Report and photos by Len Clarke
The Japan Classic Car Association (JCCA) has just had their second gathering of 2012 at a blustery Fuji Speedway. In what is traditionally the first on-track outing of the year for the “minor touring” cars and other classic Japanese tintops, it was a busy paddock in the shadow of the great mountain.
The day comprised a full schedule of on-track action in the form of ‘runs’ and ‘races’ – the former being more of the demonstration type affair in road-going classics; while the latter proved far more entertaining (not to mention quicker), with combatants really pushing their race-prepared machines to the limit. Some of the grids for the 2nd of two heats were therefore noticeably smaller than the first.
The Japanese have an enduring love affair with European sports and GT cars, and this event brought out some lovely (not to mention rare) examples. Despite the small grid, the Historic Grand Prix race (for Group 6 prototypes and Group 4 sports cars manufactured before 1969), featured names that included Chevron, Alpine, Lotus, Lola, Ginetta and Porsche – stirring the emotions as examples were flung around the sweeping turns of the former F1 venue. The most unusual car of the day had to be the domestically developed 1966 Macransa (based on a Honda S800) – standing out among the pack of more familiar imports against which it was competing.
As can be expected, the other on-track contests were fought over almost exclusively in Japanese machinery, mainly coming from what is considered by many to be the golden era of racing in this country, the late ‘60s and 1970s. The ‘runs’ also deserve mention, as the participating machinery included some of the rarest road cars one is ever likely to see in Japan.
Celebrating classic Japanese touring cars, the TS Cup pitted KP61 Toyota Starlets against the ever-popular Nissan Sunny B310s, with some wonderfully aggressive driving throughout. Next up, the F RACE featured larger cars, mainly Sunny B110s, KPGC10 Skyline GT-Rs, Celica 1600GTs and Fairlady Zs – plus one gorgeous 1973 911 RSR, and here too, the owners weren’t the least bit shy about doing whatever it took to get ahead of their rivals.
The other battle, and arguably the most enjoyable on-track action of the day, was the 31-car field for the S68/75 RACE, where two classes of 1,300cc machines fought together. This grouping was filled with Nissan Bluebirds (Datsun 510s to you and me) – many of which were the two-door SSS Coupe version almost never seen outside of Japan. There were also examples of Alfa Romeo GTV (2000, 1600, 1300 Junior), BMW 2002, Honda S800, Lotus Europa, Porsche 911 (2.2, 2.4 and Carrera 2.7 RS), Honda Civic 1200RS, Nissan Fairlady Z and the only rotary machine, a 1973 Mazda Savanna GT (RX-3). This final event had more than its fair share of paint-trading, with visible body damage to a few of the precious old gems.
Events of this nature are primarily attended by owners and their supporters, (generally wives and other family members) – and the audience duly braved the biting cold without even a hint of complaint.
In addition to the battles on track, there was the obligatory auto jumble and flea market with all sorts of memorabilia, toys and related goods – a dangerous place for collectors of trinkets!
Despite the steadily deteriorating weather and darkening skies, it was a day well spent. Seeing classic saloon cars racing in anger is akin to time travel – instantly transporting the viewer to a pure, less cluttered era, and with cars that would turn any kid into a lifelong race fan.
Fuji Classic Car Jamboree 2012 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture)
[Source: Len Clarke]