The Decreasing Popularity of Japanese Street Racing

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So in recent years, people who are participating in Japanese street racing have become less and less. Not only street racing, but even the famous car customize culture has become less. Which makes everyone become disappointed, huge amounts of people have quit street racing because they are getting old. But there are not many people inheriting this culture. This culture started in the early days in the 1990s. But do you know the reason behind why street racing is popular? Why do they customize and tune their cars? There are several reasons that make the culture fall apart, this essay will talk about the reasons and what is the difference between now and before.

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Let’s talk about the car customize culture first. This culture is all started at the 1980s throughout the 90s. Because of the street racing population, it also made the customize culture became popular, Therefore they made a different style of the customize level, Such as ‘VIP style’’, Oni-Kyan, ‘Stance’…etc all these kind of customized style in the 80s to 90s are very popular in Japan. For more detail, let’s talk about each of them separately. They mainly focus a few things of their own cars and it can be applied to every car style. (Example of Stance cars)

First, ‘Stance’ this style came from Drifting and Formula 1. It basically adjusts the camber angle of the wheel and lowering the car by lowering the spring from suspension to make the car perfect. It is used in Formula 1 and drifting because it produces traction or gripping while driving and avoid tire slip. Of course, it does give better visual apparel and it is one of the reasons that people like this style and suitable in other countries.

Second, ‘VIP style’ is an old style of customization and the style were once associated with the yakuza which is Japanese gangster in 1970s and 1980s they will use the luxury vehicle such as Toyota Chaser, Toyota Crown and Lexus GS… etc those are the popular car that they customize back then, combine with stance and apply large wheels to show the style. The style was very significant in the 70s and 80s because when people see the car back then it means the gangster is here and they have to avoid them.

Next,’Oni-Kyan’ which means (‘Demon Camber’) in Japanese, this style is very special from all the style above. They look very exaggerated and their car will not just lower it but give them an extreme wheel alignment. But the real question is why do they do it? They do it because Japan has no way to limit them to customize their car. Not only that but it will help with maintaining control when drifting–or any car. In Fact, many racers use extreme camber to help cornering just like the car below. But there are also bad things by using ‘oni-kyan’ setting, it can easily damage the car bumper because of the low height of the car.

Therefore this lead to the next old street racing column ‘Wangan Racing’ It is all happened in Midnight in Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway, a 70km stretch of tarmac that traces the shoreline of Tokyo Bay. Lanes, three or four abreast, illuminated in the orange haze of sodium streetlights, the peace is broken only by the occasional late-night street sweeper at work.

It was in the late 80s It is not very popular in the old days because of dangerous. But at that time there was a club called ‘Middo Naito Kurabu’. Which is known as ‘Midnight Club’ this club mixed style of dangerous high speed racing and the old aggressive driving style. Originally these actions are illegal and will be marked as criminal. But the Midnight club became a spotlight of the Japanese tuner magazine because of the good tuning of their cars. The reason behind is if you wanted to be a member of the midnight club

The minimum requirement for a street racer to join was to own a car that can go at least 160mph, and Veteran drivers were expected to be able to achieve racing speeds of 200mph or more on Tokyo’s public highways like Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway. Also, the most important rules on the Midnight Club was highly regarded as a gang which put pedestrian safety far above their own. It was very difficult to obtain the full membership from midnight club because of the skill required to safely pilot a car at max speed 200km/h or above on public streets. But according to the law, the top speed on the highway in Japan is limited at 115km/h otherwise it is illegal. Which means that if you wanted to be a part of the Gang you will need the knowledge and the way to boost your car.

So what do they do in the club? Well, there’s a traditional way that they do when they meet up. They will not like others having 1v1 drift battle inside a car parking or drifting down the mountain. They will only do one thing, ‘Top Speed’ they will meet each other in around the Bayshore Wangan route between Tokyo and Yokohama at midnight. When they start they will give out their best and then meet each other afterwards and discuss the detail of the race. The winner was usually judged by fast enough to lose the rest of the cars and a random person from the club said the famous quote ‘Drifting and autocross is for the weak. We only do maximum velocity.’ the true reason that they didn’t catch by high-speed racing is the police cannot catch up with them with such a high speed on wangan and found it is an impossible action to catch them.

The Blackbird was the fastest car in the club and it was owned by the Midnight Club’s leader, who originally trained as a doctor. Its owner was rumoured to have spent more than $2 million rebuilding and modifying the 911, with over 700bhp(horsepower) and a turbocharged engine, it can main the top speed 211km/h for over 15 min, which is an incredible car with such a high speed. In Fact, most of the cars in Mid Night club are still better than today’s supercars. But what makes Mid Night club disband? Well, it all happened because of a horror crash which involved 6 innocent motorists. That night they went down to the highway express when they about to start the ‘Bosozoku’ were waiting for them and try to mess with them. Which cause them into a horrible car crash which claimed the lives of two of the bikers and put two Midnight Club drivers and six civilians in hospital. The most important part of the club is policy, they’re extreme offence about the involving innocent people because they cannot get away because of harming people. So they disband after the car accident Although the club was known as street racing and earned lots of prestige for many years. The members like the club so much and spend a lot on it, but one accident makes everything disappeared, all the members in the club refused to talk about what happened because to protect their own pride. This could lead to nowadays racing arcade games.

There’s a famous arcade game called ‘Wangan Midnight’ and ‘Initial d’ the reason to talk about these games is that they refer to the original story in Real-life like the ‘Mid night’ club and the famous drift king. They used video games to show the side of the car culture and spread around the world about the Japanese old car culture. Which is very successful. Not only to spread the culture it also raises the awareness of driving, but it will also show the consequence for driving such high speed and dangerous driving style such as Drifting.

I’m pretty sure everyone heard of drifting before. But the way it works is not simple and safe at all. First of all this driving style was invented by Mr Kunimitsu Takahashi. He was a fast racer before and fearless on the racing track. Which makes every racer on the (Arcade of Wangan Midnight) track afraid of him. Because he can always find a way to maintain speed while cornering. Then he found that do drifting was really fun and cool, It also attracts lots of people doing that,

Meanwhile, the guy known as ‘Drift King’ in Japan called Keiichi Tsuchiya was inspired by Mr Kunimitsu Mr Keiichi really appreciate the drifting skill that Mr Kunimitsu required, so he Sharpen his drifting skills on mountain roads in Japan which is popular in Japan 70s ~ 90s. The way Mr Keiichi does it attract a lot of attention, so it brings the whole car culture a big step forward at that time. He is also the host of the Famous car show ‘Hot Version’ in Japan. Not only that, his existence affect the whole car culture like the Story of initial d or the famous car AE86. Without him, they will not be famous and the culture cannot be spread.

Now, let’s go back to the present. Compared to the old days the car culture changed a lot no matter the style or attitude. Nowadays there are no much people left in Japan into Cars anymore, the main reason behind is mainly people getting old and their own burning spirit has already gone. On the other hand, cars nowadays changed a lot. For example: Pop up headlight car is no longer available because of the road rules. Also, cars from the 80s to 90s are the most mechanized most nestle and it can feel the car’s own personality. But cars from nowadays have too many electronics assist which makes the car changed a lot, not like the from 80s to 90s. Because even though by changing the steering wheel or seats it will change a lot from the performance sides it can really feel the car changed. This is one of the reasons that car culture is dying.

Second, the laws have become more strict. People having a car meeting in the parking area will always be police walking around to see any illegal modifications. Or even stay on the Shuto Expressway’s pit to check the speed limit make sure everyone is normal. Of course, this is all for safety reasons but at the same time people can no longer enjoy the high speed racing on the ‘Inner Circular Route’ which is known as ‘C1’ Other than that, everything is normal. Meanwhile, there’s a car broke the tradition car culture and brings out a new type of style which is perform it on Supercars such as Lamborghini, McLaren or Bugatti they prefer to modify their super-high-end cars with neon lights, leopard print rims gleaming and scissor doors. The guy who invents the style is called Takeshi Kimura. He said the reason he brings this style is that the parking area in Yokohama is used to buzz noises and drifting and police always shut things fast. But in recent years the parking area is getting quiet and quieter and big car meeting don’t happen anymore. That’s why they are here to make this place great again and inheritance to the next generation.

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