THE STORY! - Endurance Racing a Prelude Spec S in Japan!
08-26-2009, 06:03 AM
Post: #1
THE STORY! - Endurance Racing a Prelude Spec S in Japan!
It's been a while since I last posted - busy times with various projects for customers, our own projects, work, new baby, etc. My AE86 hasn't been used for months, even. It sits under a cover awaiting the next trackday.. soon, soon I keep promising myself..! Smile Crying

Thought I'd share the story of what some of us here in Japan have been involved with the last few months which you might enjoy, So I'll spill the beans start from the beginning... Smile

In August 2008, 7 drivers & myself rented a full N2 prepared racing Civic EG6 complete with mechanical support and went 12 hour endurance racing.
One of our drivers was Tomohiko Sunako, a well known Nissan & Japanese GT500 works driver who has recently retired. He also put on a race tuition day for a bunch of us last year - a fantastic learning experience in car control!

So the 12 hour Taikyu race at Ebisu circuit in Aug 2008 was to be his last race - just for fun.
With Sunako at the wheel, our little EG6 set 2nd from Pole and we got off to a great start! Unfortunately about 4 hours into the race we suffered oil starvation which sadly killed the main bearings before low oil level could be discovered. Our choice was to bite the bullet and fit a spare engine we had waiting, or quit. We chose the former even though it meant there was no way we'd get anywhere other than close to being one of the last placed cars. We wanted to be sure to finish!

Our 2 race mechanics did a fantastic job and changed the engine, including removing and refitting clutch, flywheel, gearbox in just 2 hours and 15 minutes. Race was stopped for 2 hours AFTER we'd they'd just finished fitting the engine - due to heavy fog, then there was heavy rain till the end of the race. Not a good mix for S tyres, a car with no heater or demisting and poor quality standard headlights. Still, we avoided crashing the car as many other teams did and finished the race!

Other drivers will have their own experiences of course - I most vividly remember doing my last stint in heavy rain at night with poor visibility, whilst other cars around me were driving desperately quickly to try to earn top positions. Predictably some of them came off the track going into corners way too fast and aquaplaning into oblivion, sometimes passing me on the entry to a corner, then going off & crashing right before me... I remember being on a fast kink and having another car spin several times right in front of me. My choice was to hit the brakes hard & risk aquaplaning or go around him... I chose the later and vividly remember seeing his car still spinning as I passed just a few feet away. I found myself aquaplaning at the end of the long straight, but fortunately took only a minor excursion onto the grass before steering back onto the track unscathed. Mayhem!! Fun & scary moments Smile!

We finished intact:

Ebisu 12 hour Endurance Race event - N2 Spec Civic EG6. VIDEO & FULL PICTURES

Being the first proper endurance race some of us had done, it was huge fun despite our mechanical failure, terrible weather, etc. We learnt a lot about efficiency in refueling, driver changing, team work, car preparation, what was required to race for 12 hours continuously, etc.

The huge learning experience, sheer excitement of racing and seeing the spirit of our's & other neighbouring teams (Some of the cars were crashed hard not once, but several times, but repaired and put back on the track - before being driven home!). Even bent chassis were straightened in the pits using big hammers, etc. Amazing to see...

All of this planted a seed! - We just HAD to do this again, but this time we'd compete not in the race car class, but the street registered car class, to make it easier to bring the car to the track, etc. and we'd buy and prepare our own car between a team to keep costs of preparation down.

So 3 of us who'd competed in Aug 2008 Aki, Tom and myself set about finding 2 other people who would want to buy a car together to race. Wasn't hard! Simon - a tuned NS-X owner and Sumi, a tuned S15 owner - and suspension engineer by trade (Both good drivers with lots of high speed track experience) made formidable fellow owners and willingly signed up to share equally in some financial damage. Team Gaijin Racing was born (For those of you who don't know - Gaijin means 'foreigner' in Japanese).

Fortunately had a good car in stock, which was affordable but most importantly a car we felt would be reliable, not too thirsty (Even this car could easily use 500 litres of fuel when driven hard for 12 hours!) and equipped with some decent equipment to start with.
So between us we took this pristine and rare 235 bhp Prelude Spec S out of Newera Import's stock list and between 5 enthusiasts we each invested an equal share to buy it, get 2 year's shaken and register in Japan (Apologies to the customer in UK who'd just decided he wanted to buy it at the time!).

Even though the car was equally owned by the 5 of us - As I had the required parking space available at home, I was elected to be the registered owner. Being based in Fuji and this being a Prelude BB6 I thought we might as well reserve a private plate, so we got "Fuji . . . 6" when I did the Shaken test - to be able to register it.

Here's the car as it started out - and it's spec:

We wanted an N/A car for reliability (less heat) and lower fuel consumption and a Honda would be reliable too. We did consider everything else, but most cars we'd have liked were too expensive (S2000 would have been a first choice, being RWD too!).
A Prelude isn't always a natural choice as a race car, especially as few parts are available to modify it in Japan, compared to say a DC2 or DC5 Type R. Unfortunately neither of those two models was within our limited budget at the time - and besides, we like a challenge and wanted to be different! had a roll cage specially built in the States and shipped to Japan, as it wasn't available for this model here - we sourced a rad from Fluidyne in the States too & specified our own extra thick 25 row Setrab oil cooler kit and robbed our store of a decent used race seat, Takata race harness, steering wheel, Defi gauges, etc, etc. We replaced the brake discs, fitted braided lines and racing fluid, researched what would be the longest lasting endurance race pads (Endless M84N compound chosen... they were less than half worn at the end of the race!!) and much more...
Naturally, supplied everything at trade cost and threw in whatever was available in stock for free.

I couldn't participate in this event, as I already had a summer holiday trip planned & booked with my wife and daughter before the car was bought (Couldn't really have our holiday dates moved, so I just helped prepare the car Wink!) - but looking forward to competing with TGR in the next 6 hour event at Ebisu circuit on 24th Oct... Smile

So with 4 owners left driving this event - We found another 4 willing drivers to join us (Russ, Alex, Rod & James) to share 90 minutes behind the wheel each (In 2 stints) and help contribute to the costs of racing and preparation and they each added whatever else they could too. We didn't want to risk driver fatigue, or accidents due to loss of concentration - the goal was to finish the race primarily, this being our first - hence the shorter stints.

Russ is very good at making models and stuff like that which requires perfectionism & dexterity so he volunteered to make decals. Thomas could get a Traqmate for us on sponsorship and is a dab hand at making videos. As a racer himself could give instruction & driving tuition for those who hadn't raced before. Pre race meetings were held, videos shown and various more evenings were spent in preparation. Simon's place will be where the post race celebration party will take place Tongue

As the race loomed, the car was completed just on time, with many late evenings spent at the workshop.

The car's engine had to remain completely standard right down to the air filter, but wheels, suspension, cooling, exhaust, interior, cooling bonnet & some other modifications were allowed for the street registered class.

Our main goal as a team was to introduce real racing to others who haven't raced before and get more people into this.. Although most of the team had prior track experience only two of the owners present had raced before.
Fortunately this first event went without a hitch and considering this was a low budget team - the car performed really well for the whole 12 hours!
The brake discs were cracking by the end and feeling a bit spongy (Proper brake cooling ducts feeding cold air to a fabricated box around the discs are going to be added for the next race).

Our Prelude finished 4th in class, with a total of 25 cars racing. We didn't get a trophy but were awarded a small prize for being the best run team on the day. Most importantly, everyone participating with us in TGR loved it - and each driver's now also hooked on racing and the buzz of events like this!

Success! So it looks as if TGR will continue to progress - and introduce more people to racing in Japan. Our Prelude's also available for rental, for track use.

Here's the full story on our blog. Don't forget to check out not just August, but June 2009 too... Scroll down!

With the use of the Traqmate, we've got some great video footage being prepared by Tom, but for now here's one video clip just made one of the drivers of the preparation. Note this is the day before the race on street pads. They only fitted the race pads just at the end of practice, so keep them fresh for the 12 hours ahead.

You'll need to download to view -

Video of preparing the car & practice at Ebusu circuit

and instal Quicktime (

In car video of Rod qualifying:

Lots more video footage and stuff to come! - So stay tuned! Big Grin


A Tuner's Paradise
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08-26-2009, 12:11 PM
Post: #2
THE STORY! - Endurance Racing a Prelude Spec S in Japan!
awesome work guys Smile

clutch kick, switch, tree .... oowwww
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08-26-2009, 02:43 PM
Post: #3
THE STORY! - Endurance Racing a Prelude Spec S in Japan!
Was wondering why you were so quiet lately - too busy to breathe by the looks of it lol Nice work!

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