Highlights of the Japan Trip (from my perspective)
by Doug Hayashi
1. The Motegi Twin Ring racetrack is spectacular. Supposedly Honda claims
it spent $400 million to build it. Rumor has it that it went way over budget,
and it cost more than 1 billion dollars. It makes Laguna Seca look like
a dirt track. You get the impression that once Honda makes a decision,
they don’t screw around at all, they give 110% to make things the best
they could be. There is a big oval NASCAR-type track, and a separate 4.8Km
road racing course. They also have skid pad, rental go carts, and rental
race cars that look like Formula Fords with motorcycle engines (but with
perfect Honda paint and finish) that you can rent. Museums, exhibits, food,
luxury boxes, big screen TV for the fans, and a luxury hotel all built
in an area that looks like a mountain range. Imagine going to Big Bear(or
pick your favorite ski resort), and about halfway up the mountain someone
says, “Ya know what, I think we can level part of this mountain range,
and build a world class race track for Oval and Road Racing, and build
a resort hotel on the side of a mountain overlooking the track, and make
it so that the track and hotel look natural and there is no damage to the
environment.” Very impressive…..especially when you see 200+ NSXs
doing a parade lap around the oval, filling up the entire track, with mountains
and trees in the background.
2. Honda Museum. We went to the Honda museum at the Motegi track, and it
was pretty awesome. Tino said that he has also been to the Ferrari Museum
and the Porsche Museum, and said that Honda’s blows them away. They have
three floors of vehicles from their history, ranging from little generators
to scooters to motorcycles to Civics to F1 and Indy cars. An entire floor
dedicated to their Motorsports efforts throughout the years, and they have
a bunch of F1, F2000, Rally, LeMans, etc type of cars there and motorcycles,
with little signs saying what race(s) that vehicle has won, what the new
technology on it was, etc. F1 cars that Senna drove to victory, Nelson
Piquet, etc. are all there. It was nice to drool over Senna’s F1 cars……that
has gotta be a rush to drive one of those…
3. We went to the NSX plant in Tochigi, where they build the NSXs. We were
only there for about 30 minutes before they kicked us out, because they
were building the S2000 cars there at the same time, and they didn’t want
anyone watching the production of that car, since I guess no one outside
of Honda has seen the car. Of course all of us boneheads in our group spent
more time looking at the S2000 production(or maybe is was pre production)
than the NSX production, which got us kicked out quicker. 🙂 Anyways,
there were craftsman actually filing down by hand bare aluminum NSX bodies,
making sure the curves were perfect, etc.
4. We got to meet with the head designer and creator of the NSX. I got
my picture taken with him. I asked him through a translator if a V8 or
V10 would fit in the existing engine bay, and he was kinda evasive on it.
He did kinda of stress that Honda builds car that are enviromentally aware,
fun to drive, and very reliable. Also got picture taken with the Japanese
Formula 1 driver Shinji Nakano.
5. Got a ride in and NSX-R around the oval track a Motegi. There were about
3 NSXs on the track at one time, and we each got about three laps as a
passenger with professional race car driver driving. The guy that drove
me around was staying about 3 feet off the bumper of the car in front of
us, dogging the other driver, and he laughing slowing, “heh heh heh
heh”, like he knew he was faster than the other guy. Kinda like how
Wayne or I laugh when we are dogging the other person’s car on the track.
6. The Hospitality of Mr. Nakamura and Mr. Nakanishi of Honda was fantastic.
Mr. Tomiyoshi of the NSX Club of Japan also stayed with us the ENTIRE time,
and was very helpful and gracious. Mr. Kase also went out of his way to
socialize with us at some of the events. Can you imagine babying sitting
16 or so Americans that in general can’t speak the language, can’t read
the signs, and don’t know the customs of the country, and being in charge
of shuttling them around from three different hotels, a bunch of buses,
trains, shuttle cars, bicycles, etc, AND having an agenda for dinners,
lunches, breakfast, museums, exhibits, tours, drive arounds, and letting
them drive 14 limited production Formula Ford-like cars worth $40,000 each
on a little autocross-type course in the pouring rain, with people doing
big time spins(hey, I didn’t spin…can’t say the same for many others!)
We had an awesome dinner/finger food at the Twin Ring Hotel with fresh
sushi, crab legs, steak, chicken, etc. sponsored by Honda and the Fiesta
7. I got a ride(along with Alex and Skip) with a guy who had a supercharged
NSX that he claimed put out 370 HP. He had a big supercharger that filled
up quite a bit of the engine compartment between the engine cover and the
top of the glass. He gave me a 5 minute “Rendevous” type of drive,
going 85 mph through the crowded narrow streets of a Tokyo business district
at 9:00 p.m. I thought for sure we would hit a person/car/tree, and then
I would be in jail with him as an accessory…..
8. Hotel Room at the New Otani is pretty awesome. If you ever go to Japan
and spent at least one night in a great hotel, sign up for the New Otani
Club on the Internet about a month prior to going there(the wife had foresight
to do this). The rooms are expensive, like most of the major hotels in
Tokyo, but the Club Membership got us about 9,000($75?) yen off the nightly
rate, so it reduced the room rate to about 31,000($275?) yen a night, with
free coupons for breakfast. I am writing this sitting in a room with two
27 inch televisions with inputs for video cameras, another 9 inch TV in
the bathroom, two regular phones and one cordless phone, a fax
machine, and the hotel has their own ISP facilities, so for 10 cents a
minute you can dial into their PBX and get a connection out to the Internet.
9. I had the best restaurant dinner I ever had at the teppan yaki dinner
at the New Otani. We ended up there by mistake, and the steak was the best
steak I ever had, the fish, the salad, the cucumbers, etc, the best I ever
had. Only problem is that it cost more than a night in the hotel room…but
ya got to splurge now and then. You can get great sushi and noodles in
the mall/alley ways at good prices, two pieces of tuna sushi can cost as
little as one dollar at many of the places, good bowl of noodles for 6
bucks. So I guess the moral of the story is that you can eat cheaply in
Japan as long as you don’t eat in the hotel restaurants…
10. And of course another highlight was enjoying the company of all the
NSX people that came over from America, along with having dinner with Alex’s
brother and his brother’s babette. And super special thanks to Kendall
for organizing the trip from our side over here.
Interesting stuff about Japan – NO NSX CONTENT BELOW…..(well at least
I thought it was interesting, but then again this is the first time I have
been off the North American continent. I rarely make it out of Orange County,
where the weather allow me to drive my NSX 365 days a year…unlike you
guys/girls back east or up north, ha ha ha!)
1. No one tips. Most people here don’t accept tips. It drives me crazy
not to tip.
2. Very little crime. No one worries about their luggage, brief cases,
laptop computers, etc, out here. I am used to being paranoid with my luggage.
3. Everyone is very polite and helpful.
4. Food is really good. Udon, sushi, beef yakitori, bread, etc.
5. Subway system is awesome, runs exactly on time, and a train pulls up
about every three minutes. If I had to build a city/country from scratch,
I would start with a good subway system. (and I would also mandate no speed
limits on the streets/highways for cars). Being from Southern California,
I think I have been on a subway maybe once in my life.
6. Bullet train is nice, cruises at 120+ mph. At first I was scared, because
there are no seat belts, and I don’t drive at 120 mph unless I have a five
point harness. Supposedly there has never been an accident on the bullet
train. It rides like a Lexus. People walk around the train when it is cruising
at top speed.
7. Hotel TV sucks(except for the New Otani Hotel). Even the major hotels
have only about 12 stations, of which MAYBE one will have English speaking
CNN. I thought everyone would have their own satellite dish for each room,
and I would have 500 channels to watch while the wife goes shopping.
8. Japan economy can’t be bad, simply because everyone in Japan seems to
be out shopping. There are shops everywhere, the whole country is made
up of little shops.
9. In one of the subway stations, all the Japanese women had their expensive
purses sitting on their laps, and everyone was checking out each other
purse to see who had the best designer purse. I teased Dagmar and said
that all the of the women were “revving” their purses on her,
since she did not have her good purse with her. She always gets on my case
when I rev my car at the stoplight when another “modified car”
starts revving their engine at me. There are enough purse shops here in
Japan to supply every woman on earth with 190 purses each. At the sacred
temple sites, people are even selling purses there.
10. All temples look the same to me. So far, it seems we have seen 100
temples. All of them had shops that seemed to me to be selling the same
purses, clothes, dishes, senbei, food, tourist trap stuff, etc. Of course,
each temple and shop looks different to Dagmar, so we have to inspect each
one…….I guess it is payback for the last 15 times I took her on a weekend
“vacation” to a racetrack……
11. It isn’t as crowded as I thought it would be.
12. To rent a track like Suzuka(the F1 Track) is expensive. The Honda NSX
Clubs pay 700,000 yen per hour, or about $6000 PER HOUR to rent it. Many
times they just rent it for two hours, and everyone gets about 15-20 minutes
on the track. This may also explain why many of the NSX’s there did not
seem to have aftermarket rotors, since they might not get a chance to really
beat up their cars on the track.
13. We took about 20+ cab rides, and not a single cab driver cheated on
the fare, meaning that they always turned the meter on and printed out
a formal receipt from the meter. When I take cabs on business trips in
the U.S., it seems that 20% don’t turn on the meter and they keep the entire
“estimated” fee to themselves, instead of reporting it back to
their cab company or the IRS. The cabs are clean, drivers wear white gloves,
nice white covers on the seats and backrests that appear to be washed every
14. Most Japanese natives look at me strangely when they find out that
Dagmar speaks more Japanese than I do…..and when she is the person attempting
to translate what we are saying….the natives then look at me like I am
retarded or something. 🙂
Doug “good to be back home” Hayashi
(C)Copyright NSX CLUB of JAPAN. All rights reserved.
(By Alexander A. Vizcarra, NSXCA – Southwest Region)
Sensory overload. This is what I would describe the whole week I was in
Japan. Or rather, this is what I ended up having. Too many new things and
places to see, and numerous new faces to meet. It was one of the very best
NSX related weekend I have ever had.
I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and upon arriving at my brother-in-law’s
apartment where I will be staying while in Tokyo, we immediately began
planning the next few days. Website were checked out, and translated, as
most of the neat Japanese websites that directed us to places worth checking
out were in, well, Japanese.
DAY ONE – Wednesday 14 Oct. 1998
The first person I met up with was Skip, who had been in Tokyo since Friday the week before. He’s been going around, so he knew the subway system quite well.
You see, in Japan, most people do not speak English comfortably. I say
this because I can tell that a lot of them understand some English, but
are not comfortable enough to speak the language. But really, we didn’t
mind, as most of them knew more English than we did Japanese. Anyway, my
brother in law proved very indispensable when it came to making contact
with these various NSX vendors. We got a hold of Mr. Mamoru Ogose, K&N
distributor in Japan. Why him, you ask? What does he have to do with the
NSX? Well, he also owns an outfit called “Gruppe M” that happens
to be a manufacturer of NSX aftermarket parts. Among these parts is a supercharger
kit, which I will tell you more about later. He also owns two NSXs, one
supercharged, and one that is a Type-R. He is also the official RUF Porsche
dealer in Japan. The guy is loaded. And an extremely nice person as well.
He offers to take us around that afternoon. He picks us up at the subway
station near his office, and gives us a tour that has left both Skip and
First, we go to an aftermarket shop that specializes in modifying NSXs,
a place called “PHASE.” We see our very first Type-R parked outside.
Inside their showroom, they have two NSXs, and the new Civic Type-R. One
NSX appears stock, while the other was extremely modified. It had their
version of a body kit, which was very interesting to look at… quite nice
actually. Wide fender flares, huge wing, huge duct on the front hood, exposed
headlamps, etc. The engine appeared modified as well, and an interesting
thing to note was that on the driver’s compartment, there was a four way
switch that enabled the driver to choose from four different computer programs.
Intriguing. There were lots of parts around, from brembo brakes to carbon
fiber body parts.
Then we moved on to another place called “MAC’S” which was an
NSX reseller. And this particular branch we went to was the biggest in
Japan, according to our tour guide, Mr. Ogose. It seemed to be, as they
had in excess of 30 used NSXs on display. They were selling various NSX
parts as well, but harder-to-get parts like NSX-R seats, gearshift knob,
steering wheel, etc., and an “Acura” trim kit (badges, taillights,
etc.). I don’t like this kit.
By now, my head was already spinning in delight. I am also running low
on film. But the best has yet to come. We now proceed to a place called
“MUGEN.” Yes, THE Mugen. Awesome facility. They were pretty tight
on security as well. At first, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, but
after a conversation between Mr. Ogose and what seemed to be like a Mugen
engineer, we were allowed to take photos inside their showroom. They had
a lot of cool stuff on display. They had an NSX as their centerpiece, which
had the whole Mugen NSX catalogue on it. It had their radical body kit,
complete with wide fenders, lexan rear engine hatch, exposed headlamps,
and a rear panel that looked really wild. They also had most of their racing
engines on display, from Formula One engines, to Formula 3 to an NSX engine
apparently modified for the Japanese Touring Car Championship. They also
had the Honda IndyCar engines on display, of which I understand they also
supply a lot of parts for.
We now move on to our final destination of our tour, Mr. Ogose’s office.
It was the K&N headquarters, actually, as I think his Gruppe M business
office was quite far away. Anyway, this was where he had most of his parts
in stock. He entertained us with some tea, and showed us pictures of his
NSXs, and the parts he installs, as well as the Porsches he modifies and
sells at his dealership. He brings us downstairs to his store room, and
showed us various NSX goodies. What struck me the most was how he enjoys
tweaking the NSX, and as a result, he has produced a few really trick parts
for the car. Among which is a really neat boost gauge, which replaces the
battery meter in our instrument panel. It is designed to match the rest
of the instrumentation perfectly, so it looks completely factory. So those
of you who have forced induction on their NSXs, THIS is the boost gauge
to get. He also has a 300 KPH speedometer conversion kit, as in Japan,
the speedos are limited to about 120 KPH. There is also a speed limiter
in Japanese NSXs, so he has software that eliminates this. He also had
a used NSX-R engine cover he wanted to get rid of, so he sold it to one
of us for a song…
At this point, we had to head back, as we were to meet Doug, Dagmar, and
my brother-in-law, Kervin, and his date, for dinner that evening. But Mr.
Ogose insists that he give us a ride in his supercharged NSX, which he
will have to pick up sometime after 7 PM. So he insists to meet us after
dinner. We agreed, of course.
Towards the end of a very pleasant Japanese dinner somewhere in Tokyo,
Mr. Ogose calls me on my cell phone. He says he is a couple of blocks from
the restaurant, waiting for us. So, Doug, Skip and myself scooted over
there, finding a black beast of an NSX, parked on a no-parking zone with
the flashers on. I’ve seen this car before, in one of those Japanese magazines,
but is even more impressive in person. It had yet another version of a
body kit, of his own design, which actually looked quite good. It was laden
with stickers, so it LOOKED fast. Racing seats, 17-18″ wheels, and
brakes that looked like those of Motor Mail’s, but had a different logo
on it. He says that he gets the brake calipers from a certain supplier
in Italy, but not Motor Mail. (This really leaves some unanswered questions
in my mind.) And yes, that supercharger sitting atop the engine. It is
designed around an Eaton unit, with fittings that were mostly casted and
was professionally finished, so the whole set up looks factory.
He takes me out first. He does a burnout as we left. Awesome sounding exhaust,
and as he revved the sound of his car reverberated against the highrises,
the exhaust note sounded like a Grand Prix motorcycle. And yes, the power
is definitely there, and felt like a hundred more horses. He claims an
“honest” 370 bhp at the flywheel. (Apparently, he’s on the NSX
list as well.
We were careening through the very narrow streets of Tokyo in excess of
90 MPH, and I swear he had something going with the Police Department,
as we passed at least a couple of cops, and both looked the other way.
I was hanging on for dear life, not so much afraid of his driving, but
am fearful for any pedestrian that might step on the road at the wrong
time. Awesome ride, definitely worth the price of admission. Definitely
worth staying up late for. But not really recommended especially right
This car, along with other modified NSXs, is featured in the latest issue
of the “HOT VERSION,” a well known Japanese automobile video
DAY TWO – Thursday 15 Oct. 1998
Phew! And that was just Wednesday. Thursday proved to be quite sedate, however, when compared to the previous day. Nothing much happened NSX-related during the day, as I spent most of the day roaming around Akihabara, the electronics district of Tokyo.
You’ll be overwhelmed with electronics as soon as you step out of the subway
station at Akihabara. If you like gadgets, you’ll feel like you’re in heaven.
But soon that feeling goes away as soon as you look deeper into the stuff
available, as you will find that most of the equipment are for the Japanese
market, and is not practical for use here in the States, though not impossible.
The Yen had also strengthened significantly, so bargain hunting was more
Met up with Skip again later that afternoon, and we took the “Shinkansen”
or the Bullet Train to Utsunomiya, our first stop of the weekend for the
Fiesta. We first checked into our hotel, then we had a nice extended dinner
at one of the better Japanese restaurants in the area. As we were walking
back to the hotel, we see a couple of NSXs parked in the hotel lot. A yellow
Type-R and a red coupe. We check out the R, and soon afterwards, we see
the rest of the American stragglers walking toward us. They had all just
flown in that afternoon, so they all looked quite tired (if I may say so
😉 With them were Mr. Nakamura of Honda, Mr. Tomiyoshi of the NSX Club
of Japan, and Mr. Kase, the Type-R owner. Spirited conversation ensued,
each trying out (sitting in, that is) Mr. Kase’s NSX-R. We broke up around
midnight, to get barely enough sleep for the next day.
DAY THREE – Friday 16 Oct. 1998
Ah, yes. The first day of the real NSX festivities, though not yet an official part of the NSX Fiesta. We get picked up by a bus chartered by Honda, and brings us to our first destination, the Honda facilities at Takanezawa.
First, we were given a tour of the Honda R&D facility, which apparently
was a high security area. They requested for us to leave our cameras in
the bus, and they did not really give us a real tour of the facility. Instead,
they presented us with a nice video about the development of the NSX, and
about Honda’s philosophy in building cars. They also introduced Mr. Shigeru
Uehara, Honda Executive Chief Engineer, and the “Father of the NSX.”
Needless to say, we were awed by his presence. Two other engineers were
also present, one of which is the NSX engine designer. Their names escape
me at the moment, though.
A question and answer session follows, so the most obvious and pressing
questions were asked, of course. What will the next NSX be like? Will we
be getting a V-10? Etc., etc. And true to Honda tradition, they answered
in the most non-committal way, promising us with positive changes and definite
improvements in the future. Like I didn’t know that.
Next, we were given a bus tour of the Honda Testing and Proving Grounds.
Very impressive facility, which is very similar to the Transportation Research
Center in Ohio, including a large (very) high speed oval. We were particularly
impressed when they took us on the big oval, not in a slow, Sunday type
of a drive, but in a fast, spirited fashion. I could have sworn our bus
driver had a part time job driving for the Honda JTCC team. But impressed
as we were, we were completely blown away when we saw three NSXs, approaching
us at full speed from behind.
Picture this. Three NSXs with their headlights on, on a high banked oval
approaching you at full speed. As they come off the banks, they sequentially
straighten out and swooshes by you. Then they do this three or four times,
catching us at different parts of the track. Truly an experience that will
give you the goosebumps.
Finally, they bring us to the birthplace of the NSX, the Tochigi Factory.
Upon arrival, we find about three dozen or so NSXs parked in formation
outside the facility. Apparently, these are all privately owned NSXs, whose
owners are also taking the factory tour as we were. Of course, we check
out their cars, and we find an interesting collection of stock and modified
We were first brought into something like a conference room, but had various
displays on the walls that allowed the NSX buyer to choose his options,
from body color, to wheel color, to upholstery, and stitching colors, to
the various woodgrain finishes available. A feature that we definitely
miss in the US. A welcome speech was made by one of the engineers, and
soon after, we were brought to the manufacturing facility itself.
The factory was pretty amazing. It was in stark contrast to the Honda factories
in Ohio, in that it had much less automation. Aluminum bodies were indeed
pushed around on dollies, vs. robots and conveyor belts in the Marysville,
Ohio plant. The aluminum bodies were also handfiled to get the smoothest
finish, a painstaking process as we had discovered. We also caught our
first glimpse of the new S2000, which was apparently being built on the
same production line as the NSX. They also had a near completed body of
the S2000. Hmmm… very nice, and if the performance figures are what Honda
says them to be, they might have a future buyer in their hands. (Just don’t
let my wife read this 😉 There was a mint green Type-S on the floor, as
well as a US-spec right hand drive Acura NSX.
We then head out to Motegi, which was a good hour away from the factory.
It was a single lane road leading in and out of the track, a nightmare
as I would imagine, when traffic has to get to and from the track on major
Once you get there though, I am sure you will forget about the traffic.
The track looks awesome. The Hotel Twin Ring was equally awesome; a brand
new facility owned by Honda, with lots of high tech touches. The view from
our hotel room was awesome. It had a GREAT view of the track.
We invade the gift shop soon after checking in, as it was FULL of Honda
goodies. It was a good thing I didn’t buy anything at Akihabara, as I ended
up with an extra luggage full of Honda and NSX collectibles. I think our
group had just accounted for most the yearly sales of that little gift
The day ended with a very nice dinner with all our Japanese hosts. More
and more NSX owners trickled into the hotel. And a bit of excitement ensued
when we spotted Mr. Kurosawa, of “Best Motoring” video fame,
and a very well respected motorsports figure in Japan. He joined us for
a brief candid conversation. A few other famous Japanese drivers arrived
DAY FOUR – Saturday 17 Oct. 1998
This is the first official day of the Fiesta. It was pouring rain, along with gusty winds. A typhoon had just struck Japan. The bus picks us up at the hotel, and heads toward the “Multi Course”, where we will be getting our “Side by Side” experience. At first, nobody knew what that was all about. We had thought that we had paid 100 bucks to have a professional driver take us around the track. But to our delight, the “Side by Side” was actually an open wheel formula car that derives its name from the manner in which the engine is positioned to the driver’s right side. It is a purposely built race car, with all the right parts. It is powered by a 750cc motorcycle engine, with chain driven rear wheels and a 5 speed sequential gearbox. It is built for the purpose of conducting driving schools, and only at the Twin Ring Motegi. It is said to be a 50,000 dollar machine. And we get to drive it (in pouring rain, though).
So I watch the first couple of groups driving around the tight slalom course,
puttering around in the rain in first gear. This is no fun, I say, so when
my turn came, I wanted to really get a feel of the car and so I went for
it. I went through the gears, and tried staying just under the maximum
level of available grip but with the torrential downpour, it was too slow
to have any fun. So I practiced my rally driving skills and got it sideways,
and around a few times. I knew there was nothing to hit, and that it was
Tino who was with me in the same session, so I know he won’t run into me.
But I’m sure it got the Japanese a little nervous.
We all then headed back to the paddock for the opening ceremonies, after
which there was the biggest parade of NSXs I have ever seen! 200 plus NSXs
all lined up in four rows on the front straight of the oval, then proceeded
to make it’s way in the rain around the oval. What a sight!
At this point, I am particularly impressed by the enthusiasm of the Japanese
for the NSX, and the Fiesta itself. In spite of the rain and very gloomy
forecast, the numbers was still phenomenal. They had at least the same
number, if not more, NSXs this year as they had last year. I was actually
prepared to see a lot fewer NSXs for the weekend.
A delicious lunch was served at the Press Booths overlooking the front
straightaway, which had a great view of practically the whole track. After
that, we visited the Honda Museum. This was really an amazing place. It
is a huge, three story building filled with almost every type of Honda
product there is, from production cars, to Formula One cars, to mopeds,
to Grand Prix motorcycles, to lawn mowers and generators. Honda is truly
proud of all its products.
Then we move on to the Honda Fan Fun Lab, which is more of a hands on type
of museum. They had various interactive displays, which included a motorcycle
simulation. They also had the JGTC(All Japan Grand Touring car Championship)
avex NSX on display, as well as a little structure where they were showing
a video about the development on the NSX. An impressive presentation, which
included a full, unpainted NSX body shell in all its shiny aluminum glory
suspended in mid-air in the background.
Our bus is nowhere to be found, so we were given a bunch of electrically
assisted bicycles, called the “Racoon,” so we can pedal our way
back to the main track. It is an interesting device, and it gives a rather
weird feeling when you pedal. It almost feels like power steering; the
harder you pedal, the lighter it gets.
Dinner that evening was a huge gala event, which started with a picture
taking session of all the NSX attendees. There was a live band, and lots
of food. It was interesting to note that we were standing up all night,
and that no chairs were provided. Interesting concept, and it did help
to promote more interaction amongst the members. We met a few more Japanese
dignitaries, including Japanese F1 driver Shinji Nakano.
We then a bunch of us, including some Japanese owners, decided to go to
the hotel bar, where we can sit down. Soon afterwards, most of us left
on the 9:00 bus that will take us to the Green Hill hotel, where we will
be staying for that night. Twin Ring Hotel was fully booked with local
NSX Fiesta attendees for Saturday night.
DAY FIVE – Sunday 17 Oct. 1998
We look out our bedroom window, and we still see dark clouds up above, but at the same time, we see more of the blue sky. Perhaps the weather will improve today, we hope. And it did.
Our bus takes us today into the paddock area, where we got ready to ride
with professional drivers who will take us around the oval at speed. Or
as fast as the conditions will allow. The track was still damp, so the
first few cars out did not seem to go very fast. But as the track dried
out, so did the speeds, and by the time we got done with our rides, the
track was completely dry. The race driver I rode with races with the Japan
Touring Car Championship (JTCC) and drives the factory-supported AVEX NSX.
I forget his name. But it was his first time on an oval, as is the case
for most of the Japanese professional drivers out there. Motegi is really
Japan’s first large Speedway, and aside from CART and NASCAR, I don’t think
there is any large racing organization in Japan that holds races on this
oval. Not yet anyway. (JMO, ICBW)
We head back to the Press Rooms, and at this point, there was nothing much
else planned for us, and it pretty much depended on what we wanted to do.
A few of us decide that they were ready to head back to Tokyo. Mr. Nakamura
suggested to the rest of us that we can go to the go-kart track and drive
either the Side-by-Sides, or the go-karts. So we decide that that’s what
we want to do.
On the way to the kart track, Mr. Kase offered to let me drive his Type-R.
Of course, I was delighted to do so. It took me just a short while to get
used to the right hand driving configuration, and shifting with my left
hand wasn’t too bad. What I didn’t realize was that the control pod behind
the steering wheel was also reversed. So when I tried to flash my headlights,
the windshield washer and wipers came on instead. Quite embarrassing. But
did you know the ignition switch was still on the right hand side? Hmmm…
It actually took a bit more getting used to driving on the left hand side
of the road. I always felt I was going into a head on collision with the
approaching cars. Anyway, Mr. Kase’s Type-R felt very solid, and it was
apparent that this is his baby and takes good care of it. The suspension
is quite a bit firmer than US spec NSXs, and all in all, the car felt lighter
and more agile. Nice.
Anyway, we get to the track, and we find out that they only have two Side-by-Sides
available, and it will take some time bringing over more. But they had
about 9 go-karts lined up and ready to go. These are single speed racing
karts, with what looks like a custom motor built just for this kart and
its purpose, and it is equipped with its own starter motor (traditional
racing karts either have an outboard starter, or as in the case of the
direct drives and the shifters, these will have to be push started). I
tell this group that the karts are not a bad way to go, and that they will
all be pleasantly surprised. And sure enough, most everyone had a blast.
The track also had its timing system with each kart having a transponder,
so you get timed automatically and your time gets posted on a large electronic
scoreboard. I get second fastest in the first heat, only second to Kye,
an Englishman who lives in Tokyo. But on the second heat, I get the best
time, bettering Kye’s fast time by about a second. Ha-ha! Lots of fun!
We then got shuttled back to the Press Room, where we decided to grab lunch.
The other NSXs are preparing to get on the road course for a final parade
lap, but I has too exhausted to make the long walk back to the other side
to join them. But those who did got quite lucky as they were not only able
to snag a ride, but was able to drive themselves!
The Fiesta was finally over, and after we all bade Sayonaras to our great
hosts and our newfound friends, we took cabs back to the train station
where we took the Shinkansen back to Tokyo.
CONCLUSION AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
What a great time it was. I took tons of pictures and videos, as usual, and hope to get them posted on a website soon.
This was truly a fantastic event. It is definitely something I would never
forget, and hope to do again sometime in the future. I hope more of you
would take this chance as well, the next time around. Thank you very much
to all our Japanese hosts: Mr. Nakamura, Mr. Nakanishi, Mr. Tomiyoshi,
and Mr. Kase. Many, many thanks to Honda of Japan, for putting together
a fantastic event, and a great program for us visitors. Thanks to all the
wonderful NSX owners who accommodated us and forgave us for not speaking
more Japanese. And thanks to Kendall Pond for making this all happen.
‘Till next time,
D R A L E X A N D E R A V I Z C A R R A
Family, Cosmetic, and Implant Dentistry
La Mirada, CA
(C)Copyright NSX CLUB of JAPAN. All rights reserved.