GRAND TOURING: Mobara Twin Circuit

324s_Honda S800 Coupe

As some of you might know, I own a dark gray Honda S800M Coupe, and it has landed me right in the middle of Tokyo’s S-car scene. When some friends went out for a day of circuit racing, I decided to tag along and test a new film with a few lenses on my Bessa. 

257s_Honda S800 Coupe

With the wife at work, it was no one but the car and me. Destination: Mobara Twin Circuit.

258s_Honda S800 Coupe

Mobara Twin Circuit is located in Chiba Prefecture, on the opposite side of the Tokyo Bay and about 90 minutes east of the capital by car.

262s_Honda S800

As the name implies, there are two tracks comprising Mobara Twin Circuit. The little one is for go-karts & pocket-bike racing, the larger for cars.

276s_Honda S800

Though it’s been known in the States primarily as a site for drifting, its series of close, tight turns on a course measuring only 0.78 miles is perfect for small displacement cars.

354s_Lotus Elan

It was a Lotus Elan day, but other marques were invited to run in their own events.

284s_Suzuki Fronte LC10

Nearby a Lotus Cortina staged beside a kei jidosha rarely seen at the tracks, the rear-engined LC10 Suzuki Fronte Deluxe.

308s_Suzuki Fronte LC10

Behold the beautiful, bespoke badge created for its fender. Few automakers put this kind of care into their emblems these days, never mind that of an economy model.

259s_Honda S600 Coupe

Soon it was time to watch the Hondas take to the track, and I was content to just sit back and hear the scream of their engines at 10,000 rpm.

312s_Honda S800 Coupe

Some really spirited racing took place, particularly by the Terada S600 coupe. They were not scared to wring these machines out.

320s_Honda S800 Coupe

Soak in the textures of this vintage control room. If someone told Old Man Soichiro that one day his dashboards would be filled with small TV screens, he probably would have shot that man on site.

345s_Honda S600 Coupe

It appears that a reproduction badge has misspelled the word “Coupe.” Collector’s item?

287s_Honda S800

The #18 S800 was pushed really hard, taking many corners on just three wheels.

288s_Honda S800

Membership in the Honda Twin Cam Club puts you in good company that’s not limited to S-cars. Racers of legend, powered by Honda S800 motors like the Macransa Tojiro-III, are part of the society too.

290s_Honda S800

The yellow S800 is owned by Suzuki-san, the proprietor of Spread Tool, one of the premier S-car parts manufacturers.

297s_Honda S800

You can find OEM replacement bits or go-fast goodies for your S chassis, as well as restoration parts for your N360 or T360.

277s_Honda S800

The white S800 with the blue stripe is an electric vehicle, owned and raced by Kubota-san. Both are members of the Sports Car Club of Yokohama.

286s_Honda S600 Coupe

It’s a short track, so lap times for beginners usually clock in between 55 seconds and one minute. The current record is a Honda Integra that completed it in 46.141 seconds. However, if you can lap the circuit in 50 seconds, you get awarded a silver Mobara sticker not available for sale. A gold decal is yours if you can get below 49.

246s_Toyota-Corolla Levin TE27

The TE27 Corolla Levins really got into it with nice, tail-out powerslides in the corners.

247s_Toyota-Corolla Levin TE27

They truly lived up to their reputation as great-grandfather of the AE86.

266s_Toyota-Corolla Levin TE27

It was a pleasure to see the other TE27 in shiro with a nice red pinstripe rather than the standard issue army green.

294s_Nissan Silvia CSP311

One of 554 CSP311 Silvias built was present as well, and despite its rarity the owner gladly taped up the headlights and took to the track.

310s_Nissan Silvia CSP311

Like David in his Nos2Days coverage, I too loved the details of the Silvia. The owner was quite happy to have me all over it, inside and out.

311s_Nissan Silvia CSP311

It shares the same motor R16 motor as the Datsun Fairlady Sports 1600 roadster, and this one was simply beautiful to look at.

251s_Nissan Silvia CSP311

Its hand built prow was a work of art.

363s_Rainbow Bridge

Coming home via the Rainbow Bridge, I dropped off early and enjoyed some local roads on the way home. I realized that while I’d taken plenty of photos of my friends’ S-cars, my own version had yet to be captured.

377s_Honda S800 Skorj

So I paused to take a shoot it in its natural environs, a narrow side street in Uehara. Some areas of Tokyo still look like they did in the Showa days. Could be 1969 all over again.

Skorj is a photographer living in Japan. See more of his work at Filmwasters.

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11 Responses to GRAND TOURING: Mobara Twin Circuit

  1. Nigel said:

    Nice coverage of the race Skorj.
    I don’t know of anything else that matches watching a vintage race on a sunny day.
    Mosport is about 70km from where I live. My father and I watch the races every June.

  2. jivecom said:

    wow
    I was going to say your wheels were perfect until i saw the wheels on the yellow S800. you still get the silver medal though

    • jivecom said:

      should have read the whole story before writing, i thought the first car was yours, but it looks like yours has different taillamps. still, can’t go wrong with your choice

  3. pete240z said:

    Whoa!

  4. Tj said:

    Awesome photos as always! I love that Silvia. I’d love to get my hands on one.

  5. Nakazoto said:

    Amazing photos and an excellent write up! That last photo of your S800 is perfect. It very much so could have been taken 40 years ago.

    Someday I will own a CSP311 Silvia, what a beautiful car.

    • Kuroneko said:

      > Someday I will own a CSP311 Silvia, what a beautiful car.

      Surprisingly cheap these days for what they are!

  6. dankan said:

    Thanks for the excellent photos and story. My god, those cars are wonderfully jewel-like in how they’re put together.

  7. WaxhawBrad said:

    What are the wheels in the opening shot?

    Super article, great stuff!

    • Kuroneko said:

      > What are the wheels in the opening shot?

      They are Cosmic wheels. Either period, or in that color I think new run versions… Neko.

  8. ProTree said:

    skorj, you are living what most of us can only dream of