Before I explain just what Touge is all about, I want to dispel the false claims that Touge is a form of drift racing. Some drivers will use drifting to negotiate corners, but like many know, drifting may be the slowest way around a bend, but it’s the most fun – Touge is racing, so slow won’t do here.
Japan has its unique methods of pushing a car to its potential, the most notable – thanks to the U.S. catching on and its eventual appearance in the X Games – being drifting and the highly technical gymkhana. I only discovered Touge through watching drifting DVDs and the legendary Drift King himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya. If you think Ken Block has skills, you have to continue reading and check him out in action. He is what Gandalf is to Harry Potter.
In Japanese Touge (峠, tōge?) translates as “pass”, as in mountain pass – you probably know where this going.
It’s on these Touge in Japan that racing began, the snaking downhill terrain the ultimate test of man and machine. Other locations, especially California and parts of Europe, caught on, and Touge has become more popular with the tuning and modified communities. Although there are official racing classes now, due to the lack of legal places to race and it’s high cost to compete, a lot of drivers take it into their own hands to race, often at night.
Touge consists of three types of races:
Cat and Mouse
This is where the lead car only wins if the distance between the cars is 60M or more. The other car wins if it manages to overtake the lead car. If the leader and following car are within 21-59 meters of each other when the leader crosses the line, the round ends in a draw. If the following car bumps/crashes into the leader twice over two runs, the round goes to leader.
If the pass is wide enough for both cars, whoever is in the lead at the end of the Touge is pronounced the winner.
These are like TTs (Time Trails), where a one car is timed over the course and the other car has to try and beat it. Often in the videos whilst a car is racing, a superimposed (ghost) version of the previous car’s run is placed over the top so you can see how the current car is doing in comparison.
Check out the Drift King showing off some incredible skills: