‘Hi Ron! The car is ready finally and they are planning to bring it to Hero Sinoi Circuit on the 1st of August. Are you interested in joining?’
Attached to this message from a friend was a link to the Cars Hatano website and a few images of their 1993 Lancia Delta Integrale Evo II.
You may remember seeing a story about the crazy ‘Delta Fenice 105′ back in 2019 from Dino’s Tokyo Auto Salon coverage. Despite looking like it was created purely to scoop TAS awards, the team behind the project had functionality and purpose behind every single element. The build was something that needed to be seen outside the walls of the Makuhari Messe exhibition center.
My answer to the message was always going to be ‘yes’, but where in the hell was Hero Sinoi Circuit? I had never heard of the place.
A quick search revealed that Hero Sinoi was located only 20 minutes away from Nikko Circuit in Tochigi, but a solid three-hour drive from my house via expressways.
That was the quickest, most direct path, but another route appeared on my navigation system. This one had a few more twists and turns through the mountains and scenic countryside, and would take an estimated six hours of driving to get there.
Given it had been almost two years since my last proper adventure in Project Rough, my 1999 ER34 Nissan Skyline, I knew what I had to do.
I’d be lying if I said I was a little nervous about taking Rough so far away from home base. I have been tweaking and making subtle changes here and there (something I’ll update everyone on a little later), but I hadn’t properly tested them. A six-hour road trip through the mountains for a shoot probably wouldn’t be the brightest of ideas then.
And yet, I found myself loading the car up at 3:00am to head out on what would ultimately be an epic and trouble-free drive.
OK, so it wasn’t entirely trouble-free. I had forgotten to fill up the night before, completely overlooking the fact that countryside gas stations tend not to open early. There was little I could do but hang around for an hour until I was able to get fuel.
First up, a 7-Eleven snack.
Suitably fed and refreshed and with time still to kill, I decided to take a look around the village to see what I could find.
It didn’t take long to stumble across a small garage that seemed to specialize in Mazdas. The shop had a few vacant lots filled with Roadsters (MX-5s/Miatas) and first-gen RX-7s that clearly had seen better days.
Some looked like parts donors and others looked like potential projects, but whatever the case I really hope they’re put to good use before it’s too late.
As fun as it was to explore the village, the delay meant that I was going to have to take the expressway for the second half of the trip to make it to the track on time. Even on these highway stretches you’re always bound to come across some interesting vehicles though, and for me it was a group of bosozoku on an early Sunday morning ride.
Arriving at Hero Sinoi Circuit on time, I’d developed a newfound appreciation and love for Project Rough. Although I practically daily drive the Skyline, I rarely ever make the time to take it on a proper drive. Letting Rough fully stretch its legs and test the changes I made at the same time was exactly what I needed after a nearly two-year hiatus.
Learn from my mistake – if your project can drive in a spirited manner, please make the time to do so. In the meantime though, stay tuned for some grassroots racing at Hero Sinoi Circuit and the full feature on Cars Hatano’s wild Delta.