Another track day at Wakefield had popped up and I decided (at last minute) to join the crew and sign up. The day was hosted by the HSV club of NSW in conjunction with the Nissan Sports Car Club (NSCC) – 8 sessions on the track for $200, not a bad deal, so off I went.
This time round there wouldn’t be much difference from the first track day with JDM yard – only difference was a set of tyres, instead of some aged Goodyear F1’s, I’d have fresh Bridgestone Potenza RE002s. With NatSoft timing as well, I could be sure that the laps I was putting down were real and timed accurately. Continue reading HSV/NSCC drive day→
One of the things I had really been dying to do (and one of the reasons I wanted to buy an MX-5 was to hit the race track and feel what it was like. Before actually getting there, had to do some prep on the car and this would be the first time I’d be doing anything to it more advanced than an oil and oil filter change.
Elf Excellium synthetic oil, oil filter, NGK spark plugs, fresh brake fluid (not pictured), new Hawk HP+ front and rear brake pads and K&M Air filter recharger, also shown is a mate’s helmet which I will be borrowing for the track.
A DIY day at Steven’s house was the perfect time to get together and learn a bit more about what it takes for a track day the to-do’s and not-to-do’s. Oil change was straight forward with the oil filter still being a pain to reach on an MX-5. Turning the wheel’s to the left would leave more room to reach in but it’s not as simple as most FWD cars. Air filter was just a quick clean with an air compressor and then giving it a nice layer of oil and next was the replacement of spark plugs, pretty simple.
Next was to jack the car up and change the front pads, simple task but the lack of a g-clamp to push the front caliper back in meant that sheer manpower would be required to slowly force it back in. Not fun but we eventually got there, popped them back in and it was time to bed in the pads. Starting off with lower speeds, 50-60 km/h then hard braking to a gentle roll, after a few of these, the brakes really started to bite, and wow, what a difference! These brakes were amazing, the force pushing you was immense! Time had the better of me and it was time to head to Assiette for dinner. Post dinner drove back to quickly finish off the job, bled the brakes and changed the rear. In our noobness, it took us a while to figure out how to adjust the rear caliper and in our haste didn’t realise you need to adjust it back! This meant I was left without a handbrake! Luckily we figured it out and it was a quick job to set it again the night before heading to the track.
Tuesday night we headed down so we could stay in a motel and be fresh and awake in the morning without being drained from a two hour drive. It was nice and warm in the motel, but damn! It was freezing outside! Being a private day, things were rather casual, in my first session, it took a while to build confidence and to really go hard out in the corners. That first time you’re on the track and you think you’re going quick, you’re definitely not! It certainly takes balls to push the limits of grip, not like when you’re on the road where a tiny chirp meant you’re going quick, those tyres need to be squealing the whole way! First proper session netted a time of 1:27:8. By the end of the day, my fastest lap would be a 1:21:2, not as quick as I was hoping for, but I’m happy enough :D.
All in all, definitely a fun time and seriously keen to go again!
Here’s a quick video of my noob driving.
Few notes to self, need to go much harder in the first corner, losing way too much speed and secondly need to practice the fish hook a lot! Still not exactly sure how to tackle it so definitely need another session. Last bit of a to-do is to learn how to embed the lap logs and map into the video.
So May of every year Eastern Creek has a little sports car day where quite a few varieties of cars come out to race. The Saturday is free to watch and that’s when Vo and I come down to practice some of our panning and automotive photography.
First up is the Radical group of cars, to me they look like a downscaled version of the Le Mans cars.
Secondly is the PRB clubman group:
Next was the Production car group, plenty of variety here with lots of MX5s (from all ages), Silvia’s, Skylines, Porches and much more!
There was this one car which I don’t have any idea as to what it is, never seen it before. Anyone know?
Last but not least are the Group S cars which I believe are race cars based of production vehicles manufactured from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
The rest of the pictures can be seen by clicking below:
Spent some time at Eastern Creek over the weekend to check out some racing including Round 3 of the Australian GT Championship. Felt like I got the hang of panning that day and some areas seemed easier than others, definitely wanna go again some time soon and put the 70-200 to work, had a bit of trouble at the start of the day and was using shutter speeds of 1/160 or so, with a bit more practice, managed to get a couple of good shots down to about 1/50 and 1/60. Got dark pretty quick so I had to up the ISO a fair bit, up to 1600 near the end. Well here’s a shot from the day, I’m still going through the pics.
I know my blog posts have been few and far while I’ve been gone, but I’m still going to endeavour to have a blog post for every day of my trip. While the blog is only up to the 3rd day, the trip so far has gone up to it’s 12th day (out of 21). As I write this I am on a bus to Osaka from Tokyo (probably won’t post this til I’m in our hotel at Osaka (or Shin-Imimiya to be precise).
Day three of the trip was destined for Akihibara, also known as the electric city, but first the day started off with a deliciously oily breakfast courtesy of Lawsons. It was to be two pieces of fatty fried chicken, a calpis water, orange juice and two macaroons.
Absolutely delicious after a big night out at Club Asia and everyone was seriously buggered. Check out the photos of Nugen and Huynhzie, they could barely stay awake in the morning, but regardless, we pressed on to see electric city.
Before actually going I did a quick Jesus pose on the train platform as we made our way to electric city.
This is the place where some say, if your phone or camera is out of batteries, there’s so much electricity there that when you hold it up in the air, it starts to recharge.
Unfortunately for us as tourists (me the most) we got conned by an old man who we thought was nice enough to show us the way there. Instead of just telling us where it ws, he led us there even though we said we were fine. It wasn’t until we told him we were okay now that his true colours showed, he told us he was hungry and begged for some money. He asked for 400 yen, I thought I’d contribute for most of the group to save them the hassle but he ended up begging to each of them, far out.
Where we lost this stinky old man was a rather weird shop, at the front were a couple of nice anime figures on a whiteboard type thing with pens and erasers for us to write some stuff, we decided to tag it for fun and snap some pics. Little did we know what was really inside the store (more on this later).
I know most of you would think that a place like this would be heaven for a guy like me, but unfortunately for me, getting here has taken away most of my money and I didn’t have much left-over to spend on electronics. Luckily for me there’s not really anything I’m in desperate in need of, so I was about to steer clear of the shops.
An arcade did manage to lure me in with a rather interesting claw/skill tester type game which involved me moving the claw by balancing on the board to control the arm. I failed miserably and lost my 300 Yen.
Also walked past some sorta set up for a concert being pulled down, luckily I managed to take a pic of the massive domokoun inflatable that was used.
As the day went on , we just walked around and admired the vast variety of shops for anime kinda stuff as well as electronics. It wasn’t until a couple of boys decided to head to Maccas that things started to become difficult, while they were waiting, Edmond, Tang, Louis and I decided to move on and have a look down the street, after a while we decided we should head back and meet up with the rest.
On the way back, Tang and I decided to check out the back streets while heading back to Maccas. It was a strange and eerie feeling, while it was only a single street parallel to the main street, it was very quiet. Aside for the occasional bike rider, it was very quiet for a major city, there was almost zero noise, it was rather amazing. When we finally got to Maccas, there was no one there, not Louis or Edmond, we waited around for about half an hour before deciding to just go on and meet back at the hotel.
Moving forward, we decided upon some Katsu Curry for lunch at a chain store called CoCo-Ichibanya which was close-by to Maccas so we could keep and eye out. While inside and eating however, our eyes weren’t on Maccas but this very cute waitress who had this really down-to-earth look. Unfortunately for Tang and I, we never got a photo with her (didn’t know how to say it) but with some WiFi, we managed to ask her to take a photo for us and Tang was ballsy enough to say “Anata wa utsukushi” which translated means, “you are beautiful”. The end result, she giggled and blushed a little before we left. Tang reckons he made her day.
After another quick look in Maccas, we explored further down the road where it got much busier again. Working from the right side, we stumbled upon some markets, long this alley-way. The place was packed with people and store-keepers selling various things from clothes to seafood. It had a very busy vibe to the place as we looked curiously not knowing what most things were. Oblivious to where we were, it’s not only know that I realised we were next to Ueno and the markets we had explored were actually rather famous, the place is known as Ameya Yokocho
Moving to the other side of the street we saw more Pachinko and slot towers and other busy alley ways lit up with neon signs and flashing lights. Funnily enough we found a place called King Oscar.
Just further up we discovered a large pond with a temple in the middle, again we had no clue where were actually were, the ponds we saw were called the Shinobazau Pond and the temple in the middle was the Temple of Benten
Moving on we took the other side back bumping into some nice small cafes with nicely planted autumn trees. Also checked out a little cake stall called Doremy Outlet, where inside they played a very catchy tune over and over again. The only words of the song I could make out where the name of the store. I ended up buying a little heart pastry/cake sorta thing. Quite nice.
After the sun set, we walked back to Akihabara station (as that’s where we came from and were comfortable with), again we took the quieter streets as we had already walked down the main road. While going down, a certain car caught my eye, there was something different about it, it didn’t look quite like a normal Mercedes. Once I had gotten closer, I realised it was a Brabus Tuned Mercedes Benz, the final result being known as a Brabus W221. As I was snapping pics, the owner came out and asked me where I was from and showed me the inside before being driven off, it was a sexy looking beast.
Luckily for us we found some Christmas installations with lights running all over the trees along the walk way, more lighting displays were seen as it was a little display called “Winter Illumination 2010”. Moving on, we stumbled upon the “Gundam Café” across the road, we went in for a quick break and had some cake and coffee.
Tang ordered a plain black coffee and felt ripped off, I still think it was his fault for simply asking for coffee rather than a Cappuccino or a Latte. The café had a really nice décor to it, fitting of the Gundam name, but if you do go, the best bit is the toilet. If you’re there, you MUST push the red button inside the toilet, I told Tang to video the inside, not sure if he did (my DSLR doesn’t do video D:), bug him if you really wanna see inside, but it’s better to experience it yourself. To see a red button and have no idea what it does when you push it.
After the break we had a quick perusal around the station again and back to the store with the sexy anime characters, our tags and messages had been erased and reverted to their original “How shall I please you master?” It wasn’t until we headed inside that we found out what was hidden behind these lovely women. It was a seven storey adult store, each getting storey up getting weirder and weirder. The bottom was fairly tame, having your condoms and novelty kinda stuff, moving up was vibrators and dildos and further up again was DVDs and magazines. Top floors, you really do not want to know what’s there, if you’re that curious, you can ask, but I’m telling it’s rather disturbing.
We ended up seeing three Aussies inside and gave each other awkward looks as we keep crossing paths. We quickly left with a souvenir magazine and Gundam condoms as a memory of that strange place, funnily enough, we bumped into the three Aussies again outside the store where they told us where they were from, what they were doing in Japan and so on. One girl had been living there for 8 months or so, said we had to go to this maid café called @home, unfortunately for us, there was no time and we said we would visit again.
After the nice chat, we headed to Tokyo tower where the others were supposed to go, after getting off our station, the Tokyo Tower was to the left but we were seduced by the little sign that pointed right and read “Tokyo Pokemon Centre”, we couldn’t escape our inner child and proceeded right (while the tower was to the left). Inside felt like a Poke-Centre from the game, why? Because it had the same music, playing over and over again on loop. Wondering how the staff there put up with it, we noticed a couple of staff members wearing earphones, we could barely stand the chime by the 4th listen. After buying a little Pikachu souvenir toy, we moved on back towards Tokyo Tower.
Again we were distracted by some loud music and decided we had to see what it was, upon getting closer we noticed a little cute girl in giant oversized love heart glasses belting out some catchy Japanese tunes and a moderate crowd enjoying the show. The performers were “AMP” and “m i m i k a”, one I assume was the singer and the other the guitarist and “box-player”. The instrument he played literally looked just like a box. The crowd composition had a lot of older men, some looking like they were all in their 50’s but funnily enough, they were really into the music. Waving the arms around, smiling and even following the dance routine actions, not sure if they were into the music or the girl.
Getting on with Tokyo tower, it’s a rather beautiful site from far away as it was lit a vibrant orange colour. As we approached most of the orange lights suddenly turned off and switched to pink-purple kind of colour and rather than being cast across the tower, they were just bright spots running up the three hundred and thirty three meter tower. Upon arriving and being mesmerised by the site of the tower, there were nice looking Christmas decorations all around the base, lots of Christmas lights, a large Christmas tree and little lit-up train display you could sit in. We decided not to head up as we thought the boys might do the same (looking back, I have no idea why we decided not to).
Instead we checked out the shops inside bought some souvenirs and headed back home to the hotel. Dinner would quick, followed by a few quick drinks, then heading to the world-famous club in Japan, known only as Womb. Having a quick chat to a few German boys outside the 7-11, I found out that Jerome Isma Ae was playing at ageHa on the Saturday (and not Sunday as I originally thought, lucky they told me other wise I would have missed out). Entering Womb was rather odd, from the outside, there’s no way you could tell what kind of gem was inside. Inside was rather big with a set of stairs spiralling up three levels which surrounded the main floor. Smaller areas were situated around the main room, but that’s not what I was really interested in.
Moving up for some more drinks, we met quite a few foreigners (especially a couple of rather cute Brits, unfortunately both taken) and had a nice chat to all of them before heading to the main room to check out all the hype. Firstly, the sound system in there is incredible, loud and crisp without any sign of strain or distortion. The only thing I found odd was not actually being able to see the DJ as the booth is up rather high and not really that exposed. Looking up was a gorgeous sight, lights beaming onto a giant disco ball was simply mesmerising, even more so with the hands of Aiba controlling the lights in sync with the music. Ended up giving a guy a piggy back until he got a little too close until I realised he was gay and hitting on me, Tang of Gavin got a rather nice pic of this and hopefully I can grab it off them before I post this. Luckily for me one of the British girls, Helena came to my rescue and we started to dance together, getting closer and closer until he disappeared. Bummer was as soon as he was gone, so was the dancing.
Anyways, the crowd there was mainly Japanese and they were all happy keen for a good time, I somehow ended up mingling with a group of locals and they found me a girl to hang out with. After she was whisked away by a local Japanese dude, she came back until he kept trying and trying. In the end, I won the fight and he was never to be seen again ;). By the end of the night, I found out her name was Samantha and grabbed her number and email. I walked back to the station with her and her friend and had a little chat. She spoke a little bit of English and said she really loved Australia.
It ended up being a great night and funnily enough, I ended up walking home alone again as the others had left about an hour earlier. The walk was rather long as I had done a massive loop around via Shibuya station. Unfortunately for you guys I don’t have another blog post detailing my journey home, but I was very impressed by the experience in Womb. The group of Japanese people really made the night fun as they were just after a good time and I felt really welcome there.
Even though you’re not supposed to take photos or videos in there, I managed to snap a couple of nice ones and a video to show you the beauty of the place. It really is a world class venue and it really puts anything Sydney has to shame.
Well that was it for Day 3, stay tuned for my blog of day 4 and my crazy adventures to Odaiba and ageHa.
Still trying to catch up on my blog with the things I’ve done and a few weeks ago, my cousin and I went to see the Top Gear Live show on Saturday the 22nd of February, quite a last minute and impulsive decision to go on my part as his friend won two tickets but had already bought tickets and were going with more than 2 people, so she offloaded them to my cousin who asked me to go.
We got there earlier as there were stands and car displays outside the arena for those that had tickets to the show, there were stands by Ford, Bufori, Loreal, Shannons and more. Few of the cars on display to note would have been the Shell V Power F1 car, Lotus Elise, the couple of Bufori’s, the Goggomobil, Ferrari F430 and 599, Maserati Quattroporte and Gran Turismo S, Audio R8, RS6, TTS as well as Aston Martins including the DBS, DB9 Coupe and V8 Vantage. There were a few others, such as a couple of toy looking cop car and Toyota Avalon, they seem like a slightly scaled down and toy-like cars with a single seat, I reckon they’d be mad fun to drive.
There was also an “F1 Simulator” type thing which seemed to be Live For Speed hooked up to a chair which moved to the bumps and whatnot and to my surprise it was really hard to control the car in a straight line, going through corners was hell too as any slightly hard braking or acceleration meant the car would spin out.
The show itself was quite short and this wasn’t helped by the 20 minutes of ‘live ads’ at the start for Shell V-Power, Navman, Audi and I think Alfa Romeo. The show continued with a short section of the three presenters driving the smallest vehicle they could build. This was followed by bowling using Steve Pazziti in a trolley as a bowling ball pushed by a Ford Mustang. Other stunts in the show were 3 “Ferraris” driving around the arena quite dangerously but later found out that they were MR2’s in a Ferrari shell, quite a shame really. Other antics were a virtual helicopter using 3d glasses chasing The Stig in a Lotus Elise as well as car soccer using some Suzuki Swifit’s.