Home » Archives » September 2008 » JGTC Finals at Fuji Speedway

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09/26/2008: "JGTC Finals at Fuji Speedway" mood: Excited

blush So with life here in Tokyo ever becoming more and more busy, I find myself completely forgetting about my internet duties. Yes, I have yet to make a post for what seems (or probably is) 6 months or more but rest assured I have not forgotten about you all. Many things have happend and I have actually collected pictures for various posts, but just haven't gotten around to writing them.

So, I decided to catch up. Starting from this one I'll load up all the main missing posts and I promise to make more frequent posts of my last year here in Japan.

Back in May the finals for the JGTC (Japanese GT Championship) was rolling around and with great luck my girlfriend, Miki, got us a pair of tickets to go see it. Miki's father, unknown to her, happend to be a rather high-ranking executive working for Yokohama tires. Yokohama tires is a brand fond in any Japanese car enthusiast's mind and getting a chance to meet someone who was making a living being an executive for it was pretty exciting. He was incredibly nice (thank god, I've heard some horror stories about Japanese fathers meeting foreigner boyfriends of their daughters :crysmile and when he found out that I had such a passion for cars, we had a great conversation over dinner about the tire industry. Since then he's been so nice as to offer me tickets to events Yokohama sponsors.

The JGTC is a form of racing in Japan where they use production cars as a base and create mind-bogglingly fast GT machines which they then compete with throughout famous tracks in Japan. The finals of this series take place at the ever world-famous Fuji Speedway. The event started at around 9am or 10am so in order for us to arrive in time, we had to leave at 3am the morning of. Fuji Speedway is located near the base of Mt.Fuji in Shizuoka prefacture about 100km southwest of Tokyo. Since I live in Yokohama (I moved, I'll talk about that later), it's about a 3-4 hour drive west on local roads. In the above picture you can see me parked in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere on my way to Fuji.

We arrived at about 6am, a teeenie bit ahead of schedule. Having never really been to Fuji Speedway before, we decided to explore the grounds. We opened the envelope from her dad and the tickets we had seemed rather normal enough at first glance but...

As it turns out, Miki's dad is a lot more important to Yokohama then we originally thought. The tickets he gave us not only let us park on the paddock alongside the race cars, but also both saved us parking fee and a long walk from the commoners' parking area. Aside from parking privileges, the tickets also were pretty much all-access VIP passes to anywhere in the event! big grin

After we wandered Fuji Speedway for awhile we returned to the car for a much needed nap before the racing events started. As you can see from above, Fuji Speedway is really close to Mt.Fuji.

As you can see I was pretty tired from the no sleep and the long drive...

And Miki was so tired she turned into the cookie monster.

Here is a shot of a back section of the course. Also, to your right you can see part of the VUP parking area. Had they been VIP like certain people, they wouldn't have had to park is such a loser area.

Here is part of the paddock for the race teams' trucks and support vehicles. To your left is the garages and starting grid of the course.

Walking on top of that building you saw to the left on the previous picture gives you a good view of the starting grid and the grandstands. This area was mostly populated by media getting ready to take shots of the GT cars.

Looking to your immediate left shows the higher view of the paddock with rows of racing team semis and support vehicles.

Between the trucks and the garages, various teams setup amazingly elaborate lounge areas for their workers and drivers. Some were complete mobile cafes/restaurants exclusively used by their respective VIP members and sponsors.

Another back shot of one of Fuji's hairpin turns. Again, we can see VUP parking lots in the distance. If you park in a VUP lot, not only do you have to pay, but you have to take a shuttle bus to the track since the walk is so far. Dang, that sure does sound unpleasant.

I don't know why I'm showing this. I'm obligated to tell you Bridgestone sucks and if you buy their tires they'll surely explode sealing the doom of you and your loved ones as you crash and die in your car. But, all that aside, I wish I could afford to have that many extra sets of the same super expensive wheels just lying around in case I needed them.

Meet Mr.G (not his real name, but a fitting title for his occupational status). Mr.G got a phone call from a Mr.Miki's Yokohama Exec Father telling him to give his daughter +1 a personal tour of Yokohama's operations. Mr.G is the manager and overlord of Yokohama's team in the JGTC and is beyond awesome/cool for taking the time to show us around.

After he gave us a tour of Yokohama's permanent garage in the back of the paddock, he took us into the garages and staging area for all the JGTC teams. I've never seen a real GT car up close and getting the chance to see so many was quite unbelievable.

Each team was busying about frantically finishing last touches on their machines. Our first stop was this FD, which is probably the most hardcore FD I've seen in my entire life. The entire body is pretty much dry carbon and light enough that you could play catch with it.

We continued on and I scoped out this famous ARTA NSX. This car was famous even to me in the states and I was surprised to see it in person.

Miki and I began to realize how special these tickets were when we turned around and saw that we were the only people walking the staging area. As we moved garage to garage Mr.G was approached by famous drivers and team managers, all coming to pay their respects with hearty handshakes and dutiful bows.

Ooh...oh dang. Oh man. crying angry, grr Around this time I began to see the first of the new Nissan GTRs dominating Tokyo streets, but, this was one of the few and rare fully tuned GT racecars made from the new GTR.

The brakes on this beast were so big they could practically stop the earth's rotation. To top it, they looked to be made from some carbon-composite material...

Moving on into the interior, I was visually assaulted with more custom carbon pieces they I'd ever imagined possible. Call me a JDM fanboy if you like, but my love for carbon fiber is unmatched. After seeing this I practically puked joy-filled blood and passed out.

Here's where I puked blood and passed out. No matter what the naysayers may be blabbering, the new GTR flings fecal matter all over the competition.

Here we are looking at Eclipse's garage. Eclipse is sponsored by Advan (Yokohama's sports brand), so Mr.G made the team manager take a picture with us.

Awe inspiring. I've never seen a track like this before in California...

This is Orido checking out the track before he hopes into his GT IS350. You may remember Orido from such things as being a D1 judge, famous D1 driver, or all around hardcore man who lives life by the seat of his pants. Oh, theres also a Takata NSX behind him.

Here he is getting ready to man-up.

Artistic picture? no? well I thought it was neat.

While teams put in some practice laps, Miki and I thought we'd peruse the various events going on for the common folk.

The Advan booth seemed as popular as could be.

They had a mini car show going on as well. This is Orido's personal Supra. Later in the day he used this for a drift exhibition. Good man.

This AE86 was on display. His engine was pretty zesty.

Now it was time to settle in and watch the pre-race exhibition. At this point, our tickets endeavored to impress further. We went to look for our seats and we couldn't find them. Distressed, we went to ask a worker and they motioned us over to a private elevator with a guard. The guard reviewed our passes and opened the elevator for us which took us to Yokohama's exclusive use sky-box. The sky-box was fully outfit with multiple LCD screens with race info and much appreciated air conditioning.

This was the view from our seats.

mm hmm.

There's Orido getting ready to drift it up.

On the opposite side of the sky-box there was a sort of balcony with a view overlooking the mini car show and various company exhibits. After we finished watching the pre-race event, we left the sky-box to another VIP room in another building. This room was called the Platinum room and was like a dining hall for sponsors with free lunch and drinks.

Very complex bentos with a colorful spread were presented. Very nice.

Sitting and relaxing in the A/C.

After all the GT cars were staged on the starting grid and getting ready to begin racing, all the press was allowed to enter the track to take some opportune pictures of the cars and drivers. We decided to give it a stroll and see if we could meet anyone famous.

Hey what do you know I found Orido. Very friendly and was nice enough to snap a quick photo with me and Miki.

That's the drift king Tsuchiya on the left of the car being interviewed by some TV channel. He didn't want to talk to me...

Feces. Everywhere.

He's very famous.

There's that dang sexy blue GTR again. mmmmm.

And they're off! This race was 500km total. Needless to say it took awhile.

Here we are several hours later at the finish. You can see the media crowding around the winners.

Here they are at the winners' circle triumphantly sporting their trophies and spraying champagne on each other.

After several interviews with the winners and some winding down, people began to lineup for the bus to the VUP parking. This is our view from our sky-box balcony of the strife the commoners were faced with.

Most everyone had left by 8pm or so and we decided to move towards the car to head home ourselves. On our walk back to the paddock we took notice of the exceedingly overflowing trash cans. Wow. sad

Time to head home...

Overall is was a blast of a trip and I never thought I'd get a chance to experience a JGTC race. It was entertaining as all heck and the tickets Miki's dad got us (and the personal tour too) were just icing on the cake. I really appreciated it and couldn't be happier!

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wow , that looked like it was an awesome time . what the royal treatment you recieved . i think i need to change , due to the awesome ness of the gtr has taken its dues . i wish i could have mmc rotors . i agree about the bridgestone tires , they only last for one race then they are garbage .