The Jdda Hits Sendai Hi-land

Drag is dead in Japan. Or at least that is what everyone assumes. The reality however, is quite different. There’s no doubt that the zeroyon scene has quietened down a lot compared to those golden years that spanned from the mid-eighties to the end of the nineties, but those that have nurtured this passion for decades aren’t exactly going to throw the towel in just because the sport is no longer fashionable. The other month when I was up in Hi-land for the Roadster & Rotary Meeting I was pleasantly surprised. Despite still being damaged from a recent landslide, the drag strip was open and the Japanese Dragrace Driver Association (JDDA) was holding a practice session prior to the main event the following day. The sheer distance of Sendai from Tokyo and the rarity of these events meant this was one opportunity I was not going to pass on so I spend the whole day thrashing my Nissan March rental between the main circuit and the drag strip…

…effectively covering two events at the same time. By the end of it all I was in pieces but as you can see here it was all worth it. When the JDDA hits Hi-land or Central, the only two “real” drag strips in Japan, you know the county’s best cars are going to be showing up and that was precisely the case on that crispy Saturday back in September. This R33 Skyline is one of Garage Ito’s creations from Osaka, a car we have seen a couple of times before at events like the Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown.

The pits were full of surprises. The Japanese drag scene may not be as impressive and full of ridiculously fast pro cars like in Australia and the US, but what the Japanese lack in straight out performance, they make up with plenty of character.

Due to the damage the return road that runs parallel to the strip had suffered during the landslide meant cars like this pro Skyline R32…

…had only half a track to play with so timing was being conducted on their 0-200 m dash. Above you can also notice the somewhat controversial layout of Sendai’s quarter mile strip, which is a little downhill towards the end. Because of this times from Japan have always been taken with a pinch of salt by the international drag community. I asked some people there why the track had been designed like this and the answer I seemed to get from everyone was that there was probably not enough budget to straighten the thing out.

Back in the pits I couldn’t believe my eyes; there was some pretty impressive metal – or should I say tubular frames and FRP – to be seen!

This KJM RX-7 is by far the most extreme FC drag machine I have ever come across. It was entered in the 4-second Pro Drag class…4-seconds referring to its 0-200 m time.

The garage it was parked in was filled with these 16 L cans of methanol.

Picking a favorite that day was very difficult, but this Bluebird 510 coupe built by 0-4 Factory was right up there.

I mean look at this thing! Power comes from a highly-tuned L28 straight six motor. I feel a feature coming along…

The best part of the Japanese drag scene is of course all the street-class vintage cars like this very cool S30…

…which was sporting a very drag-like stance.

After years of seeing the wild Escort 240SX…

…and R32 Skyline TypeM at shows like Tuning Powers I was so happy to finally get to see these cars run.

They are among some of the most extreme drag cars in Japan, meticulously built in house at Escort’s two shops – the main one in Saitama and a secondary shop right outside the gates of Sendai Hi-land!

Escort’s main car is the 240SX and on the day it seemed most of the attention was being given to this impressive machine.

With most of the lightweight exterior panels removed it was very easy to see the car’s tubular frame and driveline layout which…

…along with the monster RB26DETT runs an air-shifted Jerico transmission.

Thanks to those rather large pair of blowers this RB develops in excess of 1200 HP and the most incredible thing is it’s built around a stock “5U” engine block, rather than the “24U” N1 version. Interesting.

Tucked deep down under the motor is the oil pump for the dry-sump lubrication system, a must on a drag car if you don’t want to starve your engine of oil when launching at full rpm!

Final checks were being made before the car was set to run later in the afternoon.

It was hard to resist the sounds coming from the strip so at one point I had to take a brake from the pits and walk around to check out some action. It was a pity the cars weren’t running the full quarter mile but that in no way spoiled the fun.

Is there any guise the BNR32 doesn’t look good in? This awesome GT-R from Black Line Racing

…was doing a great job of showing just how effective the Attesa-ETS is at providing effortless launches, of course after the tires were nicely cooked for a few seconds.

I hope you like what you have seen so far and rest assured that there is plenty more to come from that, rather tiring, double-event day up in Sendai! Stay tuned for more drag action and in the mean time make sure you download some of the desktops I’ve prepared for you below.

-Dino Dalle Carbonare


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26 comments
EmmaMacki
EmmaMacki

Can you put the last photo (rear of the R32) up as wallpaper? It's awesome with the view and the car. Thanks

Skirmish
Skirmish

Can't wait for the feature on the 510, but I think you need to hunt down some more shakotan or even boso style cars! 

Thommo
Thommo

GT-R!!!!! any R32 I could look at all day... The King!

Nikhil_P
Nikhil_P

more drag...less drift!!!

Driftwest
Driftwest

Munta, where are you getting your information? None of the proper drag strips in the US are built downhill.

Tuomas
Tuomas

I am living now in Sendai-shi and some day I would want too see some speedhunting! Is there any website etc. where I can see the future events?

Gvk
Gvk

Yes please feature that Bluebird 510.

TylerS13
TylerS13

is that Escort 240sx the old HKS demo car that was in Gran Turismo 2?

datsunsss
datsunsss

Dino... Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top do a crazy in-depth feature of the Bluebird Coupe... I absolutely love that car!! Sweet post, love seeing the Japanese drag scene!

Munta
Munta

In relation to the dragstrip design with it dropping away at the end, all dragstrips built for 1/4 mile racing in the states actually go downhill anyway, they drop 3 feet over the 1/4 mile and how many dragstrips around the world can you think of that are 500 meters above sea level.

Nice post, should we be expecting a feature of the escort cars?

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @Tuomas You mean you want to see me shooting cars or the actual events?  Check the Hi-land and Sugo websites to find out what events are in your are.  Plus Ebisu Circuit isn't so far away either 

crazydave3000
crazydave3000

 @TylerS13  Yeah, I'm surprised Dino did not point that out. The engine, down to the turbo support/heat shields is the original from the car's HKS days. I remember reading that HKS sold it a few years ago but I thought it ended up going to Garage Saurus but then I saw the Escort 180SX and thought it looked identical. So yeah Escort has a 7-sec HKS ex-demo 180SX.

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @Munta I have never been to any other drag strip that goes downhill, sorry.  As for features, you guys want to see those Escort cars in detail? 

Driftwest
Driftwest

@Munta

Wwhere are you getting your information? None of the proper drag strips in the US are built downhill.

2 HOURS AGO

 

datsunsss
datsunsss

 @Munta Our top drag strip in South Africa is roughly 1600 meters above sea level... ;)

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @TylerS13 Yeah I wasn't sure as I had head Saurus got the car.  Still rather make sure than take a guess however :)

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