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#1 nick stone

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 22:36

I've just finished a great read by Martin Cruz Smith titled 'Tokyo Station'. It's a novel that vividly describes Tokyo and the escapades of a cast of compelling characters in the days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour.

A passage in the book mentions "the car race at Tamagawa". Tamagawa was described as "a track on the way to Yokohama" where "they have good races - Bentleys, Bugattis,Mercedeses".
One of the characters was credited with having entered "a car with an aeroplane engine - a Curtis thirteen-cylinder engine".

My question is - was there such a track a Tamagawa? If so, were there races in the pre-war years that included Bentleys etc? And who might have driven them. Was there a motor racing scene at all in the East - including China - in that period?

Google elicited the fact there is a Tamagawa University that has constructed a solar car but made no mention of a race track. 'Tokyo Station' ('December 8' in the U.S.) is after all, a novel and the Curtis 13-cylinder might have been a figment of Cruz Smith's imagination. But did he invent the Tamagawa race track as well?

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#2 WGD706

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 23:01

Nick
"The first recorded race wins by a Datsun I can find are in 1936 in Japan. A Datsun Midget took the checkered flag at the Japan Motor Vehicle Competition at Tamagawa Speedway. The Midget was powered by at 747cc engine. Datsun cars were probably raced in Japan throughout the 30's and right up until the Second World War. "
http://www.datsunhis...cehistory1.html

"An interesting diversion came in the mid thirties with what must have been Datsuns first foray into the field of motor sport with the NL series race cars, one of which feature a double overhead cam engine. These tiny race cars proved successful and one won the Japan Motor Vehicle competition run at the Tamagawa race circuit in 1936."
http://www.ratdat.co...1933to1958.html

That's about all I can come up with, so it did exist. About a 13 cylinder engine by Curtiss, that's a whole new search!
Warren

#3 WGD706

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 23:02

Nick
"The first recorded race wins by a Datsun I can find are in 1936 in Japan. A Datsun Midget took the checkered flag at the Japan Motor Vehicle Competition at Tamagawa Speedway. The Midget was powered by at 747cc engine. Datsun cars were probably raced in Japan throughout the 30's and right up until the Second World War. "
http://www.datsunhis...cehistory1.html

"An interesting diversion came in the mid thirties with what must have been Datsuns first foray into the field of motor sport with the NL series race cars, one of which feature a double overhead cam engine. These tiny race cars proved successful and one won the Japan Motor Vehicle competition run at the Tamagawa race circuit in 1936."
http://www.ratdat.co...1933to1958.html

That's about all I can come up with, so it did exist. About a 13 cylinder engine by Curtiss, that's a whole new search!
Warren

Didn't he write 'Gorky Park'?

#4 Gerr

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 00:41

According to , "Honda, the Man and his Machines", Soichiro Honda built two Curtiss powered racing cars. He had big accident in 1936 at the All-Japan Speed Rally at Tama River Speedway. He crashed a modified Ford.
One of the Curtiss racers is the Honda museum (there is a web-site, I think).

#5 Marcor

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 01:17

Look at this old topic: http://www.atlasf1.c...&threadid=12201

Unfortunately the image is no longer visible...

#6 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 01:45

A picture from one of webpages mentioned in post 2.

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#7 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 01:55

A quote from http://www.mroks.com...cta/invicta.htm


"Invicta 4.5 High Chassis Competition, 1928.

This particular car was originally a 4.5 Litre tourer (XV7270) which was purchased second-hand from a dealer in London by a Japanese gentleman in 1930. He made a continental tour with the car through Europe and then had it shipped to Japan. It was chauffeur-driven for several years in Tokyo.

In 1936 a brand new racing-circuit was opened at Tamagawa riverbed near Tokyo.
The Invicta was now converted into a 2-seater racing-car and entered for the first race . Among the competition were a Bugatti 35B and a 35A. But the Invicta was brilliantly driven by Jiro Kawasaki to win the final 100 lapper. "

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#8 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 02:03

Considering the opposition from the toy-cars that appear on the pic in post 6, I can see why the 4.5litre Invicta managed to win despite its relative age... :lol:

#9 nick stone

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 09:43

So there was a Tamagawa race track after all - I should have known to search the Atlas archives before asking the question. Thanks Marc for the lead to the fascinating earlier thread.

How interesting it is to note that Soichiro Honda took part in what was his first race car - I wonder if anyone there those days could imagine where it would all lead. I must say I tremble at the thought of the mayhem potential of a field full of Oriental gents banzaiing such disparate machinery round the 'mini Brooklands'.

A further question - was there a racing 'scene' in Japan at the time or was Tamagawa it? And what about pre-war motor racing in China. Was she too totalitarian and poor to foster the sport? Was the Peking - Paris rally the only exposure the Chinese have had to motor racing until relatively recent times?

Warran: Cruz Smith also wrote 'Gorky Park' as you thought. Another great read.

#10 Doug Nye

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 10:30

There was a race track pre-war on the gravel bank of a riverway just on the outskirts of Tokyo whose name I cannot summon up - tip of the tongue stuff - was this Tamagawa???? I think not. But it was the site of various duels in which Count Kobayakawa starred in his MG K3 imported from Abingdon. I've driven past the site and had it pointed out to be but what the hell was it called???? Anybody???? A hunt through good MG K3 literature should probably find mention...

DCN

#11 Barry Lake

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 13:15

As usual, without the time to go and look it up, I am fairly certain that the first Datsun was, like the BMW Dixi, an Austin 7 Chummy made under licence. I have a model of one here.

The 1936 model Nissan 747cc "Midget" mentioned here would, by my calculated guess, almost certainly be at least in some way related to the Brooklands Austin 7 twin cam cars.

The Nissan/Austin relationship goes much further. The 1960 Nissan Bluebird (1960 in Australia, maybe earlier in Japan) had mechanicals that were directly interchangeable with the Austin A40 Devon from about 10 years earlier.

Even more "off topic"... Once, when, I was assistant editor of Off Road Australia magazine in 1977-1979, I went to interview a man who ran a business out of his back yard in Victoria, making all sorts of bits and pieces for Toyota LandCruisers. He also had a number of 1928 model Chevrolet tourers sitting arounf the place. I commented that it seemed like an odd pairing to me. He said, "Really? Have a look at this." and demonstrated how a 1928 Chev gearbox would bolt directly onto the back of a 1978 Toyota LandCruiser engine and vice-versa.

He said the LandCruiser rear axle bearings went straight into the old Chev's axles and were much more reliable than the 50-year-old oil seal technology. So he was selling Toyota bits to Chevy restorers.

Well, I found it interesting.

Back towards the original topic, there are a couple of books about Honda that refer to Soichiro's racing pre-WWII. There are photos of his crash at Tamagawa and he was very, very lucky to escape being killed. I couldn't help but wonder how different the world's motoring and even GP (or CART for that matter) history might have been had he not been so fortunate!

#12 fines

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 17:15

Originally posted by nick stone
A further question - was there a racing 'scene' in Japan at the time or was Tamagawa it?

I'm fairly certain that Tamagawa was the only 'real' motor racing circuit in Japan pre-war. You never know about round-the-houses style impromptu affairs, but it is my belief that racing as such was rather alien to the Japanese at the time. It didn't start post-war until the early sixties,, anyway!

Btw, Tamagawa means "River Tama".

#13 Barry Lake

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 03:38

Just had a quick browse back through this thread and could see no description of the Tamagawa Speedway.

Once again, apologies for not researching this, but it's just too difficult/time consuming to access my books these days - my house has a severe case of indigestion. My memory is that it was a copy of a US fairground-style speedway - two straight, joined by two more or less semi-circular corners - or perhaps it was more the shape of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But you get the impression - rather like a 1930s sprint car/big car dirt track. At a guess, I would say half a mile or so in circumference, maybe more.

That's all just memory stuff, though. Take care; my memory isn't infallible - by a long way.

I don't suppose Darren Galpin has a cirucit diagram yet - but he probably will, one day. :)

#14 David McKinney

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 06:29

A 1.2km oval, I believe (or three-quarters of a mile)

#15 Darren Galpin

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 08:53

No map yet, but I'm working on it. I've contacted someone I know in Nissan Motorsport in Japan to see if they can dig anything out.

#16 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 16:46

I am not sure of the search engines will find information that is only in japanese text.
Therefore I think there is a lot of interesting information that are lost to us.