My morning started at 4:30am. After a brisk cold walk through cork city I met up with Michael who was coming straight from a busy night shift. Surprisingly he was wide awake and his quiet excitement meant he couldn’t wait to get on the road to Mondello. Not before picking up an essential for the day, his almost missile spec HCR32 Skyline fresh from a late night run on the dyno and re-map at JDM Garage.
Michael’s R32 may seem a bit rough around the edges. Some panels may be held on with rivets, paint might not match all the way round and the screamer pipe may be poking a sizable hole through a genuine GTR bonnet but this simple 32 has a heart of gold with some grunt and the chassis to handle it. The key is in the details. This car runs sticky medium soft compound race semi slicks on the front, along with few degrees of camber ,Tein coilovers, cusco tension rods, nismo 4 pot brakes and oz racing wheels. This keeps the front end in order meanwhile at the back matching tein coilovers ,extra bracing and a 4:1 GTR diff help keep Michael sideways. These suspension and chassis upgrades help keep the power in check. The power comes from one of the underrated Nissan engines, the good old RB20det which has been tastefully managed to provide safe reliable power all day long. It ditches the standard turbo for something a little bigger using 1.2 bar of boost starting to build from about 4200rpm to produce near the 300hp at the wheels, more importantly there’s 364nm of torque on tap to keep em’ spinning. More power could have been choked out through the Greddy ECU but during its time on the dyno at JDM Garage it was decided to keep the power band at a lower power level but with more usable smoother powerband. Thats the great thing about Michaels car its not over the top. I got the impression from Michael that he wanted to build a fun car that didn’t compromise when it came to reliability. Its a good thing too, with these RB20’s getting rarer it seems a shame to run crazy boost and have something go wrong.
With the car filled with petrol the jeep with diesel and the both of us with a questionably early morning breakfast menu form McDonalds we met up with Jack who towed the car the rest of the journey to Mondello.
We arrived to Mondello early with the sun just about up, the air was painfully cold and more importantly dense. Perfect conditions to keep the turbo’s happy. Once inside we met with the JDM Garage van towing the in house r32.
Shortly after Michael had increased the weight of the car with a couple of kilos worth of cable ties attaching the GTR front bumper, a set of sideskirts and rear spats his first 20 minutes on track was about to start. He set off for the pits and I headed straight for the wall coming out of Dunlop corner onto the straight. The primary section for wall taps and for spotting the drivers who took their brave pills this morning.
On my way to the pits I was amazed at the level of professional looking cars that peppered the arena. Every kind of car imaginable and despite the event name a few Non jap cars that looked promising in comparison to my personal disposition towards cars from the land of the rising sun.
Every type of S chassis was on hand from the rarer ps13 Silvia to the more common s14’s and this almost D1 spec aero kitted, wide bodied, wail tailed RPS13 180sx. I truly love the 180sx it is probably my favourite chassis of any car! Although I have the utmost respect for Nissans of this era my true love is for Toyota. Naturally I scouted around to see if there were any lurking. Before long I succeeded.
This Pokey little number was just down from where Michael and the JDM Garage R32’s were parked so all day long I got to make excuses to walk past this sensationally stunning Soarer. The looks were amazing but the sound was better. The JZA70 sounded like any 1J which is undoubtedly my favourite noise on the planet. The looks were right up my street. I love seeing nice fitment on a car and when it can pull it off with this much poke exceeding the arches it really grabs my attention. Amazingly the toyota search got even better tucked away in the corner of Mondello.
Parked neatly behind Simon Connaughton’s immaculate Fc Rx7 was this beauty. I have always loved all the kinds of buses that the 2.5 JZX block show up in, from the less popular cresta and mark II to this 6th Gen Jzx100 Chaser. This one really caught my eye bringing to life a version of my favourite balance between a well kept car and a car that isn’t afraid to be driven properly. the neatly tucked wheels accomplished the aesthetic stance while keeping the functionality. The Sticker clad rear window was textbook Japanese street car. I tried keeping an eye out for this ” more door ” drift machine all day.
After I managed to pull myself away from the Chaser thinking I had seen the best of the day I came across something that combined my love of the 1jz and the 180sx. I nearly stopped dead in my tracks when I saw it and found out what powered it. A whopper of a jza70 with turbo so big I’m pretty sure it could suck in cats off the street! The JustJap 180sx. I managed to catch it just before it left to join Michael’s group about to set off on track.
As the second group queued in the pits it showed the more competitive side of the coin, I would kill to own any one of these, Big wings, sponsors and insane power seemed to be the standard, not the exception
A perfect example of the level of professionalism was this s14, going rack to rack up the straight coming off the wall.
I managed to keep track of the chaser throughout most of the day, it seemed to be putting down serious power and at the top end sounded like thunderous eruption of noise! It was an absolute cracker!
Although they were heavily outnumbered the Beemers were out in force, this dukes of hazzard general lee V8 e30 wagon rumbled round getting thrown into corners by the driver in a no fucks given approach. This go big or go home attitude was truly epic.
Although the wagon driver gave it a measure and half of right foot into every corner no car could keep up with the balls out terrifying style of Bart and his 650whp skyline, get ready for this sequence…..
During one of his 20 minute sessions Bart handed me a helmet, threw on a fresh set touched up a possible oil pressure build and told me to hop in, the Black OMP seats with green TRS 4 point harnesses kept me held in tight, and felt quite cosy within the surroundings of the complete cage in JDM Garage purple.
The nerves I felt sitting in the seat were palpable, a combination of the tightness of the helmet I could literally hear my heart racing in my ears. I’ve been in a car going sideways with Bart before and thought I had gotten used to his balls out driving style, then I remembered the rb20 powered HCR32 was kicking out 650 at the wheels. Finally the semi pro cars in front of us started out of the pits, it was at this point that my knuckles went white grabbing the cage and OMP seat. We came out of the pits in 1st the needle hit the limiter trying to find grip, the same story in second, finally 3rd and the Exedy clutch , flywheel and cusco rear diff managed to get the power to the ground, and the back squirted out to the left then back right all the way from rack to rack and bart was on the power! All the way down to Honda corner on the limiter in 3rd then a huge flick and a squeeze on the hydro suddenly we were almost past 90 degrees at 80kph, bart banged down to 2nd and then was on the power to the limiter and into 3rd and all the way out past corner two. the rest of the lap was much of the same insanity , with Bart linking corners seamlessly. This went on lap after lap, Bart getting more flamboyant on the turn in. eventually throughout the day in other sessions it would prove that tires really aren’t as soft as they seem!
Here is one reminder of how close Bart can go to a clipping point, sometimes a little too close..
Proudly Representing his own modifying garage in Cork City.
Its only on a closer inspection that you start to notice the level that this car is at. the mesh passenger head light allows a better air flow into the Apex’i power intake which heads down through 60mm intake into a a Garret Hybrid Turbo with a downsized exhaust turbine housing creating a faster throttle response and boost at lower RPM.
Of course Barts car has all the usual mods expected of a high performance drift car, front mount intercooler, oil cooler, braided lines, a pair of oil catch cans coupled with front strut brace and engine dampener make this a pretty hectic yet simple engine bay, the pink rocker cover was optional but i think it really sets it off.
Under the car is more of the same high level of modification. the car sits on a set of DGR Race coilovers, cusco adjustable camber arms front and back.adjustable tie rods, tracking arms, hand made extended lower control arms and extra lock hubs allow Bart to get the needed lock when he goes for a reverse entry into Honda corner. Which he tried once or twice over the day, Not to the delight of his wife Malwina who rides shotgun with Bart at all his drift days.