Event>>the Privateer Spirit – Gtcc At Tsukuba

As my adventures in Japan continue, I spent the day yesterday at one of my favorite places on the planet – Tsukuba Circuit here in Ibaraki. The course was playing host to the weekend racers from the GTCC series, and I knew this would be the perfect occasion to reacquaint myself with Japan's rich circuit culture.

When it comes to Japanese grassroots racing, it doesn't get much better than GTCC. While you won't find many high horsepower time attack cars or professional race drivers at these events…

…you will see pit crews made up of strictly of friends, some great privateer machines, and people pursuing their automotive hobby to the fullest. To me events like this embody everything that's great about Japanese car culture.

After I contacted GTCC organizer Oguma-san asking for media access for the event, he was ecstatic that I wanted to cover their little race. There was even an announcement posted on the GTCC website announcing that Speedhunters would be covering the event. The announcement also told all the drivers to make sure their cars are washed, and to get haircuts before coming. It also asked that the female drivers wear more makeup than usual.

This just goes to show the the sense of humor and lightheartedness you'll find among GTCC community.

The GTCC has a big following among the area's AE86 racers. You'll find some of Japan's fastest 86s running in all four of the main classes, including the dreamy CBY Trueno running in the top dog NA Expert class.

Anyone who says Hondas aren't big in Japan has never been to an event like GTCC. The paddock was jammed full of tuned VTEC cars ready to battle it out.

GTCC is more than just a track day, it's a legit race series with standing starts and wheel to wheel action. Here we see the "Maruki" DC2 Integra fighting among its competition in the NA Super class.

There's also a free soukoukai class, which included a solid group of vintage cars like the Team Vertex S31 Z.

There was even a separate free run class dedicated solely to the CL7 Honda Accord Euro R. Any four-door family hauler that can double as a track day special deserves a big thumbs up.

All through the paddock, the elements of grassroots circuit racing were in abundance. Whether it was the throttle stacks on this stroked "5AG"…

…or the well-worn racing decals on the hood of this EF9 Civic.

As I tried to speak to the drivers using my broken Japanese, everyone told me they were big fans of Speedhunters and that they read the site everyday. Perhaps it's because I'd been away from Japan for a while, but this was surprising news to me – and something made me extremely happy.

I ended up handing out tons of Speedhunters stickers, all of which were quickly applied to the cars. Within a few minutes all of the top runner 86s and many of the other GTCC cars were proudly sporting the stickers on their windows and body panels.

The girl who drove this cool EG6 was so excited when I said I'd post a photo of her car on Speedhunters. It was all so heartwarming!

While I wasn't trackside taking in the action, I spent a lot of time walking the paddock and looking over the machinery.

The Thrill Junkie – M-Works CRX running in the NA Expert class. It's pure function, yet retains a unique sense of style.

The Satoshi Style Tec-Art's Levin ready for battle. This car would be dueling it out with the CBY Trueno in the NA Expert race.

You can tell by the body damage that this EK4 Civic has seen more than it's fair share of action. Respect.

This G-nose equipped S31 was one of two early Z's running in the open class. Both were running hot rodded L-series motors under the hood.

The vast majority of the cars running in GTCC are naturally aspirated, but will you find a few forced induction entries scattered around, like this EP82 Starlet. Custom wide fenders give the little Toyota a pretty mean look.

Staggered wheels and a big Voltex GT Wing equals textbook Honda track style.

A full-on B310 Sunny race car that was also hanging with the classic car crowd.

The lone S13 that was running in the event.

Not all of the 86s that run GTCC were of the hardcore N2 variety. Here's a tidy two-door Levin street car running in the lower level NA Sport class.

I'll go ahead and stop here for now, but there's tons more to come from the GTCC event at Tsukuba Circuit.

Next time we'll check out some more of the on-track activity.

-Mike Garrett



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Now we're talking! This is my kind of racing series! I'll have to check out an event when I'm over there later this year.


looks like it was 'chock-full' of some 'serious looking' enthusiasts baying to get out on track.. my kind of event - plenty to see and hear! a sense of humour always helps.. i've got to get my hands of one these Japanese wonders but which one?? i like them all!! - Thanks for the quality pics and write up.


Awesome coverage!!


Need more photos of cars on the track. I love Tsukuba.


Love the coverage, keep it up.


in the opening shot, theres a renault megane yellow with a dark color front bumper, if u have morep ics, id love to see them. its not often u see that car properly modified


I need to get that sticker in the future... keep it coming!


Awesome. The UK needs events like this


Best post in ages. Love it...


That 510 SSS coupe is gorgeous! Great coverage. Nice to see just plain, no frills, racing.


Grassroot racing at it's best, More of this please! And not just from Japan, but worldwide!


Thank you for the awesome coverage!


"The announcement also told all the drivers to make sure their cars are washed, and to get haircuts before coming. It also asked that the female drivers wear more makeup than usual. "

Gotta love the Japanese.


I think you'll find the stroked 4age is actually a 7age... 5a blocks being 1.5.




Blue sprinter in the 3rd pic and S13 takes the cake. Loving the updates from Tsukuba, keep em coming!


Fantastic coverage of an awesome event! I absolutely love the simplicity of the preparation and atmosphere that the images portray. This IS real racing!


moar sanitora please!!!!!!


So many 86's! I think I am in heaven!


damn, that white starlet is from kobe, farther than from where I am to Tsukuba. I am slacking.....


When I think of JDM, this is what I think of...The cars, the comradely, the good stuff.


The orange-&-black 86 with the see-thru canards and fairing... FATTT


CRX FTW, i wish i could see more about that EF8 behind the red Integra R..

In this events more photos is never enough


une journée comme je les aimes !!!


Absolutely awsome!! I would love to know what the regs are for the different classes.


One of the best events of the year


more more this is the post we are waiting for,..


Yes, good coverage and very nice event! More pictures and commentary would be welcome!


Need more info on that black miata! or more shots of it!


Passion for racing at its finest !!!Gotta love that !!!


Best article I've read in a while. Great event!


Such yummy cars! Mike, how can I get some Speedhunters stickers? Got a new Audi S4 just dying for a pair!!


I love the yellow hatch. I also love seeing a Corolla Rumion right behind it (the equivalent of the US 2nd gen xB)


Wow! What great machinery at this event. Much inspiration for my WRX.


Thank you for coming! We were so excited to see you walking around.

I cleaned my car, changed the packing tape on front bumper so that it looks better but forgot to put on make up and left driving suit on the roof ... :-(

Next time you come, make sure to capture us ladies together w/ our dear partners (cars) :-)

Looking forward to seeing you again!


I noticed a yello Renault Megane on the first picture... Didn't know they had them in Japan..

Rolando Rodriguez

I would like to thank you guys so much for the incredible pics of the import tuners out there in Japan racing it out as the gtcc world continues to be popular and brings in new members yearly.