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Tokyo Underground

A small glimpse of the illegal Wangan-sen and touge scenes.

Feb 3, 2016

If you're a regular reader of Super Street you know all about the aboveboard tuner activities that go on in and around the city for Tokyo Auto Salon, but we also wanted to give you a snapshot of the underground street scene that generally isn't outwardly identifiable; it should go without saying we strongly suggest no one try any of this at home. After the 11-hour flight to Japan from California and our Fresh Tokyo meet, we headed toward a rest area to meet with a few racers. You might recognize a few of their cars since we've featured them, but we'd rather not mention the owners' names. We pounded bottled coffee from the vending machines to stay awake and within a few minutes drivers surrounded a map displayed on the wall. After a route was planned out, everyone hopped in their cars and attacked the highway. Apparently there are fewer cameras in tunnels, so every time we came across one the racers would floor it. One guy was nuts enough to do manji drifts from guardrail to guardrail. The ending point was at the famous Yokohama rest area, where on any given night you'll find racers meeting up.

Tokyo underground race cars in tunnel Photo 2/26   |   tokyo underground race cars in tunnel

On another night we travelled two hours from the city to a mountain pass for bona-fide late night touge runs. By the time we got there, a dozen cars were already parked in a tunnel. Out of respect, we introduced ourselves to Team Freees and Team Props. Judging from the spare tires and tools on the side of the road, we knew it was going to be long epic night. Of course we watched from behind the guardrails before gathering the courage to ride shotgun with these guys. Against all good judgment we hopped in one of the wildest drifters of the night in the Team Freees' green S13. The driver went balls out and came in door-to-door proximity with the lead car. But as you can imagine, torturing tires can only last so long and the green S13 driver eventually had to call it a night.

Obviously street racing is illegal, but for these guys the adrenaline is worth it. It's a culture that's not for the squeamish and you'll likely need balls of steel to do it on a regular basis. For a few of the racers, the underground racing scene is a lifestyle no track experience can ever replace.

Tokyo underground group of race cars Photo 9/26   |   tokyo underground group of race cars
Tokyo underground race car rear three quarter view Photo 16/26   |   tokyo underground race car rear three quarter view
Tokyo underground race car dangerously close to wall Photo 23/26   |   tokyo underground race car dangerously close to wall
Jofel Tolosa
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