If driving to one of Japan’s most iconic tracks in a huge pack of widebody 911s wasn’t enough of a sensory overload, a 12 hour endurance race was soon to follow. This enduro is an annual event held by the Idlers club in the middle of summer. With a field of over 100 cars ranging from vintage Citroens and Minis to modern Porsches and open top race cars, I was in for quite the visual feast.
A bit before sunrise, I sat down in one of the removed passenger seats to try to catch a nap, but due to all the excitement I only managed to close my eyes for 30-45 minutes. It was going to be a long day filled with new experiences and making some great friends. Fortunately, the weather remained relatively cool for a summer day and all the entries from team RWB made it through the race without any huge issues.
There are a ton of photos showing how things went down, so please enjoy. I was a bit too tired after the race to document much of the drive home though. Just as Danny had warned me, we had been up for around 45 hours by the time we made it back to my place in Fujisawa after the race. A big thanks to Nakai-san and the RWB family for making this all possible.
Good morning Motegi
I wish those fresh tires could have been put on the car I was driving.
Danny setting up his GoPro video camera.
A new experience for me was laying out all the drivers gear (suits, helmets, gloves and shoes) to accompany the vehicle tech inspection.
It looked like a guys dorm room with everything lying around.
Toshi-san helping the vehicle inspections move along smoothly.
After the vehicle was inspected and the appropriate amount of gear was accounted for, each vehicle got this sticker.
Nakai explained the course by telling us that each corner had its own set of hazards and that we should approach them in a cautious manner.
The head of RWB Kansai followed up Nakai by telling us that there was absolutely no chance of danger and no need to use our brakes.
A quick meeting to explain the rules since many of the participants in team RWB didn’t understand the 45 minute driver’s meeting in Japanese.
We would be manually refueling the cars with cans of gas and had to follow these rules.
A live action refueling demo seemed more appropriate to get the message across.
Shortly after the refueling demo, it was time to push the cars out onto the starting grid.
John from RWB Europe working hard while I slacked off to take some pictures.
Nakai asked a couple who was visiting from France to steer the car into position as we pushed.
Ready to pounce.
Team Hooters taking their time.
Jeab and Larry couldn’t hold back their excitement.
Gary making sure his Irish flag wearing 993 made it into place safe and sound.
Sorry, couldn’t resist taking a cheesy pic. Thanks to Danny for snapping this one.
A central seating position Porsche 356? PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY!
Waiting for the announcement to start the engines.
This was probably the slowest car on the track but so cool to watch as it rolled around corners up on 3 wheels. I think he was the last one out to the starting grid as well.
Like a caged cat.
RWB triple threat…and a highlighter blob that happened to be pretty fast.
For some reason, the race started off in a pretty hot headed manner. Many cars were overestimating their brakes and taking corners too hot. The number of participants started to drop pretty quickly.
GOOOO S2000!!….Oops, I mean RWB…
It would be so perfect if it were my Hakosuka in this pic instead.
Outrunning the sub 2 litre contingent.
I was getting antsy waiting for my turn in #48.
Fangs out and on the attack.
A nice vintage battle. Gulf livery and silver looks so good on Porsches.
Makes me feel silly for not buying a $6,000 S2000 with hardtop…
All the cars looked pretty cool coming through the curve into pit lane.
Old and new.
Some up close spooning action…
Lovers Rough getting tired of the buzzing Miata engines.
I would love to take a joyride in this tank/truck rescue vehicle.
First mishap of the day.
#48 coming in for a driver change.
But it wasn’t quite my turn so I kept snapping away.
Everyone still had energy to stand around in the morning.
The scrutineers in white shirts were watching our every move in the paddock. Fortunately, I think we escaped any penalties.
Three of the four cars next door in at one time. It was a bit crowded.
Danny suiting up for his first stint behind the wheel.
Waiting around for the refueling safety period to pass (5 minutes).
Coming in steep off of pit lane.
Those poor headlights.
There was an abundance of willing pit crew members for the first half of the race.
Somehow Gary’s balaclava transformed into a pirates hat.
John making sure the wheels stay on.
An RWB style AE86. I wonder if I’ll see this in Daikoku PA next week.
Beware of sharks.
It started to get pretty hot a bit after noon.
The cars had to be grounded via this cable during each refueling stop.
Danny happened to be free during my second outing so he grabbed my camera and shot these next few photos as I got into the car.
By mid afternoon the enthusiasm for being a pit crew member had died down. Here I am refueling the car for my upcoming laps with the help of the previous driver, Masajima-san.
Getting strapped into the bucket seat.
Ready to go!
It was pretty miserable in the nomex suits with no aircon so everyone was swarming the fan at one point or another.
Danny doing his best ninja impersonation. Who knew balaclavas were so versatile?
#48 wearing all her battle scars with pride.
My team’s car had to come in for a shifter bushing fix after ten and a half hours of racing. This was the only car out of the six that didn’t have fresh bushings. :(
Our driver board was a mess by the end of the day.
Some of the teams got more aggressive as night fell. This Miata nearly took out some of his crew while coming in for a pit stop.
This team was having fun with its blinking LEDs and anime wrapped BMW.
The race took on a completely different feel in the dark.
It was surprising how poorly lit some parts of the track were.
Nakai-san drove the last 15 minutes in #48. Here he is passing the duo of kamikaze dive bombing Civics.
All six RWB Porsches successfully finished the race and Nakai-san wrapped it up with a thank you speech.
Some of the driving suggestions used to keep the cars in good order for 12 hours of racing.
That is a ton of brake dust.
Black rubber from tires that have met their end.
After the race, I had the privilege to drive the super wide 964 back to the shop.
This one is for the MaydayGarage boys back in HTX.