Having left the paddock, it was time to get serious and train the Nikon D3 and 70-200mm on the cars and drivers as they battled it out on the track. There was an absolutely packed schedule of action going on throughout the day, right from the opening sessions at 8am and culminating in easily the biggest parade of 86’s that I’ve ever seen at 5pm. Which left me with a lot of work to do… and a lot of shots to post…
I just couldn’t rest at all for the entire day, with the Okayama 86 Festival providing one adrenaline fueled assault on the senses after another and confirming everything that makes the Japanese automotive scene the greatest in the world.
The organizers of the Okayama 86 event had split the cars up into different categories, with monster tuned 86’s in their own respective races and apart from the N2 class cars.
Although, some cars ran in both classes.
There was though also a third category for what they termed “Challenge” cars, which were, in essence, lightly to moderately tuned.
Not to stop there, the new Toyota 86’s were let loose for a few laps around the flowing and technical Okayama circuit.
On the main straight, a frenzied and manic drift exhibition was held where the drivers really went for it, thrashing the little buzz boxes’ rings right out. It was hardcore. I don’t know what it is about drift that raises the pulse as a spectator but even though speed isn’t as involved, seeing these crazy men at the absolute limit of handling adhesion in what is essentially a screaming box on wheels was definitely hair raising for those who witnessed it.
It didn’t stop there. Even after all that was done, a selection of spectators were also let loose for a couple of laps around the course!
Phew, where do I start with all this…??
It’s only right to explain what happened in the N2 Challenge race, which was in the end, won by… surprise surprise, Keiichi Tsuchiya.
I was standing in a very convenient, photographer friendly infield space between turns 2 and 7 and from this position, I could see the cars all piling through turn 1 and then into the flowing left hander at turn 2, only to disappear into the distance and then come screaming down the back straight to negotiate the right hand hairpin at turn 7…
It was a great place to spectate/shoot from and was another one of those times where I was really glad to have the media vest in order to get the best angles.
The first lap of the N2 race was supercharged, with all the cars bunched up. Coming over the crest and into 8, Tsuchiya had lost his early lap lead to the Car Factory Ai 86 driven by a determined Koutaro Koizumi.
…but the following lap around, KT had got the lead back and shot down the hill followed closely by the pursuers; Koizumi and Kamata. They were nose to tail, absolutely flogging the cars to the limit. These guys were definitely not holding back.
Then on the third lap the positions changed again with the flying Purple Tec Arts driven by Kamata san making it a clear 3 horse race.
And then on lap 4 they changed yet again, with Tsuchiya back in the lead in what was turning out to be a ding dong battle for position with Kamata.
And then before I knew it, the race was red-flagged! We waited for the restart but a tower-marshal then told me that the race was done! Crap… so who won??? And that’s where the bizarre set in, according to N2 regulations.
It turned out one of the N2 86’s lunched an engine and had dropped oil around the entire track. Since time was tight, the schedule moved on. But unbeknownst to me at the time, Tsuchiya had managed to get past at the end of the third lap and led into the fourth lap which he held until the red flag came out. Because the race was only 50% complete, N2 race regulations dictate that the car leading at the end of the third lap will be declared the winner. So that’s how Tsuchiya won this battle! It was an incredible stroke of luck combined with skill!
The “Tuning car” races were just as vicious. Screaming 86’s all over the place… and shooting flames out the side mounted exhaust exits…
… I was working with super slow shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second and no monopod, meaning a super steady hand was needed to get sharp images.
From the other side of the track , the cars piled into turn 8 and around the back section of Okayama circuit.
The red 86 in this shot came past on lap 2 and I had to do a double take… was that what I thought it was?
Sure enough, the windscreen had been shattered to pieces from some debris. I have no idea how it happened but it definitely makes for dramatic photos.
These races, split into two different battles were intense and every driver was absolutely flat out. For a festival, there was nothing “play-like” about the aggression on track from every driver.
Enjoy some of the action shots…
Unfortunately, not everyone made the distance.
Flying down the straight at maximum attack.
With the main racing done for the day, it was time to head back to the pit area and soak up some late afternoon activity.
Where I had to shoot a very special 86 that you will be seeing in a future post.
It’s great to know the Japanese know and really like 7Tune along with the world-class work we tirelessly strive toward and they are more than happy to wear 7Tune vinyls in support of our support for them. Those that would want them removed are going to have a very hard job keeping up.
7Tune isn’t the biggest online JDM source in the world but we will stop at nothing to bring the world the best content anyone can handle.
And then it all came to a close but not without the biggest grand finale of Hachi’s you are ever likely to see in one single place.
It was a parade of absolutely epic proportions…
The stream of 86’s didn’t stop for at least 20 minutes.. it was a complete blow out for the senses.
Okayama provided an absolutely unbelievable experience that made the 1500km journey completely worth it.
It has it all, this Festival…
…and if you are a Hachi fan of either generation…
… you’d be absolutely mad to miss it.
A big thanks must go to Tsuchiya san and the team at Hot Version for accommodating 7Tune during the day and working with me to ensure you get the best content possible. Keep an eye out for Volume #119 which will feature this as part of their DVD offering.
Words and Photos – Adam Zillin
7Tune – The ULTIMATE JDM Experience Since 2005