Following on from our 7’s Day NYC pre-events, excitement was high for our first evening stop on 7/7 in New York City.
This spot is considered to be the home of the Vraceworks Harlem Meet.
The Harlem Meet and Vraceworks typically cater to the Honda community, but their owner, Rob, graciously allowed us to gather here on this night. Though the roads are public, we reached out to him as a sign of respect, which is very important for any community to thrive.
This part of the night was full of excitement. Modified cars where everywhere, and photographers captured the moments that materialized faster than a camera can focus. Many said it was like a scene from a video game, to which we say, where do you think video games get their ideas from? Art imitates life after all.
Harlem, which only days earlier was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, was fully turned up on a Tuesday.
In the first story I used the term ‘controlled chaos’, and this is what I mean by that. Once the drive starts, anything and everything can happen. Not in a negative way, but in an enjoyable one.
Rally points are clearly communicated, but sometimes the streets get too full, a wrong turn gets made, or the NYPD shows up. Any number of variables is possible.
Trying to find the right crew to follow or the cool car to stick with for photos – this is the excitement. Manhattan had been invaded by stylish Japanese cars on the way to the next rally point. Everywhere you looked, you’d see a tuned car, some of them at dream-level status.
Next up, the drive to Times Square.
Every year, we invite a special guest for the crowd to see. This year it was Willy Izaguirre and his BMW E9 CSL wide-body. Speedhunters readers know this car well, as it was featured here after the 2017 SEMA Show. Willy’s cars are no show queens; they are driven.
We all cruised south, our passengers capturing rolling shots and videos of one another. The roads were clear and the night was quiet. Well, with the exception of the exhaust notes from every Japanese car you can possibly imagine. This was such an experience.
Arriving at Times Square was bittersweet. It felt great to be there, but it was desolate. The usual crowds were still gone; the lights and atmosphere a shadow of its former self. We knew this was going to happen though. That’s why we came, to bring it back to life. The stark contrast from previous years did take a moment to sink in.
Though many did not manage to make it through (I’ll explain shortly), those that did were immortalized by the many photographers on site. FD and FC brothers side by side on 7/7 – it doesn’t get better than this for a rotary owner in NY.
Scenes like these were also possible. Willy and Ricky, two standout builds of the night, flanked by their JDM comrades in the crossroads of the world. This is unity.
Time attack FD3S versus AE86; the realization of an Initial D alternative universe fan-fiction. (Insert Eurobeat soundtrack here)
A few of us were able to make it to the area where the Times Square shot is taken. After a while though, the NYPD closed off traffic. I suppose the sheer number of cars was a bit much and they wanted to take precautions. That was unfortunate, considering there was literally no one else in the city at the time.
We understand the police have a job to do, so we simply shrugged it off and kept the cruise going. Nothing was going to stop this night from being euphoric.
A big thank you to our friends TMINUS and Anthony (Halcyon) for keeping us informed throughout the night.
Despite the unfortunate road closure, nothing beats the vibe of the city. It’s an environment that serves as one of the best backdrops in the world for automotive photography.
At the final location, we gathered for the last moments of the night, exchanging stories about our experiences. Like our friend Johnny, who told us he was at a red light in his RB-swapped S13 when suddenly a two-tone R31 pulled up next to him. Once the light turned green, you can imagine what happened next.
The fact that stories like this were happening in Manhattan of all places, on a Tuesday night in the middle of summer is what makes 7’s Day so good. JDM street dream stories you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t been there yourself.
Endless cars kept filing in, attempting to fit into every inch of available side-street parking space, leaving a single lane open for oncoming traffic. Spectators and owners with their phones at the ready, capturing each car that drove through looking for their spot for the next few moments. Another scene from a movie perhaps, art inspired by life once again.
With some of the nicest cars the TriState area has to offer, passersby were in for a treat; our rolling car show in celebration of the rotary engine.
For others, it was enlightening. Individuals who experienced this for the first time, not previously having the knowledge of 7’s Day, a rotary engine, or an RX-7 before this night, now inspired to one day own a rotary of their own. Some who attended, who used to be into cars, were reinvigorated. They stated that it was like the old days, referring to the ’90s and early 2000s era in NYC history, where events like this happened every weekend, all night long.
It felt good to be back. Whether the person was purist or not, the night was full of bliss. We enjoyed rotary and non-rotary alike, embracing our commonalities rather than our differences, gaining comradery after the months of hard work keeping the Northeast healthy and safe.
We can only hope the rest of the country, the world, gets out of this situation soon so we can go back to enjoying cars. For one night though, we felt better than normal. The rotary brought us back. This is the spirit of the street.
Photography by Brandon Ayende, Neil Bonabon, Denton Corey, Ray John, Saliou Omar Khoule, Jeffrey Liu, Cooper Naitove & Alex Trentch