Yes, it was a pre­miere, but it was a pre­miere with a dif­fer­ence — as the first show­ing of Life af­ter Birth to 12 Hours of Rac­ing was as ex­clu­sive as the cars on which it fo­cuses.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Akira Nakai was an un­known face, qui­etly work­ing away in sub­ur­ban Kashiwa in a dimly lit work­shop, craft­ing fi­bre­glass wide­body air-cooled Porsches. Lit­tle did we know when we first met him in 2006 that the next 11 years would see a vast tran­si­tion for this man of few words, and the king of ‘fat pork­ers’ would go from be­ing an fi­bre-re­in­forced plas­tic (FRP) mas­ter to a truly in­ter­na­tional au­to­mo­tive phe­nom­e­non.

Au­to­mo­tive movie mas­ter­pieces are cer­tainly not com­mon­place, and while RAUH-Welt Begriff (RWB) is no stranger to the world of video — each build seems to have its own video di­ary float­ing around on YouTube — the re­lease of Life af­ter Birth to 12 Hours of Rac­ing was a first. Ch­ern Wong, who heads up RWB Aus­tralia, de­cided on a dif­fer­ent route to doc­u­ment his own ex­pe­ri­ence, and thank good­ness he did, be­cause the fi­nal prod­uct is noth­ing short of a mas­ter­piece. Un­like many of the RWB videos pro­duced to date, this was pre­sented the way a mo­tion pic­ture should be — in a cin­ema with sur­round sound and a big box of pop­corn, but this was a one-time af­fair. It was al­ways in­tended to re­main ex­clu­sive, just like the process Nakai-san fol­lows when he builds: the film will re­main re­stricted and will be ab­sent from main­stream me­dia.

So, on March 25, Melbourne Imax buzzed to the sight and sound of RWB. The three Kiwi cars joined their Aussie broth­ers on dis­play in cen­tral Melbourne, and Nakai flew out from Ja­pan to cel­e­brate the event. RWB al­ways talks about the ‘fam­ily’ as­pect, and in a true show of sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port for Ch­ern’s hard work, we were joined by RWB fam­ily from Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Ja­pan, Malaysia, and as far away as Poland.

Hav­ing 400 peo­ple all in the same room, united by the same pas­sion for Nakai-san’s art, cre­ated an at­mos­phere that words sim­ply

can’t de­scribe. As the lights dimmed and the crowd hushed, the spec­ta­cle began with a shot in which you seem to be the pas­sen­ger along­side Nakai, as he darts through the nar­row streets of Kashiwa in his own RWB. The best thing about the movie is that it places view­ers in the cen­tre of the story, and you truly feel as if you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ev­ery­thing as if you are ac­tu­ally there. The film is split into two parts, the first be­ing the cre­ation of ‘South­ern Cross’, the first RWB in Aus­tralia. Watch­ing the birth of an RWB is cool, but watch­ing it hap­pen while Ch­ern ex­plains the emo­tion in­volved was enough to send shiv­ers down even the staunch­est per­son’s spine. It also doc­u­mented the post-birth life of South­ern Cross, with Eiji ‘Tarzan’ Ya­mada pound­ing it around East­ern Creek at the World Time At­tack Chal­lenge (WTAC), and Mag­nus Walker driv­ing the car, along with a raft of pub­lic dis­plays that it has at­tended. The sec­ond part fo­cuses on the iconic Idlers 12 Hour En­duro that Nakai puts on for the fam­ily each year at Twin Ring Motegi cir­cuit. Seven Porches were pre­pared at the work­shop, be­fore own­ers and fam­ily from around the world gath­ered and con­voyed out to the cir­cuit to race the 12-hour. A per­fect sound­track roared from the speak­ers in the cin­ema as RWBs rolled in and out of con­ve­nience-store car parks and up high­ways — the an­gry crackle of ex­hausts and the red glare of brake lights dis­ap­pear­ing around wind­ing moun­tain roads had ev­ery­one frozen on the spot.

Many fans know a lot about the process of RWB, yet only a lucky few get to see the in­ner cir­cle and the strength of fam­ily feel­ing in­volved. A num­ber of view­ers found this was the most mind-blow­ing as­pect of the ex­pe­ri­ence. Not too many peo­ple do af­ter-sales ser­vice and cus­tomer care like Nakai-san does, and many who en­tered the cin­ema as a fan left with a height­ened ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the process, the pas­sion, and the in­spi­ra­tion that RWB brings to the tun­ing world.

The event fin­ished off with a 45-minute meet-and-greet at which fans were able to get up close to the man be­hind the brand. Nakai pa­tiently sat sign­ing au­to­graphs on ev­ery­thing from mo­bile phones to skate­boards and posed for pho­tos with fans to en­sure no­body missed out. Only when the last per­son got their photo and sig­na­ture did he then head out­side to en­joy some sun­shine and another cig­a­rette.

Bask­ing in the serene Melbourne sun and sit­ting back with six of his New Zealand and Aus­tralian cre­ations on show, you could see he was in his happy place. While his eyes moved from one car to another, he was still analysing and re­flect­ing on his work.

As with any RWB ex­pe­ri­ence, this was a spe­cial kind of jour­ney rather than a hap­pen­ing, and this is true for ev­ery build, just as it is for the film that Ch­ern and his team pro­duced. A labour of love for two years cul­mi­nated in 45 min­utes of cin­e­matic bril­liance that left view­ers walk­ing out of the cin­ema re­ally feel­ing some­thing on an emo­tional level.

For the hum­ble man from Kashiwa, who doesn’t truly un­der­stand the mag­ni­tude of what he has cre­ated, it was so fit­ting to see his un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion im­mor­tal­ized on the sil­ver screen. Many who came had ex­pected to merely wit­ness a film about RWB, but they were treated to a per­son­al­ized in­sight into the true spirit of the in­ner work­ings of the fam­ily that is RWB. Nakai brands all his cre­ations with the phrase ‘se­condary de­vel­op­ment’ or ‘Zweite En­twick­lung’. In many ways, too, this movie is a sym­bolic en­act­ment of ex­actly that. The pas­sion that Nakai has for his work has found se­condary de­vel­op­ment in oth­ers: the mas­ter of wide­body FRP is now a mas­ter of the film screen.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.