After pouring over the photos from last years coverage on the web, I knew then that I simply had to attend this years event. So after saving up all my cash and asking countless people to finally find someone who would come with me on the trip to Japan, I was truly on my way to attend the AE86 Festival in Okayama Circuit and man… WHAT an experience!
Hit the jump for the full story and over 200 photos from the event!
After spending an amazing couple of nights experiencing Tokyo (albeit in a very hot and humid Tokyo summer…) my trip to hachiroku mecca had finally started. I headed towards Okayama a day before the event so I could get up nice and early on the Sunday and not miss a single thing! After doing some research on timetables and transfers back at home on how to actually get to Okayama Circuit (thanks Garth), I soon discovered that where I wanted to be wasn’t actually in the heart of Okayama itself, but in a small city next to it called Bizen.
For those of you doing this next year, the closest train station to the circuit is actually JR Yoshinaga! So after taking the many hours of transfers, subways, express routes and shinkansen, I arrived at the correct station. My only option for the remainder of the journey was to get a cab ride to the circuit. Thankfully the trip by taxi only cost around $40 – a pleasant surprise compared to the ruthless amounts charged back in Tokyo.
On the way to the circuit, the hachiroku fever really set in. I was entranced so much in anticipation of the day ahead, I was sure the sound coming from the cab was a 4A-G with quad throttles!Â Snapping myself out of the hypnotic state I soon realised that I wasn’t dreaming! That familiar sound was behind me! I looked back and saw the toughest black Levin I’d ever seen and it was barking a ferocious sound to the tune of somewhere around 288Â°. This is when it really hit home that I was actually going the AE86 Festival!
Finally we arrived at the circuit. I patiently waited in line and purchased the tickets to heaven-on-earth. The I pretty much ran towards some minter AE86’s I saw in the car park. At this point there were only about 10 AE86’s in the car park, so I made my up the stairs and was greeted with a line of black and white AE86’s! After a few minutes of drooling I managed to catch my breath before I passed out from hachi overload and continued into the unknown – I had to keep reminding myself I was only just scraping the tip of the iceberg!
I consulted my circuit map and made my way to the actual Show & Shine where they had some of the craziest AE86’s I’d ever seen. Everything from very clean stock examples to wide-body street cars, it was pure AE86 overload! I also got to see some AE86’s I’ve only ever seen on the Internet and always wanted to see in person and I wasn’t disappointed when I did.
So before self-combusting from AE86 awesomeness, I headed towards the race track where I heard some pretty nuts sounding cars, and to my surprise out came the N2-spec race cars! Only having seen these cars on DVD and YouTube, actually seeing and hearing them in person was – to put it bluntly – freaking awesome! This was only their qualifying session with the final race to come later in the day. Also at this time Luke aka Toyoda on the HR forums, managed to find me after I lost all hope trying to locate him in this maze of AE86’s, so we continued on together.
Once the N2 cars returned to the pits I made a hasty line directly there to get up close and personal with some real fast AE86 machinery. Some of the N2 cars, like the TecArts and Impulse examples, stood a class above the rest in build quality and finish, but they were all amazing cars nonetheless.
There wasn’t only AE86’s racing that day, there were also races for the Nissan March Cup Cars (which were pretty damn loud considering their size), the Mazda MX-5 Cup and the FJ1600 Super FJ open wheelers class. Also in the pit area were some pretty serious cars like new Ferrari’s, Jaguar’s and Mercedes Benz’s.
The next few hours we spent ogling countless AE86’s and browsing the many stalls and markets that were set up. Before the day was over it was time for the AE86 N2 Final. All the cars lined up and went around the track for a warm up lap, forming into the grid ready for the checkered flag.Â Suddenly the flag was dropped and they were off and racing! There were no F1-style ‘issues’ at the first corner and after that I pretty much lost who was winning and who was losing!
After the race was over and having no clue what the announcer was saying about who actually won, we were content anyhow just to see them race and started to head back home. Luke’s friend was kind enough to drop us off at the station in his very own AE86, a perfect way to end the perfect day.
See you there next year!