What sounds like a really bad B-movie – in the best case- is actually the shortest possible summary of the ’15 JAF Japanese Automotive Festival in Zandvoort. A regular Sunday morning starts at 10am at the earliest. But not this one. My good friend Adrian gave me a call a week prior to the event. He invited me to join him visiting the annual Japanese Automotive Festival in Zandvoort. Last year I missed this event, so it is no wonder that I now took the chance to cover it this time.
A big “thank you” to the event-crew who put me on the pres list so shortly before the event. So that is why this Sunday morning started at 6am. We packed all the camera equipment, the paperwork for the press accreditation and my good ol’ reliable ice box full of supplies. I have to admit that I stayed up a little bit too long to double- and triple-check everything. So, a little sleepy and full of anticipation we buckled up and sat course to Zandvoort.
Of course we had to make a little breakfast break. Around 8am we took the chance to do exactly that and have a little chat, enjoy the sun and stretch our legs. It never fails to amaze me how clean everything in the Netherlands is. Good to none littering, the stylish bridges and hotels. I know it is different in big cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, yet I still envy the dutch for having such beautiful roads even compared to the German ones.
We actually thought that arriving pretty early to the event would spare us the usual traffic jam at the race parks entrance. Let us say that this plan went not exactly as planed. But it gave me an opportunity for a quick shot of the slowly gathering people and the welcome sign. Shortly after entering the area I was surprised by this s13 wearing a rocket bunny kit from emperador. Those kits are still a pretty unusual sight on road legal cars in central Europe. The 350z behind it looked pretty aggressive too. I wonder if it had a German registration as well – with that headlights.
After parking the cars and quickly finishing the press registration we immediately headed to the pits to get a short glimpse about what we were going to see and hear today.
The calm before the storm. But not for long. It did not take much time until the cars started lining up in front of the pits. Seeing a few pretty new and top notch looking BMW I thought at first that this might be the first time attack session of the day. Noticing the other cars lining up it became pretty evident that this would be in fact the first drift session.
The Mercedes Drift Taxi finally gave it away. There were plenty of drift cars. A lot more than in this picture. Yet not everyone had their own pit. they rolled out shortly prior, or mid run. It was a come and go of smoke and colors.
The SW-Performance s13 put some big red rubber clouds on the track. But that wasn’t the only feature this particular car had. This picture gives it away to the close observer. The next one will make it obvious.
Naturally that drift car had a roll cage fitted. Stiffening the chassis up a lot that would allow – theoretically – to remove the roof. Since temperatures were pretty high that day they saw the chance to go from theoretically to practically and took it. I made this shot right before the second drift session standing onto the VIP lounges. While the cars headed out once again to turn rubber into gray, white and sometimes red smoke I took my chance and went back down into the pit-lane an to have a peek at what time attack cars were attending today.
The time attack series brought in some more cars, not only JDM. Here we a have prime example of the USDM. The almighty dodge Viper. It was pretty impressive to see the high entry speeds of this giant piece of machinery. So much I can give away, today the viper was not almighty, mighty, but not almighty.
The European domestic market hat its fair share of power with this Audi. It was standing in front of one of the first pits, eager waiting to take on its competitors. Never the less the Japanese car armada stood strong and did not hesitate to bring on equally impressive cars.
Like this Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. That car was as professionally prepared as it could get. Pre heated tires, pre-run checks and everything else one could imagine. Together with the aero kit and engine bay that gave a pretty obvious statement, this was serious business. That effort should pay of in the end. The evo burned the best time into the tarmac on that day, being closely followed by the viper.
While everybody was heading to the podium for the victory ceremony I took again my chance and headed to the infield parking lot to let out my inner motorfanatic, searching for impressive cars.
I really love the look of the TME, excluding the front bumper, the asymmetrical style will never please my eye. Thank god everybody has a different taste. The note in the windshield stated that this one was one of only two ever regularly, left hand drive imported red EVO VI TME. Funny enough that I only had to walk across the parking lot to find the other red one. Unfortunately time was not too kind to its red paint job.
Since this was a dutch event, there were naturally plenty of old and new Honda. Especially Civics in every color, condition and tuning style imaginable. The different parking lots contained a lot of Honda, a few Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, some Subaru Impreza and BRZ, One or two Toyota Supra and some Cellicas. One of them was formally dressed in its rally livery.
Every time we went from the infield to the main stands we came across a little booth selling stroopwafels. Those are caramel filled waffles. A little bit of heaven. Of course we made one or two, or maybe three stops every time we passed by.
Keeping our long way home in mind, having spoken with a lot of people and having shot nearly 300 pictures we decided to call it a day while eating one of those. It was already late afternoon and the 1/8 mile event still hadn’t started. Leaving events like that is always the hardest part for me. I get used to that kind of sensory overload pretty fast. That makes parting with it even harder. But hey, there is always a next event, isn’t it ?