The day started early - the drivers meeting was scheduled to start at 0800 and by the time I got there at 0745, Team Gaijin Escape (Derek and Mike) were already busy unloading their race car, a very stripped down Mazda Roadster (NA).
|Complete with roll cage, fat tires and super large wing|
|The loader was a Nissan! The NT450, to be exact (no originality in truck names huh)|
|Truth be told, the NT450s are made by Isuzu for Nissan|
|The guys told me the cockpit is always evolving...this time a new seat for improved driving posture|
|Note, the large rear wing. Just for looks? Well...|
|Just the basics.|
Then it was time for lunch!
|Not exactly the healthiest, but got the essentials - carbs, fat and protein!|
|Both photos from race results page - http://www.mobara-tc.com/5/20_endurance_riz.html|
Luckily I wasn't hurt, and the car didn't seem too damaged either:
|See the green tape- that's where the car hit the cushions - that should buff right out!|
|And believe it or not, that huge wing DID generate a noticeable amount of downforce.|
So basically - yes the guys were doing great, and the car was competitive. Until I got behind the wheel - not only was I slower, I ended up damaging the car (less rear downforce) and thus slowing us down.
And the result? There were only 5 cars in the race, and we came in fourth... in my defense, all the other cars were turbocharged and insanely fast (especially the S14 and S15) and obviously the drivers were all veterans of the track. Although they've yet to have a podium finish in the last 2 years, Team Gaijin Escape could have done much better, although secretly I believe that even if I hadn't damaged the car, the end result would have been the same, albeit with a few more laps to our name.
The only consolation for me (Derek and Mike were very understanding) was that the race winner was this stripped down Nissan Micra/March. Not only was it super fast (and loud), but their main driver was super skilled, pulling lap times in the high 40 second range - faster even than the Silvias! So as a Nissan employee something to be happy with, I guess?
In any case - many thanks again to Derek and Mike for the invitation and for putting up with my poor driving skills. Obviously I've been hanging out with the wrong crowd, I need to be driving much more like I used to on the track! Maybe that's something I will start doing again, even if not in the GT-R. Maybe invest in a more track worthy car? Stay tuned...