Yokota’s first auto show is a hot rodders’ haven
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Live music, giveaways, beer, food and hot rods highlighted Saturday’s Auto Hobby Car Show 2005.
Japanese exhibitors put on display about 70 models, including low riders, American classics, high-performance vehicles, motorcycles and custom-body makes.
There was a NASCAR-style Toyota car brought in by Twin Ring Motegi — complemented by a pair of Japanese showgirls — and a 2002 Aston Martin sports car which goes for $250,000. A similar version of that car appeared in the James Bond thriller “Die Another Day.”
An estimated 1,000 people dropped by the Auto Skills Center and its adjacent parking lot throughout the day. That pleased organizers, who had to compete against two other high-profile weekend events on base — the Yokota Officers’ Spouses Club’s annual two-day Fall Asian Bazaar and the grand opening of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s BXtra on the west side, where the furniture store, Four Seasons and “Home Traditions” have merged under one roof inside a building once used by the base commissary.
“Even the weather held out real nice for the most part,” said Duane Donaldson, the Yokota Auto Hobby Shop’s floor leader, who helped organize the show. “We’ve gotten a lot of visitors who aren’t your normal car enthusiasts, which is a plus. … Things went very, very smooth.”
Rain shut down the festivities about two hours ahead of the 8 p.m. scheduled closing time but not before live jazz and rock performances by the Japanese group babamania and top fusion drummer Kozo Suganuma. Vendors included Suzuki’s Café and the Yokota Enlisted Club, which served up food and beer.
Quattrox, a Japanese company, offered a slot racing booth for children. Large-screen television monitors on the grounds showed clips of races and “drifting,” in which a car slides sideways around a twisting, turning track. It’s a trendy pursuit in Japan and growing in popularity in the United States, Donaldson said.
Japanese motorcycle champion Hideki Mitani conducted an acrobatic bike demonstration in the afternoon.
Still, the cars were the day’s biggest attractions.
Capt. John Perko of the 374th Medical Group was checking out a 1969 Z-28 Camaro.
“This is awesome. I just love these things,” he said. “You see so many ‘gas-savers’ driving around base. It’s great to see some American metal out here. I used to be a mechanic in a previous life. This reminds me of years ago when I put these things together.
“This show was something I didn’t want to miss. It’s a great thing for the base.”
Modern hot rods, such as Toyota’s Altezza and Soarer models, both professional drift cars, caught the eye of Airman 1st Class Zac Carlson, who works for the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron.
“I’m really into these kind of cars,” he said. “I’ve seen those in all the import magazines back home. To see them here in real life, it’s pretty sweet.
“The quality of these rides, compared to the U.S., it’s unparalleled,” he said. “They’re really clean, beautiful cars.”
Donaldson credited Yoshiyuki “Zenko” Tamura of the Yokota Auto Hobby Shop, who has widespread connections to Japanese exhibitors, for bringing the showcase together. Organizers also got help from about 10 volunteers, he added.
Saturday’s inaugural Auto Hobby Car Show, sponsored by the 374th Services Division, was three months in the planning. It’s slated to become an annual event.
Yokota residents win contests
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Two Yokota residents collected the top prizes in Saturday’s Auto Hobby Car Show 2005.
Robbie Nishida picked up $500 after his Toyota Soarer was voted the best in a private tuner contest that featured 13 cars.
Larry Atkinson won a $750 JVC Home Theater Set in a Best Custom Car Audio battle waged by six Yokota car owners. The stereo system in his 2003 Toyota Prado, a land cruiser, pumped out 111.5 decibels on a meter operated by JVC representatives.
“He had the loudest one — not necessarily the nicest,” said Duane Donaldson, an event organizer. “This was about pure noise.”
Yokohama D1 was named the Best Exhibitor for its own Toyota Soarer.
Show sponsors gave away racing jackets, stickers, JVC audios, tires, Snap-On toolboxes, batteries and other goods throughout the day.
Members of the HyRev Car Club, a small, private base organization that staged a car show at Yokota in July, were prominently represented in the Best Private Tuner showdown.
— Stars and Stripes