The J’s Racing crew had grown used to running up massive power bills every month, and their power meter cycles were absolutely mind-numbing. Something combated with the installation of solar panels above the shop. When I inquired about their power bill these days the response was, “What power bill?”
Micah: Tell us about your eco building design? Do you notice a huge difference in your power bill now that your business is solar powered?
Hisaaki: Four years ago we were approached by officials from the Japanese government who suggested we switch over to solar power to cut down on our energy costs and to help lessen our impact on the environment. After some forethought we decided to take a chance and try it out. We filed all of the necessary paperwork, waited patiently on our new solar panels, and then waited again for all of it to be installed. Finally, we were rewarded with a “green light”! We started using this solar system to power our shop, and the cost savings are amazing! The government subsidies we received really helped us out a lot. On top of subsidies we have what you call a “feed-in tariff” over here, where the government pays you twice the standard electricity rate for your unused power. It is so efficient that our solar panels are operational only a few days at a time usually. We keep records of everything, and then we report these results every two years to local officials.
Micah: What were the first important changes that you made to a race car in the ’90s? How different was racing back then?
Hisaaki: After playing with the suspension, gutting the car, and slapping on our (at the time “brand-new”) R-Spec Exhaust, we really started seeing the car’s true potential shine. We used to think that racing was our only option, because back then it really was our only option! Everyone in Nippon was into the EF9 and the EG6 platforms back in those days, so this made competition in our EGs class crazy fierce! We did OK overall, but there were some days in the paddock when nothing would go right. Nowadays everyone is into racing their FD2, Fit, or CR-Z. The handling is exceptional in all of these cars when the suspension is tweaked, but I still fancy that old-school EG6 styling. Americans still mod cars like the EG, so we appreciate you guys in the States for keeping those cars in the loop.
The J’s CR-Z is by far one of the best examples of Honda’s new hybrid.
Micah: What was the first part you guys ever officially made, and for what vehicle?
Hisaaki: Our first manufacturing endeavor was an exhaust system called the R-Spec Muffler for the CA4A Mirage, the EF9 Civic, and the EG6 Civic.
Micah: What races and awards have you won with the EG and DC2?
Hisaaki: (smiles sheepishly) Nothing worth mentioning with the EG really. But we did win the Suzuka Clubman Race in ’97 with our DC2, and that was an awesome experience! This was a great launch point for our shop because we were suddenly in the limelight. It had taken us almost a decade of hard work, but it was all worth it for that one win. That was a real turning point for us as a company.
Micah: You opened the doors to J’s Racing in ’88, and shops like Backyard Special, Honda Twin Cam (Feel’s), and Top Fuel had already been around for a few years. How much inspiration did you and Junichi draw from these guys?
Hisaaki: We never really cared about what other shops were doing because they already had their own style of tuning. We wanted to develop our own style. Competition can sometimes be fierce, but that’s what pushes us to make better parts and race cars. While we all make aftermarket parts for Hondas, our style is what really makes us stand out. Creativity is our specialty. Our Maou S2000 is proof of this in every way.
Micah: What is the ugliest Japanese car of all time?
Hisaaki: (without hesitation) Easily the Toyota bB (Scion xB). I just don’t understand why this car is popular with young guys these days.