Twin Ring Motegi

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Twin Ring Motegi
Location 120-1 Hiyama, Motegi
Haga, Tochi, 321-3597 Japan
Broke ground
Opened August 1997
Closed Open
Demolished N/A
Owner Honda
Operator Mobilityland Corporation, Ltd.
Construction cost ¥5 billion
Former names none
Major events Indy Racing League
Indy Japan 300

MotoGP World Championship
Grand Prix of Japan

Seating capacity 68,156
Track shape oval and road course
Track length 1.549 miles (oval)
4.8 km (road course)
Track banking Turns - 10°

Twin Ring Motegi is an automobile racing track located in Motegi, Japan. Its name comes from the fact that there are two race tracks at the facility: a 1.549 mile oval (2.493 kilometers) and a 4.8 kilometer (2.983 miles) road course. It was built in 1997 by Honda, as part of Honda's effort to bring IndyCar racing to Japan, as well as increase their own knowledge of that form of racing.

Oval Course

The oval course is the only one of its kind in Japan, and currently is only used once a year for racing. It is a low-banked, 1.549 mile long egg-shaped course, with turns 3 and 4 being much tighter than turns 1 and 2. On March 28, 1998, CART held the inaugural race at Twin Ring Motegi Speedway. The race was won by Mexican, Adrian Fernandez.CART continued race at Twin Ring Motegi Speedway from 1998 to 2002. In 2003, Honda entered the Indy Racing League and race became apart of the Indy Racing League schedule. Because of the low banking, and because it is currently the last race on the IndyCar schedule before the Indianapolis 500, it is seen as a useful tune-up venue for the teams. In addition to IndyCar Racing, the track has also hosted a single NASCAR exhibition race in 1998.

In one of the great ironies of the sport, Honda, which had built the oval for the express purpose of developing its oval-racing program for Indycar Racing, did not win a race at the track for its first six years of operation. In 2004 Dan Wheldon took the first win for Honda on the oval.

For race results, see Indy Japan 300

NASCAR History

Mike Skinner won the only NASCAR Winston Cup exhibition race held at the track in 1998. Skinner won driving the #31 Lowe's Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. The race was most notable for being the first race in which Dale Earnhardt & his son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. competed with one another, driving #3 & #1 Coca-Cola Chevrolets, respectively.

Road Course

The road course is 4.8 kilometers long, and is unique in sharing garage and grandstand facilities with the oval course, but being entirely separate otherwise. Although they are separate tracks, it is impossible for races to occur simultaneously on the two courses at the same time; to access the oval track, teams must cross the road-course pit and front straight. The road course also runs in the opposite direction from the oval; clockwise, rather than counter-clockwise.

The course itself is built in a stop-start straight/hairpin style; this less than flowing arrangement has attracted criticism from various figures, including Valentino Rossi. By Japanese standards the circuit is exceptionally flat, with only a slight elevation rise towards the hairpin turn. The road course is much busier than the oval track, with Formula Nippon visiting twice, Super GT and Super Taikyu cars once each, and local events almost every weekend. The road course can be used in three ways: the full course, or two 'Short Courses' can be made, using connecting roadways. These short courses are usually used for junior formula events, such as Formula 4 or FJ1600.

The road course is also a popular motorbike racing spot, with the MotoGP usually visiting once a year, as well as several Japanese national bike racing series.

Other facilities

In addition to the main racing complex, Twin Ring Motegi features a second road course (called the North Short Course) for karting and Formula 4 events, as well as a 1/4 mile dirt track for modified and sprint car racing. In addition, the FIM Trials series has visited the track, and an outdoor trail course exists on the facility as well.

Outside of racing, the biggest attraction at Twin Ring is probably the Honda Collection Hall, which features historic Honda racing and production cars and motorcycles. Honda also operates a technology demonstration center on the site, as well as educational centers.

Track Difficulties

Twin Ring was the first ever separate-but-combined road-and-oval track (as opposed to 'roval' tracks common in the United States), and the decision to include a full road course contained largely within the oval necessitated some design compromises. For the spectator, sightlines can be extremely poor for road course races, as the grandstands are much further back than is usually the case. The oval course blocks the view of much of the road course, including the best passing point on the track, and several large-screen TVs are needed. Seating outside of the grandstand is limited to certain areas of the infield, and along the backstraight of the road course.

Access to the track is a major point of concern, with only two entry and exit points by two-land public road. Motegi is not a particularly large town, and accommodation is virtually non-existent close to the track, outside of the on-site hotel. Train links to the area are extremely limited (the major lines of the region, JR and Tobu Railway not servicing the area), nor has a planned superhighway been completed. Thus the stated capacity of the track (about 65,000) is dictated largely by traffic flow, not by actual seating capacity (estimated to be nearly 100,000 for road-course events, 80,000 for oval).

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