It's November 23, 2007, 2:30am when my alarm goes off. I get up, look out the window and see a full-on snow storm. Being that this was the first snowfall of the year, I don't yet have snow tires on my car. I was sitting on my bed contemplating if I should press on and risk life and limb navigating the icy touge outside on bald tires, plus drive 5 hours to a Honda Racing fan appreciation event.
Should I jump back into my warm bed? Hmm...the website said there would be F1 cars, GP bikes, Super GT cars and historics out at Motegi. Screw it, I thought, I'm going.
Boy, I'm glad I did. First of all, I made it down the mountain without crashing, AND Honda Racing's Thanks Day (as it was called) kicked ass! Honda Racing brought out all of its goodies, with one sole purpose: too show off its technology. This was really cool in itself, considering normally at races everyone is very secretive and concentrating on winning.
At Thanks Day most of the team reps were very relaxed, joking around and having fun. In one of the open-wheel sessions, F1 ace and works driver Jensen Button had a little fun when he buzzed the pit wall with the throttle hammered. That was an experience of a lifetime; there is nothing in the world that sounds better then a F1 motor fully opened up. It was just plain sick.
To think, Honda Racing threw this event to show appreciation to its adoring home country fans. Really it should be the other way around; fans should be thanking Honda for its past motorsports glory, constant pursuit of success on track, and in particular this one-of-a-kind look at the machines that compete for the Honda Racing name.
Check out the classics exhibition - Honda brought out 3 cars and 3 bikes from their collection, the 1996 JGTC Raybrig NSX, '65 RA272 Grand Prix car, '68 RA301 Grand Prix car, '89 NSR500, '99 NSR500 and the '95 RVF/RC45.
Before their demo run, the techs were warming up the motors and banging on the throttles so the fans could experience their sounds. That '65 RA272 sounds like it's pissed off when it's revved...nice.
Next up on the track was Honda Racing's current line up of road racing motorcycles. In this exhibition there were motorcycles from JSB1000, ST600, GP250, GP125 and GP MONO.
A very few lucky individuals got to go on a track tour while the Super GT cars where taking hot laps. Honda provided two different levels of tour; one was a bus tour and the other was a ride along in an actual Super GT car with the actual Super GT driver.
Since this event was geared toward pleasing the fans, Honda provided ample opportunity for everyone to get autographs from their favorite drivers. Some of the more experienced fans thought up some very innovative ways for getting autographs.
I'm human and I'm not afraid to show it - here are a couple of examples of me blowing a rare photo opportunity. How many times will I see a Moto GP bike wheeling next to Jensen Button in his F1 car? Or how many times will I get close enough to Jensen Button's car to take a photo of my name on it? It makes me sick just thinking about it.
Honda provided a couple of courses to teach kids how to ride scooters and drive carts. Start them young, right? You never know who the next Shinya Nakano or Takuma Sato will be.
Satoru Nakajima, Aguri Suzuki and Kunimitsu Takahashi made a couple of hot laps in the '65 RA272, '68 RA301 and the '96 JGTC Raybrig NSX.
Yes, that motor is smoking, and not because it's in poor condition. It's smoking because it's a two-stroke and they have to add pre-mix oil in the gas. Those two-stroke motors sound so crisp and clean.
For the finale, Honda brought out their road racing bikes, - including a Moto GP bike - Super GT cars, IRL car and their 2007 Formula One cars. Trying to take photos of each of them making high-speed passes was kind of like being a kid at a birthday party when the piņata breaks. All at once it was exciting, confusing and frustrating. It was great!
Towards the end of the finale everyone started revving the piss out of their motors. Takuma Sato started doing major smokey donuts, and I think Button was going to do a couple of donuts but he couldn't see through Sato's smoke. All of the Super GT cars started bouncing their motors off their rev limiters, and all of the bikes started twisting their throttles. The sights and sounds were amazing - thank you, Honda Racing!
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