Spoon Sports and The 25 Hours of Thunderhill… Part 1…


These photos have actually been sitting on my PC desktop for some time now because I’ve been trying to decide on whether or not I should post them up or not. I had this idea that it would be cool to compile some of the best shots and put them into a hard cover book but I’ve been so busy trying to finish Volume 3 that I just haven’t had time. This one wouldn’t be anything intricate, it would just be a small collector’s item type of print and even Aaron from Spoon Sports USA liked the idea. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet and don’t want these photos to go unseen so I figured I’d start putting them up here on the site now. Aaron invited me to come out to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill a few months ago when he started building an FK8 Civic Type R for the endurance competition. I’ve never been to an endurance race before and being a part of anything Spoon Sports-related is usually pretty fun so I agreed to go. I think Aaron has always been appreciative of my work and wanted me out there to capture the behind-the-scenes feel of the event. He told me that it was going to be pretty tiring and most of the time we wouldn’t have much time to sleep at all and it was going to be incredibly cold. All those things occur regularly in my normal life anyway so nothing he told me sounded too daunting, lol. My only condition was that I wanted to bring Der along with me so he could experience the event as well. Aaron had no problem with that and  mentioned that we’d be very well taken care of all weekend. There would be a hotel, multiple RVs for us to chill inside of, and a dedicated staff to make sure everyone was fed. There was even a menu all planned-out and all. It didn’t sound like anything I’d really have to ‘endure’ and I already agreed to go long before any of the good stuff was mentioned, but I liked the fact that he was so thoughtful…

The entire idea of participating in a 25 hour-long endurance race was very foreign to me. I didn’t really know what to think of it. It just sounded very long. Aaron and the guys from Spoon had competed multiple times before so I felt reassured that it couldn’t be that bad. I mean, if it was a bad time, why would they go back again? Aaron knows me well enough to not make me do shit I wouldn’t want to do so I was pretty much down for whatever was going to happen. He also mentioned that he had a couple drivers from Japan coming over to drive for Spoon, including the one and only Eiji “Tarzan” Yamada. That alone would make me want to go. How often do you get to hang out with Spoon Sports and be around Tarzan Yamada for a weekend? That sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime thing…

It wasn’t until I arrived at Thunderhill Raceway that weekend when I finally realized why Spoon was actually participating in the 25-hour race; Tatsuru Ichishima, founder of Spoon Sports, was retiring from his position as President of the company. After all these years, at 70 years of age, he decided it was time. The 25 Hours of Thunderhill has long been one of his favorite events to compete in so this seemed like the perfect curtain call. Being that it was such a monumental event, Spoon went all-out. They flew their staff from Type One over to be pit crew, brought their best drivers to drive, and invited a dedicated few to document it all. The competition car was freshly-built and fully-prepped to win. Everything was set-up with precision for a proper send-off…

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The event itself happened on the weekend but the Spoon Sports team arrived in Willows, California by Wednesday for set-up. Myself and Der didn’t arrive until the early afternoon that Thursday because Der had work. I should also mention that I had no idea how far Thunderhill Raceway Park was until I looked it up two days before I left. I thought it would be just a simple drive to Northern California but it was far from it. I think the drive totaled about eight hours with a restroom break or two…

When we arrived, the car was already being set-up for testing. Both teams from Spoon Japan and U.S. were present as were all the drivers…

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I was brought on to be more of an observer and to catch the general vibe of what was going on so I made sure to not interfere as much as possible. Believe me I had a lot of dumb jokes and inappropriate shit to say like usual but I was on my best behavior…

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I really wanted to create a much more dramatic vibe with a lot of contrast to offset the signature yellow and blue color scheme. We were going to be there for a few days too so I also didn’t want to ‘over-shoot’ and burn myself out before the event even took place…

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The interior of the Spoon Sports FK8 Civic Type R that was just recently finished in time for display at SEMA 2021. The driver’s Sparco Circuit seat is surrounded by two Sparco window nets and the first thing in the photo that you’ll notice right away is the shifter of the Quaife Sequential Transmission…

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Stuffed inside the instrument bezel of the FK8 is a MoTec C127 digital display…

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The factory K20C was upgraded for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with forged pistons, connecting rods, and a Spoon Sports turbo upgrade…

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Spoon Sports front bumper paired with a custom carbon front splitter made by RS Future…

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One of the casualties from the first test session…

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Being that it was a 25-hour race, multiple drivers were brought in to pilot the Spoon Sports FK8 CTR. Four flew over from Japan, including Tatsuru Ichishima, and three were residents here in California…

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Daijiro Yoshihara’s signature red helmet and Hans device…

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The front face of the Spoon Sports FK8…

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Kelvin from Evasive Motorsports took a few days off from work to help the Spoon Sports team…

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Spoon Sports SW388 wrapped in Yokohama Advan A052…

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The blue sleeves around the lug nuts are prototype pieces that help keep the lug nuts in place even after they’ve been gunned off for quick wheel swaps…

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Factory Brembo brake calipers paired with Paragon 2-piece brake rotors and Endless brake pads…

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Aaron Wang from Spoon USA behind-the-wheel during testing having a discussion with Jay Tien who served as the team manager for the weekend…

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Ryan Der spent most of his time at Thunderhill shooting Medium Format Film on his classic Hasselblad camera…

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It was so cool to actually see Tarzan Yamada again in-person wearing his Spoon Sports race suit with his signature “FUCKIN FAST” patch stitched to it…

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I know a lot of people out there enjoy the factory FK8 face with just the addition of a front lip but I personally like the Spoon front. And I’m not just saying that because they fed me…

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I just like the lines of the center of the bumper and how the black grille gives it a very aggressive, edgy, look to the entire car. I also like the rear too. It all flows really well…

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That last statement was sponsored by this bowl of Beef Udon…

This was just one of many meals that weekend…

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Der’s Hasselblad 500C/M Medium Format Camera sat casually on the table while we ate. People kept asking him what kind of Leica it was because he decided he wanted to put a little Leica tag on the back of the camera to induce confusion…

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Lerry Liu from Yokohama Tire was not only there to make sure that the tires were good to go but also to apply decals to the car and also cook…

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While we were casually observing and watching the team from Japan work on the car, we noticed that they wore steal-toed New Balance industrial sneakers. They’re also available here in America as it turns out. We just never see them because I don’t think they’re widely used here stateside…

This is how much time we had that weekend to observe. We were literally studying their work attire, lol…

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Ichishima would occasionally come out of the RV where all the drivers were relaxing in to see what was going on with the car…

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Tarzan was suited-up and ready to go make some test laps…

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I always ask people this when they tell me that they are Spoon aficionados; What is the difference between a Spoon Sports steering wheel and a traditional MOMO Monte Carlo besides the horn button?…

Surprisingly enough, I’ve only heard the correct answer less than half the time…

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All hands on deck…

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The Spoon Sports prototype carbon kevlar air guide being re-installed…

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Aaron Wang in the driver’s seat getting some seat time in…

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I actually didn’t shoot any on-track photos other than a few here and there from a distance. Aaron wanted me to be there specifically to capture the behind-the-scenes stuff and hired someone else specifically to go out onto the track for action stuff…

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The Spoon Sports USA race suits varied from the Japanese suits in that they were more recently made here in the U.S. by Sparco. The Japanese ones have a much more traditional colorway and look to them that most of you are probably used to…

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Ichishima returning from a few test laps to the paddock area…

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Ichi giving Daisuke Jomoto some feedback about how the car felt…

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I forget how many sets there actually were but multiple Spoon SW388 wheels and Yokohama tires were brought for competition, as well as multiple sets of brakes…

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Hikaru from Spoon Sports was the assigned the responsibility of managing fuel for the competition…

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A look at the rear side profile of the FK8 with the Spoon Sports rear bumper and crane neck spoiler…

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The team worked well into the night doing maintenance on the Civic Type R and going over every little detail multiple times…

I’m convinced nobody will ever be as prepared for anything as the Japanese when it comes to automotive racing…

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There were many moments when I found myself just taking photos of the main SW388s that were everywhere…

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Jomoto finally taking a break during the late evening to eat some chicken and rice that was prepared for everyone. I’ve actually known him for quite some time and he was one of the first people I met when I first started visiting Type One back in 2014. It’s cool to see him move up in the company and be an instrumental part of the company’s continued success. He’s also a pretty funny guy too…

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One of the aero pieces that blends it nicely with the overall aesthetic of the FK8 that isn’t actually from Spoon Sports or Honda is the hood, which is actually a lightweight dry carbon piece from ASM Yokohama…

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Alignment and toe adjustments being made to the rear of the Civic…

Around midnight that Thursday, we decided to head back to the hotel to get some shut-eye while the team continued working…

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GM with Tatsuru Ichishima and two experienced endurance race drivers from Japan, Yasunori Nakajima and Taketoshi Matsui…

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Ichshima taking in the view as cars zoomed by during the early morning test sessions…

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The Spoon Sports FK8 in the pits awaiting a driver change during morning testing…

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It was very interesting to see how the team from Japan worked and to witness all the little nuances…

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On the day of qualifying, we were told that Tarzan was asked to censor his race suit being that it was a family-friendly environment. No longer could he be “FUCKIN FAST” openly and proud. He remained unaffected and actually piloted the Civic most of the weekend…

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Dai Yoshihara in the driver’s seat…

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Aaron thinking about how much money this weekend was going to cost him, lol…

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Hikaru getting coached on how to appropriately fuel-up using the new right-side fuel filler since any dropped fuel in the pit would result in a penalty during competition…

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The Spoon Civic headed out onto the Windows XP wallpaper…

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Taketoshi Matsui has been one of the long-time endurance race drivers for Spoon Sports and also competes at the Nürburgring 24 Hours for Novel Racing in their Lexus RCF…

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I don’t get too many opportunities to get photos of Ichishima so I made sure to capture many….

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Here he is all suited-up taking photos with his staff…

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I like the classic, simple design of Ichishima’s Arai helmet. The cut visor is also very nifty…

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Towards the late afternoon, it was time for qualifying so a new set of brakes, front and rear, were installed…

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Spoon Sports dual N1 Muffler Kit under the Spoon rear bumper…

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One of the lead engineers for Spoon Sports, Tsuyoshi Hara writing down some technical details…

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Imagine being in America for the first time, having In-N-Out burger once, and spending your entire trip at Willows, CA, getting little to no sleep, working for Spoon Sports during one of the most important races before your President retires. Quite the experience I imagine…

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If you’re wondering, no I didn’t walk around that rest of the track to look at any other cars. At a glance nothing seemed incredibly interesting and I was there with the purpose of shooting Spoon Sports stuff specifically so I did exactly that…

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A part of me wondered what it would be like to have seen this entire scenario go down with like a DC2 ITR or an EK9 or something. It would be a much more harrowing experience with an older car potentially breaking down or running into some problems. I think that though there was a lot of stress heading into the race itself, there was always a quiet reassurance that they didn’t have anything to worry too much about. The FK8 platform is such a well-built car, it’s still relatively new, and it just seems like such a sturdy vehicle. Barring anything catastrophic like total engine failure, which was unlikely, we all were confident that it would finish the 25 hours…

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During a qualifying, Ichishima finally had some free time so we asked him if he could signed our friend Dan Gonzalez’s EK9 Type R. Dan is the ultimate Spoon Sports nerd, like ULTIMATE. He’s a Spoon Sports weeb if there ever was one, so the guy literally put his Civic in an enclosed trailer, dragged his brother along with him, and drove all the way across country from Connecticut just for the possibility of Ichishima signing his car. That’s dedication folks.

Ichi, ever the appreciative host, walked over, and signed his dashboard…

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Dan wanted to get his signature on this car because he also has an Integra Type R that he also had signed during one of Ichishima’s other trips to the U.S. Since he was headed into retirement, this was probably one of the few opportunities where this signature could happen…

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Dan taking a photo with his Japanese dad Tatsuru Ichishima. The guy was all smile the entire weekend just being around all things Spoon Sports. I think his excitement rubbed off on a lot of people and brought a good energy to the race…

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On that note, I’m gonna end Part 1 right here. There are still a lot of photos I have to post so I’ll come back and try to get the rest up in Part 2. If you love Spoon Sports stuff, I hope you enjoy seeing this. Thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!!…

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