Boy oh boy, we’re finally here. This is the coverage I have been the most hyped about sharing with you. My trip to Japan this time round happened to land right around the time the Idler’s Games event at the Tsukuba Circuit was to be held.
I reckon it was on the Speedhunters website where I first came across this race series and – gonna sound like a broken record – it looked like Gran Turismo brought to life. The most iconic short circuit of Japan, and every flavour of motor you can imagine. I could not pass up the opportunity to go and witness this for real.
I did not do much research on the event prior to making it there. I kinda wanted to just get a full, immersive experience and work it out as I went. Thing is, its been nearly 8 weeks since, so all I can remember was watching some very good-looking cars being properly used. The format was ‘Sprint’ so all the cars in a class/category are let loose in unison, and the fastest lap recorded in that session gets the top step on the podium.
From what I can gather, thanks to the internet, Idlers Club spawned thanks to a guy called Atsushi Seike, who works as editor of both a popular Porsche magazine in Japan (The 911&Porsche Magazine) and the Idlers magazine. I get the feeling he is very much into the classic European sportcar genre, but the diversity of cars that attended made it a dynamic, grassroots motorsport event. Various Idlers Games are held at Fuji Speedway as well as Tsukuba, along with an annual 12 hour endurance race over on Motegi’s Twin Ring.
We got there around mid-morning, and from the sounds of multiple rev-limiters being utilised, and from the smell of scorching rubber, it was easy to work out I had come just in time for a drift demo. Parked up right at the end of car-park, so not only did we have to pace past the underbelly of the grandstand where you could peep through the fence and see more smoke than car, it meant also that I got way too distracted by some of the machines sat in the car park (some of which you saw above).
I could not believe I was there. After watching an unhealthy amount of ‘Best Motoring’ videos on YouTube, and driving countless laps around the track on Gran Turismo & Forza Motorsport (mostly the former, because there’s only one King of Driving Simulators, and that ‘s the “real” one), I was finally IN the place IN Japan, not on my sofa in Bradford.
This circuit really does play a subtantial role in benchmarking cars’ performance. It’s short and flat enough to not put unnecesscary strain on a vehicle but it is also technical enough to put both man and machine to the test; hence it is the home to many Time Attack events in Japan.
For a car to be fast around Tsukuba, it has to have ultimate balance, not maximum-power or ultra-lightweightedness, and that is in essence what has always charmed me when it comes to the Japanese tuning philosophy and car-enthusiast culture.
Whilst tyres and clutches were being abused out on track, this bunch of Fairlady Zs were ready and waiting to storm the course. The ‘Super Z’ class consisted entirely of modern Fairlady Nissans, i.e. the 350Z & the 370Z. That is in no way a bad thing, because the sound these machines make is like no other production car, and they revved to the limitless sky.
I wish I spent more time going over this FB RX-7. It did look good out there though, even if a little battered and bruised.
This Honda S800 was a cool looking thing, its weird how dimensionally it appears so similar to the Lotus 7/Caterham chassis.
The last thing you expect to see at a sprint event is some muscle from the USofA. This Camaro took me by surprise and it was borderline comedy to watch it chase/be chased by Minis and 600cc kei-cars! Despite its heft it came out with a mid-pack position, but got outdone by an S30Z/240Z, that FB RX-7 you saw, and a couple of VW Beetles. I unfortunately did not snap any photos of the interior of the Chevy, but it was covered in red leather and custom dash, and looked totally out of place at a Tsukuba track event!
I would have been severely disappointed if I left the event without seeing an FD RX-7. Luckily, I found three in attendance, all running in the same GT class, which excited both the eyes and the ears. But, oddly enough, the loudest of the rotary-screamers was a little roadster…
When I spotted this, I did not even know what was under its vented, carbon-fibre bonnet. The Garage Vary Type-N aerokit, the swan-neck GT wing doubled up with an OEM bootlip spoiler, and those gunmetal Advan RZ wheels; I was just too overwhelmed.
When I had an NB, I remember seeing the Tomei Power white democar online, and that was what was the catalyst for me to go ahead with buying one. My car never got anywhere near that stage, but it was a big inspiration, nonetheless. This car echoes a bit of that Tomei car, but with much more aggression and function. When it was go-time, I was mesmerized by the noise, and was repeatedly confused everytime it went past. It sounded Wankel, and went like a rocket flying past GTRs both new and old. I ran back to the paddock area once their race was over, and seeing that 13B in the engine bay just made my day. The MX-5 came out 3rd overall, only to be beaten by an R35 and an R32 GTR, with a mere 0.8 seconds in deficit.
I think Idlers Games has garnered most of its attention thanks to the RWB empire. To not only make old Porsche 911s cool and relevant, but then to go out and drive the hell out of them is impressive. It is very rare that you see classic sports/supercars being taken to the maximum potential, especially those of the Euro type. The main event for all RWB crew members is the 12 hour endurance battle, so this stint at Tsukuba was probably just a little practice for them.
Nakai-san who is basically the mastermind behind the “movement”, was of course out their ripping his iconic 993 named Rotana. The machine has so much character I don’t know where to start. It looks so raw, but its flat purple paintjob softens the edge, and makes it look elegant. Still, Nakai-san put down a 58.725 second fast-lap, so neither car or driver is a slowpoke.
There were of course other Porsches and a Ferrari competing, but I know zilch about them, they just look amazing.
Here were some contenders that caught my eye whilst wandering the infield.
Whats easier, make an R34 GT-R look good or go fast. I reckon they are equally as straightforward, given you have a resources. This 800bhp+ attack monster is Auto Gallery Yokohama’s, who are known pretty well in the Skyline GT-R & Time Attack scene in Japan. It has a very plain and subdued look, but it was more than capable unleashing some fury out on track.
This well put together baby-blue EG Civic was easy on the eye.
Klassy kombo: white R32 Skyline and white Buddyclub P1 wheels. Maybe not so classy when you see its covered in fluids and melted rubber.
Dailying an Autozam-AZ1 would be nice. For a week…
Not so humble and grassroots when this Ferrari 458 rolls up…
As I finally got myself to the grandstand at the Dunlop tyre corner, I took the opportunity to sit down, take a breather. Not much was happening on track at that point, then after a decent wait, these Z3s and E36 3-Series BMWs came out to play. Some of you lot might be into them, I cannot really say much on them to be honest.
Thats a wrap on this one, lengthy but I guess it is a good representation of my first-time experience at both Tsukuba Circuit and Idlers Games.
Hope you enjoyed the read, till next time…
VVV B O N U S G A L L E R Y VVV