AE86 Grip Day at Streets of Willow, Nov 28th
AE86 Track Day in Cali
Held by an organization called Drift Association, a time trial event dedicated just for the Toyota Corolla AE86 was held at the Streets of Willow track at Willow Springs International Raceway.
The Toyota Corolla GT-S versions from 1984~1987 were stamped with a chassis code of AE86, and in Japan they are labeled as Trueno and Levin with different variations of front fascias. These cars have attained a sort of cult-like following mainly because of a popular Japanese Anime series “Initial-D” which features the underpowered (and underestimated) Corolla whipping the arse of some high horsepowered cars. The light weight and FR (front engine, rear wheel drive) layout of the AE86 is also a key factor of the car’s appeal since the AE86′s FR layout is favored by just about every sportscar driver.
One of the biggest figures popularizing the AE86 is a Japanese professional race car driver named Keiichi Tsuchiya. AKA: “Drift King”
Drift King’s vehicle of choice that he swears are the best engineered cars include Sprinter Trueno and the Honda NSX. There are videos and stories that document his undefeated N2 race version Trueno, which TRD had put massive amounts of R&D into.
Although the Drift King wasn’t present, nor was it a Drift but a Grip time trial event, it was a day put aside for the California AE86 enthusiasts purely for the love of these cars. There were several cars that shared the same 4AGE engine found in the MR2 and AE92 Corolla racing at the event which added to the fun and excitement at the track.
Most of the cars were driven a few hundred miles to the track, raced, and driven back home. Although the car is over 25 years old, they are still a blast to drive, fuel efficient, and reliable as hell. In the stock configuration, the 16 valve 4ag came in the GT-S models, and the 8 valve carbureted 4AC versions came in the lower SR5 grades. The 16 valve versions were keeping up with the upgraded 20 valve 4ag powered AE86s, which was a higher output variable valve timing equipped engine that was never released in the US.
The successor to the AE86, the AE92 came in a FF layout, as well as a quick little Toyota Starlet also made an appearance at the event. Both are fitted with some genre of the 4ag engine that enabled them to rip it up with the others.
The US never had the stationary version front headlights from the Levin model, they all came with the pop-up style. Chris is a Socal local and one of the few that has a clean car that he actually tracks. The new Volk Racing Rays TE37V wheels were released earlier this year, specially to cater to the old school Japanese car enthusiasts who set the demand for more deep-dish style rims.
Taka Aono, best known as the AE86 Formula D competitor, was there to aid Drift Association and get some seat time gripping his drift car! 90% of the Formula D competitors are using modern chassis with big displacement V8 engines but Taka is still in the game with a sub 2 liter 4 cylinder 4ag and solid rear axle suspension. He acquired his driving skill as a SCCA champion driver which translates to one of the best AE86 drivers in the world today.
A Club4ag user known as Chohdog, pilots this green hatchback fitted with a highly modified 16v engine. Next to forged internals, open individual throttle bodies and coil packs enable good power at higher RPMs. The Ferrari sticker also has a story behind it… I forgot the exact details, but do but remember there’s definitely some sort of Ferrari technology inside the engine!
One of the quickest AE86s of the day brought out by the Hamachi brothers. The vehicle has extensive suspension work done as well as gutted and decreased weight. A stock Blacktop 20 valve 4ag (last edition of 4ag) powers the car, which was fast enough to embarrass some of the more modern cars out on the track.
This red coupe defied the ordinary by showing up with a modified 4AC engine which is a single cam, carbureted, 8 valve, 1600cc motor. In stock form, these engines put about 70 horsepower to the wheels so there is no doubt that it was either the owners great driving skill or extensive engine modifications (or both) that enabled him to keep up and shred some tires.The sticker was just a bluff!
Overall, everyone enjoyed a full day of racing and said they can’t wait until the next one. The weather was a bit too cold for the people, but the engines were lovin it! The cars are getting more pricey and less in quantity, but the AE86 movement is as strong as ever in the United States! There are talks of Toyota releasing the new AE86 in the years to come, labeled as the FT86. The chassis will be developed by Toyota and possibly badged as a Scion, and the engine will feature a naturally aspirated boxer unit made by Subaru. With the modern AE86, perhaps the prices of the originals will skyrocket, so you better buy one while they are still not outrageously overpriced.
See you at the next track outing!