Time Machine Festival
March 21, 2009 -
Words / Photos Ben Hsu
he Time Machine Festival is one of those Japanese names that make perfect sense in Japanese but sounds just a bit off in English. No, it's not a carnival in celebration of flux-capacitor equipped DeLoreans or spheres of lightning that strip off all your clothes. You know how the whole world just seems to melt away when your gaze happens to fall up on the most perfectly stanced hakosuka Skyline
sitting on Watanabes so deep you could fall inside them? Suddenly you're transported to a world belonging to that car and that car alone, unfettered by thoughts of iPods and internets. Well, that's a time machine, and this is a festival full of them.
It was fitting that we arrived at the Time Machine Festival via the Mooneyes 1JZ Toyota Crown
. With our friend Goshu in the driver's seat, we imagined ourselves as GraChan enthusiasts back in the day, headed out to Shizuoka Prefecture to watch vintage Celicas
tear up the tarmac around Fuji Speedway.
Unlike those days of old, however, all kinds of machinery were present. There was a Ferrari Trophy chock full of 360 Modenas, a RennTech Cup overflowing with Porsche 911 GT3s and similar goings on with Lotuses and Maseratis, but honestly, who cares? We were there to see the vintage Japanese iron! We came, we saw, we drooled.
But what's a little drool when a torrential downpour was bombarding all of Fuji Speedway? It sure didn't stop us from getting soaked while wandering the rows to drool over Toyota Celicas
, TE37 Corolla Levins
, and S130 Nissan Fairlady Zs
. And it sure as hell didn't stop their owners from flinging them around the track, sending up plumes of water
from their racing tires. We were especially awed by the fearlessness of the drivers of open-top Datsun Roadsters and Honda S800
s. Fortunately, it wasn't an endurance race. With so many classes of cars, each one only got to blast around the circuit for 10 laps or so before returning, drenched, to pit row.
And although the manufacturers are no longer using the these cars and this venue a battleground like they were in the 60s, they are still involved in other ways. One of the major themes was a tribute to the Nissan Fairlady Z in honor of the model's 40th anniversary and the recent launch of the 370Z. Nissan had a special display of significant Z cars
from their Heritage Collection (see JNC issue 3
). The centerpiece was a rare Z432, which shared the same S20 twin-cam, a $30,000 engine, as the KPGC10 Skyline GT-R. Mr. K was a guest speaker, and for the big finale hundreds of Z cars
were invited onto the track for a parade lap, surely breaking the record
for longest chain of Zs in history. As the owners of Fuji Speedway, Toyota supplied a fleet of Lexus IS-F pace cars and a exhibited their Super GT SC 430s
, we thought we could never look at another Skyline again, but we were dead wrong
. There's just something about seeing a nostalgic being tossed around in the wet, caution to the wind, as if there were plenty more where it came from. Of course, this hasn't been the case since these cars were new. That's probably why they call it the Time Machine Festival.