After what felt like weeks staying in Nagoya, we made the long train journey(s) over to Osaka where we would be meeting up with Shane Bingham from K-Tours, along with Ewan Paterson, Josh Handke, and John Dollison. We spent the first evening in Osaka down at Shane’s garage prepping the cars for the long journey to Bihoku in the morning.
We had also picked up our Belgian friend Pieter Gouwy’s purple PS13 Silvia from the local dockyards. It was in need of a fair bit of fettling before it was going to be ready for a thrashing on the circuit – John’s PS13 which you can see up on the ramps needed an entire gearbox fitted!
Due to it being pitch black and my complete lack of spacial awareness, I’d managed to fall down one of the deep drainage holes when I was getting my camera gear out of Ewan’s JZX90 and subsequently twisted my ankle. So I spent most of the night and early morning being a bit of a wet blanket in the office. One thing was cheering me up though, and that was the ridiculous amount of old school Japanese car magazines like Drift Tengoku and Battle Magazine that were lying around in the office. Even Al was impressed.
All of these magazines were crammed with drifting history and the early days of D1GP.
Here’s an advert for the original Koguchi Power fenders!
And of course my favourite thing about those early years of drifting – the styling. Drift cars had a certain class and style back then that very few people rock today which is a shame as it’s so simple to achieve.
We also had a visit from drifting legend Kazuya Bai, otherwise known as Chunky Bai. We’d brought a pair of Driftworks Geomaster Hub knuckles along with us on the trip to see what some of the top drivers and tuners in Japan thought about them, so we were eager to show Chunky Bai them!
For those of you who don’t know who Chunky Bai is, he’s one of the OG drifters from the Osaka region. Here he is busting out a sweet wall rub at Mehian years before the likes of Team Burst. He’s still drifting in D1GP today in a blacked out 180sx!
The morning of the drive to Bihoku came around far to quickly. My leg was still hurting, and my hotel bed was far to comfy, but the sounds and smells of our convoy of drift cars quickly woke me up and raised my spirits. We made a little stop at the local petrol station to fill up, plan our route, and make a few last minute checks on the cars. Here’s Shane tightening the wheel bolts on John’s 90s style Silvia – the last thing you want on a 4 hour journey is your wheel falling off.
Pieter was adjusting to his new PS13 and driving on Japanese roads for the first time.
Phil and James were rolling in the rather nice looking K-Tours S14 Silvia. I found out a little later during the day that Shane made the rear arches himself out of cut up R33 Skyline GT-R arches!
Al and Mitto were driving without a doubt the most hilarious car in the entire convoy – a Honda Vamos Hobio kei van. We used to this to cram most of our luggage in.
Aside from the mad camber and rare 14″ Work VS-XX wheels, it also happened to be running a 656cc Honda Beat engine with throttle bodies fitted. Which was good fun for about 5 minutes until you got it on the expressway, where you could only hit about 90mph at what sounded like 20 million RPM – this car was a headache inducer.
Soon enough we were bombing along the Japanese expressways at, well I never really knew as the speedo in John’s PS13 didn’t work.
The scenery became even more spectacular as we made our way through the winding hills. I think we’d picked a good time of year to see how beautiful this country can be.
After what felt like an eternity we finally made it to the last leg of the journey, which was this nice steep stretch of mountain road. Here’s a little video of the way up to the entrance of Bihoku Highlands Circuit, excuse the shakiness, a super low PS13 doesn’t make for the most stable platform to film from!
After arriving we spent a couple of hours checking the track out and meeting the circuit owner. It was a seriously weird feeling finally being at Bihoku after spending years watching videos from this circuit – tomorrow was going to be a whole lot of fun, but first we needed some food, beers, and a good long sleep!
– Daniel Bridle