When I departed on my return trip to Japan this Summer, I did so with the goal of reconnecting with friends and colleagues after the two years of travel restrictions. For 5 straight weeks I travelled around the country by car, train, and plane, all with the simple objective of ‘catching up’.
I’ve always appreciated the varying degree of tuning style in Kyushu prefecture; specifically the cars that frequent Autopolis International Circuit. From fully dedicated track cars, to light tune approaches, there is something about the cars that standout that’s not quite describable.
At the beginning of my road trip to Mie Prefecture, I decided to make a detour down to the Izu Peninsula to visit my good friend Ando. Ando operates Auto Rescue Izu, a wrecker/tow service in Shizuoka. Over the past 2 years he had built a new shop to house and work on his personal cars.
Last week we held a small get together at Autopolis International Racing Circuit in the Oita Prefecture of Kyushu. I had 3 photoshoots for 80R scheduled for this particular weekend trip down south, however a few could not make it last minute.
In this video we visit Skyline tuning masters Racing Factory Autobahn, deep in the countryside of Ibaraki. Kawai-san shows us some of the newer builds and I take a walk around the shop.
Based in Japan’s unrivaled hub of neo-anime culture and unwavering creativity, Sector One turns out some of the worlds most detailed Itasha designs. After 2 months of having their flagship location in Akihabara, I was invited to come take a look at their new demo car; the former RE-Amemiya built LW-7 FD3S.
Late in the month of May, Summer has started to show its true colors in Japan. With temperatures already pushing well into the 30’s, it’s time we say farewell to the cold mornings at the circuit, and face the cold reality that we won’t be racing anytime soon.
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.
There is a good chance that if you’re browsing this website, you’re familiar with Aoki-san of Ready GO Next. Not only does he have a successful shop catering to RX7 tuning, but he is among the masterminds associated with the creation of Attack; Japan’s most renowned time attack event.
Kiyotaka Eishima had two requirements for the car he would choose to campaign in time attack; it had to be fast, and it had to look cool. So, after purchasing the FD in 2006, every decision he’s made has come back to those two obligations – and it is clear that he has never strayed from that path.
It’s always a pleasure seeing the regulars at Attack events around Japan season after season. Those drivers and shops that form the foundation of our community, that attend not just to drive, but to uphold the responsibility they’ve given themselves to push the sport forward.
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.
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.
There are a select few cars that, despite my frequency in traveling to Japan, always seem to elude me. Most of the time it’s due to a geographical hardship, as I’m often in the same parts of the country time and time again.
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.
It’s been quite some time now since Hara-san of Car Shop Glow has been behind the wheel of his own car, but it looks like the years of not competing have finally begun to take their toll.
Having always been a very task-oriented person, I often times find myself gravitating more towards the desire of completing a project or event as opposed to the act of simply participating in it. It wasn’t until the past few years in my life that I was taught to be mindful of the present, or, ‘enjoy the ride’ so they say. While the wording of that saying may come off as childish and a bit pedestrian, there is merit to being able to live in the moment. I’ve learned that checking in with yourself existentially every once in awhile can be beneficial.
It seems to be about every 2 years or so I have the opportunity to check in with Masaki-san. A staple of the Attack community, Masaki’s FD has served as his test bed and company demo car for nearly a decade, and continues to evolve year after year. I remember seeing it for the first time back in 2012 at Tsukuba during Advan’s ‘Fastest Amateur Tournament’. Back then the car had a full FEED Afflux kit and was comparatively very mild looking. Oh how far we’ve come…
Hiroki Sakamoto may have possibly built, not only one of the fastest, but also the cleanest RX-7 in Japan to date. With a best time of 55.801 around Tsukuba, and a 2’14.399 around Suzuka it can definitely hold it’s own among the frontrunners of Japanese time attack.
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.
It’s been awhile since we’ve come across Nakashima and his red FD. No stranger to Attack and Evome events, Tomo has been competing in the Japan based time attack events in his RX-7 for years now. Stumbled across here in a Saitama parking lot, you can see a couple obvious changes since last year. New GT wing element, and Craft Square mirrors replace the Ganadors that were once affixed to the doors. Carbon side strakes line the skirts and help tie together the front and rear aero of the car. Looks a lot more aggressive!
I get used to seeing some pretty serious builds around Japan; a lot of times it’s all or nothing. It’s almost as if the middle ground is the least popular place to be when it comes to time attack. More often than not, because it’s all interesting to me, I try to find a balance between sharing both the ‘all’ and ‘nothing’ builds. Every once in awhile, however, I’ll come across one of the more minimal builds and start to question the aggressive look of the in-depth, competitive builds, and why I took my personal car down that path. Toshi’s FC is among those that make me question why I don’t have a spirited daily anymore…
In the furthest Southeastern part of the Saitama prefecture lies the small commuter town of Misato City. The suburb that serves as home to many employees of Tokyo, also serves as the headquarters for CCE; a fairly new, by some standards, tuning shop that offers a one-stop option for a variety of cars. The president, Yoshihiro Nakamura, chose this FD3S to serve as the companies flagship build. It’s gone through minor changes each year for the past several years, but I think that it’s current state is one that strikes a good balance between street and track; a goal that many enthusiasts in Japan strive for.
Hailing from the cold North of Hokkaido, FD specialists Car Shop Dream can claim the rights to one of the most unique looking FD’s in Japanese time attack. As you would imagine, due to the distance, it’s not often that Kurokawa-san and his team get out to Tsukuba. As a result, they don’t get as much seat time at the track as some of the other locals. Despite this, Kurokawa has piloted his 600whp build to a personal best of 57.880. Ultimately, after achieving times more close to the 55 second range at Tsukuba, he’d really like to shoot for competing in WTAC. The car is an ongoing project, so who knows? Check out some pictures past the break.
When I had first decided that I would be attending Final Bout, to be honest, it wasn’t the event that I was actually looking forward to; it was seeing this particular car. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited for the event, but getting to see in person, and more so getting to meet the builder, of what I perceive to be the most well executed FC in the country would become the highlight of my trip.
As you know by now, Advance builds their shop cars specifically to take on Fuji Circuit. Their FD, which they’ve been developing for some time now, is hands down the shop’s fastest build. It’s able to lap Fuji Speedway in a very respectable 1’56; a lap time most street cars can’t touch.
I’d say that, after three years of attending Evome, the one thing I really get excited for is seeing everyone again, as well as meeting new friends. The privateer ‘Attack’ season in Japan is such a short lived experience each year that my time with the drivers is fairly brief. This is somewhat of a Catch 22 because while it does make each encounter much more special, I end up having to divide my time between talking to people and photographing the hour long event; and with just 3-4 Evome events a year, my time becomes very limited (especially not living in Japan).
As I sit in front of my gate at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, with the hopes (although very little) of catching an earlier flight back to California, my mind can’t help but wander back towards days that I enjoy more than those of which I spend inside the depths of US airports; which I relate now more or less to that of a colony of bees. Filled to the brim with people going about their every which way, connecting to cities across the expanse of the Earth, each with a unique task to complete (varying in importance). The days on my mind? Those of which are spent in Japan, at the circuits which I’ve grown all too comfortable being at…
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.
So, yeah. This will probably go down as the most random post of 2015 NDF, but I figured I’d combine the two as we didn’t spend that much time at either. The same day that HKS held their Premium Day event, our friends at Tension reserved the Fuji drift track and held their own ‘Premium Day’ so to speak. While the guys in Tension are all super nice, they have a somewhat sketchy history, so I’m glad Sekinei is good friends with them. They’ve always support NDF and I couldn’t be more stoked about it.
So during the lunch break on the Speedway side, Sekinei and I meandered over to Fuji’s drift track to say hi and snap some photos.
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