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The A To Z Of Japanese Drag Racing

I by no means knew how a lot I preferred drag racing till I knew simply how a lot I like drag racing.

As a result of watching two vehicles race one another in a straight line for a number of seconds on a little bit laptop computer display with audio system the dimensions of peanuts is not very thrilling. Not in the identical means as watching a automobile sort out Japanese mountain roads or the streets of Monte Carlo. Neither is it as nail-bitingly-thrilling as watching a swarm of F1 vehicles wind their large wings by way of the bends of Suzuka.

So whereas I in all probability gained’t begin following drag racing championships on YouTube, I’ll undoubtedly be again to Central Circuit in Hyogo Prefecture for subsequent 12 months’s Drag Competition. Right here’s why…


In contrast to different types of aggressive motorsports in Japan, drag racing may be very area of interest. As soon as upon a time, Possibility journal and Video Possibility VHS releases have been all about zeroyon – each sanctioned occasions and barely extra questionable ones – however what Japanese drag racing lacks in a following as we speak it greater than makes up for with range.


Not each letter of the alphabet was represented on the Drag Competition, as a result of sadly all of the Prius, Qashqai and Lada drivers have been busy. We’ve nonetheless obtained greater than sufficient to play with although, beginning with Ok and the good factor from the kei automobile class, the Suzuki Alto Works.

Then there was this tire-smoking Volkswagen Bug. I didn’t get to examine underneath the rear hood, however no matter was pushing it alongside labored properly, as a result of it saved up with the Z automobile it was matched in opposition to on this explicit race.


From throughout the Pacific Ocean, American muscle was represented by fairly a number of letters, the Camaro being one of many coolest. There have been a few Camaro generations working on the day, their aggressive manner and Chevy V8 chug simply recognisable from 1 / 4 mile away.

Now, nonetheless on the letter C, that is the place I began to moisten my pants barely. As I plucked up the braveness to get nearer and nearer to vehicles like this Toyota Chaser warming up its tyres earlier than rolling into the staging space, the enchantment of drag racing was changing into very, very clear.

Most likely as a result of it was being screamed at me by some very offended, very highly effective, and fully unhinged vehicles.


The noise that these vehicles make is like nothing else I’ve skilled earlier than. I’ve had F1 vehicles howling beneath my ft underneath the pedestrian bridge on the Goodwood Competition of Pace, and I touched material then. Drag racing took it up a notch.


Noise-wise, the GT-Rs racing have been truly surprisingly tame. That’s to not say they weren’t quick as a few of them have been working within the low 8-second zone, not unhealthy contemplating the white Jet Wake R35 above is highway registered too.

Midway by way of the day, one of many vehicles went off the tip of the observe. Fortunately, the motive force escaped unscathed, however his automobile got here out a little bit worse for put on. Racing was suspended till the carnage may very well be cleaned up and the drag strip floor cleared of any particles.

These vehicles are hitting speeds of round 250km/h in 400m, so I can solely think about what the acceleration should be like, not to mention making an attempt to cease them.


This gave me a while to wander by way of the pits and take a look at the totally different lessons of machines. The GT-Rs might have had the AWD benefit, however the RX-7s undoubtedly had the character edge. Three-rotor blocks have been commonplace, and so they screamed down the strip like howler monkeys on hearth.

I’ve a few severe RX-7 drag machines arising in a highlight, so watch this area.

We go away the very talked-about R part and arrive on the extra profitable S class – the almighty Skyline. Actually, is there something this automobile can’t do? Identical to its successor, the R35 GT-R, drag-spec Skylines cowl the quarter mile like Scalextric vehicles on steroids.


There was a time when Sendai Hello-Land Raceway, the Fuji Speedway entrance straight and this location – Central Circuit – would have been packed filled with Skyline GT-Rs setup for drag, however now there are solely a handful of diehard followers conserving the tires burning. It’s an indication of the occasions by way of the price required to maintain these vehicles working, the worth of GT-Rs, and the truth that abroad groups – particularly these in Australia – at the moment are properly forward of Japan with regards to pushing Skylines to their restrict on the drag strip.

Then there’s the variety of Japanese venues truly arrange for drag racing lately. Sendai Hello-Land, for instance, doesn’t exist anymore after being broken past salvage throughout Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake.


So it makes it much more particular to see individuals nonetheless driving their passions and pushing for faster ETs and entice speeds. After all, non-public vehicles are actually solely racing in opposition to themselves, however there have been a few professional and semi-pro groups clearly chasing data.

One of many OGs of the Japanese drag scene is Kazushige Sakamato, AKA Mr. Carbon Fiber, AKA the top of Storage Lively. Not solely is he constructing top-tier, full carbon fibre GT-Rs, he’s additionally nonetheless creating drag GT-Rs. I didn’t handle to {photograph} Sakamoto-san’s new R34, however I’ll endeavour to seize a function on it quickly.


I did handle to see his unique R33 drag machine although; it’s the one he used to race again within the day. Its side-exit, non-restricted exhaust let loose such a visceral scream because it launched, I used to be naked barely in a position to take a photograph as I recoiled in worry.


And this brings us to Z, which after all means Z vehicles. The Fairlady Z has been a favorite platform with drag racers in Japan for many years; its well-balanced physique, iron block straight-six engine and modern aerodynamics make it the proper quarter-mile machine.


Watching two outdated Z vehicles put warmth of their rear tires earlier than taking pictures off into the sundown like a pair of whippets chasing a very juicy rabbit offered a sense you simply don’t get watching drag racing on a display. It’s the uncooked unbridled sound of the engines revving to their limits, the smoke bellowing from the rear wheels, and the batted breath of the followers as the beginning lights flick from purple to inexperienced. That is an environment which is misplaced in video.


So no, I gained’t out of the blue begin watching drag race occasions on Sunday mornings on the telly, however I’ll undoubtedly be monitoring down a number of extra occasions throughout Japan to attend and hopefully be taught a bit extra concerning the builds behind the machines. As a result of that is an electrifying sport, with some eccentric characters behind the vehicles and a few madman behind their wheels.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_



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