2013 is just hours away and here I am pondering about 2012. What a year it has been! It’s been a true roller coaster ride with some lows but with some very cool loops and turns! So where do I even start?

Well, in Japan of course where I visited my first Tokyo Auto Salon.

And what an experience it was. It’s Japan so everything goes! From the famous 1000bhp Bensopra GT-R…

…to a multi-color, diamond covered Lamborghini Diablo. Only in Japan!

Or what about an abandoned Formula Nippon racer accompanied by a Lotus Esperit Turbo on a container and a fake Honda F1 car? Only In Japan!

And every true JDM nut has to visit this place! I’m talking about Daikoku Futo of course.
Even on a quiet night there are cars that you never thought of seeing.

But of course Japan is much, much more than just cars! There’s nothing like it. From the world famous Shibuya crossing…

… to the backstreets of Fuchu. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, compares to Japan. You have to visit Japan for yourself to see what I mean because I just can’t explain it. All I know is that I love the place and that I’ve met some interesting people there that I’ll surely visit again soon! Unfortunately every good thing comes to an end…

… and “normal” life started again. From a Wangan Warriors meet…

to Japanese Car Festival at Zandvoort.

Every where I went my trusty companion Rens followed in my footsteps! But I’ll bet he will say it’s the other way around (which isn’t true).

I had visited the Nürburgring before but this was my first 24 hour race in “the green hell”.
And most certainly not my last! From the cars…

… to the awesome atmosphere, I loved every minute of it!

The weekend started on Friday with some Falken tyre smoke. There are worse ways to start your weekend right?

I have no idea how the Friday ended because the guys from Falken sure know how to organize a BBQ! My buddy Mat was kind enough to take a shot of me waking up with a hangover in my trusty 5 star hotel on wheels.

Can you see why they call it “the green hell”?

I made it trough the weekend without any sleep and it would end the same way as it had started…

.. With a lot of Falken tyre smoke!

The 24 hours of Le Mans would quickly follow but I was eager to shoot some more cars. Luckily for me I met Gert and his home build supercharged Miata! I still have to do a full feature on this awesome little car so you will be seeing more of this car soon!

It was also the time that the guys from Wangan Warriors and myself decided it was time for our first combined meeting! We had some minor issues but all in all I think it was a great meeting…

… with some quality rides!

Le Mans was next on my list and another first for me.
It has a completely different vibe compared to the 24 hours at the ring…

… and I think it has something to do with the hardcore fans that make Le Mans an unforgettable experience!

It was great to see that Toyota brought the fight to Audi…

… but disappointing to see that they couldn’t finish. We all have seen the horrible footage where Anthony Davidson walks away after getting airborne in car #8. And who can forget the bump from Nakajima with…

… the Deltawing which was running a brilliant race until it met the right side of the #7 Toyota 030!

But like I said earlier, it’s the atmosphere that makes this race different from any other!
From old folks noting every lap for every car to young folks just having a blast!

Let me introduce you to my buddy Noud! Noud drives a very spartan…

… very wide, RB25’ed 200SX! Another shoot, another highlight!

Speaking of highlights… DUMP’d was a huge success! An old abandoned factory and a very strict pre-selection made this a day to remember!

It was supposed to be a one time event because the old Enka factory would be torn down. But fortune had other plans for this epic venue so there will be a 2013 event! Something I’m really looking forward to.

Seeing as I’m based in Holland, the circuit of Zandvoort is like a second home!

There’s always something interesting to see. Both of…

… and on the track.

The last event I shot was the “infamous” Wangan Warriors end of year meet. A tradition in Holland if you drive a Japanese car!

Plenty of quality cars as always. From high power GC8’s…

… to high power Supra’s…

… and everything in between.
So! What’s been the highlight of my year?

Well, Le Mans was truly amazing! Witnessing the Audi supremacy with my own eyes was a great experience.
(Although I rooted for Toyota of course!)

But DUMP’d was something I’ll remember forever as well! Perfect weather on an awesome day wit epic cars and lovely people!

This moment in time almost came first. Watching cars blast by just a couple of meters away with speeds in excess of 300km p/h while the sun was rising… I’ll never forget THIS particular moment!

But the absolute highlight of my year was of course my first ever trip to Japan.
So many great people and so many great memories. I really need to go back soon!

But like I said…

… so many awesome moments…

… with so many awesome people…

… It’s been an epic journey! Let’s see what 2013 brings but I’ll keep doing what I do.

Because I love what I do!

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7Tune.com – The Ultimate JDM Experience Since 2005

Words – Allard van Grafhorst
Photo’s – Allard van Grafhorst & Mathieu van den Oever

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