Way back in the middle of February, around the time we first introduced our FKOF JPN contributor, we had our first car feature when Brandon introduced us to his AE86 Trueno, Natsuki. After spending two weeks trying to get to Sendai, Brandon got back to Okinawa to collect Suki from the paint shop – so we grabbed him for an update and some awesome photos of how she looks…
The anticipation is over. A man’s inexplicable bond and love for an underestimated, unpowered, rear-wheel drive relic in the Group A racing world can be witnessed on a weekly basis. My AE86 named Natsuki, or Suki for short, is out of the paint shop, rust free and has already seen the winding roads of the mountainous areas of Northern Okinawa. As much as I plan to baby the car, ensuring maximum upkeep and meticulous care of all things mechanical and cosmetic, there is no denying the fact that I am a driver. From childhood aspirations to someday race on international speedways to my adult years of hoping to be featured in the popular Japanese magazine, ‘JDM OPTION,’ I find myself infatuated with driving on the touge.
According to Wikipedia, touge is a Japanese word that literally means ‘pass.’ It refers to mountain pass or any of the narrow, winding roads that can be found in and around the mountains of Japan and other geographically similar areas. It is possible to drift these roads, but I prefer to drive them in a manner that I would on a track. It’s all grip for me. The same driving principles that can be applied to a circuit course like the legendary Ebisu or Tsukuba circuits can also be applied on the touge. The touge differs greatly from any other form of racing due to its unpredictability. There really is no way to account for the hazards of the surrounding terrain, deteriorating roads or even oncoming traffic.
The danger is accounted for as best as possible with the help of fellow racers who can often serve as spotters on the courses, notifying other drivers about any potential hazard. It’s a dangerous game as any form of street racing is. Touge drivers like myself don’t necessarily need the challenge of competition to enjoy the drive. In my case, the challenge of conquering my new car and being in tune with my surroundings is competition enough. There is a certain amount of peace that I’m able to achieve by simply driving for hours on end in the middle of the night. No music, no talking to friends via Bluetooth, just the stillness of the late night and sound of a 4AGE engine.
If you have any thoughts on how fameONE’s AE86 is looking, or on anything else you’ve read let us know. What’s your favourite classic car? Let us know though the comments section below or get in touch via email, Twitter and Facebook!
Peace, love and respect.