Japanese cars have always been mainstay of Speedhunters. Some might argue that at times we delve too far into Japanese car culture, and others might think we should go deeper still. In comparison to many of my Speedhunting brethren, my own appreciation for Japanese vehicles is in its infancy.
That isn’t to say I don’t like them, because I do, but in a battle of Speedhunters JDM supremacy, I’d be bringing a knife to a gun fight. However, I’m always down to step a little further into the pool of fanaticism, so I gladly took up an offer to attend a local lapping day specifically for classic Japanese vehicles.
The event, dubbed simply ‘Japan Classic Track Day’ (JCTD), is the brain child of Navin Pillai and Tim Corbin. Navin owns the AE86 above, while the G-nosed Datsun is Tim’s. I’ve known both guys for few years now, and each are veterans of the local scene in their own right.
JCTD came about when the pair realized the Ontario car community was missing a lapping day consisting of only vintage J-tin. While the premise of such an event might sound pretentious, it was actually one of the most culturally diverse events I’d been to in recent memory. Coincidentally, it was also the first event I’d been to in a long time as well. Thanks COVID.
The smell of gas and tire smoke, paired with a mature crowd, was a great bit of normalcy in a year that has been anything but.
With cool cars both on and off the track, there was no losing anywhere I chose to point my camera. Starting with an NSX is a bit of an easy win, but heck, what kind of Speedhunter would I be if I didn’t take a few photos of this darn near flawless piece of machinery?
It’s really quite impressive how well the NSX has aged. The face-lifted models are 18 years old at this point, and the fixed headlight update really gave them that extra bit of staying power.
Don’t worry pop-up fans, I’m not saying the fixed ones are better. They’re just different, and different isn’t always a bad thing.
Hanging on the topic of headlights for a moment, the retractable units on this Toyota Celica GT-S certainly scream nostalgia. The fold forward option was a different way of approaching the aerodynamic challenges wedge-shaped cars faced with their headlights.
Overall, this third-gen Celica was shockingly clean and the era-correct Prime mesh wheels are a fantastic choice.
A proper fitting – visually and physically – set of wheels go a long way. In the world of perfect packages, one can’t go wrong with genuine Panasport wheels on an AE86.
This wasn’t a rad-era event, but these two cars are undoubtedly rad.
At its core, JCTD was a lapping day, not any sort of sanctioned racing event, and as such, many of the formalities that make racing or even timed events not for everyone were forgone. There were morning and afternoon sessions, each split into several groups of drivers. Quick and to the point driver’s meetings were held to make sure that everyone stayed pointing in the right direction and all the cars would survive the day.
A capped overall attendance meant each participant got ample amounts of track time. The varied turnout of cars, and their unique groupings resulted in many fun on-track pairings.
An Electron Blue EJ Honda Civic sprinting away from a Datsun 510 was right at home at JCTD.
I’m a sucker for a clean Datsun, so I made use of a track break to pore over the little 510 coupe. An intercooler tucked behind the grill hinted at an upgrade or two, and power in this case came from an SR20. The later-model turbo four cylinder did a great job of motivating the car around the track.
While gawking at the Datsun I had the chance to chat to the owner of the Soarer above who was pitted beside the 510. On the luxury sport end of things, these cars are a bit of an under-appreciated gem in Toyota’s lineup. But as other models go up in price I’m sure that will change.
As someone who was very much a party to the original Fast and Furious era, I feel the need to apologize on behalf of all of us for doing terrible things to anything with a Honda badge. CR-Xs in particular received more than their fair share of questionable modifications, so clean examples are darn hard to come by these days. That’s a shame too, because they are such great little cars.
Event runner Tim’s own car was easily a favorite of everyone in attendance, and he wasn’t at all afraid to give it the beans. Ground Control coilovers and a bevy of Techno Toy Tuning components, paired with giant 305/35 rubber out back provided a ton of mechanical grip making the car super fun to watch.
Under the hood is an L28 stroked to 3.0L, breathing through triple trumpet-equipped Mikuni carbs. I know, I know, an engine like this deserves a sound byte. I’ll have to loop back around for that on my next encounter.
Navin, the other half of the organizing team, has said goodbye to the standard Toyota sewing machine in favor of a Honda K20 for his AE86. The combination worked rather well out on the track with the car hitting every scheduled session without so much of a hiccup. When fitted with ITBs, naturally aspirated K20s sound simply amazing at full chat.
The big wing, combined with Toyo Proxes R888R tires kept the car plenty stable through the 2.23-kilometre track.
Looking slightly less planted but no less potent, the other AE86 on the track was attacking the corners with the foot-the-f**k-down mentality I’m now used to seeing from essentially every Corolla owner I know.
As previously mentioned, this event wasn’t timed – at least not officially – but I’ll be damned if this car wasn’t flying around the track anyway, and often closely followed by another rather low, screaming Toyota.
This was, unfortunately the first and last JCTD event of the year, but the phrase ‘bigger and better’ has already been attached to 2021’s event.
Given the success of this one, I can’t wait.