With last month’s passing of Junichi Tanaka, founder of JUN Auto Mechanic, our minds have been on some of his company’s greatest achievements. The tuning house accomplished so much, in such a wide variety of automotive pursuits, that it’s hard to limit them to just one type of racing. But, one of the most memorable was their assaults on the land speed records a the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats.
As depicted in these videos, after hosting many top-speed shootouts at Yatabe Circuit, Option founder Daijiro Inada led a team of Japanese tuners to Bonneville in the hopes of breaking a few world records. JUN’s Z32 Fairlady Z was part of the second delegation in 1990, joining the TBO and the Central Z32s.
At the end of the three-day event, the TBO car had reached a 209.813 mph. Central’s Dandy Tanaka became the first Japanese to join the 200 mph club at Bonneville, with a 221 mph pass. Ultimately, that team’s best run achieved 223.778 mph.
Jun’s Z32, with head mechanic and tuning genius Susumu Koyama behind the wheel, turned in the highest speed among the Japanese contingent, with a 228.382 mph. Though all three teams were rivals striving for the same goal, they also shared the camaraderie of being fellow countrymen in an unfamiliar and alien-like landscape.
The following year, the gang returned to Bonneville, in a heavily modified Z32 with custom nose. That year, they broke the E/BMS world record with a 260.88 mph run. Oh, and that land speed record-breaking Z32 that ran 260.88 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats? After they returned to Japan, they slapped a license plate on it drove it on public streets to a Daikoku Futo meet. Those were the days.
Incidentally, Inada himself wanted to join the 200 mph club as well and finally did so in 1997, behind the wheel of the Jun Auto R33 GT-R. It was a magnificent time, the likes of which we will probably never see again, and a must-see for those who love the Tuner Era.