Keep Drift Magic alive with Hardcore Tokyo

Ah Japan, where narrow roads are tightly packed with stock kei Cars and minivans, each more dull than the next. It’s the automatic equivalent of reading grandpa Financial times Sunday while wearing beige trousers and eating gluten porridge.

But the Japanese roads were not always so dull. There was a time when car manufacturers competed fiercely for power, torque, and ultimate road reliability.


Nowadays, companies are competing for Instagram followers and Facebook likes, and most cars on the market look similar. Of course there are significant exceptions, and we’ll get to that, but first let me give you a jolt about how the world has changed.


A few Sundays ago, I went to the Gunma Bicycle Sports Center (Gunsai for short), deep in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture, to see what automatic food was offered in Japan 20 years ago.

It was a hardcore Tokyo event, and it was far from controlled.

Such drift events are not uncommon in Japan, with various circuits across the country celebrating Drift Day for amateur and semi-pro drivers throughout the year. Since 99% of the cars are of a certain vintage, it was all quite nostalgic.


Thrift was king in Japan throughout the 1980’s, 90’s and 00’s – and after the death of the Top Speed ​​Run craze. But we never had a well-organized event like today. Driving-age kids were floating on the streets and in the depths of the hills, in corners like someone’s business.


As the population density increased during Japan’s bubble period, citizens became increasingly frustrated and the number of road accidents increased – and with it the subsequent loss of public property – the illegal road race quickly stopped. This is why such events attract huge crowds and sponsors.


It’s pretty unrealistic to see these 20- and 30-year-old cars still liking, running and constantly upgrading and rebuilding. Unlike today, the previous day also had plenty of rear-wheel drive machines to choose from. Skylines, Corollas, RX-7s, Silvias, Supras, Chasers and even your parents Crown all had the ability to be by their side easily.


Also like today, there was nothing more to do for the kids. The Internet was largely non-existent and computer games were in their infancy. Books? Adrenaline is not exactly the fuel for the junkie.


Unfortunately though, all of these gas-gazeling, earth-polluting performance platforms had to be replaced by eco-friendly family cars with green footprints. Don’t get me wrong, I want the world to go that way, but engineering and technology seem to have found a way to make the world happier. And Keep the enthusiasts happy too.

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See GR Yaris for example; It’s packing a huge punch from a 3-cylinder engine and gaining 34mpg, which was impossible 20 years ago. Performance will always come at some cost to the environment though; Base Yaris emits 92g / km CO2 while GR Mini Monster emits 186g / km.


Most popular, if not Only The modern drift car on track at this event was a Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ, but I saw two examples of it being torn down and no one (or maybe target) parked in the paddock area.


For Japanese sports cars, it’s not all destruction and sadness. The new Fairlady Z looks like it will make a great drift base – if you have the means to spray Japanese hair pin corners. Tough-Style circuit. You can happily turn a new Supra into a few corners, but you may want to check your insurance coverage first.


Secretly the old days Tough Drifting may be the purest form of the game, it was – and still is – the most inconvenient, not to mention dangerous. Walking around the paddocks and seeing wheel piles, trolley jacks, tool kits and extra body parts bring people to such events, I think the idea of ​​standing on the side of the road in the dark somewhere in the middle now seems quite unpleasant.

Some may say it’s easier now, but I would say that such incidents give drifters the opportunity to improve their skills in relative safety and without the constant pressure of police intervention. Flowing off the road and taking on circuits in such a way that Rookie drivers can acquire the skills needed to enter the world of Pro Series like D1 or FD.


This means that drift cars like the Silvia, 180SX, RX-7 and AE86 can live up to what they were designed to do – in the fastest way possible, moving fast to the side. If they had nowhere else to run, they would end up in a pile of scrap, and the magic around them would fade into history.

That would be a real loss. Because, at the end of the day, drifting is as much a part of Japanese culture Sumo, Or the bullet train, or Mario and Luigi.

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It’s a game that has influenced music, Anime, manga And fashion in Japan and around the world. It has become a mainstream sport internationally not only because it is a fashionable thing to do, but because it is incredibly intense to watch, let’s participate as a driver.


Accidents are inevitable even in close circuit like Gunsai. But the difference between hitting the side rails here and somewhere in the middle of the hill is that the help is only a radio call away. Tow trucks, medical staff and lots of extra tires are on hand. It’s no longer enjoyable to be off, though.

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It will always be interesting to call the nose under the bonnet of an old drift car, and it will always be a spectacle to get the crew’s body panels back in shape and fix the torn tires with nothing but a crowbar and a blow torch. Let’s face it, we’re seeing some smoky sideway action here for that reason.

But you have to wait for the next time. Don’t worry though, I’ve got a special treat in store for you. You’re going to get as close to action as you can …

Toby Broken
Instagram _tobinsta_

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