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The last vestiges of Tamagawa Speedway


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#1 PZR

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 13:06

Sadly, the remaining section of concrete grandstand base - the last vestiges of Tamagawa Speedway, located on the banks of the Tama river near Kawasaki in the Tokyo metropolitan area - have been slated for demolition as a sacrifice to flood defences.

 

Having been under threat for some time, after a full survey and investigation the Ministry Of Land have finally decided that it will have to go. The whole bank of that section of the Tama river will soon receive improved flood defences. 

 

Officially opened in 1936, but in a spot that saw organised two and four wheel competition some years before that,Tamagawa Speedway is seen as one of the cradles of Japanese motorsport. A very fine society has been curating its heritage for many years and lobbying heroically for its preservation, but the flood defences are necessary and the fight has been lost.

I last visited some years ago, and most people seem unaware of the original purpose of the stands and the fact that a motor racing course existed there in the pre-war period.

 

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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 16:11

What a wonderful, if sad, thread starter...

 

Thank you PZR.

 

DCN



#3 PZR

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 17:00

Some period (Nissan promotional, 'Datsun' team) footage on YouTube:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=2BwuoW1pK0Y



#4 LittleChris

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 19:03

What a shame, it always saddens me when a race track is destroyed. On the bright side, at least it's for a good reason rather than some risk averse tossers using the land to build a pitch & putt course.

Edited by LittleChris, 10 October 2021 - 19:03.


#5 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 21:12

Curiously, one of the earliest race meetings at Tamagawa in 1936 featured an MG K3, I believe - the first prototoype car, imported, owned and driven by Count (or Baron?) Motoharu Kobayakawa.

 

DCN

 

 



#6 PZR

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Posted 11 October 2021 - 10:26

A little about that NARC plaque:

The Kanji inscription reads 'Nihon Jidosha Kyoso Club', which translates pretty much to 'Nippon Automobile Racing Club'.

That '11' number relates to the regnal year of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in 1925. Add Showa 11 to 1925 and you get 1936, the year in which Tamagawa Speedway was officially opened.

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Members of the NARC can be seen here wearing their club caps, standing with Yutaka Kawagoe's race winning car:

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...which might be fun to identify.



#7 BRG

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Posted 11 October 2021 - 10:52

Intriguing that, even in those pre-war days when Japan was pursuing strongly nationalistic policies, the NARC caps use Latin script, as does the driver's name on the car.  I can understand how the Latin alphabet has crept in in modern times, but I might have thought it would have been anathema in pre--wars days.  I hadn't realised that motor racing had taken such a hold in Japan that long ago.  TNF educates as ever.

 

It is a pity to lose a historic landmark but the speedway proper is long gone so maybe it does matter, and as mentioned, it is for a good reason.



#8 tampaguy

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 16:50

I wonder if the gentleman behind the two trophies flew in the war years later ?



#9 PZR

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 08:49

Intriguing that, even in those pre-war days when Japan was pursuing strongly nationalistic policies, the NARC caps use Latin script, as does the driver's name on the car.  I can understand how the Latin alphabet has crept in in modern times, but I might have thought it would have been anathema in pre--wars days.  I hadn't realised that motor racing had taken such a hold in Japan that long ago.  TNF educates as ever.

The efforts to 'modernise' Japan in the latter part of the 19th Century included the teaching and study of foreign languages, and especially those using the 'Romaji' alphabet. By the early part of the 20th Century it became common (and 'fashionable') to see Romanised names on shop fronts, advertising and the products themselves. The word 'Modern' held some extra weight for the Japanese as they embarked on the journey of catch-up which would - ultimately - lead to what we might politely call some unsustainable growth and (ahem...) over-ambition.

 

As far as I understand it, Japan's first motorcycle 'race' took place as a side-show/demonstration supporting a bicycle race around the perimeter of Tokyo's Ueno Koen (park) on 3rd November 1884.

 

Ueno Koen was also the venue for what I believe was Japan's first ever properly organised automobile race, on April 5th 1902. The course was the apparently short-lived horse racing track around the lake in the middle of the park.      



#10 richardspringett

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 14:58

Hi PZR

 

Thanks for this heads up...the circuit is some 30 minutes from me, and I had no knowledge of it's history....

 

I will make an effort to visit before it's destruction.

 

Thanks!

 

Richard



#11 BRG

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 17:52

As far as I understand it, Japan's first motorcycle 'race' took place as a side-show/demonstration supporting a bicycle race around the perimeter of Tokyo's Ueno Koen (park) on 3rd November 1884.

 

Ueno Koen was also the venue for what I believe was Japan's first ever properly organised automobile race, on April 5th 1902. The course was the apparently short-lived horse racing track around the lake in the middle of the park.      

Wow!  I have always classified mentally Japan as one of the real motor racing countries, one of the ones that 'got' the sport.  I didn't realise that they were amongst the genuine pioneers!  



#12 Paul Taylor

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 19:01

Hi PZR

 

Thanks for this heads up...the circuit is some 30 minutes from me, and I had no knowledge of it's history....

 

I will make an effort to visit before it's destruction.

 

Thanks!

 

Richard

 

Same here. If the weather is not too bad I might have to make a trip today.