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Thread: JCCA Classic Car Summer Festival, Tsukuba Circuit

  1. #1
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    JCCA Classic Car Summer Festival, Tsukuba Circuit

    Once again, circumstances were fortunate enough that I'd be in Japan again for a couple of days, and so the entire might of the JNC editorial team put our heads together as to what cool things we could do.

    Just by luck, it turned out that last Sunday the 11th July had two great racetrack events. There was the Skyline Festival at Fuji or the JCCA Summer races at Tsukuba. While the Skyline event was being put on by the BP Nostalgic folks (and they always put on an awesome show), it was decided that we'd be covering the JCCA event at Tsukuba on the basis that it was a bit easier to get to.

    Ben and Dan were all for me renting a car and driving there, but since I've never driven in Japan before, I figured I'd probably get totally lost and instead of watching classic car racing at Tsukuba, I'd spend the day stuck at a truckstop, eating vending machine hot dogs and quietly crying

    Also...we thought it would be a wheeze if I would get to Tsukuba by public transport, and then document the do's and don'ts so that any JNCer could make the journey. So here goes
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  2. #2
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    Tsukuba Circuit is in Ibaraki, which is about a couple of hours north of Tokyo. There is a train called the "Tsukuba Express" which leaves from Akihabara station, and that's as good a place as any to start. Akihabara is one of the main tourist destinations in Tokyo, and one of the major stations, so getting there isn't going to be any problem at all.

    From Akihabara, it'll be about almost 2hrs before you're standing on the hallowed ground that is Tsukuba, so start the day bright and early.


    You need to get out of Akihabara station (East exit), and make a beeline for the Tsukuba Express. Luckily the joint is plastered with signs, so you can't miss it.


    But just in case you do, this is what it looks like It's roughly 50m across from the big Yodobashi-Akiba store.


    The train fares are expensive though, about Y1600 each way, so I made sure I plunked plenty of dollars into my PASMO rail card. All the stations, even in the countryside will accept the PASMO, so it's the easiest way to go.


    The Tsukuba Express, goes, remarkably enough...to Tsukuba City (which is kinda like a college town). But...to go to Tsukuba Circuit, you don't go all the way to Tsukuba City, you need to get off at Moriya instead, where you will change lines. So don't go all the way to Tsukuba City...you have been warned


    After about 45mins, you're at Moriya, and it's already starting to look a bit more rural
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  3. #3
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    Once you get to Moriya, you exit the station, and make a beeline for the Kanto Joso Line.


    ...where you want to catch the train towards Shimodate (but you'll be getting off at Sodo station).


    The Joso Line is a real oldie, a true country train line that isn't actually electrified (no overhead wires). So in contrast to the uber-slick metro subway lines, the trains are tiny and are either one or two carriages only!


    So as the train pulls away from the station, you hear the familiar thrum of a diesel engine.


    In fact, it sounds very much like a bus, the mighty diesel labouring against the weight of the carriages, clanking noticeably thru its 3spd gearbox as it glacially accelerates towards its 75kmh cruising speed.


    We're definitely in the countryside now....


    And I'm starting to get a bit concerned. We're going to Sodo station, and then I need to catch a taxi to the circuit. But some of the stations we pass along the Joso Line are like this: just barely bigger than a bus shelter, with no staff and just a PASMO machine. In fact, not only are there no taxis outside some of the stations, there is often not even a road!


    But I didn't really have to worry. The Tsukuba Circuit website says you can get to the track by taxi, so obviously it's possible. And when we get to Sodo station, it's a little cottage


    And right opposite...is a Taxi depot! And one of those Cedrics has my name on it. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it's a good tip to save that telephone number. We'll need it to get back to the station later: while it's within reason to expect that there would be taxis outside a train station, the opposite is in fact true when you're talking about a racetrack. So later we'll have to call the taxi to Tsukuba to come pick us up. More of which anon.
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  4. #4
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    Sodo station is only maybe 10kms away from Tsukuba Circuit, so it's a $20 and 15min cabride to the track. With most racetracks, the track itself can be a long way away from the main road. But in Tsukuba's case, the actual main straight is only maybe 80m away from the main road. I've just stepped out of the taxi, and...there's the grandstand!


    Y4000 for a ticket, and I'm in!


    At this point, I'm a bit overwhelmed. I've been an avid watcher of Best Motoring videos for almost 20 years, and had to pinch myself that I was finally at Tsukuba Circuit! (It only took me 20 yrs to get here)!

    First a quick tour of the parking lot.


    The chap who owns the Kenmeri above also owns this Hako sedan.


    The track map shows how compact Tsukuba really is. It folds back on itself a few times, and so it's a very spectator-friendly track, where you can see most of it from many vantage points.


    Right next to the entry gate is the grandstand overlooking the main straight, across from the pits.


    But there are a couple of tunnels which take you under the straight, and into the pit area.


    ...where a vision of heaven awaits


    Some of the cars in the 1968~75 race are waiting on the dummy grid. Very nice Gordini Renault 8, on massively dished Gotti wheels.


    240ZG in classic maroon.
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  5. #5
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    Savanna RX3..


    Sounds bloody wicked:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIfTzzxuwps

    Open wheelers had their own class.


    This one was unusual, 4cyl engine, non crossflow, and breathing thru only one throat of a downdraught carb (the other throat was blanked off). The manifolds and cam cover had "LUCAS" cast onto them.


    Toyota Sports 800s.


    The view from the roof of the pit building. It's a good vantage point, you can see maybe 2/3s of the track from there


    By far the most popular class in terms of number of entrants was the TS Cup, which were the premier touring car category in the late 70s. Dominated then (and now) by Nissan Sunny. In the early 70s, the big-capacity touring car class that the Hako and RX3 raced in was canned. In response to the oil crisis, racing shifted focus to economical, small cars. And hence in the mid to late 70s the headline touring car category was TS-b, which were for small cars. They may be 1300cc, but the budgets and development never stopped, and so these were developed way past their natural potential back in the day, and are a well-liked and popular class in historic racing today.


    Ginettas had their own class too. Ginettas are an English marque, which goes way back to the 60s. But they have a small but very dedicated following in Japan, and when the Ginetta company folded in the 90s, Japanese enthusiasts bought the company, and kept making the G4 under a new brandname called Dare.


    There's front engined and mid engined Ginettas


    This one was well powered by a twin carbed Sierra Cosworth motor


    Gorgeous Lotus Europa TwinCam from local specialist Body Shop Happy.


    Lancia Monte Carlo.
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  6. #6
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    I was expecting lots of trade stands, like they have at the Nostagic Car Shows, but today there were only a few stands. One sold vintage knick knacks


    Vintage model kits


    Diecasts....(I got to be careful not to get carried away here)


    Oooh...Tomica DR30 Group A cars...must....resist


    Not much in the way of mechanical parts were on sale though


    But there was one stand with some sexy headers on display...this one for 2000GTR Hako


    Their offering for L-series was good looking, too


    The Tsukuba pitlane is actually pretty small, so many classes had designated parking areas scattered around the track


    Nice 280ZX in the non-competitive Japan Run category
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  7. #7
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    230-series Cedric on TE37s was an unusual find.


    Very clean and sanitary all over


    But under the bonnet....'bet you weren't expecting that!


    Hot looking slammed 510 Coupe


    Umm....might want to take a look at that before it gets away from you, bud


    2000GT-R Hako. The real thing.


    You can tell because the rain rail doesn't have a cut out at the bend, which the non-GTR models have to have to accept fitment of the chrome trim (which the GT-R models did without).




    Sheetmetal flares at the front. Nicely made tho.
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  8. #8
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    Very nice Civic RS


    There were quite a few 510s on the day, mostly running in the "Japan Run" class, which were like open-practice sessions, rather than proper races.


    That white Zed ran pretty well:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQIHKncibLc

    All hail the L-series (this from the white 510 above)


    Here's the Japan Run group heading out on its formation lap:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBV5-TDd9-c

    And during the session, the Zeds were clearly the fastest in the field:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EJZz54FbT0

    TS-Cup spec Sunny, with uber-dished Advan Onis


    This Kenmeri had a lot of work done


    The fuel system is probably worth more than my whole engine


    Oh, and it didn't disappoint under the bonnet either


    The famous "Potenza S30". He's got a Youtube channel by the same name, and it's been featured in quite a few nostalgic magazines in Japan. I think he's down to a 1'03 around Tsukuba, which is plenty fast. Runs a traditional carbed L-series.


    And what the front looks like
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a45rzf0dvw

    The 1968-75 (stock) race underway, it was led by an Alfa Giulietta, with Lotus Cortina and Triumph TR4 close behind


    The Toyota Sports 800s sounded a lot lower-revving than I'd expected. But the loud exhausts that these guys were running meant that you could certainly hear that in a Sports 800...you don't lift. Ever


    Here's a vid, the 800s were doing laps around the 1'19 mark:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ9wnVQ10mc

    In the middle of the pits is a restaurant, called Driver's Saloon. Very popular, there was a queue to get in all day.
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  9. #9
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    But as with any racetrack around the world, there will be deep-fried foods on offer


    I went for the yakisoba noodles though, instead of the corndogs. Not too bad for Y250!


    The TS Cup cars were allocated parking right in the middle of the pits


    I believe there's a very active historic racing series for these things, certainly they were all beautifully prepared, and all looked like they got a lot of action




    Parked next to the TS Cup cars, were the F Cup cars, which were the big banger, fully-bonkers class


    Here's the F-Cup cars heading out for their formation lap:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkw2WVWT3QA

    The only KPGC10 on the day, very nicely prepared


    No, that's not a typo, I checked. This....is the Team PNIS Skyline. No, really, it is.


    Very well known Z racer, the City Auto Akira-style S30. Yankee Mate?
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  10. #10
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    Actually, between the two, the Zed is considerably faster, lapping at 1'03s vs the Hako's 1'06. The Hako seemed well prepared and the guy driving it was certainly giving it a really good go, but it just seemed to lack some hump compared to the big cube Zed, which ate up the straights like nobody's business. The Hako's S20 sounded bloody fab of course.


    Hot looking Celica TA22, doing 1'08s, not bad considering it looks more like a road car than race car


    Mazda Familia and Levin TE27 were in the same class. The Familia is faster...by lots, it looked like the Levin was more of a daily than a prepped racer.


    The narrow tracked little rotary would lose some ground in the corners to say a Mini Cooper, but on the straights it would really cut loose:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SEGKmcMwwg

    Very fast, but rough looking Circuit-Wolf replica Europa. There were also a few early 911s in the "Overseas Run" class


    The car in the background ran in the modified 1968-75 class, it's a Carrera 3.0


    One of many Isuzu Bellett 1600GTRs on the day. I've always been interested in these things. They were very successful in the 67/68 tourign car season, and there were many Alfa Romeo GTVs in the same class, so I was very curious as to how they'd go. They are surprisingly quick, the Alfa GTVs were all hounding each other doign 1'10 laps, but the fastest of these Isuzus were lapping in the 1'07 range, and even the slower Belletts were trading punches with their Italian counterparts at the 1'10 lap range.


    The Isuzus were all, without exception, really, really...really slammed.


    The rear suspension is swing axle, and even though it has a transverse leaf spring to act as a compensator, obviously you still need to dial in lots of neg camber to keep the back end nailed. Even so, they look kinda twitchy anyway with most corners exited in a neat little flourish of the tail


    Ford Anglia team, looking in character wearing flat caps


    There's a fountain with a statue of a bike rider in one of the car parks. Didn't say who he was


    Tsukuba = WIN. This is proof.
    Hidden Content Originally Posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

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