After the downtime of the Christmas period there’s only one way to get us firing on all cylinders again: our annual trip to Autosport International! Every January our visit to the Birmingham NEC proves to be the perfect way to kick off the new year and get us motivated for the long season ahead. This year’s show was certainly no different!
Back in 2011 Team Japspeed were given the opportunity to put on a number of drift displays in front of the 75,000 strong crowd that visited the Autosport show over the course of the weekend. We are proud to say that we have been invited back every year since then and have strived to make our live shows faster, louder and more exciting than the last.
With a couple of live demonstrations to put on during the trade-only days (Thursday and Friday) along with a handful of shows on the Saturday and Sunday (the days where the show was open to the public) the cars had a stressful four days ahead of them and it was paramount that they would be up to the task.
Representing the team in the NEC’s Live Action Arena was Shane Lynch in his VH45DETT powered S15, Shane O’Sullivan in his RB25DET powered S15, Steve “Baggsy” Biagioni in his 1JZ powered Impreza and Paul “Smokey Smith” in our 2JZ Lexus, fresh from its winter makeover.
The reason Paul was using the Lexus instead of his usual 1JZ powered S15 was due to his car being displayed on the Maxxis Tyres stand throughout the show – a fitting place for his British Drift Championship winning car to be enjoyed by the tens of thousands that attended.
Smokey, Baggsy and the two Shanes also made appearances on the Maxxis stand for a number of extremely popular autograph sessions. We lost count of how many signed Maxxis calendars and posters were given away but we hope everyone enjoys them!
The demonstration runs were held every hour and a half which meant there was a fair bit of downtime in the paddock but the thrill of performing in front of the massive crowds was all that was needed to keep the whole team motivated and determined to put on the best show possible.
Shane Lynch’s monstrous V8 powered S15 sounded like nothing else; a warm yet thunderous roar that filled the arena with a melodic soundtrack of brute force and muscle…quite unlike Baggsy’s Subaru, with the sound of the 1JZ engine bouncing off the rev limiter piercing through the atmosphere, bouncing off the walls and assaulting the ears of the sold-out crowd.
Shane O’Sullivan’s S15 was no different; the sound of the screamer pipe venting the spent exhaust gasses up through the bonnet and into the atmosphere was hardly what you could call “relaxing”. Thankfully that’s not what we were there for, and the sound of the straight-six RB engine being throughly abused by Sully’s somewhat heavy right food was definitely a crowd favourite.
While Shane’s, Baggsy’s and Sully’s cars are tried and tested competition-bred machines our Lexus is somewhat of an unknown quantity, having only broken cover at other demonstrations and friendly events (namely, Top Gear Live and Monster Gymkhana Grid). Although it is still yet to make its competition debut in our hands, Smokey showed no signs of giving it an easy time and wrung every last drop of power out of the 2JZ engine. We can’t wait to get this thing into a competition environment to see how it fares.
The visuals on the big screen at the back of the Live Action Arena were provided by no less than twelve projectors which was pretty handy for spreading the Team Japspeed name, not to mention Shane’s face when he was interviewed at the end of every run!
With the echoes of four high powered drift cars ringing around the arena and the billows of smoke from the Maxxis MA-Z1 tyres rising into the atmosphere it was time to pack up and head home after what can only be described as an amazing four days at the Birmingham NEC.
All of us here at Team Japspeed would like to whole-heartedly thank everyone that supported us throughout the weekend. Everyone that cheered us on in the arena, everyone that queued patiently for autographs and everyone that had nothing but kind words for the entire team – it is you guys that make events like these so much fun and such an experience for all of us! We would also like to extend a massive to Autosport International for giving us the opportunity to wow the crowds once again.