RUSTY OLD VINTAGE MACHINES DRIFT SIDE BY SIDE WITH MODERN FLAT
You probably know that Go Takamine doesn’t just have custom bike workshops in Tokyo and California, but that he created a whole genre of customs – Brat Style. But you may not know that Go has his own race.
We were in Japan for the incredible Hot Rod Custom Show organized by Mooneyes in Yokohama – a massive shed rammed with customised American and Japanese cars and bikes. It’s a very selective and impressive show where we met many famous customisers, which is how we found out that he organised a flat track session in north west Tokyo, at Kawagoe off-road village.
This looks like a Mad Max cinema set. A large part is a motocross track with massive jumps, whoops and modern bikes pulling outrageous whips and skimming the whoops flat-out. Inside of this madness is a flat track oval. An old trailer acts as a cloakroom and a big metallic structure is set up as a terrace, perched among a glade of large trees to offer a chill-out zone during the hot days of summer.
Everything is covered by a thin layer of brown dust, and is in the shadow of a large highway soaring over the course. The flat track paddock is an amazing place to hang out. When we arrive, guys have just finished unloading vans, and are pulling on race jerseys, boots and helmets.
Everyone seems very happy to be here and there's a wonderful family atmosphere fuelled by hot coffees and hot dogs. The El Solitario crew (see Built #9) show up, which is a pleasant surprise and we recognise the owners of Cheetah Custom Cycles and Krafty Shop Tokyo. Bikes are mainly Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Honda or Indian.
Some very old rusted vintage machines drift side by side with modern flat trackers. There's no bullshit organisation that you get in a pro race – just everyone out for a friendly adventure. We love it. Even if it is not a competition, people are riding hard and we enjoy watching some furious battles, and impressive sideways sliding.
The occasional crash sends bike and rider into a huge dust cloud. The highlight of the show is Masumi, Go Takamine’s lovely wife, riding their famous Knuckle show bike in the sunset, with her hair in the wind. It's worth a trip to Japan just for that.