TOV Pre-Tokyo Motor Show: Day 2
Date: October 23, 2007 17:39
I arrived a day before Jeff on Sunday and decided to do a few things on my own since there weren't any slots left for me to participate in the test drives that Jeff was involved with. With the help of my Japanese speaking roommate I arranged to rent a Honda VFR800 (known as the Interceptor on our side of the Pacific) to ride around Tokyo and more specifically, to ride to Motegi to see the Honda Collection Hall.
On Monday I caught the subway to the West side of Tokyo and walked to the shop to pick up the bike from M-1 (www.m-1.co.jp) I was a bit nervous that the owners didn't speak much English but I have learned some rudimentary Japanese I was able to get saddled up without much trouble. For those who are curious it was about 28,600 Yen for two days.
Tokyo is not an easy city to navigate but I rode even further out West to Saitama and found Mugen's headquarters rather easily. As I walked into the showroom my heart filled up with excitement as I could see several of racing engines lined up in front of the windows. 'This should be good,' I thought.
There were two of Mugen's F1 cars in there as well as a long row of racing engines they had built from IRL V8's to F1 V10's. The two production cars they had sitting in the showroom were the Mugen Civic Dominator concept and I believe the Fit Dynamite. The thing that was most impressive about the cars is that the fit and finish looked immaculate. Almost as if those cars were meant to be that way from the factory.
I wanted to take a look at their shop and working space but unfortunately I couldn't convince the receptionists to let me see any more of the building. Maybe next time we can work a connection to really get to see the goods.
Yesterday was the big day that I would make my pilgrimage to the most hallowed of halls for Honda fans, the Honda Collection Hall. It was rather difficult trying to work out how to get there between the woefully inadequate directions on Motegi's English site, their Japanese directions, Google Maps Japan, and my Tokyo City Atlas. I got out of Tokyo just fine but I had a devil of a time finding the right exit and was lost for a good hour and a half before I got on the right track.
The ride to Motegi was actually rather pleasant once I got going the right way, though. Lots of gentle sweepers and a gently rolling landscape through the beautiful Japanese country side. Perfect roads for the Interceptor. You could go reasonably fast without being crazy or wearing yourself out.
I finally got to Motegi at about 1 o'clock so I didn't have much time to stay. I just tried to take as many pictures of the interesting race machines as possible. One thing that the Collection Hall really impresses on you is that Honda really is a motorcycle company.
One thing I really liked was a cool little kiosk where you could listen to recordings of some of Honda's most famous race machines. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have the oval-pistoned NR500 or the 6 cylinder RC166 in there but they had several of the F1 cars from the turbocharged era that sounded absolutely fabulous. A veritable symphony of mechanical exuberance.
The Collection Hall was a little bit sparse on Honda race cars. I think one or two were out on loan but I was expecting to see at least one S2000 racecar and maybe one of the two 1996 Le Mans NSX's. As such the race car section was made up of almost all formula cars. There were examples from the 60's, Formula 2 cars from when Honda first got back into racing in the 80's, and the creme de la creme, the mighty all-conquering Williams and McLarens of Honda's dominant era in the late eighties into the early nineties.
On my way back I got lost again. I had found a place on the map where it looked like there was an on ramp to the expressway, which there was. But what I didn't know was that only cars with an electronic pass could use that on ramp. The next way to get onto the highway took a good 45 minutes of frustrating ambling around to find the onramp.
I figured I was way behind on time and had no idea what kind of traffic I would encounter approaching Tokyo. I got on the expressway and set down the highway at about 150 km/h to make up some time. I figured I was only going about 20-25 km/h faster than traffic but maybe about 5 or 10 minutes later some flashing lights got my attention.
The Japanese officer was in a Toyota Crown (a Lexus over here, although I don't know what model) and proceeded to pull in front of me as I eased off the throttle. There was a LED in the back of the car that said something but I sure as hell didn't understand what it was. I followed him for some time before he motioned to pull over by an off ramp.
He asked for my license. When he saw my name he said, "From Irelandu?" "Ie, namae wa Irish desu." Translation: No, my name is Irish (I must've gotten a million times by now). He told me, "Speed limit is 100 kilo. You were 24 over. Be careful." He didn't seem mad at all, if anything he seemed a bit bemused. And he let me go. Whew. Back on my way to Tokyo. On my way back into the city I actually found my way pretty well and made it to M-1 with about 5 minutes to spare.
All in all an eventful day. I must have spent around 6,000 Yen (50-ish dollars) on tolls and about 5,000 Yen on gas. It was really frustrating at times but well worth the effort to visit the Collection Hall. It is a place every Honda racing fan should visit at least once.
Last edited by JeffX on
October 23, 2007 17:51