Japan's Version Of Motorcycle Speedway Racing: Auto Race

We bet you'll love this version of flat track racing in the Land of the Rising Sun

Stands are flooded with onlookers peering over an asphalt circuit, the crowd full of bidders anxiously filling out their betting cards. There’s music, and as it grows faster, gates in the center of the track lift to reveal eight motorcycles rolling into formation. This is Japanese Auto Race.Yelena Sophia
The Suzuki SEAR (Suzuki Engine Auto Race) AR600 is a 599cc parallel twin that pumps out 59 hp and 45 pound-feet of torque. Every machine has a two-speed gearbox, wildly tilted handlebars, and no brakes.Yelena Sophia
Players round the corner of the banked oval circuit toward the finish line at the Isesaki Auto Racing Field on November 10, 2018Yelena Sophia
Each “player” in the eight-person race has a color, number, and nickname. Auto Race riders ply six major circuits in Japan. Theirs is a community unlike any other in racing. Initial training sequesters riders in dorms and takes place with military precision. It’s part of the reason close competition is the norm in this novel take on flat track.Yelena Sophia
Racers run counterclockwise and reach speeds in the 90s on the straights. Unlike American flat track, which takes place on dirt, Auto Race is held on a paved asphalt surface.Yelena Sophia
Gambling is essential to Auto Race. After forming in the 1950s, the sport was overrun by Japan’s organized crime syndicates, collectively known as the Yakuza. Crowds dwindled until 1967, when the Motorcycle Federation of Japan took over.Yelena Sophia
Organizers now require that riders stay in a dorm and their race bikes are kept in impound before races to reduce the chances of corruption.Yelena Sophia
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