Despite falling into the days of the rainy season in Japan, Tsukuba Circuit opened its paddocks to the warm sun and a cool breeze to welcome the second I Heart Honda event, entitled Kumpoo. The Japanese word kumpoo, not to be confused with "kung pao" the Chinese chicken dish made famous by Panda Express, is a seasonal haiku phrase meaning "the final winds that blow before summer." I don't know anyone in the import industry who's chic enough to come up with this snappy title other than Tatsuru "Ichi" Ichishima from Spoon Sports. Not a surprise as I Heart Honda is Spoon's pet project.
Just like the inaugural I Heart Honda that took place last year, more than a thousand Honda cars gathered. But unlike the first event, this event was on a weekend so the attendance was larger at approximately 5,000-plus Honda fans who came to see, experience and touch the cars they "heart" so much. Ichi says, "I Heart Honda is where Honda lovers, whether new or old, can come and enjoy these wonderful cars." He also added that "this time we have even more activities all during the day like the Best Motoring/Hot Version DC5 One Make Race, the Civic One Make Race and the VTEC Saisoku Battle." The Hot Version cast of Keiichi Tsuchiya, Michigami Ryo, Yuji Ide, Manabu Orido and friends were all on-site to compete in these special battles and sign autographs for the fans. A talk show with the drivers hosted by J-Wave DJ and occasional racecar driver, Piston Nishizawa was also a crowd pleaser.
The track wasn't limited to driving by these JDM superstars since there was plenty of time for the visitors to go out with their own cars on the track. Over 200 cars signed up for the track day portion making the driver's meeting more like a casting call for American Idol with track marshals shouting out instructions on the PA. The unquestionable stars of the day were the demo and race cars representing the top tier Honda tuners of Japan. J's Racing, Top Fuel, Seeker, Vision, ASM, Prodrive, HKS, Arrows, Max Racing and obviously Spoon Sports. First time shops Orangeball, Hyakushi, Racing Gear, Seidoya and Arvou also showed up symbolizing their Honda spirit for all to see.
Also on display and running strong were vintage Hondas like the S600, S800, N360 and the first 4-wheel vehicle by the manufacturer, the T360, held their own next to the more modern fully-tuned S2000, NSX, Integras and Civics. There were three rare N360s which all had overhauled hand-carved 2 cylinder DOHC water cooled aluminum engines. Heads were from the V-MAX motorcycles with boosted displacements of around 600cc.
When I last asked Ichi if the following event would be another at Tsukuba next year, he disagreed by saying "There will be another one in Motegi this year and we're also talking to GTChannel about doing one in the US." My understanding was that the dream of I Heart Honda would be somewhat big but they have infinite plans that see no stopping.