02/21/2007: "Cruise through Yashio"
mood: ZOMG Turbos
This past Sunday I was supposed to go to Yokohama for the Chinese New Year but the cost along with 6-hour round trip train had me changing my mind. Instead, I sat around the house preparing for midterms in the next week. Near the end of the night, Neil gave me a call and said he was hanging out with a Japanese friend of his and were going for a cruise and asked if I wanted to come. How could I say no, I needed to get out of the house and couldn't turn down an opportunity to see some tuned cars.
On sundays the trains are pretty much empty making it easy and comftorable to get anywhere
A quick 20 minute ride to Yashio later, I met up with Neil and his friend Masa. On a side note, something I'm a big fan of here is that they put christmas lights in trees all over Japan year round to give the lighting a bit of charm and a friendly feel. Blue is my favorite color, so I snapped a couple pics of the trees outside the station.
I was very surprised to find that Masa spoke only a few words of English. Somehow, through the use of hand gestures and universal car part names, Neil had forged a friendship with this guy. I was happy to get the chance to practice my Japanese in a more car-oreinted environment. A difference from talking to people who know why you are in Japan versus someone who just is a normal joe is that they will talk to you in normal speed and complexity and expect you to respond in the same manner...especially if you make a point to speak to them in Japanese first. I felt I held my own and was able to have very lengthly conversations about everything from cars, to video games, to girls. I wish I had recorded some of it cause he had some interesting things to say about life in Japan.
Masa is in a car club based out of Chiba. In his car club, he has 5 or 6 members who all specialize in "drift style" driving. He himself owns two cars, a highly modified S14 and a slightly modified R32 GTS-T. That night, since both his cars were down, he was borrowing a female friend of his's S13 Silvia. I also got a chance to ride in this S13 during our cruise through Yashio.
Excuse the pictures, it was totally dark so I had to use flash. Here is the female owned S13 (girls in America take note). Masa didn't seem to think very highly of the car but I was thoroughly impressed. He said this level of modification is very normal, and in Japan, there was nothing really special about it.
Here is the engine bay. Like he said, for the most part stock, but clean none-the-less.
On the left you can see his Skyline. One of the reasons Neil asked me to come hang out was so I could take a look at his RB20(skyline's engine) which was acting up. Neil had told Masa about the Skyline I owned back in the states and about my experience with the RB20 motor so he wanted my opinion. Masa told me a few weeks back that he was driving his car hard with some other car guys and when he reached home, it started idling funny and died. He hasn't been able to get it started since and wanted my take on what it could possibly be. I don't know what magic they thought i had in my fingertips cause we had absolutely no light and no tools. I made an educated guess on what he should try to tackle first and told him that I'd return in the daylight next week to help if he wanted me to.
Afterwards, we then headed over to his Apartment complex to check out his S14.
Yea, it's hot, and has about 20k invested total throughout the car. On the exterior, he has full aero, wide body in the rear, a carbon wing, ultra ultra deep dish wheels, and a custom fiberglass dropvent hood to go with his custom V-mount intercooler.
Here's his mmmm sexy engine bay. He told me he used a Trust core and custom fabbed up the V-mount intercooler setup to give him maximum turbo spool up time (cause of the small amount of tubing used). He also told me that he installed that Apex'i RX6 turbo and used engine management to utilize his custom GTI-R individual throttle body setup. Shortly after, I'd say about 30 seconds, I collapsed from testicular excitement caused by the sexiness of his SR20 engine.
The shop that helped him put the whole car together is Tec Arts. I guess they are also based in the area as we cruised by it when we went out in the S13. Tec Arts is also famous in Japan and specialize in AE86 Truenos/Levins. They even compete professionally with an 86 in the D1 Grand Prix Series.
Here is his interior. He has the usual goods inside, momo detachable steering wheel, greddy gauges, dildo shift knob. He also has this priming extra fuel cell... or something? I didn't quite understand his explanation but he had this custom made extra fuel cell in the back seat area that did something special and fancy. Of course, he also had a full cage. Only losers in Japan roll around their tuner cars without full cages. Hell, even his skyline, which he bought for only $1,500 by the way, has a full cage in it. They're all about safety when it comes to their vehicular racing.
I tried to get him to do an Option Magazine style pose so I could take a cooler picture but I don't think he understood my translation...that, or he did and just ignored it on purpose.
We then hopped in the S13 and cruised around with the Laurel through Yashio. I proceeded to ask Masa more questions about the S13 and racing spots throughout the Kanto area (tokyo area). He gave me the scoop on the better places to go. He also explained that if I wanted to see drifting, Saitama wasn't exactly the best place to do it. He also told me some interesting facts about the cops in the area. The cops got wise and started fighting fire with fire. Cop cruisers made to combat modified cars, use the exact same cars and performance parts as the tuners. He was telling me about how he would see fully tuned GT-Rs and RX-8s cruising the C1 loop looking for trouble makers. Also, the cops go through an extensive drifting school to ensure they have the highest driving skill possible. He also popped my illusion about the freedom of drifting in Japan and told me that in the city, the cops are very hard on racing and that most people just go to the Touge or one of the many tracks in the area when they want to drift. Difference is, here, you have 3 world famous tracks in close proximity, open everyday all day for cheap.
I tried to record a quick race between the Laurel and S13 but I failed and only recorded right after, where I talked to masa about the car. I know I blurt out with random English from time to time when I know they don't understand, but, it's ok. The Japanese in the video is pretty simple, but if you haven't taken any classes, I pretty much just comment on how fast I thought the car was. He told me he thought it was never fast and I told him I thought the turbo was fast and asked him if it was stock. He then told me it was from an S14 Silvia.
After our cruise we went back and parked next to the Skyline and I learned something a bit troubling. Japanese car enthusiasts have the exact same problem as American car enthusiast, having nothing to do. And... do the same thing we do once we finally decide on something to do. We sat there going back and forth asking what the other wanted to do and if anyone had any ideas. After about half an hour of sitting in the parking lot like a bunch of boobs, someone finally recommended going to a Coco's. Oh god no, that's exactly what I used to do in sac. In sac we always sit in a group in a parking lot with nothing to do and eventuall go to a Denny's. *sigh* oh well. We drove over and ate at the restaurant and continued small talk about different ish. I also found out Masa is a big fan of the Final Fantasy series, especially #7. Hey, that makes him A-OK in my book. After awhile, we went back to the station and I headed home. Good times.
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Saturday, February 24th
*Cool* Cat....I can't delete the first one.....poo