Time Attack UK x Modified Live 2020 @ Cadwell Park

The pause we’ve had to endure for months finally came to an end last month, when TAUK was back in full throttle at the hallowed grounds of Cadwell. Technically, the season started one month prior, kicking off Round 1 at Oulton, but I didn’t attend, so for me, the UK event calendar started in August. I hadn’t set foot or wheel at a track since the Zummy event at TC2000 in February. Definitely felt a bit stale from the lack of carboy activities throughout the spring/summer, nevertheless, ticket booked, I headed over to my favourite UK race venue.

Just like last year, 2020 also saw rainfall, only, not as much but with a shit load of fog. From a driver’s persepctive, hampered visibility and unfavourable surface conditions are two obstacles you’d rather not have to tackle. This issue most likely compounded for those teams who had less seat-time this year in order to get their machines dialled in, due to track days and race circuits being shutdown.

Before I give you Time Attack content, I’ll throw these photos down of what I feel like were “best in show” at this year’s Modified Live. The turn out was, well, different to last year. I feel like it wasn’t necessarily the volume of attendants, but more so the lack of appeal for me personally. I doubt my tastes have changed in 12 months, yet I was slightly underwhelmed with what showed up this year. However, there were some cool things parked up, take a look:

Appropriately, it was this FD RX-7 that was first to catch my eye as I walked up to the “show and shine” area. I encountered this car over at Rotary Revs earlier this year, as they were who put most of this build together. RE-Amemiya; ings+1 Z-Power wing; FEED carbon handles. That’s a holy trinity, tainted by the wheels, but we’ll let it slide…

I know zilch about French hatchbacks, but this hot little pocket rocket – the Renault 5 GT Turbo, IF you’re unfamiliar – was too vibey for me to just walk past. Look at the interior design! Bar the massive wheels, I’m surprised this example wasn’t still MAXPOWER’ed to death. Instead, the owner kept it relatively plain-clothed, only changing the exterior by replacing the front and rear clips with an aftermarket piece. Oh, and that vented clam-shell bonnet. Okay, maybe there is a little 2000’s era styling still left. Power and weight in low dosages can be an enjoyable recipe, and I bet this car will prove me right.

A near-enough OEM LanEvo 5. These cars will never go off, but at the same time I wouldn’t consider the design timeless. It occupies a weird in-between, something like a car that will remain a modern classic for many years to come. Even wore some nifty, functional-looking wheels made by 5Zigen.

I did notice that the number of Hondas was down from last year this time round. A white EK did make an appearance on some NB MX-5 (?) wheels. To most people, this Honda Civic is just that, on old Jap hatchback. But, even though I’ve never driven one, I have always imagined that handling one at speed is akin to controlling one’s own limbs: natural. I think this sentiment of mine has a lot to do with the Best Motoring episode where Gan-San pilots an EK9 on the absolute edge.

Three very wise men, leaving their FK2 Type R Civics in stock form. Honestly, aesthetically, I don’t know what you’d be compelled to alter on one of these. Compared to say, the EP3, the design department went to town with this generation. Exactly how it should be.

A couple drift demos were brought out during the day between sessions, entertaining the crowd and all that. I was stood at the end of the pit-straight at first, and then realised a minute later that I was shooting completely in the wrong spot. Things got a bit lairy at the “Gooseneck” downhill chicane.

After seeing Tegiwa’s NSX at this year’s Autosport International show, I knew I had to witness it blast past me once I found out it was the outfit’s Attack instrument of precision. This chassis looks right at home out on a track, especially being equipped with an NSX-R GT “F1 style” inlet snorkel. Unfortunately, the K24 engine let go on the day, but the team more than likely have something in their arsenal to bring back the car in a form superseding what it once was. The best the team could manage to achieve was a 1:48:025, before the motor gave up the ghost.

Another sight to behold was yet, of course, another FD RX-7. This one though, was running every minute availabe during the qualifying session I watched. Regardless of its non-rotary nature due to the Honda heart-transplant, this car is definitely one that has been set up with pure function in mind, whilst remaining as gorgeous as ever. Mazda, we’re still waiting for the revival…

At the highest point of the course.

A few more stuff that I piqued my interest walking parking area. This time, I was unable to get access to the paddock, which is where I would rather spend most of my time at an event like this to be honest.

If you have made it this far, thanks for checking in. I’ll leave you with some more photos without rambling over them…

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!

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

Japanaholik’s Journal | Lowstars Meeting 2019 @ Nikko Circuit

So here we are, on day #6 according to the name of my folder where all 600+ photos are kept from the first half of the holiday. In retrospect, it didn’t feel like a typical holiday. I don’t really like to lounge much when I am abroad. I obviously had a free day here and there, but for the most part, I had events or places lined up that I couldn’t miss. Especially when we had flown thousands of miles to a country with an abundance of fresh culture and beauty.

The ryokan (traditional-style inn – it had the vibe of a franchise hotel instead of a humble family-run establishment, but even still it was nice for the night) had such a glorious view of the surrounding mountains, it made me forget about my camera hence no photos. That, and I was busy getting prepared for the day ahead early that morning.

Usui-san, who I met in the last post, informed me of the show-and-throw event: Lowstars Meeting, held over at Nikko Circuit. A lot of you will know/recognise this course from the Best Motoring videos online, as it was, and probably still is, used by Option magazine for filming MyCar Challenges and countless drift demonstrations. This ~1km long track is half the length of the coveted TC2000 in Tsukuba, but I reckon Nikko is just as difficult with its tight consectuive hairpins and narrow width.

The circuit grounds itself aren’t huge, and I only spotted one signpost directing us to the drift haven. Pulled up into the overflow car park and I already found an array of machines belonging to the spectators who came in pretty high numbers.

We enter and exit the tunnel to get to the paddock, and pure mechanical noise hits you with increasing volume as the cars slide around the long right-hander. As we walked towards the track, intermittent views of the machines whipping their rear-ends wide could be seen through gaps in the safety fence.

Something I could not help but notice was the unusually high number of Subarus and Mitsubishis. At a drift event? I know its Japan but… oh okay, I guess its expected here. They looked good going sideways, and that is all that matters.

Once you walk out into the main paddock/pit area, theres a wide variety of metal, some just sitting pretty with the cleanest engine bays I have ever laid eyes on, whilst others have their bonnet up to let some steam off with no intention of showing off any bling under the hood.

The show was very relaxed, a few vendors here and there, but it was just a really chill, non-competitive atmosphere, guys and girls simply coming together to enjoy their cars, in whatever fashion they choose. There was a timetable for all the different sessions, but I was just floating about, trying to soak it all in as it was the first track-event I had attended in Japan.

Thanks for passing through, hope something caught your eye and made you smile with glee, or maybe you were horrified at some of the cars you saw, either way its all good.

This post was going to be a 2-in-1 job, but this already looks like a hefty enough album to publish, so the second half of that day will be uploaded in a separate entry.

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VVV B O N U S G A L L E R Y VVV

UK Time Attack Championship Rd.1 | So[u]lo Kampaign

So, here we go, my first visit to the ‘mini-Nurburgring’, where I got to be on the other side of the fence as a spectator of the first round of the UK Time Attack Championship.

As a “genre” of motorsport, time attack is without a doubt my favourite. I have always been the type of person who would rather spend countless numbers of laps making virtual rounds on Tsukuba Circuit in Gran Turismo’s Time Trial mode, as opposed to battling the blind AI on Single Player campaign. The sport is literally self-improvement & development in the most definitive sense. The ego is made to take a back seat, okay even if you are technically competing against other drivers, the primary challenge is yourself and bettering your own abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the desire for wheel-to-wheel racing, and watching drivers chase the lead like there’s no tomorrow can be as exciting and dramatic, but something does lack when I see F1 or Touring Cars on televsion. Maybe its the fact the cars look and drive very similarly due to the strict regulations; then again that could be a fundamental aspect of motorsport where its all about the man/woman behind the wheel and less about the vehicle. Time Attack, to me, exhibits the ultimate balance between “man and machine”. Self-expression is just as important as exercising your physical and mental strength and prowess over the opponents.

For the most part of my life as a car enthusiast, I have been pretty much oblivious of the UK’s series, even though it has been running since 2006. Maybe it was just me being bias towards the scene out in Japan, and neglecting any interest of the motorsport right here in my country of residence. In order to get myself out of that prejudiced rut, I decided to head out to the Cadwell Park the first May Day Monday of this month and give Time Attack here in the UK a fair chance.

Keep scrolling for the snaps I kaptured with my new Sigma tele-lens. This post is going to have more structure than previous in terms of gallery layout, so enjoy!

I arrived slightly later than I should have, mid-morning was when the 20 minute practice sessions started for the top tier classes (Clubman/Pocket Rocket – Club – GT3/Pro, in that sequential order) so I shot over to trackside straightaway, starting with the Hall Bends section and then working my way to Gooseneck and Mansfield. It did rain on and off throughout the day, which wasn’t nice and I didn’t fancy getting my new-to-me used lens ruined so I cut the day short whilst ensuring I got some worthwhile photos.

This deep teal EF9 Civic caught my eye in an instant, wearing a custom splitter and sideskirt combination and boot-mounted wing, it certainly looked the part. To top it off it had a set of the undisputedly greatest Japanese wheel set of all time: RAYS Volk Racing TE37. Passenger windscreen-wiper delete hints at the seriousness of this car, shedding any weight where possible. It is a good job Chris (the owner/driver, who journeyed from his home in North Wales to compete) kept his side’s wiper fitted for the showers later in the day.