Welcome to Fat Five Racing, otherwise known as 2JZ world, Daigo Saito’s secret lair located a short drive out of Tokyo.
As a country and society, Japan has a tough relationship with change. It’s unable to jump into anything new, in any space, without an extended period of time that can be split into three very distinct phases: First there’s complete and utter resentment. Then procrastination. And finally, careful, slow adoption.
This is a country that continues to prefer paper fax communication between companies and offices over email, and where old timers still rock flip phones. But as the younger generations become business owners, the speed in which new ideas and technologies are being embraced is only increasing. Fat Five Racing is a great example of this.
Daigo might be best known for his aggressive driving style, but he also builds some of the best D1 Grand Prix machines in Japan. Part of his success has come from pushing beyond the traditional Japanese way of building a pro-spec drift car, and adopting – and further developing – the latest methodologies. Custom tube-frame work and bespoke steering and suspension geometry setups using parts from the likes of WiseFab have given Daigo a competitive edge while the rest of Japan has played catch-up.
I took you on a tour of Fat Five Racing back in early 2017, but as you’ll see at the very end of this story – and in my next post – I had a very good reason to drop by again. Of course, it’s always cool to see what Daigo is up to, because build-wise there’s never a dull moment in his shop.
Being a weekend there was no work being done, which provided the perfect opportunity for a little nose around, starting with a car that hasn’t quite been put to full use yet: Daigo’s very own GR Yaris.
Three-cylinder, what? As you can see, the original engine didn’t hang around for long. Daigo won’t settle for anything less than 800hp, so of course the Yaris has been 2JZ swapped.
The car also wears the same Pandem wide-body kit fitted to HKS’s demo GR Yaris, which I featured late last year.
There are many projects brewing in the shop – including a few that I wasn’t allowed to shoot just yet. This Arios McLaren MP4 race car, however, is one that’s already been announced. Yes, it too is being turned into a drift machine.
All of the D1GP GR Supras that Fat Five Racing have built and look after were neatly lined up in the workshop.
There’s no sign of even a single B58 engine though. You guessed it, each of them runs a 2JZ-GTE – stroked to 3.4L and good for 1,000hp – mated to a Samsonas sequential transmission.
Daigo seems to have his recipe perfected for these builds, and while I was in the shop a special delivery of tasty driveline products turned up.
At Fat Five Racing you’re never too far away from a fully-built 2JZ ready to be retrofitted.
Daigo’s D1 A90 was up on axle stands in the midst of what looked like a body panel refresh. That’s not surprising given the door-to-door battle he had at Tsukuba with Naoki Nakamura to wrap up the (delayed) 2020 D1GP season at the end of January.
The 2021 D1 Grand Prix season is due to kick off at the end of April, so there’s still a bit of time to get the cars freshened up and readied for action.
Ever wondered what a modern pro D1 car looks like underneath? Wonder no more…
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick visit to Fat Five Racing. These are my favorite types of stories to put together, but as I alluded to earlier, this time around there was an extra-special reason to visit. Stay tuned for a spotlight on Daigo’s R32 Skyline later this week…
Dino Dalle Carbonare