Inside the Exciting World of Japanese Auto Racing

May 18, 2024

Auto racing, like keiba and keirin, in Japan transcends mere sport; it's a legal avenue to savor the excitement and thrill of betting, woven intricately into the vibrant cultural tapestry of the nation. With its adrenaline-pumping races, cutting-edge facilities, and fervent fanbase, auto racing has emerged as one of the most captivating spectacles in Japan.

What is Auto Racing?

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Auto race is called "Auto Race" in Japan as well. It is a high-octane motorsport where skilled drivers compete in specially designed vehicles around oval tracks. These races typically feature motorcycles or small cars, reaching remarkable speeds as they navigate tight turns and straightaways. While traditional forms of gambling are illegal in Japan, auto racing serves as a legal loophole that allows enthusiasts to indulge in betting activities. This legal exemption has made auto racing a popular choice for those seeking the thrill of gambling within the confines of the law. Spectators can legally place bets on races, adding an extra layer of excitement to the already exhilarating atmosphere.

Auto racing events are held regularly throughout Japan, ensuring that fans have frequent opportunities to immerse themselves in the excitement of the sport. Whether it's a local competition or a prestigious national event, there's always a race happening somewhere in the country, offering spectators a chance to witness the thrill of auto racing up close.

Understanding the Flow of Auto Racing in Japan

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Auto racing enthusiasts in Japan are treated to a dynamic and thrilling spectacle, with races happening frequently and offering an adrenaline rush like no other. Whether you're a seasoned fan or a newcomer to the sport, knowing the ins and outs of how a race unfolds can enhance your experience and appreciation for this high-octane motorsport.

Introduction to the Race Flow

Auto races in Japan typically consist of 12 races held throughout the day, each featuring 8 cars racing for 6 laps around the track. But before the races begin, there are several highlights to look forward to, including player introductions and trial runs, adding to the anticipation and excitement of the event.

Player Introductions

Prior to the start of the trial runs, the players participate in introductions. Following the pace car, the players line up in a single file from car number 1 to car number 8 and complete one lap around the course.

Trial Runs

Once the player introductions are concluded, it's time for the trial runs. Players race at full throttle around a 500-meter course to showcase their skills and the condition of their racing cars. The times recorded during these trial runs are announced as an average time per 100 meters (seconds/100m), providing spectators with insight into the players' performance and serving as a guide when purchasing tickets.

Ticket Sales

After the trial runs are completed and the final inspections are passed without any issues, the players' participation in the race is confirmed. Concurrently, ticket sales for the race begin. Players await the race in the pits located within the racecourse.

Race Start

As the engines roar to life, players exit the pits and position themselves at their designated starting positions. When the clock strikes the designated time (the signal for the race start), the race commences simultaneously for all players.

The Race

Races typically consist of 6 laps (3,100m), with larger races extending to 8 or 10 laps. Each lap is a thrilling test of skill and speed as players navigate the track, jostling for position and aiming for victory.

Crossing the Finish Line

As players reach the final corner of the last lap, they accelerate towards the finish line. The checkered flag is waved, signaling the end of the race and marking the triumphant moment for the winner.

Determining the Winning Car

Following the conclusion of the race, the winning car is determined, and the payout amount is finalized, adding an element of anticipation and excitement for spectators awaiting the outcome.

Understanding the flow of an auto race in Japan adds depth to the spectator experience, offering insights into the intricacies and excitement of this exhilarating motorsport. So, the next time you attend an auto race in Japan, keep an eye out for these key moments and immerse yourself in the thrill of the competition.

How to Purchase Auto Racing Tickets at an Auto Racing Venue

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Many people are intrigued by the excitement of auto racing but may feel uncertain about how to buy tickets. Without understanding the ticket-buying process, there's a risk of unintentionally selecting the wrong ticket or purchasing more tickets than planned, which could detract from the enjoyment of the event. To ensure a smooth experience, let's break down the steps to buying auto racing tickets, even for first-timers.

Although it may seem daunting, buying auto racing tickets involves three main steps.

1. Obtain a Voting Card

Tickets for auto racing, referred to as "voting," can be purchased at the ticket counter or through automated voting machines. To use the voting machine, you'll need a mark-sheet voting card, so be sure to collect one.

Types of Voting Cards

  • Regular Voting Card
  • Nagashi and Box

The Nagashi method allows you to select one placement and choose all other placements, offering up to 42 combinations. On the other hand, the Box method involves selecting specific car numbers and voting for all combinations, with up to 336 combinations possible. These methods may be complex for beginners, so opting for a regular voting card is recommended for newcomers.

2. Predict the Race Results and Select a Ticket

With your voting card in hand, it's time to select the ticket you want to vote for. There are various ticket types available, ranging from predicting the first-place car number to guessing regardless of the order. Mark your selections on the voting card using a ballpoint pen or pencil, with the minimum purchase unit being 100 yen.

3. Cast Your Vote (Purchase)

Once you've filled out the mark sheets, proceed to purchase your tickets. At the auto race track or off-track sales office, submit the mark-sheet through the automatic ticket machine, insert the money, and the ticket will be issued based on your selections.

Alternatively, you can vote via telephone or online, but certain procedures must be completed beforehand. While telephone and internet voting may be convenient, note that there's typically an identity verification process, and registering for these methods may require a bank account with no annual fee. By following these steps, even first-timers can navigate the process of buying auto racing tickets with confidence, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable experience at the races.

Explaining the Different Types of Tickets

When purchasing tickets for auto races in Japan, spectators have various options to choose from, depending on their preferences and budget. Explained below are the different types of voting and the probability of winning those bets.

Win (単勝/Tansho)

The single win type of ticket is the most straightforward option, where you predict the car number that will clinch the first position. When completing the form, simply choose "single winner" and mark the car number you believe will finish first.

In essence, there are eight possible outcomes in an auto race, corresponding to the eight competitors. Therefore, the straightforward hit ratio stands at 1 out of 8, representing the chance of selecting the correct winning car number.

Show (複勝/Fukusho)

In the show or fukusho voting formula, you have the option to select a car number that you anticipate will secure a position within the top three. When filling out the form, opt for " show" and indicate the first-place position with one of the car numbers expected to finish among the top three.

It's important to note that if there are fewer than seven runners participating in the race due to absences or other factors, the selected car number will aim for a placement within the top two positions. Similar to the single winner formula, there are eight fundamental combinations. The straightforward success rate stands at 3 out of 8.

As previously mentioned, if there are fewer than seven runners, the selection is limited to the second place. Hence, if there are seven runners, the anticipated success rate becomes 2 out of 7.

Perfecta (連単/Rentan)

Perfecta, also known as Rentan, is a ticket where you predict both the first and second places in the correct order. When buying, select and mark the car numbers for both first and second place.

With a total of 56 potential combinations, the success rate stands at 1 out of 56.

Quinella (連勝複/Renshoufuku)

Quinella, also known as Renshoufuku in Japanese, involves predicting the car number that will secure the second position, regardless of the finishing order. To place this bet mark the car numbers of both first and second place finishers.

With a total of 28 potential combinations, the success rate stands at 1 out of 28.

Trifecta (3連単/Sanrentan)

Trifecta involves predicting the car numbers that will finish first, second, and third in the exact order they are placed. To place a trifecta bet, mark "trifecta" on your ticket and indicate the car numbers for the first, second, and third place finishers, respectively.

With a total of 336 possible combinations, the success rate stands at 1 out of 336.

Although the odds of winning are low, trifecta bets offer high payouts, sometimes exceeding 100,000 yen or more, especially in the case of unexpected outcomes.

Trio (3連複/Sanrenpuku)

In Trio bets, you predict the car numbers that will secure the top three places, regardless of their finishing order. Mark the numbers on your ticket just like you would for a trifecta, but indicate "trio" instead.

With a total of 56 possible combinations, the success rate stands at 1 out of 56.

While the odds aren't as high as trifecta bets, correctly predicting a trio can still lead to a higher prize than a trifecta bet.

Quinella Place (ワイド/Wide)

Similar to the show voting style, the wide method involves predicting the car numbers that will finish in the top three places. However, in the Wide method, bettors predict the car numbers of any two cars, while in the show method, they predict the car number of only one car.

With 28 possible combinations, similar to the quinella method, but with only 3 combinations hitting the target, the success rate stands at 3 out of 28.

Tips for Betting on Auto Racing and Having Fun

Betting on auto racing can add excitement to your experience as a spectator. To maximize enjoyment while minimizing risks, consider these helpful tips.

Setting a Budget and Systematic Betting

Allocate a specific amount of money for betting and stick to it. Avoid chasing losses by betting more than planned. Adopt a systematic approach to betting, such as limiting the number of bets per race or setting a maximum bet amount.

Steady Money Management

Practice disciplined money management by wagering only a small percentage of your betting budget on each race. This approach helps mitigate losses and ensures longevity in your betting endeavors.

Prepare Yourself to Win or Lose Without Being Influenced by the Outcome

Maintain a balanced mindset regardless of the betting outcome. Understand that winning and losing are part of the betting experience. Avoid emotional betting and stay focused on making informed decisions.

Gathering and Analyzing Race Information

Collect comprehensive race information, including past performance data, track conditions, weather forecasts, and driver/team statistics. Analyze this data to identify patterns, trends, and potential race outcomes.

Characteristics and Trends of Racers and Vehicles

Study the characteristics and trends of racers and vehicles competing in the race. Consider factors such as driving style, track preferences, recent form, and vehicle performance to inform your betting decisions.

Course-Specific Strategies

Develop strategies tailored to the specific characteristics of the racecourse. Different tracks may favor certain racing styles or vehicle setups. Adjust your betting approach accordingly to capitalize on course-specific advantages.

Understanding and Utilizing Technical Terms

Familiarize yourself with technical terms commonly used in auto racing betting, such as pole position, drafting, pit strategy, and aerodynamics. Understanding these terms enhances your comprehension of race dynamics and betting options.

How to Read Odds and Popularity

Learn how to interpret betting odds and popularity indicators. Odds reflect the likelihood of a particular outcome, while popularity indicates the consensus among bettors. Utilize this information to gauge potential returns and identify value bets.

Explanation of Terms Useful for Strategy

Explore terms relevant to betting strategy, such as nagashi, box betting, trifecta, and quinella. Understand how these betting options work and when to deploy them strategically to optimize your betting portfolio.

By implementing these tips and strategies, you can enhance your auto racing betting experience while enjoying the thrill of the races responsibly.

Main Auto Races in Japan

Isesaki (Gunma Prefecture)

  • Located in the city of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture
  • Known for its technical layout and high-speed straights
  • Hosts various events, including rounds of the Super GT series

Kawaguchi (Saitama Prefecture)

  • Situated in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture
  • Features a combination of tight corners and fast sections
  • Popular venue for local and national racing championships

Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Prefecture)

  • Located in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture
  • Offers a challenging and technical layout
  • Hosts rounds of the All Japan Road Race Championship

Sanyo (Yamaguchi Prefecture)

  • Situated in Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Known for its high-speed nature and long straights
  • Attracts top-level racing events and competitions

Iizuka (Fukuoka Prefecture)

  • Located in Iizuka City, Fukuoka Prefecture
  • Features a mix of fast and technical sections
  • Hosts various local and regional racing events

These tracks contribute to Japan's rich motorsports heritage, providing exciting venues for both professional and amateur racers to showcase their skills and compete at the highest levels.

Isesaki Auto Race Track (Gunma)

Image Source: Google Street View

The Isesaki Auto Race Track, located in Gunma Prefecture, offers a thrilling auto racing experience amidst picturesque surroundings. With its state-of-the-art facilities and exciting races, it attracts both seasoned enthusiasts and casual spectators alike. The track boasts challenging turns and straightaways, ensuring an adrenaline-fueled spectacle for all attendees.

[Access from Tokyo]

To reach Isesaki Auto Race Track from Tokyo, you can take the Shinkansen to Kumagaya Station and then transfer to the JR Takasaki Line to Isesaki Station. From there, a short taxi or bus ride will get you to the race track. The whole trip usually takes 1.5 to 2 hours.


  • 372-0801 Gunma, Isesaki, Miyakomachi 3074


Kawaguchi Auto Race Track (Saitama)

Image Source: Google Street View

Nestled in Saitama Prefecture, the Kawaguchi Auto Race Track offers an electrifying atmosphere and thrilling races for fans of auto racing. The track features modern amenities and a challenging layout that tests the skills of both drivers and their vehicles. Spectators can enjoy close-up views of the action from the grandstands or designated viewing areas.

[Access from Tokyo]

Traveling from Tokyo to the Kawaguchi Auto Race Track is convenient, with multiple transportation options available. By car or train, the journey typically takes approximately 1 hour, making it not really difficult to access for visitors from the capital city.


  • 332-0031 Saitama, Kawaguchi City, Aoki, 5-21-1

[Opening Hours]

  • 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Hamamatsu Auto Race Track (Shizuoka)

Image Source: Google Street View

Situated in Shizuoka Prefecture, the Hamamatsu Auto Race Track offers an exhilarating racing experience set against the backdrop of scenic landscapes. The track's layout challenges drivers with its twists and turns, promising edge-of-your-seat excitement for spectators. Visitors can enjoy a range of amenities and entertainment options throughout the racing event.

[Access from Tokyo]

The most convenient way to travel from Tokyo to Hamamatsu Auto Race Track is to take the Shinkansen bullet train to Hamamatsu Station, which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, and then continue by local transportation or taxi for a short ride to the race track.


  • 433-8125 Shizuoka, Chuo Ward, Hamamatsu, Wago-Cho, 936-19

[Opening Hours]

  • 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Sanyo Auto Race Track (Yamaguchi)

Image Source: Google Street View

The Sanyo Auto Race Track, located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, offers a captivating auto racing experience for enthusiasts of all ages. With its modern facilities and engaging races, it serves as a premier destination for motorsport fans. The track's layout provides ample opportunities for thrilling overtakes and nail-biting finishes, keeping spectators on the edge of their seats.

[Access from Tokyo]

Traveling from Tokyo to the Sanyo Auto Race Track offers various transportation options. By car or train, the journey typically takes approximately 4 to 5 hours, allowing visitors to enjoy a scenic trip to this exciting racing destination. If you want to get there quickly, it's recommended to use the Shinkansen (bullet train).


  • 757-0012 Yamaguchi, Sanyo Onoda,Ooaza Habu Aza Akamatsu Habu, 700

[Opening Hours]

  • 10:00 am - 9:00 pm


Iizuka Auto Race Track (Fukuoka)

Image Source: Google Street View

Situated in Fukuoka Prefecture, the Iizuka Auto Race Track offers a dynamic and immersive auto racing experience for attendees. With its well-designed track layout and thrilling races, it attracts both local fans and visitors from afar. The track's facilities provide comfort and convenience for spectators, ensuring an enjoyable outing for all.

[Access from Tokyo]

To get from Tokyo to Iizuka Auto Race Track, you can take the Shinkansen bullet train for a 5- to 6-hour journey to Hakata Station, fly from Tokyo's Haneda or Narita Airports to Fukuoka Airport in about 1.5 to 2 hours, or drive, which typically takes 14 to 16 hours without stops. Making it ideal for a weekend getaway or extended racing excursion.


  • 820-0001 Fukuoka, Iizuka City, Namazuta, 147



Auto racing in Japan is more than just a sport; it's an exhilarating blend of speed, skill, and responsible gambling. Whether you're a seasoned fan or a newcomer, attending an auto race promises unforgettable fun. Moreover, with the added thrill of legal gambling, auto racing events offer a unique opportunity for spectators to engage in legal betting activities, adding an extra layer of excitement to the already exhilarating atmosphere. So, the next time you find yourself in Japan, seize the opportunity to witness the adrenaline-pumping action of auto racing firsthand.

PIJ Writer
PIJ Writer
PIJ Writer, a seasoned connoisseur in his 40s based in Japan, boasts an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience within the vibrant landscapes of both drinking and gambling, alongside his well-documented ventures into various red-light districts. This extensive exploration encompasses not just the nocturnal delights of Japan's red-light areas but also its myriad of bars, horse racing, pachinko, and many others. Drawing on his firsthand experiences, he conveys the appeal and characteristics of Japan's diverse adult entertainment districts and his enjoyment of the nightlife scene through his writing for PIJ.

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