Alright, so we admit that the name of this article is a bit of a misnomer, given that we are opening with a shot of five Lamborghinis, but that is just how the day was! For something called Lotus Cup at Fuji Speedway, there were surprisingly few Lotus cars in attendance, aside from the few taking part in the race. We are usually more interested in the parking lot than the circuit runners anyway, and to be honest, Lotus doesn’t exactly make a plethora of cars.
In the order of "Hot or Not" in the design department
Even if you somehow lost a digit in a freak wood-working accident, you could still count on one hand the entire Lotus range currently available; the Elise, the Exige, and the Evora. Oh, and can’t forget about that sweet pocket-rocket Lotus 3-Eleven that we have yet to run into here in Japan. So with that said, enjoy our coverage of the attendees of the Lotus Cup at Fuji Speedway.
First off, this was our first time to see a Ferrari LaFerrari (or as James May says, the Ferrari TheFerrari) outside of the dealer showroom, so we were very excited. This thing oozes cool. Being the only prancing horse to not be styled by Pininfarina since the wedged shaped 1973 Dino 308 GT4 done by Bertone, we have to say that this in-house project was a complete success.
If this doesn’t show that we are living in the digital age then we don’t what does, because this car looks more at home on our computer screen than on the road – low, wide, and curvy. We really love the headlight design as it houses just a single projector, like an eye. The giant radiator opening in the bumper and the hood are a cosmic match-making of functionality and aesthetics as well. And what other car do you know of that has such elegant side mirrors, suspended by thin carbon fiber stalks? Ok, Ok, we hear ya; Ferrari may have borrowed a bit of that from Pagani, but still it looks amazing.
The back end as well is a lesson in classic Ferrari. Being a midship car, and a 950 horsepower one at that, airflow and cooling is a big concern, so what better way to feed that air through than with massive rear vents and side intakes? Also, If you haven’t read up on this car before, then seeing that smooth bootlid may make you a bit fidgety when thinking about the fact that this thing goes barreling down the road at 200+ MPH. Never fear – unlike the wingless Koenigsegg CCX that Top Gear tested about a decade ago, the LaFerarri has a hidden active wing and diffuser that pops up and out when needed like some sort of caped crusader.
Can’t forget about the stopping power on the LaFerarri either; these bright yellow grippers by Brembo are sandwiching a carbon ceramic rotor between a proprietary brake pad made of both organic materials as well as ceramic. The calipers are more high tech than the newest iPhone, with an integrated KERS system developed from Ferrari’s F1 parts bin and an electronic parking brake! All that is floating inside a beautiful five-spoke center lock wheel that should never be swapped out for any aftermarket crap.
Fun Fact: The tachometer on the LFA had to be digital to keep up with how fast the engine revs...
Now we move on to probably what most would consider to be Japan’s only recent foray into the supercar market, the Lexus LFA. With production numbers matching that of the LaFerrari at just 500 examples made, both these cars put together are rarer than giant panda tartare. Just think about that for a minute. This magnificent specimen of Japanese engineering is harder to find than everyone’s favorite bamboo muncher.
On this fine day, if you waited in line long enough (and signed your soul over for insurance purposes) you could have taken the thing for a test drive around the outside access road that circles the track! Granted you wouldn’t be able to go over 20 MPH, but at least you’d have a cool story to tell.
The same company was offering rides in this Tesla P85D and BMW I8 as well. If we weren’t in such a rush to fill up our camera’s memory card, we’d have loved to wait for a drive, but alas work comes before pleasure.
There were quite a few Ferraris at the track that day, including this 355 Challenge, a car that we fell in love with ever since we first got a chance to play the arcade game that bore its name. For many 90s kids, this was how we first experienced driving stick.
Apart from that, there is something special about the 355 that makes it stand out amongst the other Maranello offerings of the period, although we can’t nail down exactly what that reason is. Maybe it was the double side scoops, or maybe it was the fact that it was featured in the final scenes of the original Fast and Furious movie. “More than you can afford pal… Ferrari” will go down in history just as famously as Humphrey Bogart’s “Here’s lookin at you kid” from Casablanca, or Clark Gable’s “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” from Gone With The Wind.
Or not. Regardless, it’s a car that definitely causes feels for our generation.
This McLaren 570S was a bit a of a treat for us as well, since it was the first time we had come across one in the wild. McLaren has come a long way since the F1 of the 90s, and since the introduction of their convolutedly-named MP4-12C a mere 5 years ago, they have been steadily pumping out new models to the tune of more than one a year – not exactly a formula that we usually see with supercar makers.
We fancy the styling of the “old” 650S or the P1, but this one isn’t anything to scoff at. The triangular side intakes harken back to the 80s supercars and give us nostalgic thoughts of buying Lamborghini Countach posters from the elementary school Book-Fair.
Back to the Italians, this car had us second guessing ourselves for quite a bit. It is a Ferrari 512TR, commonly referred to as the Testarossa, but anyone who has ever seen Chris Harris on Cars, (or for the older folks out there, Miami Vice) will notice that this car has a few differences from the normal Redhead.
We’re not just talking about the AVS T5 wheels on it either. There have been more than a few visual upgrades to the car, including ditching the pop-ups for a set of 512M type headlights from Koenig Special, 512M round tail lights, a rear grill delete, some carbon mirror covers, and probably best of all… a set of homemade MP4-12C-style vents in lieu of the strakes of the OEM version.
Most people would balk at the idea of slapping some Home Depot sheet metal covered in carbon fiber stickers onto their vintage Ferrari, but obviously not this guy. The result is pretty awesome! Hamann Motorsports made a similar set about 20 years ago for their custom 512M, so we are thinking the owner grabbed the idea from that.
The Porsche GT3 RS is kind of a hot thing these days, and we usually see them in that horrid orange color that seems to be popular, so it is refreshing to see a white one with red wheels and accents. This color scheme is a throwback the first RS that came out back in the early 70s. You could order them in a variety of white and colored wheels with matching accents. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this car, as it is a frequent visitor to track days and the infamous parking areas on the C1 highway loop.
It wasn’t all European cars at the track; of course a few JDM rides caught our attention as well. This R31 wagon was pretty cool and is not something that you see everyday. Some sideskirts, an aftermarket bumper, and a set of OEM R33 GT-R wheels adds about as much flavor as a dash of Taco Bell hot sauce on a 99 cent burrito, but we’re guessing the owner doesn’t take this car too seriously. Just check out the muffler tips – Hello Kitty!
As the day wrapped up, we watched as a guy pulled an old Toyota Hi-Ace with a trailer around to the pits. Down came the ramps on the trailer and out drove a Ferrari F430. We couldn’t believe it! A beater family van pulling a trailer with a track day prepped Ferrari… something about this is so Japanese.
And finally, since this was a Lotus day after all, we’ll throw you guys a bone with this Elan. Judging by the rusty wheels and well-worn interior, not to mention the old school license plate, this car has probably been registered to the same owner for a long time.
Not many JDM enthusiasts (or should we say not enough) know that the Lotus Elan was the basis for the Mazda Miata, but a quick look at the two and the inspiration can be clearly seen. A small, low to the ground, lightweight roadster with just enough power to make it fun is a timeless recipe for success. The best part of the story is that Lotus wrote that recipe way back in 1962. Neato!
Just as usual, we couldn’t help but smile at these kids hanging out in front of the pits playing Nintendo DS. With Japan’s declining birthrate, and even worse the increase in the disinterest of car ownership and driving in general, we love to see youngsters out enjoying motorsport in any form. Until next time, Sayonara!