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.
Just before the last weekend of January I flew out to Kyushu to attend the Autopolis Super Lap event. Having never visited this particular course, I was lowkey very excited for this weekend. Unfortunately, the gods were at odds that day, and it was no sooner than I had touched down at Kumamoto airport that I received a message from Shimada-san of Kyush Danji that the event was cancelling because the entire circuit was blanketed in snow.
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.
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.
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.
Last month, when I went to Advance, there was a customer’s NSX parked on the street next to Masahiro’s. After taking chatting and taking some pictures of Yagi’s S15, I snapped a few stills of the NSX duo.
With the year’s new Summer taking no time to bare it’s teeth, 107 degree temperatures plagued the desert at Round 5 of the 2015 VTEC Club series. Willow Springs International Raceway played host to the season’s final round, where competitors gathered to claim the last points available in each run group. While the heat may have hindered some, there were a few drivers that were able to grab personal bests despite the weather, and lap times that secured victories for each class.
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.
On the Sunday of February 22nd, VTEC Club held the second event of their 5 round season at Big Willow at Willow Springs International Raceway. The excitement and success of the first round no doubt carried through to the club’s follow up event with, once again, over 50 entrants participating. To say the day was perfect though, would be a stretch. The week leading up to the event, the temps in Southern California had steadily been dropping, and rain was on the forecast for race weekend. Ryan was once again on hand to grab some shots of the event.
“If you build it, they will come.”
While I wouldn’t necessarily call Streets of Willow a “Field of Dreams”, I will admit that Kevin Costner’s iconic line applies well in this situation. The organizers of VTEC Club, a Honda specific spin off of Extreme Speed events, have successfully created not just a niche event, but are well on their way to (possibly accidentally) creating an entirely new community of race fans.
Awhile ago, I had messaged my friend Masahiro that I was in the area and if he was at the ADVANCE, I would stop by to say hello. Fortunately he was there, and while Sekinei made a quick trip to the DMV, I was able to chat with him and snap some pictures around the shop. There’s always something new going on here, as many of the NSX owner’s (and other car enthusiasts in general) in the Kanagawa area know, ADVANCE is one of the most knowledgeable shops for their chassis. When I arrived, one of the lead techs, Yagihashi, was working on a white NA1 but was able to take a break to chat.
With the passing of Rev Speed earlier in the month, we can formally mark the onset of attack season in Japan; and without a doubt, no other group of privateers stand out […]
Masahiro-san invited me to stop by Advance the other evening to check out a customer’s NSX that was coming all the way from Shizuoka to get, among other things, a new differential installed. I’ll begin […]
Sekinei stopped by Daikoku this past weekend for the first time in quite awhile. It just so happens that Idjiri-san and his friend ‘Sardony’ had cruised through as well. I’ve posted a few […]
In the empty back lot of Fuji Speedway, interceding between the rolling green hills and the cloud engulfed mountains, we encountered this lone NSX; parked almost as if to add to the beautiful […]
What a day… I hope everyone else had a much better Wednesday than I did. I’m just getting home from a 12 hour work day, with a 2 hour break in between that […]
I’ll dive right into the second part of my Autocon coverage because I don’t really know any other way to do it. Actually, there are quite a few BMW’s in this post; which […]
This past weekend in Los Angeles we had beautiful weather. Somewhat cloudy, probably high 60’s/low 70’s, nice cool breeze; it was gorgeous. Which normally wouldn’t make me think twice, but because this Sunday was […]
Typhoon drenched circuits definitely provide ample practice for racing in the rain; as was the case a few weeks ago at Honjo Circuit in Saitama. This NSX and it’s owner wouldn’t let a little […]
We pick up about 30 minutes before the general admission gates were opened, and the flood of people in line started to pour into the grounds. As Yuta and I left the […]
This weekend I took part in a car show that, over the past years, has been growing tremendously. Not just in size, but in organization as well. Putting on an event of this size isn’t […]
Taking some extra time to edit this shot of Hannita-san’s NA2 staging up for an attack of TC2000, and I thought I’d share. Going through a judging phase on some shots that may be […]
One night in Yokohama, my friend and I went out to dinner to a restaurant in LaLa Port; a giant shopping center near Kamoi station. If you remember my last post about Advance, you’ll […]
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 […]
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 […]
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting a shop that I have had on my list for quite some time; Advance Flatout. I’ve known about this shop and it’s involvement in […]
So, it was 5am and the only thing I could think about was getting caffeine into my system; not if my friend was going to be late, not if it was going to rain […]
I was setting up Mana’s car for a differnt angle during a photoshoot at a PA on the Expressway one afternoon, when I hear this growling off in the distance. I stepped up on […]
Yesterday evening More Japan held a garage sale at their headquarters in Torrance. It was held later in the day, so most of us were free to attend. They had a raffle going on for […]
Well, it’s about that time to start wrapping up the show coverage. I was planning on posting the third and final round of coverage this weekend, but ended up working, as well as temporarily acquiring a vinyl cutter. The latter occurrence took up the majority of my Monday so I wasn’t able to work on getting the post up. Oh well, I have some time tonight and will do just that. We pick up mid-afternoon when the show was really getting busy. The turnout was really, really good for it being the first East coast show that Weksos has put on. I was very happy for everyone involved at the success of the day. I don’t really have much else to say in this post that hasn’t already been stated. In this post we’ll take a closer look at some of the nice Hondas at the show, as well as a look at the roll-out. Again, you’ll be able to see the insane amount of variety that these Wekfest shows provide. Just click past the break and enjoy the rest of the shots.
It’s 2 am on Saturday morning, I don’t have work tomorrow (edit – I DO have work today), and I’m stacked up on caffeine; I may as well get started on posting the second round of Wekfest East. Yuta’s civic was having some work done at a shop in Upland this past week, and this evening we drove up there to pick it up. While in the area, we decided to meet Kodi Chan at Maxim off the 60 in Rowland Heights. I don’t get to see Kodi that often so it was nice that it worked out that way. I ended up drinking way too much coffee though, and as a result am writing this right now. I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow…err..today, and read this and it probably won’t make any sense to me. I just thought for some reason you should know why this post will be comprehensively poorly written. Right. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to the New Jersey convention center to check out more of the cars at Wekfest. In this post, I’ll wrap up what I have left of the roll-in and get started on showing the masses of cars that were in attendance. I gotta say, as I look back on each car as I edit them, I’m finding more and more cool things I didn’t notice initially. I’ll point some of the things out as I go. Also, you can once again see the thought that went into the variety of cars showing. If you’re not familiar with the tour, not just anyone can come show. The Weksos staff hand pick out of hundreds, and sometimes thousands of applicants to ensure a great show. For now, click past the break to see part 2 of the coverage.
I had first played with the idea of coming to New Jersey for Wekfest East back in June during the LA show. Towards the end of the show at the Queen Mary, I had been talking to Geoffrey and Kenneth a little bit about the turn out in comparison to the rest of the tour. LA had a great turn out, a close second to the Fort Mason show in San Francisco, but the home show is hard to beat. I had asked him about the general turn out and response to the rest of the stops, and they basically responded with an invitation to come see for myself. I’m in a pretty unique position compared to most people as far as traveling goes, so the idea wasn’t too farfetched. I’ve made it to the East coast and back in less than a day, so there was really no reason why I couldn’t make it work with a car show thrown in there somewhere. I’m not really affected by jet lag or time zones anymore as I fly quite often. In fact, I’m sitting in an airplane, writing this, right now on the way to Phoenix; on a non-car related trip unfortunately. As the show date neared, I was able to rearrange some things in my work schedule, so I decided I would make the flight out to Newark. The show was on a Sunday, so I elected to take a red eye on Saturday night to avoid an additional night in a hotel. I would land Sunday morning around 5am and shoot straight over to the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison in time to catch the roll-in and setup of the show. Leaving on Monday would give me a good night’s sleep and an opportunity to cruise into New York for a little bit; and by little bit I mean a good 35 minutes or so – I’ll get to that later though. Click past the break for part 1 of my exploits in the East.
Since there’s not too much left, I’ll go ahead and finish the rest of the pictures in this post. Like I mentioned before, the day just didn’t really unfold like a typical car show day for me, so I got very limited shots. I think most of these are going to be from around 6-7 pm in the evening, just as the sun was setting behind the hi-rises of downtown LA. This was also when a lot of the show cars were leaving, which made it nice to get some solitary shots of each. I’m always a little urked by how close together they park some of the cars; making it almost impossible to get a decent picture of them. Especially when you have a lot of open lot space, you can give each car another foot of room or so and it would be much better. I’ve never organized a car show before though so what the hell do I know? I’m sure there’s reasons for it. In a way I’m kind of glad I didn’t take many pictures, but rather enjoyed walking around and taking a close look at the cars – which is something I don’t often do. The lineup of Honda builds, organized by Joey Lee from The Chronicles, was pretty amazing. So in that sense, I’m glad I got a better look at them, instead of just taking pictures. I’m sure he’ll have massive coverage, so be sure to check it out. Click past the break for more.
I’m going to try and roll everything else I have left into a third and final, massive leftovers post of AutoCon 2012. I can only imagine how cool it will be – especially since I’m kicking it off with this fantastic coupe on Panasport G7s. As far as the timeline goes, it’s still pretty early in the day, and definitely still in the morning. The show opened to the public at about 12 o’clock, and that’s just around the time I said that I’ve had enough. I was fortunate to have a good jump on the show without too much foot traffic, so I really got a good look at the lot in it’s entirety before the gates opened. The lot was so big though, that I think even if I hadn’t I’d still be able to get some good shots. Recapping the show, I must say the entire roll-in process and media handling was a gigantic improvement over last year. Thanks to the AutoCon staff for another good show and I look forward to seeing this event gain in popularity over the next few years. Take a look past the break for a grip of pics that wrap up my coverage.
When I started the drive out to Arcadia for AutoCon yesterday morning, I had been under the strange impression that media will-call was at 9am; where I got that impression and why I thought it was perfectly normal I’m still not sure. When I got to the site and saw about 400 cars waiting to be rolled in I kind of figured I had some misinformation. Well, there was nothing else to do really so I thought I’d make the most of it though and start snapping away. The route into the Santa Anita grounds is through an underground route under an overpass to the Westfield mall that’s across from the park. So I just posted up under the shade of the bridge, and did my best to avoid the already intense inland heat. I talked to Justin from AutoCon when I saw him pass through and he had no problems with me starting early. I’m typically late to car shows, so this was kind of cool for me. The roll-in process was much smoother than last year, and it seems they were much better staffed this year. Grab a cup of coffee and click past the break for the first of many Auto Connection 2012 posts.
It’s almost been a week since Wekfest LA, and I’ve just about wrapped up all my coverage. I’m going to try and squeeze everything I’ve got into this final post – so it’s going to be massive. I went ballistic on this one so, by far, you’ll see the most diversity in cars throughout this post. I’ve also included another slideshow gallery at the bottom for the masses. Hope you see your car! Also, if you want some special VIP only coverage of the show, check out our friends down under at Street-Cover. I supplied them with a few shots to help spread the Wek love over in Australia. You should probably check the site out anyway because it’s pretty rad. Again, special thanks goes out to all those at Weksos Industries involved in organizing such a massive tour, as well as the city of Long Beach for being cooperative. Let’s just jump right into the coverage. You know the drill – click the break for more.
Let’s continue the Wekfest LA 2012 coverage, shall we? I left off somewhere around early afternoon just before the gates opened to the public. By this time a line had formed at the entrance that wrapped around quite a ways towards the Queen Mary. I don’t think it was as profound as the San Francisco show, but it was still pretty large. The good thing about it being an outdoor venue was the amount of people that could come in wasn’t limited because of fire law restrictions. Although Fort Mason is a cool location to have a show in the city, it limits the capacity in several different ways. After I made my first round through the cars, I was getting pretty hungry. My buddy Jon had ordered a pizza, so I took a break with him and some other guys and ate a little bit. Sitting in the grass, under the cover of the mornings marine layer was extremely relaxing. After a good 30 minutes though I decided it would be best to do another walk through before the crowds arrived. Check the second round of 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!