Honda Overload At Circuit Festa

Welcome to the biggest event of the year at Japan’s Central Circuit.

What race meet draws the biggest crowd to this small circuit nestled in the mountains of Hyogo Prefecture? No, it’s not GT cars, nor is it Porches. This close to Osaka, it could only be one celebrating Hondas.


Given our Honda K-powered theme this month, I wasn’t going to pass up on the opportunity to attend Circuit Festa 2021, held by Honda tuning legends ASLAN and BrushUP Auto Works.

I had asked my friend Nabeshima-san – a Honda Beat owner, fantastic photographer and all round nice guy – if he knew of any interesting K-powered cars, and being a legend around the tracks and friend to many, he sent through a preliminary list of cars that would like attend the meet at Central Circuit.

We hatched a plan to shoot some favourites, and you’ll be able to catch that story before the month is out. For this story I’m going to concentrate on the event as a whole, of which there was a lot to take in.


Arriving on Sunday morning, I immediately discovered how awesome Central Circuit is. There’s a throttle-happy straight, some twisty corners and a unique underpass where the track loops around on itself.

I parked in the general parking area amongst a throng of Hondas, but there were plenty of other makes too. You don’t have to drive a Honda to appreciate a Honda track day.

As I walked over to the circuit, a procession of NSXs noisily revved their way through what turned out to be the wrong car park, before heading into the main circuit area.


On site there were two main parking areas for a kind of show ‘n’ shine display named HONDAism Type3. One car park was packed with newer Civic models, while the second was for everything else. And it really was like a box of liquorice assorts.


The thing with Hondas is, people tend to go a bit mad with customisation, and it can swing many ways here in Japan – race-inspired liveries and tyre lettering, all the way to VIP style. If you’re going to Honda, you may as well Honda properly.


After scoping out a few of the more interesting builds, I headed over to the pits to meet up with Nabeshima-san. He was busy getting ready for his entry into the Honda One Make Race 1500cc-2000cc category.

I really admire this man, because he pitted his Beat against higher displacement cars and still gave them a real run for their money.


Nabeshima-san helped me secure a press bib and even organised a lift to a corner of the track to get some panning shots.


Looking at all these front-wheel drive, naturally aspirated track weapons made me want to try and better understand the appeal of the Honda platform. I’ve never really ‘got’ it, and I feel like I’m still not really there.


To a point, I do understand the attraction of a high-revving engine that can take serious abuse, is fairly simple to maintain and makes good power all the way through the rev range. But, for me personally, it’s a recipe that will always be missing a turbo.

Even though, I’m still impressed by the brilliant engineering behind these precision motors.


Maybe it runs deeper than the cars themselves. Many of the guys at this event were embedded in the Honda scene back in the day.

If you look a little deeper, it all starts to get pretty tribal, but it’s unquestionably important to Osaka’s car culture and heritage.


Tearing up the expressway circling central Osaka, better known as the ‘Kanjo Loop’, Civics have long been the weapon of choice for underground street racers in this part of Japan. Inspiration has been drawn from Japan’s Group A Civics of the early ’90s, and that’s reflected in distinctive liveries and paint jobs.


Of course, these days the Osaka police have really cracked down on illegal racing, and that’s pushing people onto circuits for events like this one. That same Kanjozoku spirit is kept alive with down and dirty, no fuss racing. It’s an environment where drivers can race in peace.


Unsurprisingly, many of the cars racing were using parts from ASLAN, which has been around for as long as the Civic platform itself.


Looking around the pits, it was really nice to see so many teams with the whole family there, complete with camping chairs and picnics. Everyone seemed to be making a proper day of it, while keeping the vibes relaxed and warm.


After absorbing as much of the atmosphere as possible on an empty stomach, I stopped for lunch and replenished fluids before heading back to the pits to get a closer look at the K-swapped cars I had teed up with Nabeshima-san.


Not only did we get a close look in the pits, but we also arranged a very special and privileged surprise exclusively for Speedhunters.

I’ll have that for you very soon, but in the meantime you can check out ASLAN’s videos of Circuit Festa 2021 and its headlining Honda One Make Race component.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_



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im in heaven.


I never miss an article from Toby


Now those are some proper builds
All the cars here are done well


For the street, turbos ARE the answer to lots of questions. However, when you are chasing fractions of a second per lap with your skill and reflexes, then NA is almost required. I have raced both, and will always choose a NA option over a turbo option for lap times and consistency. Corner exit speed is truly all about walking the thin line of grip which requires instant throttle response. It's the throttle response that these experienced guys are after, and you don't get that with a turbo.


Yeah that immediate response must be rewarding, I’m starting to get it I think….


That's the best part about Hondas: you can tune their motors to take smaller turbos to spool faster for low-mid range and then let the top end take over. You might not make "dyno queen" numbers but you'll have a wider usable powerband.


I'm a diehard rear wheel drive guy but something about motorsports Civics is just so right. I've had a lot of fun in a friend's RSX Type-S so I know firsthand that front wheel drive can be fun, and VTEC crossover is intoxicating.


As a diehard Honda enthusiast this article ticks all the right boxes for me!


I came here for 3 Honda s2000's with spoon engine jokes and I'm leaving utterly disappointed.


“To a point, I do understand the attraction of a high-revving engine that can take serious abuse, is fairly simple to maintain and makes good power all the way through the rev range. But, for me personally, it’s a recipe that will always be missing a turbo.“

High revving, light weight and lighting reflexes is the quintessential golden era Honda experience. Turbo cars tend to be wider and have a rapid power delivery, however you don’t always get the direct feeling and connection to the road that you would feel in a light Honda. The Steering feel is firm, shifting is nice and notchy and in the right conditions, you can outrun much more powerful cars. Races between Honda’s is really a driver’s game in such a pure way. It’s great simple fun. Personally, I’ve went from a WRX to an EK chassis with a basic b-series NA build and honestly, I don’t miss the Subie at all. On my trip to JDM motherland, I drove a R33 GTR and an EK9 CTR… the CTR was like jumping in a comfortable pair of shoes


I guess I need to ask to borrow someone’s Civic….


Nice article, great photos.
As much as I love the race car liveried civics, that hotwheels inspired coupe takes the take, it's so over the top that it's cool again


I'll jump on this bandwagon too. That HotWheels car was peak honda customization that a lot of us grew up with from fast and furious and Street car magazines.


Yeah, I'm an RWD/AWD dude, mostly in VAG products. But these 80-s Hondas look so mean. Looking at them, I almost feel the cornering grip and sharp steering. Awesome content!


Images 44 & 45 are pure NFS Underground 2 vibes.
F##k i'm old


So I guess Nabeshima-san is Mistbahn-kun right?
Been followed his IG for years, and finally there's speedhunters post bout Honda races at Central Circuit, much love and thanks Tobe


The one and only!


Spoon FD2... greatest sedan in the history of mankind! Great pics!!!!!!


I think Honda Civics are experiencing a renaissance right now. They seemed to have drifted out of favor 10-12 years ago as horsepower monsters with stiff suspensions could be bought right off the showroom floor from nearly every manufacturer. I believe people are realizing that these cars can be properly set up to be more than the 1990's boy racers they were. these are great driving cars with a real visceral appeal.


The point of Hondas like this for circuits/touge in japan is balance, If you add a turbo to most these cars they become incredibly unbalanced for that style racing and makes no sense.


That’s very true too


This is why I frequent Speedhunters! The epitome of SH right here! Thank you for sharing, looking forward to the next feature


I'm all about the Honda scene MY EP3 is the car I most regret selling! Also that EK9 with the Alpha Tauri livery is mad!!!


man so many clean ass hondas!!! love it


If people still don't get what the fuss is about, you just have to drive a Twincam VTEC equipped car on a track or fast road. Borrow one, rent one, buy one just do it. You'll realise turbos aren't always needed on a car. They're a lot of fun.


I make 85 dollars each hour for working an online job at home. KLA I never thought I could do it but my best friend makes 10000 bucks every month working this job and she recommended me to learn more about it. The potential with this is endless.