Only Rotaries Aloud | Seven’s Day 2019 @ Blyton Park

Home sweet home. After landing back in the UK from the dreamy trip to Japan, as per usual the post-holiday blues hit me and lingered for a week or two. To add insult to injury, I saw the 7th of July coming around the corner and that only means one thing to any Mazda madhead. I have featured, briefly in past posts, my 7’s Day experiences when I attended the meeting held in Umihotaru P.A. on Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line. This year, I chose not to stay in Japan long enough to witness the twilight spectacle put on by the automotive underdog cult. I mean, I probably would have, but I’d come back with zero holidays left to take from work. In retrospect, it could have been worthwhile, especially after seeing all the coverage online of the ‘Rotary Spirit’ event staged in the paddock of the great Fuji Speedway.

I remember coming across a track day being organized by the UK’s FD Owner’s Club online, and since I wanted to get a firsthand look at what the small but strongly dedicated community have on offer here in my home country, I thought I’d swing on by Blyton Park on the 5th of July.

My love for this chassis is eternal. Stock or modified (tastefully), the only way it will age is if Mazda reintroduce the masses to a production version of that RX-Vision concept unveiled back in 2015’s Tokyo Motor Show, but even if that does materialize, the FD3S RX-7’s legacy will remain in history.

My first trip out to Japan was unforgettably a special one, mainly due to the sleepless night before I got to pilot a rental RX-7. Its one thing reading about a car that leaves you in awe and watching countless videos of the machine being described by motor journalists as the one of the purest sportscars ever built, but to actually do it yourself is another thing entirely. Yeah, it was a stock example, bar the Tein coilovers and RE-Amemiya exhaust system, but for my 20-year-old self, it was plenty.

Before I turn this spread into a essay on why the RX-7 is the greatest production car to ever come into existence, let’s get back to the sights I saw on my visit to FDOC’s track event.

Upon arrival mid-afternoon, all the eye could see was more than a few RX-8s, and whilst that car is a great Mazda in its own right, I had a mini panic-attack thinking I’d turned up on the wrong date or something. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, as I got closer to trackside, there was a decent lineup of FDs all raring to get out and kause a ruckus.

I did briefly contemplate buying an RX-8 at the time I was planning on saying farewell to my MX-5. I took an late R3 model for a test drive, and whilst it is a nice platform that could act as both daily driver and track toy, something was amiss. I am pretty certain its a universal problem with these “newer” cars, that tend to target the wider audience. I am fully aware that this is what progression looks like, and they’ll never make them like they used to, but I think it was the over-refinement of the RX-8 in comparison to my MX-5 at the time, that repelled me from going in that direction. Whilst current prices of RX-8s are quite attractive, with sellers practically giving them away, I still wouldn’t compromise; driving experience is why I don’t take public transport, the vehicle has to have that ability to make you want to keep on powering on, no matter the kost.

Totally unrelated, but I may aswell share a few snaps I got of this non-Mazda that turned up to the party (with an invitation, probably). British sportscars are known to have that distinct character and its good to see the likes of Lotus, and of course Jaguar and Mclaren, still in the running.

White-on-red is a suited look on this 360 Cup edition of the Exige. I find it funny how Lotus still use the Toyota 2GR-FE V6 engine, that’s applied to billions of other Toyota/Lexus chassis, and then we have the new Supra reaching out to BMW for a heart transplant which is in my opinion, distasteful, but I won’t get into all of that…

Starting off the highlights of 7’s Day, is this pearlescent flake yellow FD. This early Efini variant was sporting a 99-Spec front bumper with custom front lip, sideskirts, Ganador mirrors, Veilside(?) tailight housing bar, and some of those Rota things at all four corners. It sure did brighten up the scene, but I never got chance to see it out ripping the tarmac, so these static shots are all I got.

Matt’s kouki Pure White RX-7 was almost twinning with another’s of the FDOC crew. Wearing those Work CRs finished in a Dark Chrome colour set off the look of this machine, which is what I would consider a perfect example of the ‘OEM Plus’ style. Rear diffuser, carbon front splitter, and a NACA-ducted bonnet accentuate this fine specimen. But something NEEDS to be done with that ride height!

Another FD sitting on some of Work Wheels’ finest, which was also equipped with an interesting custom vented bonnet. Black on bronze is a no-brainer in terms of colour pairing, hence why the Demio of mine wears my old MX-5’s shoes! Nothing krazy about the exterior of this RX, apart from the GT style wing, yet the single turbo converted 13B inside was making it round with some pace from what I remember.

This is the “other” white FD I was referring to previously. Owned by Roy, whom manages and organizes the events for the club, it is a stunningly clean FD but at the same time gets enough of a leg-stretch out on the track. It’s always the details that katch my eye when it comes to seeing a car for the first time. I reckon its because I have become sick of the latest trends, finding far too many builds online and at shows that have the same cookie-cutter philosophy applied to them, just because it looks good and is easy to do since every other man and his dog are putting their car “together” in the same style. I digress, but I believe the RX-7 is one of those chassis that has the natural ability to look timeless with an unmatchable aura in factory form. Anyway, one note I’d like to make is the fact that the engine bay was clean enough to eat dinner off, but that crack in the radiator’s fibreglass shroud! Maybe Roy has a new replacement on order (we hope)…

The day wasn’t short on black FDs, and this flame-spitting one in particular was getting its fair share of laps in around the circuit. This wore, what I would call, a safe and klassik look, outfitted with a 99-spec wing, drooping RE-AMEMIYA exhaust, and a unique taillight conversion.

Nas’ RX-7 was easy on the eye with not too much to take in: OEM front splitter, Racing Beat twin-tailpipe exhaust, rear lip spoiler, riding on a set of the klassik Desmond Regamaster wheels in matte black.

This work in progress belongs to owner James, and whilst in appearance it is seemingly basic at the (that) moment, those Enkei RS05RR wheels mean business and certainly make for a good start to this FD’s life. The majority of the guys on the day had wingless cars, which is a look that didn’t do it for me in the past, but after spending some time looking at and shooting them fly by, it does make the car more streetable to some degree.

Stu of RotorTorque was whipping his white RX-7 around Blyton with some frequency and was looking good whilst doing it. I properly endorse the mismatched wheels look aswell, with flat gold Advan AVS Model 6 upfront, and a pair of burnt orange Ultralites working in the rear. Can’t go wrong with that rear GT wing courtesy of Voltex Racing.

Jack’s heavily modified, street-sleeper of an RX-7, was built with hard track use in mind. The exterior is indeed telling of that purpose, with it being hunkered down on another mismatched pair of aftermarket rollers, custom smoothed widearches on the back, RE-Amemiya rear diffuser, aftermarket vented bonnet, and sleek fixed headlight assemblies. I unfortunately did not get any interior shots, but the cabin was just as serious, I can assure you.

Closing out this post, we have a guest entrant who I missed the chance at seeing put some rubber down, but these still shots of the zenki Silvia S14 200SX will have to suffice. The owner told me the rear wing, which baffled me as soon as I spotted it, is borrowed from a DC5 Integra Type-R. Weirdly looks at home on the decklid of an FR Nissan.

There’s your lot for this one, and I hope that it is now proven to you that rotaries can blast around a hot track all day, and then cope with a drive home. Not one trailer or recovery truck made an appearance so all that gas you’ve heard coming from the naysayers who can’t stand to see an underdog bark loud, redirect them to this post.

This event will be one of many and I hope the FDOC emsemble make it out to more circuits and exemplify how usable and capable the greatest sportscar to exist, truly is.

Thanks for the visit!

Japanaholik’s Journal | Supreme Klassiks of the Golden Era

The plan after the Lowstars Meeting in Nikko was to bolt over to Tochigi City, where a private kollection of incredible automobiles are nestled away under the roof of an old train JR (Japan Railway) station.

The ‘Mahoujin Supercar Museum’ is deceiving on first encounter; it seems like an old, unused building that has been preserved for the local community or something of that nature. But step past the ticket barriers (after you pay for admission) and what welcomes you is pretty astonishing.

The cars you are about to see are what I believe to be the pinnacle of supercar history. The 90’s machines have that perfect balance between technology and rawness, and the cars that predate that decade are pure analogue bliss.

I am sure you will spot some of your all-time favourites in this assortment…

… ‘cos I know I did when I caught this red Delta HF Integrale Evo 2 sitting in the corner of the gallery.

The dudes you see gathering around that Porsche 959 arrived at the museum in a convoy, one had some kind of Mercedes 2-door coupe which didn’t peak as much of my interest as the FD2 Civic Type-R (which I probably should have chosen to rent out instead of the Integra) and the two Alfa Romeo saloons. Dare I say, the Italian 4-doors beat the heck out of the Honda with their sharp looks.

Upon exit, the owners of these cars followed behind and they got chatting after they caught me taking photos of that black 159. I vented my frustration with the rental car, so they offered to phone the company and give them a very polite, Japanese earful. Nothing came out of it really, but at least they tried. A couple of them reckoned it was a faulty crank/cam angle sensor, which I also speculated, but that wouldn’t explain the nasty throttle pedal feel.

Thats all I have for this one, the visit was more of a bucket list check-off than anything, and since it happened to be along the route to our stop in Tsukuba, I thought I’d might aswell pay it a visit.

The post to follow is gonna be exciting, as you might have guessed by the aforementioned destination…

VVV B O N U S R E E L VVV

Below the Surface: Tom & Co’s Underground Unit

It was a bit miserable and rainy last Saturday, but I had been meaning to utilise my workpal’s (Tom, who might pop up in another story if and when he completes his 1st Gen Mustang Fastback) car lift in a den he shares rental with.

Long story short, I ended up doing no “work” on my car but that can be rationally excused due to the unnecessity of a 2010 Mazda 2 fuel filter change. It’s one of those inline filters and we couldn’t work out where it lived under both the car and bonnet, so I thought frig it, theres a fresh Lotus outside thats waiting to be drooled over…


This Series 2 Elise belongs to Nev, a resident (literally) of the decently sized industrial unit Tom and his mates share to store and fiddle with their cars, bikes, vans, and tractor.
I met with Nev once before, when I was running the MX5, and I think it was he who kindly donated a set of wheels for me to drive about on whilst my Buddyclub SFs went in for a desperate powder coating. He happened to be working on his El Camino on that day, but immediately got distracted when I asked if it would be cool if I shot some pics of his Lotus parked up outside under the dull sky. Kindly agreeing, he then jumped at the opportunity of whipping his own pair of compact-system cameras out and decided to join me in capturing as much of the iconic aesthetic of this 2-seat B-road-beater.
Every curve on the car is near perfect, and that is probably why this car has not aged in all those 18 years of existence. It is extreme in its nature, but the intensity of its striking demeanor is not overpowering or distasteful. In a subtle way the Elise is graceful, perhaps it is this colour that makes it so.
I had never seen an S2 in this colour, both in real life and Gran Turismo (virtually the same thing). When I made my thoughts known to Nev, he informed me that his car was in fact of a darker blue hue before his ownership which could be seen by the graze on the passenger side’s wing mirror. This meant that it has had a respray in the blue tone seen on the latest S3 Elise, which suits the S2 sweetly.
As the rain kept on coming, Nev decided to bring his car into the unit, which is access only by a cobbled driveway tilting downward, which was scarily dodgy for me when I brought my MX5 down for the first time. Once through the roller shutter, you are greeted by this place that is booming with character. In some way it is an escape from the bores of everyday life; guys just wanting to let their creativity and madness loose.

Nev plans on taking this thing out on a track once the weather pick up and he finds the time. I hope I am able to join him to catch it flying on some open road and hearing that 1ZZ-FE engine emit its signature exhaust notes when that does happen. Lotus geeks will also be wondering what a pre-2008 model Elise is doing with the Toyota engine as opposed to the Rover K-series that the first batch inherited from the S1. I am told, this non-swapped example is a pre-production test model that Lotus built back in ’03, but even I am surprised at the fact they chose to sell it to the public. Were they that confident in the new powertrain configuration? Well, it is a Japanese unit after all…

The ‘Unit’ as its referred to, is a pretty cool hangout built up by all those that occupy it. I don’t know the exact count of heads who rightfully own the garage, but Tom is kind enough to let anyone he knows to freely use his and his mates’ gear for any repair or maintenance.

The Mercedes-Benz van you see before you, roller-painted in a military-esque grey, is where Nev and his girlfriend Neo dwell. You can catch them on their travels on Instagram [@vanwankers]. It is cool to meet people who steer off the beaten track and I admire their free-spirited personality.

Internally marrooned. Tom needs to get in gear and make progress on this classic machine.

Here we have yet another dusty item on the racking. This RX7 FD shell belongs to guy from my workplace. He rolled it into the unit more than a year ago, no engine or gearbox, along with a half empty interior. I am unsure on what the planned future is for this car, but I am praying that it has a long and prosperous one, with a rotary motor (queue jokes about the “unreliability and short lifespan of rotaries”).

I will end this entry with some of the shots I got when light-painting for the first time. This photography technique is epic if you can get it right, so that is going to be my mission heading forward so you might/will see more. Low-light/Night environments are not favourable when it comes to getting the best out of your DSLR, as you tend to get noisy and not-as-crisp shots unless you use a tripod and keep the camera as still as possible to draw sufficient enough light.

Donington Park – Caters to the Believers in Motoring Sport

Last month I was invited by Luke, again, to act as personal photographer/pit crew member/brake checker at a track day put on by ‘Circuit Days’ over in Donington Park. This venue is located in Derby, UK, and has its roots in the birth of MotoGP. Noteworthy is the fact that Ayrton Senna put some rubber down on the circuit in the European Formula 1 Grand Prix during the early 1990’s.

Donington Park is a really well done and sorted race track, which is most likely due to the acquisition made by MSV (Motorsport Vision) in 2017. This organization clearly want to see British motorsport grow, and this is evident in the quality of their facilities.

You will see this wheel frequently throughout this post
With the Caterham race series nearing, some of the entrants were getting as much valuable seat time as possible; and where else is better than the 2.487 mile-long GP Course at Donington.
I have always respected the Caterham marque. This was the first time I was exposed to the ‘scene’ and I now realise how sharp these cars can handle the asphalt.
That day was not the warmest, as you would expect in England during the winter season, but the onslaught of 50+ mph winds didn’t make it easy for us bystanding spectators.
The basic yet bold look of this deep-blue example caught my eye as it pulled back into the pits. I also thought the clean look of the side panelling, with the roll cage outboard of the body, suited the car much better.
Caterhams forcing much higher powered machinery to fall to the side is a common sight.
Lucky Number Seven
Luke sold his MNR Vortx last year, and shocked us with this new investment. Specifically, a 310R model, equipped with a 1.6l inline-four Sigma engine produced by Ford, power output close to 150bhp. But lets not forget, this thing weighs around 600kg, so it gets about if you tune in to its very sensitive chassis.
Avon ZZ-S tyres did for the time being, but Luke has now wrapped the wheels in Yokohama Advan A048s instead. Trust the Japanese to make it right I guess…
Thankfully, we had our own pit garage all to ourselves since our neighbour was a no-show. As soon as we stepped outside though, we get slapped by the cold breeze.
Later in the day as the track surface dried up, adjustments were made to the anti-roll bars for additional stiffness in the rear, which allowed for more rotation in corners, especially the two extra hairpins you run on the GP layout of the circuit.
As you would expect, the “interior” of this car is not that of a normal road-going vehicle. The fixed-back bucket seats and four-point harnesses secure both the driver and passenger in as safety is critical.
Here is what is known as ‘craner curves’, a right then left down a fairly long decline, where speed can be gained in dangerous measures before ‘old hairpin’ right-turn.
Not an engine I have ever come across, maybe because they are originally made for and found in Ford Fiestas (yawn), but with a short-ram intake and opened up exhaust, the straight-four does make a healthy buzz when you stomp on the gas.
That MX-5 in the distance seems like it ran a bit wide from this angle.
Very interesting colour combination here
Similar to Cadwell Park, this track has some great views as the elevation difference adds a dynamic element to both the course and trackside.
I wish I got a closer look at this – what seems to be – E46 M3 CSL (‘CoupeSportLightweight’ for those wondering).
Amazing design and still sharp-looking to this day. This was the BMW M3’s more athletic version, with only approximately 15bhp more than the standard car, this machine makes up for through the extensive use of carbon and fibreglass on the bodywork and windows, and shed a whopping 110kg in kerbweight!
This E92 M3 was spotted doing plenty of rounds which was nice to see, as they are usually rolling slow on public roads, with some smug-faced driver behind the wheel. The pilot of this white-on-black example seemed to be having a laugh throwing into every corner, as you should do in a car with this level of capability.
A serious track weapon E46 stormed by a few times. The straight-six note is one you cannot hate, to be honest.
Another top BMW, this E82 1 Series was modified tastefully and with an obvious functional focus.
Here is a shot I took trying to depict the dramatic dip in altitude, but it is only when you experience it for yourself that proves how intimidating this section of the track in particular is.
The many ‘offs’ drivers have should they push too early on corner exit
Apparently so…
Me and Luke saw the behind of this car quite frequently when out on track. It is astonishing how capable the GT-R is when you put into perspective the weight difference between both cars. But it is equally, if not more astonishing, how much pace a Caterham can keep with a lacking power & torque spec. The chassis is impressive and extremely well balanced, and there is still more room for improvement.
Must be nice running errands in this. Belonged out on the field!
I have no clue what this was. A Volkwagen of some sort. The engine/exhaust sounded phenomenal.
Here is the trusty chariot. All I will say about the Benz is that it is comfortable, but I cannot get over the mundanity of it.
Thats a wrap. Hopefully you enjoyed the read and the photos, log on next time and you might see the Caterham in a more competitive environment. Thanks to Luke for trusting me to drive his new machine a few laps around the exciting circuit. It was eventful, but I learnt a lot in the limited seat time I had. The car isn’t so much twitchy, but the controls take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, the satisfaction of tracing clean lines on a racetrack is unmatchable. More car fun!

First Visit to Japan; Another World

It was bound to happen, but this journey out to the ‘land of the rising sun’ came to manifest unexpectedly for me. I can say it was destined, you could say it was just coincidence. My father’s childhood friend who lived in the same village when they were both growing up in India, had travelled further east, and ended up working and settling in Japan. My dad kept in contact with him, I think, on and off meeting up to reminisce whenever their trips to India coincided, or the one time he and his Japanese family visited England years before I can properly remember.

Fast-forward to 2016, almost as if it was at random, my parents had booked flights to Japan and I can remember not being particularly excited at the time. Maybe I was just stunned and could not grasp the fact that it was actually happening.

Anyhow, you will now view the gallery of photos I snapped when I was out there. 59 is the image count, so commentary will be dialled down to the minimum and the pictures will paint the scene. Enjoy…

On the drive from the Narita International Airport, I was armed ready with my camera. The journey to my Uncle’s home was mainly through rural settings, occasionally passing through small parts of town. This was a Mazda I had never laid eyes on before, in all its basic-looking blandness.
Traditional Japanese buildings are a thing of beauty, so much so, it feels blasphemous referring to them as things. More like pieces of art.
Wakaba means ‘young leaf’ in Japanese. It is also the word used to describe the yellow and green symbol found on all these “JDM as f*ck” cars that you see and used as a symbol with an alternative meaning. In Japan, its originally intended purpose was for inexperienced/new drivers to be made known to others on the road, analogous to the ‘L/P’ plates in the UK.
Welcome to Autobacs, the Japanese version of Halfords (kinda). And yes, they sell SSR alloys. This is scratching the surface, but unfortunately I did not manage to get many good photos of the other items for sale, mainly due to the crazily extensive options. You name it, they got it. Then there’s the ‘Super Autobacs’ stores. I never paid one a visit, but from what I have seen online; whole other level.

Literally a minute walk around the corner from where we were staying, this gem of a find which goes by the name ‘Body Make Kazu’ stopped me in my tracks gobsmacked, and this was only Day 2 of the holiday! It was what seemed like three separate buildings in close proximity, perhaps owned by one guy or family run. It comprised of two small garages, a medium-sized storage unit, and then a little single story office/reception building across the road. Very odd, but outside on the yard was a plethora of all sorts. The Liberty Walk GTR obviously caught my attention, but not as much as the cold stock silver RX7 FD. All this wickedness in some random, remote village in Kamagaya about 25 miles away from the airport.

These boxy beaters are ace and look like fun to chuck about on the touge.
Enroute to Hakone, near Mt. Fuji

The highlight of the trip without a doubt. I rented an FD from a small but growing business called ‘Fun2Drive’. Without going into too much detail, the RX7 was a machine that did everything right. The perfect sports car, front to back. Oh yeah, the roads in Japan’s mountainous areas are sublime.

This red legend will be revisited in a future post.

The first R34 GTR I saw on Japanese roads. I went bananas, the people on the bus must have been weirded out.

I almost didn’t get the chance to experience 7’s day that year. But thanks to the typical friendliness of the Japanese, a scenario played out that was written in the stars, for real. Long story short, I was young and dumb, I failed to plan, realised at the wrong time that Daikoku Parking Area is access-only via vehicle, a bystander who had just finished work in the evening offered to take my parents and I into the service station. For me, even that very short 15 minutes, felt like complete heaven.

The Land-Jet…
Tokyo’s tree in the sky
I found that the Japanese are really enthusiastic when it comes to cars. A big surprise to me, was the amount of non-Japanese marques, like this Mini. Very cool to see.
Roll on chrome… back to the early 00’s

Another tuner/service garage a few streets down from my uncle’s house. This place, ‘Seed Racing Car Engineering’, seemed like it was serious. I am regretting not taking enough photos, being overwhelmed by it all. What a place…

My last day in Japan on that trip. I went for a walk around the neighbourhood’s surrounding area and these final three images conclude this post well. That stall was selling fresh blueberries I think. Unmanned, the CCTV camera caught anybody trying to ‘do the dirty’ and not pay the 300 yen (~£2) in exchange for a box. Also, for some reason, I took a liking to the houses out there. The design of their residential buildings are cool and each house had character. I used to play Pokemon on the GameBoy Colour, and weirdly enough, it felt like I was venturing through one of the fictional towns and villages from the game. Odd, I know…