FONTANA - Well after all of the hype of the last few months, was the GT-LIVE worth the wait? Well yes and no. Although the event organizers and sanctioning body officials worked hard to make all things work well, they were overwhelmed by the crowds and their lack of staff to handle the situation. We're not sure if the organizers will call the first GT-LIVE at California Speedway a total success or not, but we are sure they are on to something. The event was cool... 215 Photos of cool!
The estimate for the two-day was 45,000+, so everything wasn't bad. It seems that only a couple of NASCAR events have attracted more people then the JGTC and D1 Drifting to the Cali-Speedway. So, as far as attendance and enthusiasm, everything seemed good. The hot girls, lots of vendors, car clubs, and show cars, including, quite a nice representation by the Rotary gang, made for a very interesting time for all Rotorheads in attendance.
The first day's events started bad with parking and crowd control issues being evident immediately. But although you could feel and see the issues, all of the people seemed to take it in stride and everyone kind-of went with the flow. It would've been ugly if everyone would've gotten pissed-off and demanded answers. So the enthusiast in this case all controlled themselves, although things were not exactly as promised. The second day was much lighter and only the crowd control issue seemed to rear its ugly head.
The event organizers seemed to recognize there shortcomings post event, and Randy Grube, head of the GT-LIVE project admitted that the event is/was a great concept, but it needs to be executed better. It seems the organizers have identified most of the problems they encountered, and will remedy them in future JGTC events here in the USA. It seems that they are planning a second event in So-Cal next year, with a potential expansion to the east coast in 2006.
From the Japanese Touring Association point, they were a little disappointed with the overall organization of the event. Mr. Jiro Kaji, secretary-general of the JTA, went as far as to apologize for what he termed an amateurish event. On the other hand, the JTA did understand that this was a first time event, and as such, it was bound to have some issues.
As for the activities, the JGTC race was both outstanding and disappointing for Rotorheads. The race started at 4:30pm and ran about 2 hours into the dark of the early night, under the lights. The Amemiya-Aspara FD, we all came to see, was running in first place in the GT300 class, for most of the race, but a late race incident took the FD completely out of the race, to the dismay of all Rotary enthusiast present. The team tried their hardest to get the FD back on track, but the damage to the left front corner was more than they could over come in the pits. The FD was taken behind the wall for good.
After their heroic efforts to get back on track, the Amemiya team got rousing cheers and applause from all of the Rotorheads who were present above the team's pits. This included all in the Mazda/MazdaSpeed Corporate booth. It seems that just the experience of hearing the wail of a 3-Rotor perif in battle was enough for all Rotary enthusiasts to appreciate! The sound was outstanding. I'm sure that all Mazda enthusiasts were very appreciative of the Amemiya team's efforts all weekend.
Unfortunately, the same damage done on Saturday prevented the Amemiya FD from running at the day two time attack events. But Amemiya did bring another surprise for the Rotary crowd, a beautiful blue FD drifter. The car was very similar to the blue street Amemiya FD displayed in the Greddy booth in the vendor area. Although the car and driver looked great, they were not able to advance into the final rounds. There's always next year, right?
And yes next year, we are hoping for bigger and better things from the JGTC and GT-LIVE folks. We feel that this whole event can only get bigger and better. Rest assured that RotaryNews.Com will be on hand to cover all the going-ons! For now please enjoy all of our pics from the weekend's activities...
We took 215 pics check them out!!
As side note, we want to thank the So-Cal RX Club, in particular Latross Carroll, for setting up the car club corral for the 80+ Rotorheads who made the trek to So-Cal from as far as Arizona and Northern Cali.