Japanese Racing Is F***ING NUTS

Japanese Racing Is F***ING NUTS

Show Video

Imagine 500hp Supras, Skylines, RX7s Battling it out on tight and technical circuits All while 300hp Civics and  Celicas barrel into apexes On the SAME track, AT THE SAME TIME Japanese Touring Car Racing  is some of the most exciting   and intense motorsports that you’ve never watched. But it took 60 years of playing catchup  to Europe and America to get there So let’s dig into the tumultuous  rise of Japanese pro racing, To see how the Japanese found a way to  create the most thrilling races in the world And how their rapid success  went from a blessing to a curse I’m Guff, this is Albon, lets get started. The origin of Professional Racing  in Japan goes back nearly 100 years Back then, Europe had Brooklands. North America  had Indianapolis. Australia had Aspendale. And japan had…well had japan had nothing.. If you wanted to race a car, well you could do it  on a horse track when the bookies were all at home So, even though car manufacturing  was growing in the country, when it came to the world of motorsports,  Japan was falling behind… fast.

Until one gear head decided  to do something about it. Gunji Fujimoto was a Japanese born car  enthusiast who was raised in Seattle, And living in the states, he was a feverish fan of  the Indianapolis 500 and the Elgin National Trophy But when he moved back to japan in the 1920s,   he was severely disappointed  in the lack of racing back home There were car enthusiasts in Japan, but with  only empty parking lots and crappy horse derby   tracks to race on, the Japanese people  never truly experienced motorsport. So Gunji took it upon himself and raised  money to correct this horrible oversight.

And in 1936, he officially  opened the first permanent   racetrack in Japan, Tamagawa  Speedway, just outside of Tokyo It was a circle track, reminiscent of the the  racetracks that Gunji experienced back in America And well, it didn’t take long for Tamagawa  Speedway to become home to Japan's biggest races. And also attract some of the  most iconic Japanese car nuts. 29 year old Soichiro Honda himself  raced at that inaugural race in 1936.

He and his brother piloted a turbocharged Ford  and battled it out against Bugattis and Bentleys But, midway through the  race, they hit another car,   flipped and both were launched  out of the car onto the track. Somehow, they both survived,  with a few serious injuries And even though that meant their  racing careers were pretty much over, It was at Tamagawa Speedway that  Soichiro Honda fall in love with racing and decided that the Honda brand  needed to start making race cars. Over the next 25 years, the Japanese  racing industry began to put down   roots and become a viable part  of the motorsports world stage. And as the French built the  famous Nogaro circuit in 1960, Japan countered with the legendary Suzuka circuit, And a year later, when Formula 1  came to Watkins Glen in America, Japan opened up Fuji speedway  at the foothills of Mount Fuji Then there was Tsukuba opening in 1970, Atsu in 1972, Sugo in 1975, and over the next decade, dozens more.

Japan’s motorsport scene was  now growing at a rapid rate, and professional and amateur racers alike  finally had circuits to get their fix! But race tracks were just one part of the recipe. The other ingredient was of course, the race cars The winner of Japan’s first grand prix at  Suzuka was a 1963 SP310 Datsun Fairlady 1500. But it wasn’t just Datsun on the grid Mazda, Suzuki (frontes), Volkswagen (beetle),  Honda, Triumph and MG all raced too. Japanese racing was on such a tear,  that many major manufacturers were   trying to take advantage of the  empty throne and claim the crown. And the league that everyone wanted to compete in? Well, that was The Japanese  Touring Car championship! And this was fantastic racing,  especially for the 1960s! But the car that quickly became the king  of the series was Nissan's C10 Skyline GTR. It was such a quick contender that many teams  on the grid refused to drive anything else.

And the Skyline GTR won every single  race in 1969… and 1970… and 1971! And the craziest part? This wasn’t even the GTR’s  most dominant run. But we’ll get to that later. But that first gen GTR would soon be dethroned   by the granddaddy of another  JDM lineage, the Mazda RX3. Mazda’s Savannah RX3 was powered by  the original A-series rotary engine and even though it didn’t make power like the  Skyline, it was nearly 300kg (661lb) lighter. And that weight advantage led the RX3 to dominate   almost every touring cup championship  in japan, taking 100 victories by 1976.

But here’s the thing, as Japanese  motorsports grew into the 80s,   racing in other countries was  growing exponentially faster. America had NASCAR and CART,  the predecessor to Indy Europe had Formula 1 and Le Mans, All series that had global audiences with some  of the best cars and drivers in the world. And so the Japan Automobile Federation had  to spice up their racing series to keep up So in 1983, the All Japan  Endurance Championship was born. Just like how this segue to our sponsor was born!  This episode is sponsored by Morgan & Morgan This is Bob Bob is a mechanic, working 12 hour shifts on  rusty jalopies for a shop with 2 stars on Google. Bob ain’t a rich man, but he’s a good man So when a careless shop owner  leaves 5w40 all over the floor And Bob slips, falls, and lands ass  first into a #00 philips screwdriver He NEEDs somebody who can fight on his side,  and pay for that that expensive tear in his tush And that somebody is Morgan, and Morgan,  and MORGAN, oh wait no there’s only two Morgan & Morgan is America’s largest injury  law firm, with more than 800 lawyers and 4000   case staff ready to fight for your butt But Bob is worried, because he doesn’t have  the cash to pay for expensive legal fees But worry no more! Because Morgan & Morgan   doesn’t charge you any sign up  fees or other up front costs.

The Fee is FREE unless you win But Bob still feels bad. He  doesn’t want to sue his boss,   even if his boss hasn’t actually  paid him for the last six months But Bob, when you sue for an injury,  you’re not suing your Dbag boss,   you’re suing his insurance company,  who have way too much money as it is There’s no reason to feel bad for  getting the compensation you deserve. So If you’ve been a victim in a  car accident, medical malpractice,   workplace injury, or any other Personal Injury,   hit the link in the description to  get Morgan & Morgan to fight for you. Bob did, and he sure is thankful Morgan  and Morgan had his back, and his butt This class, later known as the prototype class,   was meant for exactly that - prototype cars  that qualified for group C and IMSA racing But the series didn't really  expand the way Japan had hoped.

The budgets for these cars and  races grew too high too quickly. And the ROI for manufacturers  wasn't worth the rising cost. And one look at these race cars and you can  just imagine how quickly the budget ballooned: The grid was filled with an abundance of badassery Nissan alone had the March 83G,  Fairlady Zs, LeMans spec prototypes Toyota had 83c racecars alongside Celicas Then there was the plethora of mazda  rx7s and mazdaspeed’s amazing 717C And these were just the big manufacturer names But there was a problem. Most of these cars were modified to the point   of being unrecognizable as the cars that  the public saw and drove on the streets.

And that meant that fans just couldn't   relate to the series, there was no  emotional investment for spectators. Spectators wanted to see the cars they drove  every day battling it out for the gold. And so the All Japan Endurance Championship  begrudgingly went on for the next decade,   with the fastest car there being a  Porsche, not even a homebred car.

But quietly in the background,   Japan’s Racing Organizers were already  on track to change motorsports forever. In 1985, the All-Japan Touring  Car Championship was launched. The All-Japan Touring Car Championship was home   to some of the most infamous  Japanese racing legends ever And that was thanks to the league’s  acceptance of Group A touring cars. Cars that had to have production models cruising  the streets. Cars that you or I could drive! The All-Japan Touring Car  Championship themselves had   3 divisions, (which were changed around in  1988) all dominated by different platforms.

Division 3 was held for cars with  less than 1600cc displacement. This is where you'll find  one of the most legendary   honda civics of all time - The Mugen Motul Civic. In 1987, the EA Civic won every  single freaking race in division 3.

And if that wasn't enough to convince  you of how insane this car is, It even took pole position OVERALL in  a race amongst division 1 and 2 cars. YES, A CIVIC TOOK OVERALL POLE POSITION  against cars with twice the engine. Division 2 cars had displacements  between 1601cc engines and 2500CC. But this class was completely dominated by e30s. As in like…there were only E30s competing  in this division. For some reason it was  

the only car that Japanese teams  cared to race within those rules. But then… well then there was division 1.. Division 1 cars had to have engine  displacements LARGER than 2500cc And those rules may be what led to the most  monumental era in Japanese motorsport history Because THIS is where Godzilla was born.

Now, at the time, Nissan was suffering from  a long run of underwhelming sports cars. The last GTR worth a damn on the  circuit was way back in 1972. The C110 GTR that came after never raced,  and the R31 was very underwhelming. Nissan was desperate to get  back into the limelight. And the All-Japan Touring Car Championship   was looking like the perfect  platform to make a comeback.

So from its conception, the R32  Skyline GTR was designed to compete. Because of group A rules, a 2.6L  was thrown in from the factory. And the class homologation rules  meant that the GTR trim would qualify. Which meant not only twin  turbos boosted to nearly 600hp,   but also the legendary ATTESA-E TS AWD system And once the R32 GTR took its place on the  grid, competition was all but over with. It's only real rival at the time was the  RS500 from Cosworth and it wouldn't be   long before even the Cossie would be  a speck in the Skyline’s rearview.

The GTR platform destroyed every  race it entered from 1990 to to 1992. The division 1 class became almost exclusively an   R32 class because there was just no  other platform that could keep up. We’re not talking about just  winning every season, I mean it   won every.single.race. All  29 races in those 3 years!

And it didnt stop at Japan for the R32. The GTR won the 1991 SPA 24 Hrs in Belgium. And the r32 platform even  competed in Australia and   decimated every Holden and V8 ford at Bathurst.

The car became too dominant, a larger than   life figure, and a monster from Japan  that world had no choice to bend to. The GTR became Godzilla That R32 Skyline was no doubt the biggest name  in All-Japan Touring Car Championship history. With most iconic GTR being from Calsonic  Who were the winners of over half  of the 29 GTR first place finishes.

But the most important part of the  GTR’s dominance was that it wasn’t   some prototype race car or an exotic supercar This was the same 2.6L Nissan available  on showroom floors around the country. Yea, GTRs were not the cheapest cars in the world, But Japan’s top racing league had a podium full  of cars that were real, tangible, approachable. You didn't need to be the richest man in the room   to own the car that would take the gold  every weekend on your television set.

And that was the beauty of the championship.   And why it absolutely exploded  in popularity in the early 90s But in 1993, all of that changed. The Group A rules were thrown  out the window by the JAF,   in place of an all new Super Touring class. Super Touring cars were basically Formula  2 class cars, entirely different animals.

Cars that the Japanese racing diehards had  historically just never connected with. And just like the classes that came before it: Budgets became too high. Logistics became too complicated and factory teams were forced to drop out one  by one until there was no competition left. The All-Japan Touring Car Championship  as people knew it, was now dead But the Japan Automobile Federation  wasn’t dumb, they knew this was coming. And they knew that people loved seeing  modified street cars ripping down Fuji.

So once that championship series died , they  were quick to create an alternative for fans They Called it the All Japan  GRAND Touring Car Championship Or J-G-T-C And well, JGTC was everything you could hope for As great as Godzilla was in the old series,   seeing the same car win over and  over.. And over and over got old The JGTC was formed to prevent a  one-make domination from happening again. The rules evolved year over year so that racing  was always exciting and competition was close. There were imposed limits on power and weight  penalties given out to the fastest cars. And those JDM legends that you spent so  many hours and credits grinding for in   Gran turismo? Those cars were built for this JGTC. In its early seasons, the JGTC  had 2 classes, GT1 and GT2 cars And the first JTGC winner?  Well that was a Calsonic GTR..

Now I know I know, I just said the whole point of  the series was to make racing more competitive. “So how did the Calsonic GTR  keep winning then” you may ask Well, it's not THAT Calsonic GTR.  This was an entirely new one,   but it still had Kageyama behind the wheel. (Talk about some other cars in this series) But alongside the new Calsonic GTR  were cars that were just as awesome. Keiichi Tsuchiya and Team  Kunimitsu were in their 911 RSR. Team SARD raced in their 4 banger toyota supra Then there was the BLITZ  Supra and Shiftpoint Supra,   both bold enough to race with the all new 2J Hell, team Taisan had a  Ferrari F40 AND a Porsche 962C There was even a Lamborghini Countach on the grid.

And did I mention this was just the GT1 class? The GT2 class was slower but just as impressive With 911 turbos, FC RX7s, Skyline  GTS and GTS-rs, E30s, 964 turbos, The JAF made sure to monitor each race and  season closely and make adjustments accordingly. But out the gate, the GT1  cars were quickly becoming   too expensive to obtain, maintain, and operate. And so, they JAF, having learned  from their past, adapted again. They ditched GT1 and GT2 and made two  new main classes: GT300 and GT500.

And, at least at the beginning,  the difference was easy. GT300 cars had 300HP and GT500 had 500hp. And the best part was that both classes took  to the racetrack at the same exact time so   overtaking was never a question of if  but when, so racing was always a thrill Plus, to prevent another Godzilla takeover…  weight penalties were added to the regulations.

For every point you scored in the series,  you had to add 2kg of weight to your car. So if you had 45 points going  into the final race of the season,   you also had an extra 90kg  of weight thrown in your car. And that meant that the field was ALWAYS close,   with fierce battles between  drivers at any point of the race By 1996, the grid looked  nothing like it ever had before. No longer was it just 12 different colors of GTR There were Ferrari F40s  Lotus Esprits Honda NSXRs  Porsche 911 GT2s and Carrera RSRs Dodge Vipers  FD RX7s Lamborghini Diablos Mclaren was on top of the world  at the time. They just won at Le   Mans and had built the McLaren F1 GTR  to better compete with Porsche’s GT1.

A few of those F1 GTR cars made it overseas  to Kaumichi Goh, the founder of Team Goh. Fully backed by the McLaren factory  team, Team Goh won the 1996 JGTC season. BUT, that season was the first and ONLY time a  non-Japanese manufacturer won the JGTC title. Team Goh and MClaren dropped out  of JGTC immediately after, citing   that they were being forced out by the Japanese  manufacturers that had a grip on JAF regulations. Mclaren argued that japan manufacturers couldn't  stand to be embarrassed on their home turf.

BUT boohoo, maybe there was some sketchy stuff  going on, but can we talk about the Supras?? Specifically the most important Supra of all time. The Castrol TOM’s Toyota Supra GT. That's right, just like soooo many greats  that lived in my Gran Turismo 2 garage,   this car was born to compete in JGTC And well, the Castrol TOMS Supra is arguably   even more iconic than Calsonics  GTR depending on who you ask. You see, Toyota was sick of Nissan  winning, and they needed to find an answer. And they did so by being clever.

The JGTC required that engines be  from the original manufacturer. This prevented teams from building  brand-new, unfair engines from the ground up. It was the reason why Nissan  had to stick with their RB26 But technicalllly, they never said you have to  use the engine that was designed for that car. Toyota saw this little loophole and  did something borderline sacreligious They ditched the 2JZ. Sure, the 2j is legendary for its power  potential, but it was also a heavy iron block And so, in its place was a 3SGTE, yes the  smaller 4 cylinder turbo from a 90s Celica or MR2 Of course, this 3S was nothing  like the one you found in your Mr2 This was the same engine that was found in the  Toyota World Rally cars that dominated WRC.

Pairing this lighter engine with  a light car like the TOM’s supra   meant that they were able to  weigh in at just 1150kg (2535lb) Add in the fact they were able to  squeeze out 480HP and 470 ft/lbs of   torque from that little 4 banger,  and they had a winning recipe. That Castrol TOMS supra ended up  winning the 1997 GT500 championship,   cementing its place in motorsport history. Finally, Japan-born and bred racing  was mentioned in the same breath as   open wheel racing in Europe and  stock car racing in America. And with spectatorship growing rapidly,  race days quickly evolved into race weeks The races were full-on events.

Huge grandstands, paddock  passes, driver q&a sessions,   live talk shows, team stores, and  interactive booths were everywhere. Tens of thousands of fans were  showing up every single event. And because of the soaring growth,  it was time for JGTC to go overseas. So in 2000, they hosted their first  special event race in Malaysia. Now, “Special Event” was important,   because it meant that it wasn't  officially part of the season. And that was due to a technicality.

If the Malaysian race became part  of the regular season schedule, then the JGTC would lose its “national  championship” status under FIA rules Because well, now it would be international. So the Malaysian race at Sepang, despite its  popularity, would stay just as a special race. But the JGTC spectacle kept growing and growing,   and eventually Malaysia became an  integral part of the JGTC calendar. Plus, JGTC was experimenting in America,   hosting special exhibitions at  California Speedway in Fontana. And in 2004, JGTC became essentially  too big for its britches.

The “All Japan Grand Touring Car  Championship” outgrew Japan and   under FIA rules, they would be forced to  relabel as an international racing series. That may not seem like a big deal, but  outgrowing Japan meant that the JAF   would have to hand over the reins to the FIA  since now, it was beyond japan's jurisdiction By 2005, JGTC would be rebranded as Super GT. And Malaysia became part  of the normal race schedule Which was awesome at first,   especially when you see the car that  became the race’s successful entrant.

The GT300 RE Amemiya FD rx7, a 3 rotor 20B  that won in Malaysia in 2000, 2002, and 2006 But the new Super GT organizers  wanted to relentlessly expand. By 2014, Malaysia was replaced  with races in Thailand. And then made plans to host  races in China and South Korea.

But while the FIA backed organizers wanted  to grow Super GT into max profitability,   the fans had other plans. Japanese fans once again felt as  though the home-grown appeal that   drew them to JGTC was disappearing in Super GT. And that compounded with the fact that Super GT  struggled to find its identity beyond the pacific. The Chinese and South Korean  races never came to fruition. But despite that, the organizers kept pushing  for expansion, and now had plans to reach Europe.

SuperGT aligned its regulations to allow for  DTM cars to compete alongside their GT500 class. But by the time this was finalized in 2020,   DTM switched to GT3 regulations after  the major manufacturer exodus in Germany. This meant that once again, SuperGT  had failed to reach a new market.  

All while continuing to lose grip on the  Japanese fans that were their foundation. Now, going into the 2023 season, there  is no race scheduled outside of Japan,   and no plans for that to change. Super GT is back to where  it started, 100% in japan. And I don’t know whether this is  a good or bad outcome for Super GT But it's important to understand that the best   of touring car racing in Japan  was always unmistakably Japanese Japan's most awe-inspiring cars  battling against each other, backed by Japan's most infamous tuning houses, all on Japan's most iconic circuits. And today, in a world where Time Attack and  Drifting are at feverish levels of popularity, I can’t help but reminisce about  those red and green livery Supras, the dangerously quick GTRs, Those fire breathing mazda RX7s and hope that Japan once  again figures out the formula   to bring Japanese racing into a new golden era. Thank you so much for watching! Don’t forget to subscribe and join us on discord  to tell us about your favorite JGTC cars.

Idk about you, but after hearing this i think its   time to get off this bucket  and load up some gran turismo Sits back down Gran tursimo 4, of course, I’m not an idiot. I’ll see you guys in the next one.

2023-02-02 20:31

Show Video

Other news