Unsung Heroes: N2 Okayama 2016

The ever-evolving creation by mankind, the automobile. As an object created by us humans, we may also assume that we have full control of these rolling masterpieces. The surreptitious irony is that we are not and have not been in full control for over two decades. Are machines taking over human control? In recent times, the modern automobiles have been outfitted and equipped with an excess of digitally assisted functions mostly in the name of safety, comfort, and performance. These features limit the human aspect of having “full control”, especially within the realm of vehicle operation. Nowadays, everything is standardized in modern cars whether its electric power steering, fly-by-wire throttle pedal, or even the radio.

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In the world we live in today, it is safe to say that only the people who own and drive analog classic cars have still retained complete driving control. Yes folks, the AE86 is now recognized as a “classic” vehicle! The analog aspect of the AE86 and modifications that step into the boundaries of the extreme is what makes this chassis favored by a niche group of enthusiasts across the globe.

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Having full steering, throttle, and braking control means that your driving skill must pretty much be par with that of a decathlon athlete. Driving skill is definitely favored over vehicle performance. However there is a delta factor to consider is – modifying these AE86s to make them faster. It is known that the best and fastest AE86s reside in Japan which is also the place of origin for these machines. An “N2” spec vehicle still embodies the spirit and original design of the AE86 because of the stern regulations set in place for competition. These N2 regulations are enforced by the Hotversion video series but to sum it up, the “Drift King” Keiichi Tsuchiya pretty much makes up all the rules.

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AE86FC had the grand opportunity to attend a competition at Okayama International Circuit recently and got to witness first hand the fastest Corollas in the world. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and a life-changing experience that every AE86 enthusiast should experience.

The event was held in conjunction with the re-scheduled Formula Japan race this day, so the media paddok was very crowded. The photography areas along the fence were jam packed with various journalists while the Formula cars were running the track, however when the AE86s were up, it was only me and a few others. Talk about being the underdog of the sport! The media people covering the Formula cars were all looking at me like i was crazy since I my interests were purely dedicated towards the AE86 only.

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The Car Factory Ai vehicle piloted by Kotaro Koizumi is currently the reigning champion and the fastest out of all. The owner of the tuning shop Ai Koizumi, is the successor to the late Tadao Sakurai (Toyota Tehnocraft), who built Drift King’s N2 vehicles from the ground up. In current times, she carries the responsibilities of maintaining her shop vehicles as well as Mr. Tsuchiya’s N2 AE86.

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The spirit of friendly competition was very evident in this scene. Everyone knew each other and setup their pits next to one another, helped wrench on each other cars, even shared meals. It was heartwarming to see that the worlds fastest AE86s are a bunch of close knit group of friends that are ruling the scene. Many may argue that the US are getting closer to the caliber of the Japanese in terms of AE86 tuning, however witnessing first-hand what these people do to get these cars to go this fast, we and the rest of the world are still lightyears away. Think of it this way, the Japanese enthusiast live, breathe, eat, everything AE86. This is the level of dedication they have for these cars, that they have sacrificed immensely for the love of the AE86.

Ok, enough blabberin, on with the photos!

Trackside coverage:

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This aint your Pepboys carbon fiber vinyl sheet! The entire monocoque is constructed from real carbon fiber.

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Okayama Circuit has now been converted to Okayama International Circuit due to the generous sponsorship by Lexus of Japan. o_DSC3411 copy _DSC3420 copy
Mr.Oda from CBY piloting his prized shop demo car. Note the newly added vents in the fenders and the clear front canards. _DSC3434 copy _DSC3446 copy _DSC3479 copy _DSC3480 copy A33A7531 copy A33A7535 copy A33A7547 copy
Impulse’s Super  Carbon AE86! Disproving everyone that this  car is not just a showboat.

Pitwalk Coverage
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FCR carburetors with shorty stacks is a popular mod among the EFI oppsing old dudes.

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No there arent any fancy photo filters here. Thats a kevlar dashboard.

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Hakan Duzgun original full dry carbon hood for the CBY team.

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Parking Lot & Misc Photos One of the most exciting aspects of attending an race event or a carshow is to go see what the people who attend these events drive on the street. There were so many virgin AE86s which are probably worth an upwards of 2,000,000 JPY ($20,000 USD) each.

These street cars would put some of our best AE86s in the US to shame!

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These tired crew workers were sleeping while Formula cars were buzzin around. Musta pulled an all-nighter!

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