Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wrecked the Engine at FISCO! 富士で エンジンブロー!

Went to Fuji Speedway today - but came back on a flatbed truck. Blew the engine of the car - I had shifted too early entering the first corner, causing the engine to over rev.  This resulted in oil pump failure, which then led to the destruction of other parts of the engine. All on video.


On the way there, I had just hit the 80,000km mark, too.

While I was waiting for the transporter to arrive, spotted Suda-san and his Z, getting ready to get on the track. Behind his white convertible Z is a VW Polo, complete with roll cage. Another Sunako graduate let me drive it - really fun, actually, but the engine mount was broken, so alas he could not drive for the day.


Also saw another R33 GTR and a GTS?... 同じR33のGT-RとGTS?も見かけました。

Additionally, I found another casualty, although I believe he made it home under his own power...

Dealer says it will cost me about 1.3million yen to get fixed. That, my friends, is a lot of money...Actually, it won't be fixed, the engine will be replaced with a stronger, more durable BCNR33 N1 engine. For those who don't know, the N1 block and parts are stronger than the standard parts, built originally for endurance racing.

いつもお世話になってる日産プリンス東京モータースポーツ室に運んでもらいましたが、診断はエンジンブロー。新品のエンジンを乗せ換えするしかないと。ただし、よく走行会に行くなら、今度はノーマルエンジンではなく、BCNR33 N1エンジンを提案。N1エンジンのブロックなどは耐久レースのため標準より強化されてできているが、見積もりは130万円。確かに高い!お金がない僕には、どうやって。。。

but the real issue is, I can have the N1 installed with standard R34 turbos, which as they are ball bearing have quicker pick up. But, the power output remains similar to that of the BCNR33 turbos. So, I am thinking I should use this opportunity and install the HKS GT-SS turbos, which not only are smooth and powerful, but give power from low RPMs.


Of course, maybe I should get a second opinion from another tuner?


Here are some pictures of my car BEFORE the incident. この間洗車したとき写真です。

Does that tire look somewhat worn? Maybe it was good thing my engine broke...


Monday, July 23, 2007

ホイール塗装・had my wheels repainted

check it out - incredible how badly worn out they were, and I hadn't really noticed.  Decided to get them repainted/refinished because they were looking a bit scuffed, here and there. nothing major, but just enough to annoy me.




Many thanks to Furukawa-san and his crew at Garage Buru, who actually went back and entirely repainted two of the wheels when I found two small specks of dust that had gotten caught in the clearcoat! Now THAT is customer service!


I then had the wheels coated with a "glass coating" here -

Netgear's manager, Itoh-san is a cool guy. Had fun talking to him about the Glass Coat product he uses. Will definitely go back and glass coat the rest of the car when I am happy with the bodywork of the car.


This is the product line they use/これが彼らが使ってるコーティングです。

Friday, July 20, 2007

スーツにワッペンつけてみるか?Patches on my racing suit.

What do people think? I felt so naked without any patches on my suit last weekend, I've decided to get these added. And my name on my belt.


Monday, July 16, 2007

ツインリング茂木12時間耐久イベントー 12 Hour Endurance Event - Twin Ring Motegi!!

Met with Sunako-juku students and SSCT members on Sunday morning in Mito, in Ibaraki prefecture Japan.  Did so in order to prepare the Porsche 964 lent to the Sunako team by Front Row (Porsche dealer) for the 12 hour + 7 minutes endurance event at Twin Ring Motegi raceway.

日曜日砂子塾生とSSCTメンバーが水戸市で集合し、Front Rowから貸していただいたポルシェの準備しました。

Prepping the car - here are some pics:

All day Sunday prepping car. Waxing, putting on driver names, removing seat, installing 4 pt seat belt.

Went to bed at 11, got up at 0230 in order to be at Motegi at 0430 - we were there at 0415, but unfortunately traffic made it another 45 minutes until we parked.

The race started at 0759. The day turned out to be nice and sunny. I was lucky enough to drive two sessions.  Will post photos and video and results, if I get them.  My gf reported my time that she saw my first run was 2:45 ish, and second time, was 2:35. We shall see. (Edit - later found out my best first time was 2:37, and best time during second run was 2:35 - Sunako-san was complimentary, given this was the first time for me at this track, and first time driving this car!).

レースは0759開始。晴れてました。僕はお願いして午前中2回の走行を許してもらいました。彼女によると一回めは2:45のベストタイム、2回めは2:35.(後で確認しました。一回目のベストタイムは2:37、二回目はやはり2:35 - 初めて運転した車と初めて回ったサーキットとして、砂子塾長にほめられました!)

Here are some pics of the car and the track

Our shared pit. We were second car from the left, next to one of the other two Front Row Porsches.  Note the older Euro cars  - mostly Mini Coopers (the originals) in the pit as well.

Fukai-san and Suda-san・深井さんと須田さん

Looking forwards in front of our pit - ピットからピット出口まで

Looking back at pit lane - ピット入り口からピットまで

Mitsui-san doing a final inspection - 三井さんの最終チェック!

First driver of the day - Takamisawa-san, getting ready...最初に乗ったドライバー、高見沢さん準備中

12 Hours and 7 minutes later... Just called Fukai-san of SSCT, and he says the team finished safely, no problems with car, and in 46th place - out of a field of 140. Not bad, I think.

Update - more photos of the event can be found at Sunako-san's website in Japanese:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Still experimenting まだ習得中

Here is a clip of my car on the dyno at SuperAutobacs Tokyo Bay. This was a few months back, before camshaft replacement work on my car. I think the HP reading was 348ps, and the torque was 42.0 kgm.


As it was taken by camera phone, the images aren't very clear. Also, you can hear the engine being revved up and down, as the car was coming OFF the dyno run.



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On Board Video - My GT-R at Tsukuba, 車載ビデオ,Part 2

These next two videos show professional race car driver Tomohiko Sunako (widely known in GT-R circles here in Japan) driving my car on the track. First, with me in the car, giving me feedback into how the car felt and was set up.


After this run, he then was kind enough to give my girlfriend around the track as well. Note how the tires, obviously warmer from the previous run, are now allowing the car to oversteer much more.


The difference between how I drive and how a professional drives is distinct. One, there is little wasted movement. Second, he uses all of the track - for example, coming out of the last corner onto the straight in front of the pit lane, Sunako-san always goes a bit wide.


As for my car, Sunako-san commented that the suspension was set up very well, and but that the brake balance was a bit stronger up front - this helps bring out oversteer, which is something he likes, and overall, the car is set up very well for amateur drivers like myself.


Sunako-san has driven this course probably hundreds of times, and he's driven not only all makes and variations of the RB26 GT-Rs, he's driven other makes and racing machines as well. So, it was quite an honor to have this gentleman give me such positive feedback!


Sunako-san, thank you very much!

Here is a link to his official website -

On Board Video from Tsukuba 車載ビデオの一部です, Part 1

These videos were shot at last Saturday's Tsukuba event with an onboard video camera mounted inside the car. The two videos show me behind the wheel (had to split in two due to YouTube's length protocols) driving the Tsukuba Circuit (2000 m course). See next entry for how a professional drives the course!


Part 1

Part 2

Monday, July 9, 2007

took the plunge and invested in protecting my brain and body...ケチらないで、脳と身を守りましょう!

So I left work a bit early today and found myself at RAC - Racing Accessories Company in Koto-ku, Tokyo. RAC carries mostly European racing related items. Here is a link to their site.

I ended up buying a Sparco racing suit and Sparco racing helmet today. Not inexpensive, but figured 1) I wasn't buying the most expensive items, and 2) I think my brain and body deserve to have some money spent on them.

Why the sudden desire to buy these items? At Tsukuba this past weekend, I had casually mentioned to Sunako-san that I was interested in his driving school. After the event was over, a man named Matsumoto-san, approached me and told me he was the guy in charge of the Tokyo office for Sunako's school - and that a bunch of people from SSCT (Skyline Sports Club Tokyo) and the school were getting together for a 12 hour endurance race next Monday, and invited me to drive with them.

I will write more about this upcoming race at Motegi (full course) later. I have to do some research into the race track, having never driven there, as well as the car, a race ready Porsche 964, the production version which I drove very briefly (a friend's back in California)

My pride prevents me from going looking like the weekend racer I am, so decided to buy the suit and the helmet. Actually, for the helmet, it had been bothering me for awhile that I was still using my old motorcycle helmet (see pics in previous post) that I had bought back in Jan 1999. I keep hearing that these helmets degrade over time and so their effective service life is 3-4 years. Well, 8 years have passed, and I DID notice that the foam core inside seemed to be getting a bit harder, so this was good enough reason for me.

The suit is a Sparco Fashion 5, a two color variant of the Sprint 5. It is FIA 2000 certified (the tag on the back collar says - made in 2004 - so the price probably reflects the fact that it's not the newest model, but who cares). New FIA rules require all wear from 1-1-2007 onwards to be this standard - so I am safe for awhile.
スーツはSPARCO FASHION 5-Sprint5の2色版ですね。FIA2000認可(製造は2004だが、最新モデルじゃないから若干安かったのかな?)なので、今年2007年1月1日からの新しいルールに従がいます。しばらくは大丈夫でしょう。

Here is a picture・写真:

The helmet is a standard white helmet - I think the model number is Sparco SPY05. I actually wanted an Arai helmet, but just like 8 years ago when I was trying to buy a motorcycle helmet, it turns out my head does not fit Arai helmets too well.
ヘルメットも標準の白。SPARCO SPY05。本当はAraiが欲しかったが、8年前バイクのヘルメットを買うときと同じく、やはり僕の頭の形はAraiには合わないね。

So now, this completes my gear. I already have Sparco gloves (albeit these are certified only for the FIA 1986 standard so will have to be replaced if I get really serious) as well as OMP shoes, in red. I guess I can go crazy with the sponsor patches, but I am too lazy to figure out how to sew patches on the suit right now.

As a sidenote, I am not trying to coordinate on purpose. If I was trying, the white helmet would not go with this suit. It's just that the Italians seem to have the market cornered when it comes to racing wear. I actually looked at ordering one by Competition License A ( which I think is Japanese, through SSCT, but the price I paid for both the Sparco helmet and suit would not have covered the price of the SSCT suit, which admittedly would be near custom made (at least with respect to the logos, etc.)

If I was more serious, again, it would have been difficult. But when the most I can envision is one race weekend per month on average, what I got is more than adequate.

I have yet to list up all the work I have done, and have had done, to my car. A later post (will try to find the pics to go with them).

Sunday, July 8, 2007

How I spent my 7-7-07 - at Tsukuba Circuit! 七夕は筑波サーキットで! 

I sure hope I can figure out a way to post events from the past... otherwise, I WILL have to work on that personal website in order to bring everyone up to speed.

Anyway, got up early on Saturday morning with my gf, we went up to Tsukuba Circuit, about an hour and half drive from Tokyo.


Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Division [] and the Skyline Sports Club Tokyo (SSCT) [] organized this event.

I was the only person to run in both heats, the A group and the B group, at 30 minutes per group. In other words, while most people alternated runs for a total runtime of 1 hour, I ran for close to 2 hours. The A group were all SSCT members, all running various RB26 GT-Rs. The B group were other cars, including some BNR34s, 3 Z33s, a Porsche, modified Toyota Chaser and Aristo, etc.

走行会参加者はAとBグループに二つに分けられ、20分単位で交換で走行。AグループはすべてSSCTメンバーで、BグループはGTRだけじゃなくシルビア、ポルシェ、アリスト、チェーサーなど参加してました。アリストとチェーサーは確か、ロールケージとか後部座席なしなど、結構改造されてました。 参加者として、僕だけが両方AとBグループでの走行をしました。結果、一人で1地時間近くはしりました!(もちろん休憩を挟んで)

Some thoughts (感想):

1) My fastest time this time was on par with what I obtained last time, even though I have had new camshafts installed. The car felt more responsive, but I did notice that my entry speed into the last curve was about 10kph slower than before. Not sure if that was me, or the car. I was fastest in the B group, though!

2) Sunako-san, the professional driver, was about 2 seconds faster than me in my car (see photos below)

3) The car emptied its tank in less than 80kms. I had to refill halfway through.

4) Despite have S-compound rubber, the (Yokohama A048s), the tires quickly got warm, and overheated, leading to some oversteering.

5) I had new PFC circuit pads installed (front brakes only), but the brakes felt like they were fading towards the second half. Not sure if this was the fluid, or the brakes themselves.

I am attaching some photos - unfortunately, did not get shots of when I was driving this time, but the professional racing driver (Sunako) who was there agreed to give my car a shakedown - and then even agreed to take my gf for a spin!

This is Sunako-san and me, right before we took off.

So he is explaining to me that with the modifications on my car, it's set up pretty well for an amateur, although there is a tendency for the car to oversteer (and yes, he did - got it on video!) Honda-san of Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Division, who has been one of my primary consultants in upgrading my car, appears to be keenly listening to the analysis as well.

Sunako-san with my girlfriend - smile for the camera!

Honda-san, with amused look on his face ("does she know what she is in for?"). BTW, you will note the ridiculous taping on my car. It was an effort for my girlfriend to be able to take photos from a distance, as there were MANY silver cars. Have to figure out a better looking alternative.
本田さん、笑ってます。「大丈夫かな?」 ちなみに、ボンネットのテーピングは、ビデオを遠くからとってくれた彼女のためだったんです。こうすれば車が遠くから目立つと思いましたが、結果はやはりまだ分かりにくいということで、次回のためちがう目立つ方法を検討します。

And they're off! (too bad I can't figure out how to embed a sound... yet) See entry on July 11 for video from INSIDE the car.
出発!(?) 7月11日の投稿にビデオとリンクしました。車載ビデオカメラから映した画像です。

The only photo I got of my car on the track, at speed... (Sunako-san driving) coming out of the last corner, onto the straight...

Yamada-san of Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports - "Welcome Back!"
いつもお世話になっている日産プリンス東京モータースポーツ室の山田さん: 「お疲れ様でした!」

Did she enjoy the ride? The look on her face says it all....

Both watching from the inside and the outside, the difference in driving skills was amazing! As one example, on the last corner, I brake entering, then keep the speed consistant until the exit - I felt like to accelerate would knock the tail loose. Sunako-san, however, would brake, begin his turn, and then accelerate even before reaching the apex! Oversteer be damned! [actually, when I think about it, my idea of the apex differs from his]


More later...