Of the 800,000 miles of thoroughfare winding throughout the islands of Japan, there’s just one 5 mile stretch the place you’ll be able to drive a car on a public seaside (legally, at any fee). It’s known as the Chirihama Nagisa Driveway, and for 363 days of the 12 months, it’s a serene little strip of shoreline and a well-liked vacation spot for vacationers and seaside goers.
For 2 very particular days of the 12 months, nevertheless, that serenity is changed by the candy music of straight-piped race bikes, whereas this clean patch of sand is transformed right into a drag strip like no different. We’re speaking concerning the Chirihama Sandflats, after all, which we’re additionally pleased to announce returned in full drive this 12 months, for the primary time since 2018.
So what’s the Chirihama Sandflats? Put merely, it’s an annual classic motorbike race the place riders come to check their mettle, going full throttle on 70-plus-year-old gear down a 1/tenth mile stretch of seaside. The competition is straightforward: Two bikes line up facet by facet, the flag lady offers the sign, and the primary bike to cross the end line strikes on to the subsequent spherical.
This 12 months, roughly 150 vintage two wheelers made the pilgrimage out to the sand in Ishikawa Prefecture. Tons of extra fans and race followers lined up alongside to the seaside to observe, and the parade of inflexible frames, half helmets, and classic type that adopted was simply the good factor occurring on the planet for 48 hours.
Riders compete in considered one of three lessons: The primary is the 45 Championship Class, which consists of Harley Davidsons constructed earlier than 1952, pre-1953 Indians, and pre-1953 Triumphs as much as 500 cc. There’s additionally the 80 Championship Class, which is made up completely of tank-shift H-Ds and Indians, in addition to pre-1954 Triumphs as much as 650 cc.
Lastly, you’ve acquired your Open Class, which is open to all Harleys, Triumphs, and Japanese domestics constructed earlier than 1970. The one guidelines for all three lessons, based on Chirihama Sandflats officers, are “no paddle tires, no race gasoline, and no ‘unsafe modifications’.”
You’d assume that that final bit refers to stereotypical chopper fare, like stretched forks, tall apes, and sissy bars. However trying on the number of machines current, most of these appear to be truthful recreation.
So how did one of many coolest motorbike gatherings on the planet discover its solution to a little-known seaside exterior of Hakui? We’re glad you requested.
See, the Chirihama Sandflats began as a little-known motorbike present again in 2012. For that first assembly, the races at Chirihama had been only a small portion of a bigger motorbike gathering, a drop within the bucket in comparison with the the occasion we all know immediately.
The primary meet was a hit total, however the first annual operating of the Chirihama Sandflats turned an sudden sensation. Photographs of classic bikes racing vast open down a pristine seaside unfold like wildfire, which is particularly wild contemplating social media was nonetheless in its infancy on the time.
Inside just a few months, discuss of the races had all however eclipsed the bike present itself. Organizers had been so inundated with inquiries concerning the Chirihama Sandflats, that when it got here time to plan the observe up occasion, the choice was made to make the races themselves the primary focus of the gathering.
Chirihama Sandflats continued to develop from there. And as trendy social media started to hit its stride within the years that adopted, photographs of the race’s excessive type and unmistakable classic taste discovered their solution to rattling close to each builder and fanatic the world over.
The annual get-together continued easily up till 2019, when 48 hours of close to fixed rain pressured the organizers to cancel. We’ll wager we don’t must let you know why the race didn’t run in 2020 (trace: it rhymes with Boronavirus). However after some petitioning of the native authorities, Chirihama Sandflats returned in 2021—albeit with strict security restrictions in place.
It seems that classic bike house owners had been getting simply as stir loopy as everybody else in the course of the pandemic,as a result of the race hit file numbers on its first 12 months again. Over 160 racers got here out to compete for the Chirihama Sandflats’ triumphant return.
2022 marks the primary race since 2018 that the occasion has been held with a full viewers, and no authorities restrictions of any type. In the event you’d prefer to depend your self among the many fortunate few who get to race subsequent 12 months, anybody with a certified bike and 20,000 yen to cowl their entry payment is welcome to hitch.
With particular because of our good good friend Tadashi Kono, who equipped each the pictures and knowledge for this report.