Over the weekend Japan’s famed Ebisu Circuit suffered extensive damage following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake and subsequent landslide. The race track is a beloved venue for drifting enthusiasts both amateur and professional, and is at the heart of the yearly D1GP drift schedule. Its owners are assessing the damage right now.
The earthquake occurred at 11:08 pm on Saturday, its epicenter about 60 miles off Fukushima Prefecture’s eastern coast. It left over 900,000 homes without power in northeastern Japan, although no changes in radiation level were registered from two nearby nuclear power plants. At this time no deaths are being reported, but injuries are measured in the hundreds.
If this seems familiar, it’s because 10 years ago that Ebisu was damaged during the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that resulted in the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In fact, Saturday’s tremor is, mind-blowingly, believed to have been an aftershock of the deadly 2011 quake one decade in the making.
As for Ebisu, much of the damage was the result of a landslide resulting from the earthquake. No one was injured, but the Drift Land, Minami, and Nishi Circuit tracks were heavily damaged, along with the infrastructure around the track. Teams are currently in the process of removing debris from the area and damages to the facility are said to be extensive.
Ebisu Circuit was founded in 1986 during the drifting boom in Japan by Nobushige Kumakubo, leader of Team Orange and 2006 D1GP champion. In addition to drift circuits, a spa, ski resort, and animal safari park are located on grounds adjacent to the tracks. Besides drifting, it also hosts other motorsports events for motorcycles, formula cars, and karts.
Kumakubo-san has issued a statement thanking fans for their concern. For the time being, he says, their first priority is to prevent any more damage and keep all workers at the site safe. He says that after a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, this damage deals a particularly hard blow.
He also says that rebuilding the track is not possible on their own. Many fans have reached out to offer donations, but there has not been an official outlet set up to receive them at this time. The circuit will be closed as they deal with the cleanup and damage assessment. When they are able, they will make an announcement on how those who would like to help can do so. We will continue to monitor the situation and update when we hear more.