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The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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Thus spoke an automobile racing champion who sprung from a time machine

Mr. Keisuke Imamura

Four years ago in the spring, when Mr. Keisuke Imamura first laid eyes on the garage of the Waseda University Automobile Club, he was absolutely certain: "This is going to be heaven for me!" Although born and raised in Tokyo, he recalled that he was so happy that he slipped into Kansai dialect without even realizing. His father was also an automobile fanatic. Thanks to him, a fan of domestic sport cars who "would often tinker around with vehicles," Mr. Imamura's interest in automobiles deepened as he grew older. "The car I idolize the most is the DeLorean that appears in the 'Back to the Future' films." The vehicle that is used as a time machine and sends Marty McFly, the main character of the films, back to past is the DeLorean DMC-12, produced by the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC). Mr. Imamura is extremely fascinated by the car's body and movement. The reason that he entered the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the School of Science and Engineering was "because I like the constituent mechanisms of machines. I wanted to get in there and actually work around with my hands."

After entering Waseda, Mr. Imamura decided that he wanted to participate in club activities that he could truly dedicate himself to, and tried out a variety of things. He became familiar with the Automobile Club soon after enrolling, and came to spend his days racing, practicing, and performing maintenance. He found that his own abilities led to results in the races. Four years seemed to pass in the blink of an eye as he enjoyed this cycle of events. Once he became a fourth year student, he found more chances to think about what it meant to act as part of a system. "The times when the Automobile Club works like a well-polished team are the times that lead to victory." This is a statement that he, someone who has tasted victory, has the right to say. "If you focus too much on winning and let your ambition run wild, you end up digging your own grave. I've come to discover that the shortest path to victory is the one which is walked just like always, without getting all worked up." Mr. Imamura went on to say that these four years were a time during which his perspective and way of thinking about systems were developed.

Looking around the garage, I noticed that there were a number of beams constructed into a frame surrounding the interior of a vehicle undergoing repairs in the garage. I wondered what it was for. "This is a guard that protects the body of the vehicle from being smashed in the case of a spin-out." Spin? Smash? "Almost every club member gets to experience it at one time or another," Mr. Imamura said, laughing. "Most spin-outs are one rotation, but one of the more experienced veteran club members went through a two-and-a-half rotation spin-out." The club member that Mr. Imamura referred to is currently working as a test driver. "There are a number of things that you just can't experience if you're not part of the Automobile Club, including spin-outs," he added, laughing. "The Automobile Club acts as a flawless system, and no one suffers injuries. However, the strongest appeal of the club is the ability to regularly experience extraordinary things." Mr. Imamura will begin working at Bridgestone Corporation in April. Looking over the garage and its oil-soaked overalls and tires crammed together in tight quarters, he was overwhelmed by a flood of memories. "This was truly heaven for me," he remarked, smiling.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Keisuke Imamura

Born in Tokyo in 1986 and graduated from Kaisei Senior High School. He graduated from Waseda University's School of Science and Engineering this spring. In the 2009 school year he participated in a number of races as the vice-captain of the Automobile Club. At the All Japan Automobile Driving Championships, he placed first in the individual light vehicle division. Mr. Imamura's favorite movie is "Back to the Future," and he will begin working Bridgestone in April.