FEATURE – ADAM ON THE 2010 NISMO FESTIVAL
I ran a minor marathon at the 2010 Nismo Festival today and in the process, I’ve put at least 25 more kilometers on the body and shed 3 kilograms! Fuji Speedway is a major feat for any photographer to try and cover but with so much on offer at events like the Nismo festival, it is physically impossible to get it all done yourself so for part one in a series, 7tune ‘togs will share their own experiences from the event the way they experienced it, starting with yours truly…
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The 2010 Nismo Festival at Fuji Speedway provides an action packed schedule plus a reflective and invigorating experience that surpasses expectations and gives you plenty to talk about. More importantly, it also resembles a Gran Turismo game come to life! How many hours did you spend on GT2 as a kid? If you’re anything like me, they would have been countless. Some of the cars you will see in these posts will certainly need no introduction.
There is just so much to see at these events and personally this was my first time at the Nismo event in a Press bib. Unusually, I found Len Clarke from RaceNowJapan.com behind the desk today instead of the camera but as always, he was super helpful in giving the rundown on how the process worked before letting me loose. So then, with a map in hand and a camera itching to be shot, off I went.
The lanes at the Nismo festival were simply teeming with people surveying cars and products, sharing stories about their favorite machines, buying items both rare and exotic to take back with them as souvenirs and reveling in the beautiful weather brought forward by a recent typhoon.
Fuji is magnificent in any weather but the old mountain, with its concave perfection was crystal clear today, the clearest I have seen it all year and looming large over the international circuit that is FSW.
I think Fuji Speedway represents one of the better combination’s of nature and human excellence in motor sport; the only difficulties being the sheer size of the layout and the large amounts of time needed to move between points on the circuit. By the end of the day though, my feet were screaming enough and I was sorely longing for something, anything with wheels to help me get around.
One of the first things I did though was to hit up the pit garages to check out some of the machines in their static poses.
And to me, these timeless cars are just as beautiful sitting still as they are in motion.
Personally, I have always been in awe of the controlled lunacy that was the 1980′s in motor sport. I don’t think there was ever a time when things were so fast, so dangerous, so completely and utterly wild, with little regulation or governance to control it, that people didn’t look back and say to themselves, “You know what? I drove during these years and I didn’t get killed!” One group of racing cars that I think typifies this, are the Super Silhouette Group 5 class cars that ran between 1979 and 1983 in Japan.
And the truly iconic cars among all that raced were represented here in the DR30 and the 1982 KS110 Silvia, both sporting heavily boosted LZ20B 16 valve twin cam monster engines. These things were capable of 570PS @7600rpm thanks in part to a Garret TB05 turbo charger.
There is something truly beautiful about the way these cars look and the extravagance and absurdity of their appearance lend to their performance. The cars ran a combination of 15 inch and 19 inch wheels with staggered offsets and outrageously styled bodywork, helping to spawn a nation wide craze for all things “Bosozoku”; a trend that continues even now.
The interiors of the cars are spartan and contain the bare necessities like brake bias levers and the appropriate gauges. I love the old school boost meter in the Silvia…
The DR30 is similarly equipped but the Hasemi horn button leaves an onlooker in no doubt as to who the king of Japanese Super Silhouette was in these days. Masahiro Hasemi is about as real as Nissan motor sport gets, having competed in a number of racing series including the JTCC and Japan Sports Prototype championships…
..also surviving accidents like this in the Fuji Speedway Endurance race of 1991. ( Kermit the Frog took a break from the Muppets Show to commentate for this video… )
Would anyone else like to see the good old 80′s come back in some way? If cars are like fashion then there has to be a renaissance period for them sooner or later.
Over in the next garage was this Z33 looking quite menacing in silver and black paint against a metal and concrete backdrop.
It was at this time I felt the need to get out and shoot some of the action and by that point the Historic Car Exhibition had started so it was off to the Press Shuttle bus areas for a lift around the track. We stopped by a point near the last sector of the track, with its off camber switchbacks towered over by this view of Fuji San…
I was out there with Pierre Laurent Ribault who will follow up on this post with a perspective of his own very soon. His knowledge of the fastest ways to get around Fuji and the best places to shoot from were definitely a big help to me. As opposed to the Pink bib I was wearing, the green bib Pierre had signaled what separates the Amateurs from the Pros at Fuji Speedway!
The Official Pace Car happens to be an R35 GT-R ( surprise, surprise ) and here it is making a lap of the circuit to ensure the racing is clear to start.
The weather was quite warm on this day – unusually so for a day in December and a suntan was not out of the question! The action on track was just as hot…
The little Datsuns are deceptively quick around here, their light weight only undone by the very long main straight; the final sector being where they really show their abilities.
The B110′s and B310′s were much quicker around here in the race than the Hakosuka Skylines, believe it or not…
I took the valuable opportunity to hone some shooting skills, stopping down my shutter speeds as fast as I dared.
With this support race over with, it was time to head back to the paddock for a rest but no sooner had I arrived, that I received a call from a friend who had parked himself at a BBQ amongst friends and acquaintances at the 100R corner. The man wearing the two tone blue jacket in the middle happens to be none other than Osamu Imai, the President of Tomei Engines and the man behind much of Nissan’s success in racing over past 40 years. Imai san is about as big as it gets in Japan’s racing scene and it was an honor to have some time to eat lunch with him and talk about a few things – the Korean Bulgorgi and Japanese rice wine was exceptional by the way!
With a hearty lunch taken care of, the action on track resumed and I stationed myself over at the inside of 100R. Here, the cars of the GTR and Z All Star Battle took to the track, this particular shot of the Motul Autech Z under bright sunlight.
As this was just the outlap for the grid formation, I chose to head over to the main straight to see what the fuss was all about. Here the cars were set up and ready to go.
I mentioned Gran Turismo earlier and here one of the most iconic liveries from the game emerged – just how droolworthy this car truly was and still is! Sitting along side was the newly crowned Super GT300 champion Yanagida in his Tomica Z.
I just couldn’t get over how awesome and sinister black and yellow Penzoil colors look on this R33.
Don’t you think that the modern cars in Super GT reflect heavily the influences of the Super Silhouette series of the 80′s? They are more modern of course but are still as outrageously styled and resemble the donor cars in all but exactly that; their silhouette. The GT-R is a perfect example…
This R34 also makes a pretty mean statement for cool looking cars. If only I could make a streetcar that looked as badass as this!
With only a few minutes to go before the start, I legged it toward the shooters stand at the end of the main straight to watch the cars get under way.
This area of the track is a great place to shoot from as you can get some decent action and angles from the hairpin all the way around to 100R.
With the light beginning to fade, the circuit took on an amber glow…
Making a surprise appearance at the event was the awesome sounding, Sumo Power V8 FIA GT1 GT-R…
…here pictured having the mother of all dices with the closely matched the #22 GT500 Z. I say closely matched but the truth is, these cars couldn’t be any more different with each one built to different specifications as per the FIA stipulations.
It certainly has a much rounder backside than its squared off and angular Super GT distant Cousin, doesn’t it?
The Penzoil R33, joined by its younger R34 twin brother were also going at it, the battle almost coming to blows on a couple of occasions…
And speaking of coming to blows, it appeared as if either the Sumo Power GT-R wasn’t watching his mirrors or the Super GT500 GT-R overcooked his entry but whatever the case, this was a close call mid corner at well over 180kph…
Here’s one final action shot of the Motul R35 taking turn one with the sun illuminating the driver.
And then, as quick as it had started, it was over. The flag had dropped on the final race and it was time for the curtain to close. “Where did the time go?!”, I wondered. Not only had the event finished, I hadn’t shot nearly anywhere near as much as I wanted to!
Over at the closing celebration, all the drivers and notable members of Nissan’s motor sport fraternity gathered to say goodbye to the crowd.
And it was right there, standing on the circuit with my camera in hand, bathing in the evening glow, the cheers of the fans behind me ringing in my ears, that the penny dropped.
There’s nothing on the planet quite like a Japanese Matsuri and the Nismo festival perfectly captures a balance between the needs of motor sport enthusiasts, everyday consumers and those that love them. Matsuri in Japanese means “celebration” and when you attend an event like this, you can’t help but feel good about where you are and about what you are doing.
There’s an energy that feeds you and cars like the classic, championship winning Reebok sponsored R31…
..the crazy 1992 NP35
…and N92CP from the same year and
to more modern machines like the Calsonic R35…
and Yokomizo and Abe’s Z33…
are just too good to resist seeing up close and the best part about festivals like the party Nismo throws is that these cars aren’t some sort of Museum piece under lights gathering dust in an obscure corner of the world. They are well maintained thoroughbreds, built for show and speed and driven hard; all for the delight of an adoring crowd.
Our kind of party. Stay tuned for part 2 of the Nismo Festival brought to you by Pierre Laurent Ribault!
**7tune wishes to thank the organizers and participants of the 2010 Nismo Festival for making it one to remember.**
7tune.com – The Ultimate JDM Experience
Words and Photos – Adam Zillin