Return of Festivities | Drift Matsuri 2021

What’s to come will be worth the wait, so I don’t feel the need to apologise for being late.

I’ve distanced myself from Soul Fokus these past few months. I feel as if there’s a lot of noise online that’s difficult for me to negotiate through in order for my photos to gain that “reach”. I daren’t end up following the herd and doing what others are regurgitating just to get my shit noticed. I’ve even switched to a Nokia dumbphone to restrict my screentime, meaning I’ve only got access to social media when at home on my laptop. Obviously, I’ll still check out what the feeds are saying, but I definitely don’t miss aimlessly scrolling for accumulative hours on end every day, that’s for sure.

A hiatus is good for recalibrating.

Anyways, let’s see how you like this latest upload to boot-up 2022!

Drift Matsuri doesn’t require yet another introduction. The weekenders who patiently wait all year to send it in full measures at Anglesey Circuit know the event very well, as do the many hundreds of visitors that endure the boggy sideline getting piss-wet through spectating the smokey spectacle.

If you are new around these ends, then make sure to get upto speed with Drift Matsuri over in the last event’s coverage here and here!

This time around, I’d stuffed the back of my Demio with all the photo printing gear aswell as my camera kit, as I’d be selling framed photographs of the drivers kickin’ their machines sideways on both the Saturday and Sunday. It wasn’t an easy task trying to capture images of as many cars as possible that ran on either 1 of the 3 track layouts, but I managed [just about] and am highly grateful for all those who stopped by the stall and bought a print.

Anyway, less about me and my business ventures, and more of what was to come that Halloween weekend…

…starting off with this FC3S RX-7 belonging to Joe Dunlop, whom I remember chatting to in one of the pit garages back in 2019, interrogating him on why the fuck there’s a piston-engine sitting front-and-centre! Jokes aside, the SR20DET is a cool alternative to the car’s original engine, and probably just as reliable *hee-hee*.

Many a YouTube sensation were in attendance of course, for content and that. Can’t lie though, Adam Ivell’s S15 is a neat-looking thing.

Mike Lewicki pulled his zenki-S14 out for the festival, in the same outfit I saw it adorned in two years back: Navan Style-1 kit, kouki rear spoiler, and those itty-bitty Work Equip 03s.

By the way, this Silvia is turboless, so you already know the driving is as aggressive as the vehicle’s ride height, millimetres from the track surface.

As Luke and I did the obligatory paddock promenade, every direction we looked there were BMWs left, right, and centre. This is expected here in the UK, as they tend to be the most affordable and reliable drift package, especially the compact 3 Series models.

Amongst the civilian vehicles was this vibrant blue UFO wearing an aftermarket kit of sorts and dumped on its Work VS-KFs. Soarers/SC (Z30) are very underrated platforms and deserve more attention I reckon.

This S13’s bonnet sure is a functional item, perhaps hinting at what lies beneath the fibreglass skin.

Nathan Rudd giving his ‘rolla the once over in preparation for the day ahead.

Nearly ‘onikyan’ (Japanese for “demon camber” – a term used to describe the aggressive alignment) on the front of Adamm’s RB S15.

If you can guess the number of Work Wheels in the Low Origin pit shed, you win 1 prayer that you can one day be as fancy as these bois.

Dan Joyce turning pink flame into white smoke!

SR20 drivers express their unequivocal conviction, regardless of the current market value of these golden-era FR Jap stallions.

The frigid windchill didn’t put me and Luke off spectating drivers as they navigated the Touge course, located at the highest point of the circuit grounds overlooking the coast.

This track layout is popular amongst the attendees, as the uphill section gives confidence to push their cars more thanks to all that weight shifted over the rear axle.

Oh, and the manji opportunity on the wide-laned straight is always high-adrenaline for group runners.

Supercharging its way around the left-hand at the peak of the Touge track, Nate and his V8 don’t W8 about.

Wish I saw more of this NB. I do miss mine a lil bit. Aubergine Roadster looks klass on trispokes.

Another Roadsterfarian going all out. If I’m not mistaken, this white meteor is running a V6 under its bonnet.

The familiar face of this PS13 and ex-Low Origin member – Danny Whyman – of course made an appearance at Matsuri.

Street style is the best style.

Irishman Jack Kelly made it across the Irish Sea, E46 in tow, and he swung the German brute around Trac Môn all weekend.

Luke taxied us between the Touge course and the pits, just so we didn’t freeze to death, and also to check in to see if there was any interest at my photoprint stall. I’d left a register for drivers to sign so that I’d know to look out for any cars in particular, ensuring efficiency when out shooting.

Ian Leggett leading this pack up the Corkscrew coming into Peel corner with his E30 Touring and its tailgate wide-open – similar to the V8’s throttle.

Harry Nixon’s 180SX Type-X “daily” I spotted last time I was at Anglesey for Matsuri, reappeared two years later, looking very much the same as it did, which is great! Such a “under-the-radar” motor but effortlessly klassic.

Back down in the pit area for a little break from the action. Well, not really, because just over the pit wall were those launching their cars down the straight charging into the turn-1, perfect for those big-power, long-wheelbase chassis.

I can imagine some drivers were spending a fair portion of the morning tweaking suspension settings and generally getting to grips with the track layout, as Anglesey is quite unique with its layout and elevation change. It’s not like drift-days are regularly held at the track either, so you’ve got to be on your A-game, chucking it into the fast bends especially.

Luke and I walked all the way anti-clockwise along the coastal path, as we watched drivers go hell for leather out the banking, towards and then past us, entering the next longest right-hand sweeper on the circuit. This Mazda pick-up went by, howling as it did, and I doubted myself thinking it sounded like an NA rotary. Maybe I’m that used to Wankel avoidance here in the UK, I dismissed it thinking it was a cammy SR or something similar. Low and behold, it turns out owner/driver/builder Phil Randall has respectably placed a turbocharged 13B up against the truck’s firewall. Salute to that man.

Mantas Uksass brought out the only S2000 I have ever come across doing the slidey-slide here in the UK. The widebody it wears was interesting, with a Spoon Sports-inspired front bumper and a tight arch-to-tyre fitment.

More images to follow, for now, I’ll leave you with a sequence of Adamm taking out a marker post with the front end of his S15…

…along with this dramatic sunset sky moments before the night session commenced.

Check out @soulfokus on IG & FB to keep up to date with coverage of Drift Matsuri 2021 and more!

Starting Off On The Right Foot | Matty Ferguson’s Honda S2000

Finally. I get to write a feature after the 23 months consisting of Japan stuff, a load of event coverage, a brief bit about an MX-5 specialist and his R33 GT-R, some more car shows, and most recently the introduction of Civik. So yeah, alot has occurred since my last and debut feature I decided to kategorize as a ‘Fokal Point’ article, which some of you might remember involving Josh Harbour and his R32 GT-R. If not, you can catch up on that here.

One of, if not the primary, reasons for me signing up to a WordPress subsription and purchasing a web domain was that I wanted to be able to share my experiences on this planet as a carboy. But I’ve always known – even if not consciously – that the reason magazines and online blogs appealed to me so much were the inspirational glimpses of the people behind the assembly of metal, glass, rubber and plastic.

Yeah, the cars are cool and all that, but the journey people go through alongside their personalised mode of transport is what always captured and captivated my attention. At the end of the day, our vehicles are just the medium through which we convey our feelings brought on by how the car drives or what the vehicle represents.

So when Hamza and I were taking a stroll along the paddock of Croft Circuit during Mimms Honda Day in July of this year, I nearly twisted my vertebrae beyond repair when my eyes were magnetically drawn to Matty’s Honda S2000. The way the car just sat there next to a bright red Audi R8 and managed to detract all of the German supercar’s presence, I knew instantly this roadster deserved more than a one-take glance.

The upload count of shots posted up in the threepart blog should provide clear indication of how much of my interest was piqued by this two-seat Honda from 1999. After the show was done and over with, going through the images from that day, I realised how much Matty’s S2000 stood out to me.

Why, you might be wondering?

Well, I’m gonna let the photos show you exactly why this S2000 is an up-and-coming build that’s about to get even sicker than it already is.

We’d arranged to meet in his hometown near Darlington, somewhere I’ve only been once, and that was for a company training workshop, but that’s besides the point.

I scoped out a location to shoot Matty’s car in that wasn’t too far from where he was based. Early that morning I headed straight to our agreed meeting point, where I was having a little pre-shoot scout. Matty messaged me and invited me to his house as he was still cleaning up the motor since he didn’t find the time to the night before.

I drove over to his, parked my car up and we chit-chatted as he went over his favourite points on the car.

Turns out the evening before that morning was a bit of a episode involving Matty’s friend’s seized brake caliper off of his Mini Cooper S. He almost thought his bone was broken/fractured in his ankle, due to a caliper piston rewind tool going haywire from being used in conjunction with an impact drill (not recommended).

It is what it is though, shit does and will happen. We weren’t working to a strict schedule or nothing, it was a Saturday after all, and I think 8am on a weekend is like 6am on a weekday, so early enough as is.

An S2000 is a highly-versatile chassis, and that is mostly down its outright good-looks. You don’t have to do much to the car in the cosmetics department, since Honda’s designers did a grand job on perfecting the exterior of the car to a point where there isn’t an angle from which you’ll grow tired from looking at it.

Matty informed me of the date he took ownership of his 2005 model-year, hardtop S2000, and I was kinda taken aback by how recent I’d thought it was: June 2020. For some reason, I felt as if the car had been carefully crafted over a longer period of time, going through a couple phases before this one. But, no. Matty bought the Honda in factory trim, still wearing its original coats of Silverstone Metallic, with the only visible modification being a K&N Cone Air Filter.

The S2000 has always appeared cartoonish when viewed from the front, head-on. It’s as if the design engineers intentionally gave the car a personable character.

Now, there’s not much to say about Matty’s car, and that’s in no way me being dismissive, of course. The fact I don’t need to say much about the car, theres’s no need for me to be throwing all these fancy adjectives up just for you to take more notice of the details, so that in and of itself speaks more volume than I ever could. I mean, if you can’t appreciate this awfully simplistic method of modifying, then maybe you’re expecting too much.

Understandably so, with the amount of things we’re bombarding ourselves with via social media, you can’t help but be desensitized to anything that’s truly relatable. Until, perhaps, you stumble across something like this car for the first time ever, IRL, no filter, no bullshit promo, no hashtags. Just a real enthusiast showing how he likes his cars by putting together an example that is undeniably well-finished.

Obviously, I don’t mean finished in the literal sense, as whilst I was snapping away with my DSLR on this random research building’s carpark, Matty told me of his vision and this is most definitely not that, yet.

But let’s stick with what we have in the present.

What exactly are we all looking at here?

The “elephant in the room”, for me anyways, certainly has to be the non-Honda body colour. Initially, I’d assumed the “Tahitian Green Pearl” paint code was nabbed from the CR-Xs and EF/EG Civics, and pasted all over the S2000’s panels, but that colour is much more vibrant in retrospect. This shade of blue-green remains quite deep and subdued under direct sunlight, and frankly, the Honda pulls off Emerald Green miles better than the sourced-from Citroen C4 Cactus ever could.

By the way, the colour change was the very first alteration Matty chose to make to his car once he became its rightful owner. Although, from what he told me, it was a bit of a nightmare back-and-forth scenario with the bodyshop not completing the job to a standard you’d expect for the respray of a modern classic sports-roadster. Putting the past aside, the car’s bodywork was of course refinished properly and retrieved back to the hands of its owner for further tweaks to be made.

Fortunately, the low-hanging fog that morning muted all but our immediate surroundings, and the photos came out better than I’d imagined they would. I’m going to come across as arrogrant, but I have to admit that this is the best work I’ve produced thus far in my life as a person with a camera.

Back to the subject in fokus…

Once Matty got his whip back in the home garage, the tone was set for him to begin riffing off and enhance what was already at that point a great-looking car in its new lick of paint.

S2000s weren’t all that tip-toey off the showroom floor with their factory-spec suspension and ride height. Most definitely not as bad as a standard MX-5, but still, there’s always far too much tyre-to-arch clearance with standard cars, unless you’re buying a 911 GT3 or similar.

Matty selected a set of coilovers made by MeisterR, a company that has bases in the UK & USA. The choice Zeta CRDs have brought the ride height to a very acceptable distance to the ground, and tightened up the existing well-balanced chassis giving the driver just enough tactile feedback without compromising usability on the road, helped by the 9kg(F) & 7kg(R) spring rates.

By the way, the owner isn’t some up-and-coming YouTube sensation or a Forex trader’s prodigy. Yeah he’s a young guy in his early 20’s, but he’s still studying part-time whilst working a full-time job in the civil engineering sector. And he hasn’t rolled his car into a garage, tossed them the keys and demand for them to turn it into some kind of Insta-famous riceboi machine. Matty and his pals have all chipped in and carried out the work themselves, that includes fine tuning the suspension to get it cock-on without the tyre chafing against the inner arches and busting a tyre.

So, as you can see, not much is “going on” under the bonnet where the F20C engine resides. Time and resource will eventually come around for the owner to invest some of his attention to the powertrain, but all in good time. As it sits currently, the only alterations made to the engine are its Invidia Q300 catback stainless exhaust system allowing the F-series to emit it’s waste gases freely, but keeping the neighbours happy(ish) with a high-flow catalytic converter made by Berk Technology / Magnaflow.

Oh yeah, and if you didn’t spot it, an oil cap from Spoon Sports keeps a lid on things.

As Matty propped up the vented OEM bonnet, immediately grasping my attention was this piece sitting right on top of the Koyorad “Half-Size” aluminium thick-core radiator. If you’ve followed my Civik blog series, you’ll know that I was a bit miffed how my J’s Racing pressure cap wouldn’t fit onto my Koyorad rad. I was baffled as to how Matty’s fits and why I don’t have the same luck as him, haha 😦

15+ year old rubber most likely were not in the best of condition, so Matty went and chucked on some Spoon Sports polymer hoses for piece of mind.

I can imagine those of you who happen to be S2000 owners too, are interested in Matty’s choice of wheel and their fitment.

And if you happen not to show intrigue, are you okay? The flow-formed RG-D2 wheels by Yokohama Advan are a difficult option to discount when configuring your dream build, regardless of the chassis, they look great on everything! Matty chose to fit up a set of staggered 17″ wheels, 8J at the front, with 9J in the back, offsets measuring ET44 and ET45 respectively.

And I can’t not mention one of the greatest tread patterns of all time, courtesy of the Yokohama Rubber Company. AD08RS compound has been equipped to deal with everything input by the hands and feet of the driver, matching up to the staggered wheel sizing with 225/45 and 245/40 tyre specifications.

The Advan wheels’s polished lips gleam as they offset the Racing Hyper Black spoke faces.

Efforts have been made by Matty to ensure that the car appears as low as possible, without giving off that “stancey wanker” vibe. He’s done a damn good job if you ask me.

How is this car still relevant as ever? Honda, bring back an affordable high-performance FR two-seat sportscar, please, before you go all “Greenpeace” on us petrol-junkies.

Back onto the subject of the aero trim applied to the exterior of the car. A carbon fibre ducktail partly left bare to exposed the weave when viewed from the rear, carbon fibre sideskirt extensions made for an FD3S RX-7, and the smoothed OEM “AP2” front bumper & original lip spolier. A Voltex rear diffuser made of CFRP wasn’t in the best of shape so Matty chose to remove it from the car in case the damage went any further, but you can see it photographed here, if you so please.

Without sounding cliche, sitting passenger whilst Matty directed the S2000 through fast and slow B-road bends, I could sense a link between man and machine where both were in harmony as G-forces pulled the ~1270kg mass dynamically whilst the four tyres maintained grip throughout.

I jumped out the car to take a few panning shots as Matty zipped past me on a country lane. Thought I’d get some practice shots in with the local wildlife behind me.

The car isn’t crazily loud, but it sings a tune you wouldn’t want any other way.

When something looks as good as it goes, a sense of temporary bliss comes into effect. This was one of those moments.

Before we called it quits, Matty suggested a cool photo-opp spot not too far out in the countryside.

We drove up to a pair of electric gates that opened automatically, rolled right through all the way down this long-ass driveway, realising that we may or may not have been trespassing, haha.

We weren’t doing no one any harm, so I got Matty to position the roadster in the middle of this random household’s driveway, and let the shutter release.

Next thing we know, a lady in a new Land Rover Defender enters the premises and I’m thinking we’re about to get booted out or maybe worse! But Matty must have done some sweet-talking as I heard her compliment the Honda that was on her private property. She was 100% cool with us being there, we kept off the grass, and that was that, she just carried on for another 5-miles (exagerrating lol) to her doorstep.

Buddyclub LED Sequential Tailights complete the rear-end without over-doing it. To be honest, it’s probably not far off a “modern-day” interpretation of the S2000, similar to what we saw at TAS 2020 with Honda’s 20th Anniversary Concept, only this has nicer wheels…

That’s all I have to say about Matty’s S2000 right now. It doesn’t “break the internet” (yet) nor does it need to (yet). I’m positively sure that the evolution of this vehicle is in its infancy under the careful and particular owner.

Keep an eye out, is all I need to say, both right here on soulfokus.net and Matty’s IG @mattyfer5.

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

Sittin’ Sideways | UKDC @ Teeside Autodrome 2021

Lets end on a smokey note. I’ll keep the chat to a minimum, so you can just enjoy the photos!

By the way, I will be setting up a booth this coming weekend for Drift Matsuri, selling framed photo prints along with some stickers for you to rep!

Martin Wonnacott and his Chaser Tourer V set it off as one of the first out the gate in qualifying.
This photo was obviously not taken during qualifying, as Steve Biagioni is following Stefan Stefanov’s smoke trail. I was just eager to post this edit up early on, would make a good billboard eh?
Michael Bennett with a swift entry in his supercharged E36.
Didn’t get his name but this marshall was a cool guy. Danny Whyman’s S13 rear bumper safely kaptured and ready to collect before battles commence.
Almost right-angling with the lock!
Can’t tell if dropping a wheel, or just squatting as a result of the billion foot-pounds of torque on tap.
Another good-looking JZX100, this one driven by Karl Farrar.
Kouki…
or zenki???
This car looked pretty bare in comparison to its current full-livery state.
Ryan Hughes’ S14 gets top marks for aesthetic in my book.
When Tom Van Beek passes by, its commitment through and through.
Mad by name, mad by nature.
Meet and Greet time
D-MAX does it best
Would be cool to see a fully fledged A-Bo-Moon livery on Danny’s Nissan Silvia.
S15 dashboard because style is God
Not much wrong in this shot. That speaker could do with pissing off though.
Battles got underway once everybody had cleared the track.
Brad of Garage500 unfortunately got only one chase run in, as he was left tyreless minutes after this photo
The rear gonna disappear.
Team Japspeed driver Matt Denham being a top sport and giving Baggsy a hand after going off track due to a bit of contact between their cars.
The fight for the remaining spot on the podium
The final bouts of the day involved this pair giving it their absolute all for that numero uno title for Round 4.

I’ve no idea what the points were because I can’t remember, nor was I paying attention. However, I was aware enough to know that the 180SX wheeled by Matt Denham took the victory for the day.

And there you have it. Another competition drift event through my eyes and lens. It was a long day, pretty warm for the most part, too. I’m glad to have attended, seeing new cars make an appearance and “old” ones still laying down rubber.

Like I said at the start of this article, I’m going to be posted up at Anglesey for this weekend’s Drift Matsuri. Find me in one of the pit garages and I’ll hook you up with a high-res print, framed by yours truly!

Thanks checking in 🙂

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.

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | First Stop: The Ring

Just after coming back from Japan in June, returning to work wasn’t gruelling, but there’s always the helpless reminiscing about the great country no matter how many times I go back, its always an unforgettable experience.

I felt, however, I needed to do the trip that has always been within arms’ reach; the one any car “enthusiast” must fulfil as a rite of passage. Germany. Nurburgring in particular, but I wanted to ensure I got to see as much of the country as possible within a short span of time. Fortunately, I have a buddy who has featured on the site in previous posts (Luke) who has ventured twice before, so he had the Ring experience under his belt and was pretty keen on getting back out there this summer just gone. We planned the trip for about 6 nights, cramming a decent amount of highly car-related activities in. Not gonna spoile whats to come, but Nurburgring was just the beginning…

We picked the hire car up from the airport in Cologne, and made the drive down to Nurburg, home to the infamous Green Hell. It was really odd seeing the circuit, initially, as we were just rolling along the country road that lines up parallel to the Dottinger Hohe (the longest straight on the track, where we have all gone off at the end of on Gran Turismo). Luke was like, “See where that Audi gantry board is, that’s the home stretch”, and at first all I could do is replay memories in my head of watching replays of the virtual version of the Nordschleife, trying to work grasp my bearings. It was pretty nuts at first. Then it just kept getting nuttier, as the villages you drive through are littered with so much serious metal, you don’t know where to look.

A quick walk through the ‘ring`Boulevard’ where there’s a few manufacturer dealership/showrooms, a go-kart track, ‘ringwerk’ museum, a handful of giftshops, and a tattoo parlour. We then made our way back to the hero-hirecar which we spent hours debating over whether it was the update 184-bhp model or not. Turns out, it was, according to the VIN plate. Bit disappointing to be honest as I expected a bit more out of the tune-up Mazda made. Not complaining though; its boot was big enough for my camera backpack, a duffel, and a mini suitcase. Oh yeah, and it drove spektakularly.

On the Thursday we landed, practice for the VLN 4 hour endurance race was already in progress, so we headed to a couple corners where you can park up and spectate till your heart’s content, watching the beast-mimicking GT4 & GT3 cars blitz by, before we drove to our airbnb.

Took this just before I got shouted at by the giftshop saleswoman for pointing my camera at basically everything…