Battling on the Highways of Japan

Posted on by Jeffrey

Known in Japan as “hashiriya,” illegal street racing grew in popularity in the 80′s due to overcrowded race tracks and expensive fees. One of the most famous stretches of highway used for illegal street racing is known as the Bayshore Route of the Shuto Expressway which is featured in many of the Highway Battle films. The highway runs from Yokohama to Ichikawa running along Tokyo Bay. In Japanese it is called Shuto Kōsokudōro Wangan-sen or Wangan-sen for short. Which is where the famous (now defunct) Mid Night Club held many of their races.

The Mid Night Club was a group of highly skilled drivers who would arrange secret meetings at midnight and organize races along the Wangen-sen. The winner would often be determined by reaching a specific point first or by being able to race ahead out of view of the other drivers. Joining the club was difficult and took a lot of patience, skill and a good car. Firstly, one had to be an apprentice for a year. Also they were never put anyone, including other racers in harms way. Lastly, they had to have a car capable of reaching at least 160mph. Throughout the 80′s and 90′s, the Mid Night Club became famous for being well organized, and their fast and aggressive driving. Unfortunately, in 1999, in an accident involving Mid Night Club and a motorcycle gang, 2 people died. The Mid Night Club, having vowed to neither endanger nor injure, disbanded.

Under the hood of a 2009 GT-R35

In recent years, stiffer fines and a stronger police presence have limited illegal racing in Tokyo. However the spirit remains. Illegal racing is the subject of many popular manga, such as Wangan Midnight, video games like Tokyo Xtreme Racer and its subsequent sequels, and in films such as Highway Battle RxR and its sequel Highway Battle RxR: Max-Speed.

The following is a video of a tuned Supra doing over 200mph on the Wangen-sen and some guys who swear quite a bit. Consider yourself warned.

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