Kanjo Racers: Highly Illegal But Fun

Japan bought us the world of highly tunable turbo cars and gymkhana. They also popularised many of their insane cars in the Fast & Furious franchise, where modding your car and driving like a bat out of hell was a way of life, a culture in the same vein as skating and surfing.

I love the Japanese scene, especially drifting and touge. However, this article touches upon the highly-illegal practices that take place in Kanjo racing.

Before I compound further on the subject, the devil on my left shoulder loves the fact I’m about the praise these kamikaze Honda lunatics, whilst the angel on my right is trying to convince me these racers shouldn’t be given any page space at all.

So what is Kanjo?

Yep, the devil won.

Kanjo is a circular road in Osaka, Japan. The younger generation have taken their love for modifying their Hondas to another level by testing and racing their rides around this public highway… when it’s busy with commuting traffic.

The masked racers start at an unspecified location and hit the roads in a group as many as twenty. They will then race each other around the likes of you and I who are either shopping or commuting – personally, I’d take them up on it in my modded WRX, sticking to the speed limit of course.

Kazuhiro Furukawa pictured above believes Kanjo is the perfect place for Honda enthusiasts to go out and test their handy work. Whilst it is obviously dangerous, he also points out that it is extremely good fun.

Furukawa has been arrested numerous times and claims should he be caught again, he’d have to close up shop.

Furukawa is the president of Car Craft Boon, a place dedicated to modifying cars, mostly Hondas. He can turn your car into a show piece, a time attack racer, or a Kanjo street machine (how cool do those little Hondas look with white lettered tyres?).

I think this is amazing and would like to see it for real. The only thing that niggles me is the fact it endangers the public, but then again, do I really care? Of course not. Why?

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Honda Go All Turbo

At the sporty end of the Honda spectrum the Japanese makers have always prided themselves on their high-revving naturally aspirated Vtec engines; however, the new Civic Type R is to receive a turbo that will send 276-bhp to the front wheels.

That’s a lot, and my first thoughts were, “Can this be done, just like that?” Did Honda say, “I know, whack a turbo on  it and throw a load of extra power to the front wheels?” After all, sending massive bhp to the front wheels isn’t always a good thing – look at the under-steering Focus RS and Vectra VXR.

But then I’m no technician and don’t qualify to even comprehend such technical wizardry. I still wanted to know what they had to change to allow for not just the extra grunt, but how the grunt is applied. I own a turbo, and a turbo isn’t just extra power; when it kicks in it’s sudden and like that moment you catch a wave when paddling back to shore on a bodyboard. Suspension is obviously the main consideration, and delving a little deeper, I discovered why they decided to turbocharge an already good car.

Apparently, this quest for more power is a response to all Honda’s competitors now beating them in bhp figures. Not only that, they are being left behind in the hot FWD hatchback market. To counter this, Honda are testing this all-new Civic in Germany for ride and handling to have a crack at the Nurgburgring FWD lap record – this currently stands at 8 minutes and was set by the Renaultsport Megane 265.

To keep in touch, a naturally aspirated engine just won’t cut it, especially if displacement is to be kept below the 2.5-L range and out of the 3.0-L V6 territory. The Civic is a small hatchback, so appeals to a specific demographic – chucking a thirstier and bigger engine in it just wouldn’t do.

Honda say it’s lost the high-pitched note that comes with the high-revving old twin-cam V-TEC engine, but now offers a deeper and throatier rumble – that’s a plus in my book.

I’m quite looking forward to seeing and hearing one on the roads. I think the combination of Honda’s high-revving engine combined with a turbo is definitely going to challenge the Megane 265’s record.