With the end of year festivities and the Speedhunters awards taking precedence over the last week I thought I'd hang on to the coverage of a very special event until today. Two Sunday's ago I woke up yet again at the inhumane time of 4 am in order to beat traffic out of the city. My destination this time would be Tsukuba Circuit, for an event why I hadn't had the chance to cover yet, the AE86 Matsuri.
Arriving at the track just after 6 am always gives you a different perspective of an event, as you slowly see cars arrive, people set up and the whole atmosphere begin to warm up, just as the faintly warm rays of the morning sun start to brake over the horizon.
By the time I had set up my gear and began to walk around, the paddock was already brimming with some incredible machinery, enough hachiroku goodness to make anyone drool profusely.
The AE86 is organized by Mercury Racing who held the first event last year. It turned out to be a greatly successful event so there was no way I was going to miss it this time round. Many thanks have to go out to Speedhunters reader Tomo who kindly let me know that this was happening! Tomo is an AE86 owner and has been keeping me informed of all the cool meetings that the hachiroku guys get up to throughout the year. The Mercury guys were so happy to hear that Speedhunters was going to cover the event that they even announced it on the event leaflet, adding us next to well-known names like Carboy, Hot Version and G-Works. What an honor! Thank you so much guys!
I could hardly believe my eyes when I took a slightly elevated view down on to the paddock. Some of Japan's best known N2 race cars were among the cars lined up as well as tons of privateers out for a bit of track fun.
The great thing about gatherings like this is that each and every car is different, and you can just pace up and down for hours checking out how each owner has approached the looks or tuning of his/her 86.
Tsukuba's Dunlop arch as it begins to be illuminated by the early morning sun.
Over the last two years working with Speedhunters I've began to develop quite the interest for JDM vintage wheels and there was just so much to feast ones eyes on at the AE86 Matsuri!
Participants were split into a total of 9 groups, from the extreme N2 class, all the way to the regular "Grip" track day class.
This T.S. Factory Levin was entered in the N2S class…
…along with this Crystal Body Yokohama built car.
Most of the cars present were dedicated track cars, some still registered for road use. We saw this 1710 Magic Levin here earlier in the year, during a Omega Oil time attack event, easy to spot thanks to that large purple intake where the right headlight used to once reside.
Seriously, could TE37Vs look any better??
The Tec-Arts's Trueno is one of the most recognizable N2 racers, and Kamata-san who built and drives the car seems to be getting faster every time he takes it out on track. Three races were organized; the first for the N2 and Open class cars, the second for the N1, N1.5 and Gr.A+ and the biggest one of the lot the N2S Championship race with 28 entries, all providing non-stop excitement throughout the morning.
The Koizumi AE86 was on the tail of the Tec-Art's Trueno, finishing second during the race.
Kamata-san managed to record two laps under one-minute during the race, the fastest of which was a 59"781! A 58-second lap doesn't seem that far off any more, all of this out of a naturally aspirated 4AG, which the last time I shot the car was cranking out 239 HP!
Tec-Art also built the engine of this AE86…
…which was participating in the drift class.
After staying out far too much shooting the action at the major corners around Tsukuba I headed back to the pits to make sure I didn't miss any of the cool cars that were present.
Carbon-Kevlar overfenders were a pretty good match to the bronze TE37s on this particular car.
I didn't see anyone running turbochargers or superchargers on their 4AGs but there are some that resort to the odd show of nitrous oxide to get the desired numbers.
Wherever and whenever there is a hachiroku event you can be sure to bump into Allen Lorenzo from Tomei Powered. He was out at Tsukuba armed with some Go-Pro cameras getting some footage for the Yokohama Australia guys.
Among the outrageously wide N2 and N2S race cars it is nice to see cleaner more conservatively modified cars like this Trueno hatch, which was entered in the drift class.
I leave you with a shot of the starting grid of the N2S race. There were so many cars entered that they wrapped all the way around the final corner. I'll get more into the action in Part 2 so make sure you don't forget to check back in a few days for another hachiroku fix!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare