As I woke up early in the morning to head to Tsukuba Circuit for the Interclub Historic Car Race, I looked outside to find it pouring rain. "Oh great, hopefully it will stop raining soon", I thought to myself. But as it came time to head out, there was no end to the rain in sight. No we aren't just talking about sprinkles, but a hard steady rain that that leaves huge puddles all over the place. I entertained the idea of forgetting about it and staying home, but I decided I would be brave and after a quick stop at the conbini (7-11) to pick up a rain coat, it was off to the track. When I got to the track for the place was already bustling with race cars and drivers. No downpours will stop these guys from taking to the track. While I didn't see too many spectators or many other media people, the racers were still energized and were dealing with the wet weather the best they could.
The Interclub race meetings are some of the biggest events to happen at Tsukuba and both paddocks were packed to the brim with both classic and modern sports cars. If you want to see GT-R's, Evos, or even Hakosukas, Interclub events are not the place for you. These races are only open to non-Japanese cars. There are separate race groups for cars like Mini Coopers, Lotus Elises, Alfa Romeos, and Porsche 911's so there is wide variety of machines that range from antiques to modern Ferrari race cars.
The event also draws its share of American cars like this Camaro Z28 from Advance Auto. The driver has some very large cojones for racing this high powered muscle car on the soaked race track. This particular Camaro is from the same group that the red Corvette I posted is from. Advance has a shop in Yokohama where some very serious track-tuned GM cars can be found. I am planning a visit there to check it out soon.
This Lancia Delta Integrale had a little off-track excursion into the mud. Fortunately it wasn't damaged, but the driver does have some major cleaning work to do. This kind of gives an idea of just how wet it was out there.
This car is undergoing a last minute check before the start of the Alfa Romeo Cup race. Check out the Enkei RPF1's on this car. The vintage car racers here generally prefer running lightweight Japanese-made racing wheels like these or the Volk TE37's on the cars in the photos above. A lot of the shops such as Garage Goto sell custom-made wheels for the type of car the specialize in. Those windshield wipers were getting a hell of a workout.
And then the green flag drops as the Alfa speeds down the river that was once the front straight. Look at the water pouring off the back!
These classic cars already require a lot of driver involvement, but the rain makes things 10 times more difficult. Though most of these drivers are not pros, they were all doing an incredible job of controlling these machines. I would be scared to race ANY sort of car in this weather, let alone a rare 30-40 year old classic.
Back in the paddock, here are just a few of the cars that would be driving in the Lotus Elise cup.
Some more wet Alfa action.
As I walked around dodging puddles, I was awestruck by this super cool wide body Porsche 930. This car is much more retro in execution than the cars from Rauh Welt.
More cars in the 911 Cup paddock area. As you would expect in any Porsche race in Japan, the grid was filled with cars representing Rauh Welt.
As I searched around the track, the only dry place I found to take photos was in the pit garages on the front straight. That's OK because even on dry days, this is one of my favorite places to take shots at Tsukuba.
This full tuned C5 Corvette is owned by Masa, the shacho (owner) of Advance Auto. This car has had some serious upgrades since the last time I have seen it, like the massive GT wing on the rear. The noise this car makes is insane. Even at idle.
This Alfa Romeo Berlina is rolling back to the pits after surviving the race.
As the MG Cup race began, it started to rain even harder. Uh oh.
By this point my clothes and my shoes were soaking wet and I was starting to get worried about my camera as the "camera rain coat" I had bought didn't seem to be working to well. As much as I wanted to stay and shoot more, I decided it was probably for my own good to call it a day and retreat to the warmth of the house. I have to apoligze as I'm sure you guys wanted to see the RWB cars and the 'Vettes racing in the rain, as did I.
I have made plans to shoot the next meet in September where things should hopefully be a little drier.