While in mainland, we were really close to Suzuka Circuit so, with a day of not much planned, we went over to check it out. In my mind, I was thinking grandstands, big parking lot, and a race track. In reality, Suzuka Circuit is more of an amusement park than just a racetrack. Beyond the gate above lies not only access to the track, but also all sorts of rides and driving “rides” for kids.
It was all geared around different forms of driving. A small train and sky tram to ride on for the little ones, bumper cars for the slightly older, larger cars that follow your steering input but are on a track, slow go karts for kids, and fast go karts for adults. There was more than that but that gives you an idea. It was spectacular. If I had a 5-10 year old, I would go there over Tokyo Disney Land and pocket the difference.
After entering the gate, the amusement park lies on the left and to the right is the race track.
Suzuka Circuit is a full on circuit with a history of hosting various forms of racing including Formula 1, MotoGP, and even NASCAR exhibitions. On the day we were there, there seemed to be a small test-and-tune session for small scale motorcycle teams.
The teams would tinker with the bikes, rev them non-stop (race bikes must not idle?), make a few laps, and then go back to the pits for more of the same. However, the real racing to be had that day I would be participating in.
It just so happened that we showed up right before the one 40 minute session out of the month that they allow the go karts to race…er…tour the track. I paid my fee, got my ticket, and waited for my chance to set a track record.
The format for the one-make race was one lap of the 1.1km East Course with speed governed at 30km/h. I crossed the finish line advancing two positions. The two seven-ish year old drivers didn’t know what to think as I blew by them. My skills can’t be denied.
Honestly, it was really cool to be on the track close enough to touch it, driving over rumble strips (because it’s fun not necessary), looking out at the stands, and thinking what the real thing must be like.
Above the pits, the podium was setup. I’m not sure if it was what they use for big races but it seemed like a cool photo opportunity. We passed on it.
If you caught the banner in the opening picture, then you would have seen, as this statue marks, Suzuka Circuit has been doing its thing for 50 years!
I took a few more photos of a gathering that was happening on the infield but those will be for an upcoming post!