tucson, Arizona, I had one day to catch up on work, and gather my camera gear, as I had made the decision to make my way Northeast on Friday night.