I like motorcycles, cars, racing, and Masahiko Kondo.
For the above-motorized vehicle enthusiasts, you can't miss the track! However, the fact remains that Japan's circuits are still the "meeting place for enthusiasts" and are not as ingrained in the culture of the general public as baseball or football, and the majority of people are still not that interested in racing or circuits.
Most people know the names that come to mind, such as "F1," "Moto GP," and "drift," but when you hear "big tires piled up like a defensive wall," you probably don't hear the name of the vehicle in a flash.
In this article of Webike Magazine, I'll be talking about stories and trivia that may interest you if you're new to the track and introduce some trivia that you may not be aware of.
Let's go to the other side of the dazzling track.......Turn on the ignition!
- What is a track, anyway?
- There's a lot more to it than just racing!
- Unexpected Ticket and Compensation Costs
- A few tidbits about the circuit
- There's a lot of pretty famous people here!
What is a track, anyway?
When you hear the word "track", what does it mean to you?
Where pro drivers and pro riders race? Is it really wide or narrow? A place with a beautiful long-legged race queen? They are all correct. There are many different types of tracks, and they are used in different ways depending on their purpose.
Here's an overview of the two typical types of large courses and what makes each one unique.
Types of tracks
The primary meaning of the word "track" is that the roads are arranged in the shape of a loop line, or "circular". Nowadays, such simple tracks are called oval tracks and are popular mainly in the United States. Some of the most famous is Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as Twin Ring Motegi's Superspeedway in Japan.
One of the features of the course, which is dominated by long straights, is the world's fastest inter-dimensional speed battles. In particular, the Indy 500 race has a maximum speed of 380km! There is only one category of a race that is faster than any other, and the only one that is faster than this, and that is 'drag racing', which is a long, straight-line race.
It's not so much the technique of cornering, but how to outsmart your competitors at super speed! In this seemingly simple battle, the drama of the Han Chinese battling for the world's fastest speed is what drives audiences into a frenzy day and night.
In contrast to an oval track, a road course is a highly technical course with complex corners, elevation changes of 30 meters or more, and a mixture of long and short straights.
Fuji Speedway, Suzuka Circuit, Silverstone Circuit in England, Bugatti Circuit in France, which is famous for MotoGP, and countless other famous tracks in Japan where Formula 1 is held.
There are many different categories of races and events here, including car, karting, motorcycle, bicycle, and marathon races.
Speaking of a heated battle scene with a rival car, it's the one in the corner! When the cars compete side-by-side and then decide to overtake with a bang, a roar of cheers echoes from the main grandstand, and this is one of the most intricate and interesting aspects of the race.
There are also a variety of other sections to see, such as the inclusion of a multi-level intersection and spots where you can get an overhead view of the terrain, so you won't get bored no matter where you watch the race.
There's a lot more to it than just racing!
The best part of a circuit is the racing, but did you know that there is a lot more to enjoy than just the racing? The activities and facilities offered at Japanese circuits vary depending on the size of the track, but include the following
- Anyone over 145cm tall can ride in a real racing cart on the "FSW Kart Course".
- Kids love it! Fuji Jurassic Way, a real dinosaur land that will make you cry.
- Shopping Terrace, where you can enjoy local specialties and a wide selection of race viewing products
- ORIZURU restaurant offers a glimpse into the history of FSW and a slightly different menu.
- Cute mascot characters designed by Osamu Tezuka, the famous cartoonist, will welcome you!
- There's an amusement park attached. There are many attractions that are more fun than the main track.
- There are a variety of facilities for children and a Ferris wheel for adults to enjoy as well.
- The "Racing Theater", a state-of-the-art facility with a sensory sound system that simulates a track.
- Honda Collection Hall, a museum where you can feel the passion of Soichiro Honda and the passion of Honda
- Enjoy naturalistic activities such as athletic facilities and mazes that make use of the forest's terrain.
- An authentic racing kart track is permanently installed for adults to enjoy.
- Experience glamping and camping for the whole family at the "Camp Village under the Forest and Starry Sky".
As you can see, a track of this magnitude, which hosts major races such as the official international championships, offers something for everyone to enjoy, not just watching the races.
There are categories where you can drive your own numbered vehicle, or you can borrow a vehicle from the track. In recent years, some tracks have even offered to rent special vehicles that have been customized to official race regulations, so you can go beyond the simulated experience to get a real sports driving experience!
Unexpected Ticket and Compensation Costs
I'd like to watch a race on a track, but it's expensive, isn't it? Actually, it's not so surprising.
It is true that Formula 1 and MotoGP are expensive! And the local food is ridiculously expensive! All I can think about is my wallet all the time! But that's because it's an apex race, and there are many other very popular races that draw tens of thousands of visitors. You can get a great deal on advance tickets, or you can watch a live performance of a popular celebrity for free!
I'd like to share some trivia about the circuit that you might not know.
Race tickets, surprisingly cheap.
|2019 Suzuka 8 Endurance Race (Suzuka)||Advance tickets for each area ¥5,700/adult (*includes an amusement park passport!)|
|All Japan Road Race Championship (Tsukuba)||Advance tickets ¥3,500 (free admission to the paddock!)|
|2019 SUPER GT (Fuji)||Advance tickets for non-reserved seating area: ¥6000/adult (Anywhere except reserved seats)|
|2019 SUPER ENDURANCE 24 Hours (Fuji)||Advance tickets for non-reserved seating areas: ¥4,860/adult per person (you can watch the game anywhere except reserved seats)|
Here's a quick rundown of the most popular races in the country, but isn't it surprisingly cheap? For example, a concert ticket for a famous artist can cost more than ¥10,000, but at a race track, you can buy a ticket to watch any popular race for only about ¥6,000. And you can play all day long.
Those arriving by car or motorbike will need to purchase a parking ticket separately, but on race day, some municipalities have increased the number of buses and taxis available, so you may be able to come by public transportation.
Circuit equipment costs
I'm sorry to keep talking about money (lol). One of the highlights of the race is no laughing matter for the racers, but it's still a flashy crash! It can be worryingly squishy, but that's how much the players are fighting for their lives.
Common patterns include running into the tire barriers and guardrails installed in the corners, or dripping oil onto the road surface for dozens of meters. The larger the track, the higher the capital investment and the more horrendous the bills are, or so they say. Here's a glimpse at some of the examples of compensation at Suzuka Circuit.
|Urethane barrier replacement (1)||163,000 yen|
|Urethane barrier cover replacement (1)||48,400 yen|
|Tire barrier replacement (1 pair)||45,500 yen|
|Guardrail replacement (1)||30,900 yen|
|Digestive system (1)||21,600 yen|
|Oil digester 10kg (1 bag)||5,200 yen|
This is how it costs to compensate for a gunk x 2 bulls x 2........ The price varies depending on the quality and each circuit, so some components may cost more. I'm a touring person, so I don't drive on the circuit, but this may discourage me from driving.
By the way, I can't afford this kind of money! You can get temporary insurance as a remedy for people who are not aware of their rights. By paying the deductible when you take out insurance, the insurance will cover the reimbursement of the deductible or more. Is it safe even if I break as much as this? (lol) However, some organizers don't have insurance coverage and you may have to pay the full amount, so it's best to ride with caution to avoid accidents.
In contrast, a lot of rich people with expensive cars come to the track to play, and those people may pay a hefty compensation bill on the spot for a doozy. Also, since the rate of compound accidents is surprisingly high on the track, there are cases where the people who did it talk to each other and secretly split the money between them.
A few tidbits about the circuit
For an insanely large place, there are actually very few employees. But...
Next up is a story citing the Fuji Speedway. It covers an area of approximately 2.25 million square meters. It covers an area equivalent to 48 times the size of Tokyo Dome, and the distance around the venue is more than 8km. It is so vast that it would take hours to walk around, and it boasts the longest straight in Japan.
Fuji Speedway seems to have a lot of employees, but in fact, there are about 150 people running the business. Each department is like a normal company, but we were told that one section has about 15 employees at most and the smallest section has 4 or 5 employees. I can't tell you how many times I've met employees at races and heard them lamenting their fatigue.
So how do you manage such a large area of land? Are you always a bit of a flat tire In fact, he says that this number of people is enough to cover the cost of normal business, and the hardest time is still during the big races.
This is where "race officials" come in handy. Commonly known as "Officials".
Officials are the only part-time workers at the races, but the difference is that all circuit officials are volunteers. You may get paid a little bit of salary, but most of it goes away for food and transportation, but everyone goes home with a nice smile on their face. Why?
That's because you get to see the race for free, super up close and personal, and with breakfast and lunch, you get to see it behind the scenes! There are a lot of unique people and they love to race. For example, have you ever seen someone waving a black and white checkered flag as a vehicle finishes at the front of the pack? That person is one of the officials. Experienced officials are usually in charge of these roles, where their experience speaks for itself, rather than employees.
In addition, there are watchtowers called "course posts" throughout the course, and dedicated officials always monitor the course in these posts, and in the event of a problem, they play an extremely important role by waving various kinds of signal flags to warn the racers of the danger, immediately communicating with the control room, and if there is an accident and they are unable to move, they immediately enter the course to rescue the racers.
In addition to flag-waving, they also play a variety of other roles such as smoothing the flow of vehicle in the pits (a facility where race vehicles are serviced), inspecting vehicles in accordance with regulations at the vehicle inspection area, selling products at the sales counter, helping customers and babysitting lost children. In the case of the race, the number of officials exceeds 300. You can see how much the race is supported by these people.
By the way, there is no need to obtain a license or join an official JAF club if all you want to do is participate as a course assistant or customer service. If you want to fly a flag at a course post, it is also easy to do so by attending a licensing course held by JAF and obtaining a "Certified Referee's License Level B3" for the first time, but if you want to aim higher, you will need to obtain a JAF official's seal, which will be stamped on your license documents at participating races. As you accumulate and exceed the criteria for higher license qualification, you can increase your license rank.
Also, each track is accepting applications for official experience sessions and applications, so you might want to get involved in official activities at your favorite circuit!
You can see deer quite often.
I want to introduce this story to you personally, so please excuse me for being disrespectful, lol.
Fuji Speedway can be reached in a little over 60 minutes from Tokyo on the Tomei Expressway. Fuji Speedway is located at the foot of Mount Fuji, an area rich in nature. Incidentally, this track is located in the town of Oyama in Shizuoka Prefecture, and on the town's map, there is even a section that belongs to the top of Mt. Fuji As for the title, there are literally a lot of animals living on the track. There are pheasants, kites, and wild boars, and because the area around the track is surrounded by mountains and forests, there have been reports of bear sightings! I've only seen a bear from a distance once, and it was pretty cute.
After enjoying the early morning and evening races at Fuji Speedway, the deer start to appear out of nowhere. At first, only one or two deer are sparse, but more and more start to appear. It was such a powerful experience. Some of them are fawns, but they just can't get over this high fence and run back home, which seems to be the test of adulthood in Fuji Speedway deer circles. That's all.
There are signs around the circuit that say "Beware of Deer", so if you're driving or riding a motorcycle, be sure to be careful!
There's a lot of pretty famous people here!
Is it a bit of a shame that I don't know anyone who says "track"? That's not true!
Some of the current players are on TV a lot, celebrities are team managers, comedians are performing live, and even the most popular idols known to man will be there!
Here's a look back at some of the celebrities I've seen in the past.
[Masahiko Kondo, the TV personality.]
When it comes to the world of racing, first and foremost, this guy is a match! In the past, he participated in a succession of prestigious races such as the F3000, All Japan F3 Championship, GT Championship, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, all of which helped him to become a true professional driver. Even after retiring from racing, he continues to be at the forefront of the sport as a manager and team owner of SUPER GT, and continues to challenge for the top spot. I had the pleasure of meeting and greeting Mr. Kondo at the back of the team pit area before the race started. It's not unusual for him to be around. He didn't have the atmosphere of an idol that has taken the world by storm, but rather the appearance of a reliable team boss.
[Mitsunori Fukuda, the comedian from Tutorial.]
This guy is also famous for his love of motorcycles. He has participated in the All Japan Road Race Championship and won an endurance race in the past, and his driving skills are superb! It's fair to say that he's the fastest rider in the entertainment industry. He was a guest at a motorcycle event once, and I saw his talk show and he gave a very detailed and enjoyable explanation of his motorcycle, coupled with his main job as a talker.
[Akiyoshi Nakao, Actor]
He is known for his love of American cars and is also an emcee for a TV race show. I saw him interviewing the drivers mainly in the pit area. When I visited Tsukuba Circuit to watch a race, I saw him participating in a one-make race for Honda N-ONE, but he didn't hide his aura.
[Momoiro Clover Z, Idol]
That's right! A very famous idol will be there! The large scale races have large events, with live music, talk shows, and comedy shows going on until the end of the race. The singers' events are always very popular, and every year many different artists come to the event. When Momoiro Clover Z came to the event, many people wondered if this was a live idol event venue. You'd think it would be a lot of fun, and yet it's so close to the audience! It's a "special demand" that can only be experienced at a track event where you can reach out and watch a live performance from a distance, which is not usually possible.
I have seen Junko Mihara, who has raced in the past, Akira Amari, who has held important cabinet positions such as Minister of Labor, and Masahide Komiyama, the former mayor of Oyama Town, all over the place (lol).
There's also actor Koichi Iwashiro, Formula 1 commentator Jun Imamiya, female TV announcer, and many more famous people at the circuit, just to name a few. If you stroll around the paddock, just in case you see them, you might be able to spot them.
So, how were your introduction to the track and the unexpected story? You can drive your own car/motorcycle and hone your skills, or you can be a vehicle and a can-girl cameo with your DSLR, or you can enjoy activities with your kids! I hope I've conveyed to you the many different ways you can play and the appeal of the track a little bit. Most importantly, it's spacious, so you can get a sense of freedom that you can't get in the city, and it's a great place to take a break from your daily routine! And I'm sure you'll make a lot of memories and experiences you've never encountered before.
If you get a chance, why not visit the track!
Webike Magazine will continue to bring you the information you really want to know.