Garage-D: Drifting the Ebisu Autumn Matsuri 2010

Well this is my first official blog post on Driftworks’ Blog Channels. I’ll be sharing lots of my content between DW and my own company website Garage-D in the future, so why not open with something special?

With meeting Paul Vlasblom ( over in Holland little over a month ago and him taunting me to make my way to Japan for the Autumn Matsuri, it sounded a bit far fetched until he offered me his 180SX from last year as a tried and tested “missile”. With a quick check on flights I was heading to Japan about a week later! With the bags packed including a few essentials I started getting messages from the Dutch Crew to bring spares out water pump, clutch disc and a selection of tie rods etc. I felt as if the chaos had started before I had even left… Flying out of Heathrow Wednesday morning and taking a non-stop flight landing in Tokyo-Narita Airport Thursday morning carrying 22Kg bags (maximum check-in weight) became the daunting task, then trying to navigate 2 express trains to Koriyama and then a local train to Nihonmatsu the small town below Ebisu and having checked into the Urban hotel, this took most of the day. With language barriers it turned out that my “room” was a bamboo cubicle on Floor 3 a.k.a. the Japanese Rooms! This consisted of a small mat on the floor, light switch in some one else’s cubicle and a communal toilet. Not impressed but grateful for the sleep!

I was up at 7.30am and travelled to Ebisu with the Dutch Crew “Paul, Vernon, Dex, Lars, his brother and the Girls”. I had entered the G1GP as a laugh as Paul had done the previous year. Only to find out arriving at Ebisu that it was a very serious affair with 72 entrants, mainly crazy Aussies with cool cars and plenty of track experience.

With the exhaust blow on the 180SX getting worse and having only driven the car for the first time, getting to know the track was difficult as I only had one practice session and the first corner was a blind down-hill 3rd gear entry! With the second session being qualifying and struggling with an unfamiliar car/track i was delighted to have qualified against tough, experienced competition. In the top 16 i got drawn against Polody from Poland who was driving a Team Orange S14 and had already competed in an event on the same track, it was looking to be an interesting battle until my turbo fell off and he over-took me on the last corner. This explained the exhaust blow wasn’t a gasket as the turbo had broken off the manifold causing the lack of power!

Yours truly with the offending turbo!

With repairs being done Saturday morning, which is the start of the Matsuri, the pressure was on to get out drifting with every one else. Thanks to Andy at Powervehicles for supplying the essentials to keep us all skidding, including the use of a good welder that I repaired the manifold with and added a bit of extra bracing.

With the turbo/manifold repaired and fitted including a full “Garage-D inspection” i finally felt confident about the car including assistance/tools from Drift Samurai who was using the garage next door. Time to go DRIFTING!!

My red 180:

Wouldn’t be complete without some Garage-D stickers!

Having a great time with everybody i drove most tracks until late Saturday night when i was shifting hard from 3rd gear to 2nd on the transition coming off the wall at Kita circuit i broke a selector in the gearbox. With every one being so helpful and getting a tow down to Andy’s garages there was no way of contemplating a gearbox build as there were about 20+ cars in various states of repair being worked on throughout the night. I had a bite to eat and put my head down in the back of Vernons Cefiro. I was woken up by the sound of  “Initial-D” as an AE86 was drifting the Touge at 5am even though it was still dark outside, with this i started into the gearbox re-build on the 180 using another blown box for parts.

By the time everyone appeared in the morning the re-built box was going back in and i was out drifting by about 10am. With Sunday being the best day i got to drift all tracks having an awesome time trying to link the jump on the Minami course (the D1 course) and rub the wall carrying the drift into the bottom corner. Even though i was running 16 inch tires with 4 bar of pressure in the rear and less than 300HP the speed and commitment needed was frightening! Saito Daigo (Blue Strawberry fronted 180SX with a 500HP V8) and Koguchi (Battered Blue S14, Good Spec) were fast and made this look very easy. Robbie Nishida tried my 180 and even with 8 bar of tire pressure WTF!! and was still finding it hard work.

Whilst being at the Minami course it gave me some time to take some pictures, Amateur style :)

Saito Daigo’s Left Hand Drive V8 powered S13 with S15 Front, as you can see a lovely car with a serious spec!

Cool Mark 2 wagon with 1JZ powers and everything else to match……

My jaw dropped when I looked over to see Kuroi’s original RB26 Onevia drive in complete with yellow paint/door shuts from years ago and his business partner who still runs River Side since Kuroi’s death last year……..

Great to see it still out there as a memory of an amazing driver.

Of course there were casualties amongst the other amazing cars to be seen……

Come Monday things were starting to quieten down as most of the Japanese had returned to work which left nearly all tracks, 6 or 7, open for quality time. This gave me plenty of opportunity to master the Minami course with minor battle scars and blue paint on the back right quarter panel.

Heading back up the garages for tires there was a scene of destruction, with Andy’s JZX90 having a bit of a collision with an S14? but easily fixed…….

And to top it all off, a video of myself on the Ebisu Touge!

Finishing up Monday night with Andy’s birthday and my first touch of alcohol plenty of drunk stories were being swapped with every one, mixed in with bad karaoke. We headed back to Tokyo on Tuesday where we managed to get out for a “different” night on the town in Narita with the highlights being……

Having had a great time in Japan, special thanks to the Dutch Crew and everyone else who made it possible!

-Julian Smith


15 thoughts on “Garage-D: Drifting the Ebisu Autumn Matsuri 2010

  1. I see what you were talking about with that manifold. From the top it only looked like a small crack. It was good that you got the car back together in time to have a few skids. It was really cool to have been able to meet you. This is Paul with the emergency taped up cefiro BTW.

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