In a time when everything about automobiles is changing and the CO2 emissions are deemed to be evil all over the world, there are still people out there who simply love their cars. For one, the readers of Super Street are those kinds of people and sadly enough it looks like the odds are against us these days. Across the Pacific it's no different as a Honda lover's event was held by Honda lovers, for the Honda lovers, at Tsukuba Circuit in September 2008. It's "I Heart Honda" and the concept was to celebrate the fun spirit of Honda cars. If you own a Honda, whether you are old school, a track guy, a tuner or just a fan boy, the event had something for everyone.
"It's a great opportunity to get people together and show their love for Hondas," Tatsuru Ichishima, president of Spoon Sports said. Spoon had a big presence at the show with many of its race cars and some unusual Hondas like the first-generation Vamos mini-truck. Needless to say, the NSX-R prepped up for the Macau Grand Prix was a big crowd pleaser. Their E-AT Civic racer was also a nice blast from the early '90s.
J's Racing is another Honda tuner in Japan starting to get the respect of many enthusiasts and they too were there to show off their arsenal. Their time attack Fit was not present, but they brought out another Fit which ran very quick considering it was a Fit. The FD2 Civic Type R is the latest from J's Racing, which also competed in the East Japan VS West Japan Battle by Hot Version which took place later in the day.
Honda Access, Honda's in-house accessory team brought out a Civic Type-R as well that Keiichi "Drift King" Tsuchiya took the reigns in the battle. A S2000 with 450-plus horses built by Top Fuel was also getting a lot of attention at the event.
But this Honda event was not just about tuners exhibiting their prize cars. It was about the people having fun with their own Honda cars too. Since it was held at Tsukuba Circuit, there was plenty of time for everyone to get some laps in. The track day portion was divided into two classes, the Dream Class and Spirit Class. The Dream Class is for beginners who want to drive at their own pace around the track. The Spirit Class is more for the track day guys with more experience. The Dream Class cost 3,000 yen and the Spirit Class will put you back 6,000 yen, both of which are pretty reasonable prices. (Roughly US $33 and $66 respectively).
For those too chicken to take their own cars out, there was the Tuning and Racecar Ride Along. Yuki Imamura, the organizer of the event said, "We wanted to provide everyone a chance to experience how fun a day at the tracks can be." Fans got a chance to ride along in a tuned up Honda around the tracks driven by professional drivers. Tsukuba, known to be the de facto time attack track in Japan, has many curves with tight turns. A few of the virgin shotgun passengers who had yakisoba noodles for lunch, had to make a quick trip to the bathroom right after their ride-along.
The highlight of the day was definitely the East Japan VS West Japan battle by Best Motoring/Hot Version. Representing the East was Honda Access, Spoon, Seeker, and Bros. The best of the West was J's, Tracy, Technica, and INGs. They all brought out their tuned FD2 Civic Type-Rs and sitting behind the wheels were the head of the tuning shops.
"To shoot this Best Motoring DVD battle with the Civic Type-Rs in front of all of these Honda fans is a treat for us," said video host and former professional driver Keiichi "Drift King" Tsuchiya.
Best Motoring battles are usually shot behind closed doors just like any TV show not to give away the results. But this event also gave an opportunity for the video cast to get close with the fans. After the battle, a talk show took place in the paddock with the professional drivers on site. Big names such as Yuji Ide, Manabu Orido and NOB "No One Better" Taniguchi made appearances in front of the fans too. Show goers were able to ask about driving and tuning tips from their idols.
Everyone, including myself, enjoyed the day just being around the old S600s, the tuned S2000s, the DC5s, and the new Civic Type-Rs. I hear they are planning another event for 2009 and maybe even one in the US. I was glad to see there are still many people like us who love cars... who "heart" cars.