I spent Sunday afternoon at the track. I’ve been trying to drive as much as possible, which is why I bought the car, repaired parts, and built it up a bit. It is to learn and have fun. So Sunday found me at Nago Circuit – the other “track” in Okinawa – doing just that driving and having fun.
The slightly hairy aspect of Nago Circuit for a beginning drifter is it is walled on both sides. Mountain wall on one side and concrete “k-rail” wall on the other. The track surface between the walls is quite wide which gives plenty of area to have fun…but when non-novice drifters setup the course and are there practicing as well the walls become more of a factor in course setup. They add excitement. When driven correctly, it looks like this:
When driven incorrectly, it looks like this:
So what happened? Not completely sure but it happened fast. The track was running counter clockwise. I was pushing harder and harder as I got more comfortable. I had the big sweeper to a point of semi-consistency. It flows into a small “S” curve along the mountain wall that then straightens to finish the course. I made it halfway through the curve and when I tried to transition away from the wall to straighten out the car snapped back. I did a 180 and slammed into the wall.
Current list of broke parts – rear passenger camber arm, rear passenger traction arm, passenger axle, and one 17×9+20 wheel. As a testament to quality wheels, the cast front wheel broke while the rear (forged?) Desmond Wisesport took the damage. Still have to investigate further, but fingers crossed nothing more arises.
The most amazing aspect of the day was the generous help I received after the crash. A HUGE thanks to Oshiro-san, the owner of this car, who drove home and brought me back some stock arms to replace the bent ones. He helped me work on it, sort out what was wrong, and wouldn’t let me pay him in return. And another HUGE thanks to Nakamura-san, the owner of the cool white wall-scrapping S13 in the video. He went completely out of his way – like a 4 hour round trip – to bring me a free replacement axle. I had never met either guy before, but, after I crashed, they came over right away to help me get it sorted out. I hope I can repay the favor; I’ll definitely keep this experience in mind the next time a stranger – or anyone – needs help.
On a cultural note, the Okinawan people are the most giving, biggest hearted people I have ever met. They have a saying “once we meet, we are brothers and sisters for life.” This seems to be the case in all aspects of life here. I have been welcomed to dinner in strangers’ homes. I have simply mentioned not having or needing to buy something and been given it. I have had numerous people go out of their way to help me when I am in need. This is just the most recent case and I am more than thrilled the car community embraces the idea as well.