By Wade Thiel
Who Wants to Go to Japan?
I’ve seen or participated in some wild motorcycle racing, but this one might take the cake. It’s called Auto Race and it happens in Japan. The name might make you think of cars, but these are definitely bikes. Motorcycle enthusiast and voice actor Peter von Gromm was able to capture some awesome footage of these bikes and their riders doing their thing.
The whole spectacle reminds me of dog or horse racing. There’s a short 500-meter oval track, thousands of seats around the track, and plenty of people betting on the racers. The riders ride counter-clockwise and the track is banked. They do six laps. Most of the time, the riders are leaning into a turn, so the handlebars on the motorcycles are twisted at a weird angle. Gromm says this is because they’re leaning so often. While leaning these oddly shaped handlebars actually level out, providing more stability while in the turn.
In the racing, the rider typically all ride the same kind of bike. This eliminates any unfair advantages and leaves it up to the riders. Oh, and there’s no starter or brakes. You have to push start these things, and control speed with the throttle and gearbox alone. It’s a seriously interesting sight, and I hope to be able to see it in person some day.
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