A long time ago, in a country far, far away… long before drifting became mainstream; long before fake GAB wheels existed; long before energy drinks and MTV cared about motorsports… gymkhana was already going pretty strong in Japan. Even before I ever had a chance to see a Japanese gymkhana video on VHS tape, I used to go to the Japanese bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area (Kinokuniya in Japantown SF or Yaohan bookstore in Saratoga CA) and look at photos of all the amazing cars in the Japanese magazines that I couldn’t (and still can’t) read.
This is a YouTube video of the 1989 Japan Cup Gymkhana’s C3 Class, which features some pretty amazing looking cars! The Ken Block Invitational event at Irwindale was super fun, but I wish the cars in gymkhana competition today looked as incredible as the ones in this video! Vintage cars with period correct graphics, widebody AE86s that are actually used for racing, AW11 MR2s spinning around cones… I love it!
This Japan Cup video definitely brings it back to the roots for me, because of the amazing cars featured in the clips! To steal a quote from a friend of mine named Kero One, “innovation is useless if you forget the essence.” This statement definitely holds true when it comes to motorsports! Even before all the big sponsors and professional drifting existed, this is the type of motorsports activity that got me excited about driving! Traditional gymkhana is fun, skill-based, relatively low speed, and has a relatively low barrier to entry in terms of money.
In fact, what excited me most about seeing the old school gymkhana footage in Japanese magazines back in the days is the fact that it looked pretty similar to the SCCA Solo2 Autocross events that my friends and I were already participating in; the Japan Cup just had cooler looking cars. So lets take it back to the essence and enjoy this video! Let’s see what kinds of cars and cool wheels and sponsor logos everyone can point out!
Gymkhana looks fun for drivers! I wanna drive!
:: Antonio Alvendia