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8 Oct 2015

Japfest 2015


Love and be Loved - JDM

Text and photos: Reinis Babrovskis
The car scene is forever changing and evolving; the times of neons and bodykits are long gone, and it seems the recent trend of modifying German cars has taken over the World, and whilst it may be nice to see all the “stanced dubs”, it was a fresh breath of air to finish the show season with a Japanese manufacturer show here in Ireland. The queues at the entrance of the Mondello International Race circuit  as well as the nearby car washes indicated it was going to be a big one; and it was…
The show, dedicated to the Japanese car manufacturers - “Japfest” was run alongside the final round of the Irish Drifting Championship (IDC) at the Mondello race circuit on 27th September. The Japfest has been running successfully for years, but more recently the show was somehow let down by the inconsistent entrants. It may as well have been related to the recession, but this year, on the other hand though, dare I say, it turned out to be the best car show I’ve ever seen on these shores, returning bigger and better than ever before.
Organisers had spent a lot of time and effort to bring the show back to the previous glory. With the extensive advertising and Jap only attitude it attracted a lot of attention. The car park was filling up insanely fast; more than 12,000 people attended the joint IDC and Japfest motoring festival, making it the Mondello’s most attended event to date. I was relieved to see that apart from a few foreign manufacturer cars that were on some of the trade stands, every vehicle to enter the show was Japanese. There is a time and place for other vehicles, but I am so glad the organisers went back to the roots.
Once we got parked it was time to walk around the place before the drifters smoke filled the grounds. The back of the pit lane was used for the Gymkhana races, whilst the main car park was filled with Trade Stands, Shops, Monster Energy Drink truck and hundreds and hundreds of show cars - from clubs to private entries.
The quality of cars in the show was mind blowing; it was exactly what one would expect when going to such a show - Nissan GTR, S2000, Silvias, Corollas - all finished to the highest standards.
Boyzone's Shane Lynch sadly wasn't able to participate at the drifting this weekend; however, he did bring along his new bonkers road project to the Japfest. Surrounded by crowds it was near imposible to get a glimpse of the vehicle, that turned out to actually be Rolls Royce. Despite the car being British not Japanese, it was mind blowing and stole the show. How often would you see a slammed "Rolls" with a hydraulic handbrake? The car got eventually thrown around the track, roaring the V8 and spinning the monstrous tires on it, and the crowds lowed it. Thumbs up man!
The folk from the online car blog “Raceism” also brought some amazing vehicles to the show – Nissan GT-R R34, Honda S2000, air-ride Honda Civic Coupe as well as the magnificent Honda Civic FD2; they unsurprisingly managed to draw the judges attention, and Lukasz’s S2000 received the Autoglym's “Best Paintwork” award.
A car that stood out amongst the crowds immediately was Chris’s AE86. The magnificent Hachi Roku is screaming quality from every corner of the car. The car is forever changing and the work is never done; well-done Chris!
I also stopped to have a chat with Ian, who was showing off his amazingly insane Datsun 260Z powered by the RB26 Nissan GT-R engine. I featured this beast a while ago, so read more about it here.
Not that the show was short of classics - I was amazed to see so many JDM classics present, each finished and restored to the highest standard. It is exactly what makes this show so unique and different and worth attending.
I must admit the most favourite car of the show for me though was the Mitsubishi Lancer running a perfect stance/performance combo. It was perfect in every way! Why oh why they don't make them like that anymore.
Another classic that deserves a mention - the grandfather of the Vtec - Honda Civic EF! This siR model was equipped with Einkei wheels and the bodywork seemed to be immense.
In fact there was a massive Honda presence in the show, that inevitably put a smile on my face. From EF, to EG to EK to Integras and S2000. Only thing missing was the NSX.
If it wasn't the manufacturers you're interested but the mods, don't worry - it was all there: everything from alloys, seats, harnesses, tucked engine bays, paint was done perfectly. I was happy to see the Japanese car culture has not died in Ireland after-all.
With the drifters, time attack and gymkhana men providing entertainment throughout the day, we, the spectators, were left with little time to walk around the show, but even with the limited time I had, I was able to spot dozen of insane cars on display.
I don't think there was a category for wheels on the day, but if there was these would have been my choice. Daaaamn.
Godzillas everywhere. 
Considering the insane tax, insurance and running costs I was amazed to see so many of them still running on the Irish tarmac. Owners - we salute you! One can never have enough Godzillas in a car show.
Who knew the Irish were so crazy on Japanese cars and seeing them being restored and modified to such high standards was amazing. I cannot wait for Japfest 2016.

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