The H Factor – Part 1 | Mimms Honda Day @ Croft Circuit 2021

Has it been too long? I’d say so. But this piece is gonna dazzle you. Mimms can always be relied on to summon the best of the best Hondas. So, sit back comfily and enjoy the views from my eyes a few Sundays ago.

Mimms. If you’re not familiar [shame on you], here’s a quick profile on the name. Dav Plaha is the man behind the idea of organising VTEC and non-VTEC congregations, up and down the UK. It all started in the mid-2000s, when Dav and his Civic Jordan used to pull up to Mimms South services off the M25 motorway that perimeters Central London. Back then the meet was rounding up some 50 or so cars; the main event can now see capacity numbers reaching ten times that number.

The turnout was that good at the last Mimms held late 2020 at Three Sister’s outdoor kart circuit (see my previous post), the decision was made to organize another in the North of England. Only this time, at a proper racetrack, on a British summer’s day, and more of those sweet Japanese modern classics we all know and love.

Hamza and I walked from where my car was parked in the non-Honda / visitors area, to the paddock and were welcomed by a lot of things painted in Champ White. The colour synonymous with Honda, thanks to the victorious F1 car that [probably] made Japanese F1 fans stream tears of joy back in ’65. We’ve seen how melodramatic they can get over there, especially when it comes to national pride. No wonder, the Japanese people are known to put their heart and soul into almost everything.

An A80 rolling on bronze Super Advan 3R wheels came in, at which point Hamza began to get very giddy. Blame Gran Turismo.

All the while, something else sitting on bronze caught my little eye…

Black EK9 Civics possess an aura that’s difficult for any other fast-hatchback from the 1990s to equal. This one had a steering wheel looked abit like the one found in the NA1/NA2 NSX, but no yellow Momo stamp means it probably isn’t. Spoon Sports tinted side-mirrors are a nice touch too.

“@do1jonnyt_crx” turned up in his, well, CRX. You’ll recognize it from my last Mimms blogpost. One very clean, well-kept motor. You can here Prince singing in your head everytime you get close to it.

BHP Imports brought over some cool stuff. This S660 was one of them, wearing a load of JDM bits and bobs. My fave would have to the be the HKS Super SQV blow-off valve. Such a cool design, looks like it came right off of a pod racer or some shit. A bit more ride height drop and it’d sit with a mean stance on those Advan RZ wheels.

I spoiled the shot, but look! An original Phoenix Yellow DC2 Type R! Not wrapped, not rattle-canned. A ridiculously tidy Integra, with barely any miles. Yeah, these cars are made to be driven, but nowadays you can see why appreciation is shown for these cars. They will go down in history, no doubt. Why, you ask? Because imprint in rear bumper.

A few more steps taken down the paddock, and yet another Type R in the same colour as a healthy egg yolk. This EK9 got some hand-me-downs from a kouki DC2. The stock, OEM+ look is cool ‘n’ all, but we came to see cars with more personality…

This is the sort of Honda you [hopefully] came to see. The vibrant red R8 was getting very little attention from myself and people around me. A teal AP2 S2000 is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen, but I’m assured it’s something I’m glad I’ve come across.

An all-round, thought out setup, not far from perfection. K&N air intake chilling under the vented bonnet, presumably because of the exhaust-side of the engine room reaching higher-than-desirable temperatures.

One of the greatest wheel designs at all four corners, displaying a calculated wheel and tyre fitment.

Is it yet obvious how much I was drooling over this S2000? It was hard for me not to click the shutter, every angle was a money shot. You’d probably have done the same, if we share the same taste.

Alright, alright, I’ll stop there. Only because I’ve run out of photos of it. @MattyFer5, give yourself a pat on the back, if you do in fact see this.

I’m gonna break off here, I’ve got enough for a 3-part article, so if you haven’t seen your car yet, its most-likely coming up in future posts. Also, attention spans are sparse these days, me included. Event coverage isn’t easy for me to write much about, as I try see as much as I can, darting from one car to another. I’d like to write more feature-style posts, solely devoting a space to one car. The owners are the one’s who deserve the stage, not necessarily in the typical pretentious “influencer” way, but in a form where their thoughts, ideas, and stories can get shared with us fellow enthusiasts.

Make sure you keep an eye out for the next part – bookmark the site!

https://www.facebook.com/soulfokus

https://www.instagram.com/soulfokus/

Garage Visit | Meet the MX-5 Maniacanic

It has been a while to say the least. Much has occurred, as we all know. Without straying from the topic of this post, I’ll just say this before I ramble on. A lot of people are being made to live in fear and anxiety now, from what I can see. Its a shame, because people are trying to make sense of everything presented to them by outfits who have impure intentions. By outfits, I mean establishments with power who only care to indoctrinate and control. This is sad, because their plan seems to be working on the majority of the population. I find it difficult to articulate how I feel about the way people are acting after they’ve been instructed to, all for this “greater good”. Maybe watch the film “They Live” (1988), then split the fictional fantasy and the underlying message of the movie to get the picture I’m getting.

On to the main piece…

A couple months ago, I went over to the neighbouring county, Lancashire, to visit Carl. As you might know, I’ve been out of full-time work since the new year, so I had all the time in the world (kinda) to make a trip to CBS Autos.

As it says on his back, Carl, along with a small team, are Mazda Specialists, with a preference for that two-seater known to rot. A lot. This man knows how right a wrong – namely, neglected MX-5s.

His place has character scattered across every wall, corner, even the ceiling had an RC airplane hanging from it. The environment truly is a reflection of his personality – slightly eccentric, but nothing less than a hardcore car nut.

I snuck into his office (with his knowing) to show you how obsessive he truly is over anything with wheels, including scaled down model versions of the life-size originals.

Mazdaspeed MS-03, the curtain call of the OEM tuning house’s trio of wheels manufactured by the one and only RAYS. Simply amazing. The question is, NA, NB, or NC? These on an ND might be a bit too daring.

He’s into all sorts of machinery, but its obvious that 1990’s Japanese gems are what kept him keen. So keen in fact, he stepped up to the plate of being one of few to rust repair MX-5s with a fit and finish quality that surpasses the durability of the OEM metal. I say this with confidence, as he was the one who fixed up the chassis legs on my NB. I wonder what the state of the car is now, after I let it go to a guy who came from Portsmouth for it…

Carl had brought his fun car to work that day, so I suggested a mini-shoot seen as though I had all my gear with me. The Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R – a car that has suffered “middle child syndrome”, maybe not in everybody’s eyes, but by popular consensus the 32 and 34 are generally more sought after. I mean, it didn’t even feature in the Initial D anime, yet a Suzuki Cappuccino found its way onto an episode in Fourth Stage! I’m still not keen on the exterior design, but I can’t look past the sheer performance capabilities this chassis has demonstrated over the last couple decades. The window switch integrated into the door pull is a nifty touch too, 10/10 interior innovation, Nissan.

You may or may not notice the characteristics and “style of tune” that the cars featured on the site have. In the UK, or at least up north in and around Yorkshire, all-out concours builds and restomods are difficult to come across in comparison to what the USA and Japan have to show. What this part of England does have is proper functional, dialled-in cars built to be driven on the road. Although, do take note of the conservative look of Carl’s Skyline, as it shares no likeness whatsoever to his batshit crazy turbocharged NA MX-5 build. Maybe one day he will let me get that in front of the camera.

Thanks to Carl of CBS Autos for lending me his time, hope you all enjoyed this little read.

Posts may become less frequent in the near future. Only time will tell.

Kutting Angles at Anglesey | Drift Matsuri Day#1 2019

I may as well just kick off the site in 2020 using last year’s event coverage photos. You might have already come across some of what I uploaded onto Instagram, but I thought that since its been a few months, its only right that I give you the full overview of Drift Matsuri held at Anglesey Circuit Trac Mon over a weekend in October of 2019. Plus, the site has been a bit dormant thus far in 2020.

The purpose of the event is a kind of end-of-season finale for anyone and everyone who worships the rear-drive platforms to let loose on what is essentially a weekend-long, free-run event, or what I like to call a ドリフェスタ (dorifesta); matsuri meaning festival/holiday in Japanese.

My mission objective, if you like, was plain and simple: to capture as much of the action both on and off track throughout the couple of days I had in the scenic Welsh isle. I had the opportunity to shoot the final round of Driftcup a few weeks prior, and that kind of opened my eyes to drifting culture here in the UK. The experience I gained from that prompted me to continue shooting drift events, and Drift Matsuri appealed to me from the get-go because of its casual vibe.

I arrived in the early hours of the morning, rushing past cars in the paddock, weaved through trailers and transporters as I headed towards the control tower, literally just in the nick of time for the mandatory media staff briefing. Lecture endured and liability waiver signed, I ran back downstairs to exit out onto the wet car park where all the automobiles were being prepared for the festival celebrations.

One of the first cars I caught on camera was this S13 descending down out of a pretty legit looking HGV. If coffee didn’t wake up you up that morning, then Baggsy’s LS-engined Silvia warming up had to have done the trick – even at idle engine speed.

An E-Type I’ve never come across before, especially in this fashion! I had no idea how much went into building this until after the event when I watched Larry Chen’s YouTube video where he visits the Somerset-based shop run by Charlie Seward, the man responsible for such masterpiece. There’s a pretty in depth article about the 1JZ-monster over on Speedhunters aswell, I suggest you look it up (after you’ve read this article, obviously)

This Silvia in a lovely blue shade caught my eye, so I ran up on it only to be pleasantly surprised at how well it all flowed together. The body panels are all mismatching parts from various kit designers, if I remember correctly from what the owner told me, but you wouldn’t have thunk it! He offered to lift the bonnet up to reveal a 1JZ front and centre of a stitched & tubbed bay, with a sizeable BorgWarner turbo strapped to its custom manifold. I doubt this car is run on the road with those two screamer pipes jutting straight up and out through the holey bonnet, but if you can get away with it you might aswell since the reg plate is still screwed on…

The circuit was divided into three course layouts – one of which was called the ‘touge’ course that had cars running up the Corkscrew followed by the left-straight-left section at the peak of the track before making their way down via Rocket. I can’t remember the course names given to the other two; doesn’t matter, ‘touge’ was where it was at, with double-file queues forming from both directions (pit-exit and the tailend of the downhill after Rocket corner).

Blood Brothers. Retro Speed Shop brought out this pair of pure FR klass.

Following on the scarlet theme, here we have Adam’s DMAX-kitted S15 sat on Work VS-KF. The wheel fitment, in my eyes, is spot on – as is the entire build to be honest, very street-friendly, something most can relate to.

Wish I got more shots of this S14 in all its crispy-white Rocket Bunny Boss Aero goodness. Shame really, didn’t manage to catch it out on track neither. Would have been nice to hear the RB26 come to life!

Motorsport is an enjoyable experience, even from the perspective of the spectator. But watching drivers take corners with an absolute ‘balls to the wall’ attitude, for no other reason than to fully exercise both chassis and spirit, definitely fires you up in a different way compared to competitive drifting. Maybe its to do with the fact the drivers are out there just to have a good time with like-minded people – okay, perhaps oneupmanship does come into play at times when a chase between two cars gets a little heated – but for the most part, Drift Matsuri is just a relaxed party atmosphere in a circuit environment.

What are the odds more decals have made their way onto the glass of this clean 180SX TypeX since the event months ago? Somehow the orange coloured centres on its Work VS-XX wheels work (pun intended) really well on this OEM bodied Nissan.

It was really cool to meet James and his ‘Hi5’ turbocharged BP-Z3-swapped Hilux Pickup. After only seeing videos of it online, actually witnessing it not just sat in the pit garage, but for it to be slung about on Anglesey was a sight to behold. It is basically an MX-5 in terms of running gear, with the very practical 1st-gen Hilux shell allowing James to throw a set of wheels/tyres in the back for when the amount of fun has exceeded the life of the rubber.

I don’t think any car on the day had as much flamboyant style and charisma as this duo. And if I had to choose a favourite? Impossible. [S13]

For those who, for whatever nonsensical reason, cannot stand the antilag noise or tyre smoke from a bunch of cars sliding their weight about on a racetrack, can always enjoy the coastal views by going for a stroll along the perimeter of the circuit like I did. There are some decent photoshoot spots the further away from the track you venture. I actually took a couple photos of the two you can see above. One looks like a helipad. Whatever they were constructed for, I could imagine using them as platforms for a mint landscape frame.

I’ll close this post out with a few shots of the night session. Unfortunately I got back to the track later than I planned, as the nearest shop was miles away. That was a really challenging environment to shoot in but I enjoyed the brief few moments where a conga-line of cars came steaming around the first corner, charging past the onlooking crowd up on the banking, leaving behind nothing but clouds under the floodlit part of the track.

Keep an eye out for the Day#2 entry, where I find some cool looking things that I missed on the first day…

Est. 2019 | A Look Through the Rear View

Since it is the last of the “Tenties” – it’s in the Urban Dictionary, so I’ll go with it – I thought I may aswell throw a end of year, wrap-up article on the site. It’ll be more of a timeline in photographs and I found that it’s definitely a good exercise to sit back and take stock, looking back at what you’ve achieved throughout the year.

I started this site in January of this year, with no real agenda scripted out on paper/digitally. It was kind of a spur of the moment, brought about by boredom. I had all these cool and interesting cars that I photographed at various events and of course the trips to Japan, so I thought why not share my memories with those who may be like-minded enthusiasts.

Sit back, chill, and just scroll through the highlights of Soul Fokus 2019…

Bit of a change that I hadn’t really calculated for beforehand. It probably all started with the sale of my NB MX-5. After putting a decent amount of money into repairing the rust and a few modifications I left on such as the custom cat-back exhaust and Racing Beat ARBs, it was not the most logical decision in hindsight. The car was great, I loved driving it daily and though I don’t regret it, I do miss that Roadster experience. My main reason for getting rid of the car was the fact that by using it everyday, the miles were going to take their toll on the chassis, especially through UK winters, so it had to go.

Photographing friends’ cars is most likely where my interest in doing cool things with a DSLR started to come into play. So thanks to James and his Elise, and Eddy with his SciroccoR, I began to take cameras more seriously investing in my first lens, a 35mm f/1.8.

I will make more of an effort to expand my photography in the future. It probably won’t make its way to this site, but since I am planning on going full-time, it would help keep me on my toes and widen my skillset.

My newfound satisfaction has been found through the art of panning, or atleast attempting to track the motion of a car. Its not so bad getting the shot with a light, wieldy kit lens, but I then went and bought a Sigma 120-300mm lens which makes steadily aiming the camera a challenge. The results make it worth lugging about though, so there’s that.

If you’ve been keeping up, Luke and his Caterham have popped up alot in the blogposts. Getting out on trackdays and race events with him and helping out where I could has allowed me to get acquainted with shooting motorsport. An opportunity arose for me to follow Chris Williams whom I initially met at a Time Attack UK event at Cadwell. His EF Civic is undeniably the coolest hatchback competing, and it was equally cool meeting him this year.

Back in my birthday month (May), this Mclaren Senna I found at a local car meet shocked me instantly. I got all these photos and not a single one frames the whole car! I do remember a crowd creating a buzz around the thing though. It’s the details that matter though, and the Senna has plenty.

Spring time and the first half of Summer was definitely a boost-up in terms of experiences. Japan happened again and you can read all about my travels there in the dedicated series of posts I made.

You will spot some random photos I mish-mashed into the above collage. Highlights include Fueled Society at Harewood Hillclimb, my first trackday in the Mazda2 on Anglesey Circuit, as well as Seven’s Day with FDOCUK at Blyton Park.

Me and Luke made a kind of impromptu plan to go to Germany for a week before Summer ended, and it was a cool road-trip from the Nurburgring down to BMW-Land [Welt]. Mainland Europe is going to be somewhere I definitely want to explore for their unique car culture.

Opportunities weren’t gonna come knocking on their own, so I actively went out to shows and motorsport events on my own so that I could just practice covering them in their entirety. I ended up meeting the official head of media for Driftcup at the Donington Time Attack event where I was shooting Chris and his teal Civic. This random encounter gave me the chance to operate my camera from the heart of the circuit at the final round of Driftcup over at Driftland.

Around this time was when I met up with Josh and shot his R32, which was also an occurence that was completely by chance. You could say that this period in time was a turning point for me. I knew that this is what I wanted to do; tell stories through my work capturing the essence of automotive enthusiasm.

The latter end of this year tended to orientate upwards in terms of the experience I was garnering from just getting out there and doing, as opposed to thinking and evaluating and over-complicating unnecessarily. The most powerful lessons are those that come in the form of errors. Doing what you know you shouldn’t have done in such a way, or just looking back finding flaws in your work that are better left in the past. This has been a theme of 2019, but in a positive manner.

Luke’s year didn’t end great, writing-off his racing campaigning that Caterham 420R at Cadwell. All is good though now he got it fixed up, sold, and has purchased yet another one to do some crazy shit to.

That event was also the first time I saw the new A90 Supra, and yeah, my thoughts of that car on a whole are still somewhat unsettled. Moving on…

…Drift Matsuri weekend was a blast and a great way to close out the track-focused events of 2019 – or so I thought – until Chris Williams gave me a shout and invited me to tagalong at the finale of Time Attack UK. I am actually keen on what he is gonna pull out the bag for next year’s season.

So there we have it, 2019, thats what you looked like through the lenses of my Nikons. Hope those of you reading made it this far. Thanks for checking in, and be on the lookout for many more future posts I have lined up to publish!

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/soulfokus

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/soulfokus/

H A P P Y N E W Y E A R ! ! !

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | The Zoom-Zoom Konnection

It was approaching the latter end of our German excursion. Since the flight back to sunny England was booked departing Munich International Airport, it only made sense to pitch up somewhere in accomodation not too far from Bavaria’s capital. Airbnb rarely fails to please; this final spot we lodged at was on the upper floor of a couple’s home in Moorenweis, a nice little villagey area.

On arrival, we were nackered, so for the night we just chilled; being antisocial and catching up on Youtube videos. I was hoping our second-to-last day would lift my spirits after a minor debacle at the hotel in Stuttgart where I left my washed T-shirts – one from Narita Dogfight, the other an RWB one I bought from Nakai-san a few months prior – to dry and forgot to pick them up on the way out. I was pinning the blame on Luke as I initially thought he hid them from me (sorry, Luke, but you are a twat, so you kinda brought it on yourself).

That morning was bound to be a start to a good day, visiting two spots I anticipated highly throughout the days leading up to it.

The first stop was in Augsburg, one of Bavaria’s largest cities after Munich and Nuremberg. Home to a kollection of cars you wouldn’t think of having such a dedicated following so far from home…

I first heard and learnt about the Mazda Classic Automobile Frey Museum on the NHK World channel on TV (does anyone even use their Sky+ set-top box anymore?), which is basically Japan’s major broadcasting network channel that airs all types of travel & tourism related programmes. It’s 507 on your Sky Freeview if you’re interested.

The ‘Frey’ in the museum’s name belongs to the founder: Walter Frey. He is the man behind the idea of this Mazda mecca, and it all stemmed from him owning and running a local Mazda dealership which was the foundation for his passion for the Japanese auto-manufacturer.

We entered via the gift shop, rather than exiting from it, largely because we completely missed the main entrance around the front. I think I was mesmerised by the Soul Red Crystal ND MX-5 so much so that it succeeded in luring us in the wrong way. In fact, it was far from wrong if I’m honest, as the first thing that nearly caused me to snap my neck when I walked into the main hall was sat there in a shadowy corner. The 323 GTR, an unsung hero, was Mazda’s attempt at rallying back in the 1980s to early 1990s using 4WD. They had some success with the FB RX7 in Group B, being an underdog competitor with no fully-financed backing from Mazda – only 7 “Evolution” models produced for homologation – the rear-wheel drive, naturally-aspirated coupe mightily fought to land a step on the podium at the Acropolis Rally in ’85. Whatever the case, I don’t care how many trophies this hatchback managed to snap up. Its boosted transversely-mounted MX-5 engine, rear tailight bar, and the aggressively “LanEvo-like” front face is such a cool combination.

The Frey family have a lot of love for the rotary, they’ve even set up a small section of the museum to resemble some kind of living space/memorial/shrine for the Cosmo Sport. Knowing that this machine started it all off, way before the RX model-code entered our cultural vocabulary, brought shivers to the spine.

There were all sorts of ikonic models from Mazda’s historical line-up, but this was definitely one of the highlights for me – the Autozam AZ-1 Mazdaspeed. A keicar with gullwing doors. Need I say more? Check out how angry its widened body looks from the front. It would be sick to stomp through the streets of Tokyo in this pocket rocket. Mazda, please atleast make a comeback with something like this if you aren’t bringing the Wankel back.

You don’t walk into a enthusiast-owned, Mazda collection hall, and not expect to see the greatest trio of alphanumerics to ever be assembled and branded into the minds of car nuts across the globe. The RX-7 would have never been if it weren’t for the German inventor, Felix Wankel, who gave the Japanese carmakers that spark to then set the world alight with all the premix-infused afterfire. I loved that ‘vert’ FC Turbo II.

And then you have to be out of your mind to think there wouldn’t be an abundance of the most successful two-seater sportscar of all time! The best on display have got to be this pair. 1 of 250 NB MX-5 Coupe that came with a fixed roof from factory, and a design concept in the shape of an NC Superlight without a roof and glass. These two must be the rarest of roadsters. Seeing that Mk3 in the metal was mindblowing, after only ever seeing it in video games and online, to have the chance to get close to one was a treat, lemme tell ya. It sits so low too, compared to the dismal OEM fitment of the red Mk2.

It was a bit of Miata-mania for the most part in the hall. Luke got a bit excited over the black NC racecar, which admittedly does look cool for the Roadster that doesn’t hit headlines in the modified scene. Maybe because a lot of examples tend to be below par or a bit OTT. The aero cover that sits atop the rear bulkhead was a nifty bit of kit, as were those wheels that look like a 5-spoke version of the 6ULs. Anyone know exactly what they are?

So this is what you would be greeted by if you came in through the front door. Its either a restored Group B rallycar, or a replica fabricated by some keen enthusiast. Whatever the case, it looked the bee’s knees, and probably buzzes all the way to its 9-grand RPM limiter.

Mazda plonked rotary engines in more of their past models than you think. I remember reading about the Rotary Parkway Bus in a book but there were no photos to back up the fact that it was an actual reality. Then I see one chilling in the corner of the museum next to an old-school pretend fuel pump! The Frey family have nailed this automotive gallery to the finest detail, even going to lengths of preserving a bench that Felix Wankel kept outside his workshop.

I would absolutely recommend visiting this place if you happen to be venturing to and around Munich. From the outside it seems like an old, refurbed tram shed (which it actually happens to be) but what lies within definitely surprised and amazed us [me – Luke probably wished he was back at the Nordschleife driving like hell].

Before leaving, I scribbled a little something down in the guestbook, but I don’t have a photo to show you what I wrote, so remember to look out for my tag if you ever do make a stop at the Classic Automobile Frey Museum!

Before returning to the house, RUF was not too far from Augsburg, located in a rural Pfaffenhausen. There’s a ton of information about the company online, plus, I don’t have much photographic material to share from our guided tour of the premises as some of the work they had on must have been pre-production, top secret. After all, RUF is a registered manufacturer, not just a Porsche “styling” firm. If you grew up on Gran Turismo, RUF will be engrained in your memory. If you’re not already familiar, this family-run business takes Porsches – sometimes, maybe even from across the roundabout where a dealership resides – and turns them into pieces of art without sacrificing any performance abilities of the original model. Add to that, pretty much all of the work is carried out in-house, with facilities such as a bodyshop & paint booths, and an engine dyno room!

I won’t do a full blog on our visit to RUF, just because I didn’t get any more photos to share with you to give you visuals to accompany my blabber.

As I took snaps of the MX-5 rental car, a couple drove past in their car and then backed up as they must have seen me dodgily crouched down behind the car. Rolling down their window and from the serious look on their faces, they asked me WTF I was doing in some German. Was a funny/awkward moment. Pretty certain they had been drinking, too, so I should have flipped it and asked them WTF they were doing.

Hope you enjoyed the read, look out for the finale in my ‘Germany 2019’ album, soon…