A Circuit is Born
From that day forward, the Dodge vans in Japan weren’t just vans anymore. Competitors began modifying their vans to come back to the event next year with a bigger, buffer hippo to take for a spin and hopefully win what quickly became one of the most sought-after titles in the scene.
Now a full-fledged racing circuit, Dajiban hosts several events a year, culminating in an annual Grand Prix, typically held in June. For their biggest event of the year, the community rents out the Ebisu Circuit up in the Fukushima mountains. It’s a complex of five different tracks housed in one big venue.
The D-Van GP (Dodge Van Grand Prix) is a one-day event, but it’s customary to spend the night in town before and after the race. The night before is for the prep, and the night after is for the party. June is the rainiest season in the region, so track rental rates are low, and the racing can get sloppy. But that’s all a part of the fun.
“I’ve had the chance to go out for a lap in one of the vans, and let me tell you: these guys are nuts. I couldn't believe what the driver was doing with this box on wheels. I don’t think he ever hit the brakes. I was bouncing up and down in my seat, and the driver just had a huge grin on his face the whole time.”
The big GP prize at the end? A trophy, some very valuable stickers, and bragging rights until next year.