02. What Is Touge?

akagi

Touge (峠, tōge) word literally meaning “pass.” It refers to a mountain pass or any of the narrow, winding roads that can be found in and around the mountains of Japan and other geographically similar areas on every part of our lovely globe.

Pronounced Toe-Gei

Placing a series of turns or bends in the steep roads that provide access to and from the high elevations of the mountains was intended to be a safety measure, usually to prevent commuters from reaching unstable speeds or creating excessive wear on the vehicles associated with them. It is therefore ironic that these same passes have become popular with street racers and motorsport enthusiasts in the last two decades, providing a dangerous and therefore challenging course where nightly competitions are not unheard of.

racing
For touge racing team battling, a race has two stages — an uphill and a downhill battle. One car leads the race during the uphill stage, with the second car leading the downhill. Because most touge races feature narrow tracks, overtaking is extremely difficult and is sometimes impossible.

The aim of touge is not to ‘drift’, it’s more to a ‘grip driving’ and aiming to be the fastest on a particular stretch of road. Drifting can be used to block the chaser or as a part of a driving strategy, but touge is traditionally focused on grip. During the race , the lead car wins if the space between the cars increases considerably, while the following car wins if the gap between them stays the same, decreases from start to finish or the following car overtakes the lead car. If any car spins out or crashes, the other one wins the race.

The word ‘Drift’ has been used commonly for competitions such as D1 Championship and etc. and it is merely for an FR cars only.

Touge races start illegally when one car attempts to overtake another and the car in front will not let the car behind pass and speeds up. Also, in night races, the car behind will flash its headlights and the lead car will then speed up to begin the race.

misconceptions
Stemming from this surge in popularity, the term has been pirated and misused by overzealous enthusiasts (often incorrectly as a verb) to erroneously describe almost any event involving street racing, even when there are no mountain passes involved.

Another common mistake is the association of drifting with touge, implying at times that the words share a common definition. While drift is considered a style or form of driving, touge does not necessarily have any binding relationship to motorsports.

touge in media
Touge racing’s notoriety outside of Japan can be attributed partially to entertainment media such as Initial D (originally manga, and later anime, and in 2005, live action under the Chinese title Tau Man Ji D) and, to a lesser extent, the recent American film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

The racing video game Need For Speed Carbon has the “Canyon Duel” which is for all intents and purposes a touge race, except that both stages are done downhill, and a system of “points” is used for clarification.

Touge racing is also popularized in many DVD magazines in Japan and America, now that “drifting” has become accepted by the mainstream, though there may or may not be drifting involved!

the unwritten rules of the touge
For all of you who are interested and kinda new to Touge, here are a few things to keep in mind while traversing through the turns. You regulars… lay off the newbies… sooner or later WE ALL LEARN. What should be understood here, is that in general these are things that will make touge fun and safe for EVERYONE…

1. NEVER publicly announce a spot you going to do battle.
You do not want the police on your tail OR too many people up there just watching and hanging out. Too many drivers and people at a mountain run at one time is dangerous and attracts the wrong attention.

2. NO DOUBLE LANING/CROSSING INTO THE OTHER LANE!!
It’s very dangerous to do this for obvious reasons. Almost every turn is a blind one on the touge. No matter what conditions you are driving in on the touge there will be blind spots and unknowing drivers around. Most drivers are not expecting to see cars in their lane coming at them head on and neither should you.

3. Know your limits… AND STAY WITHIN THEM!!!
Drive at about 70% (some of you may know the term 7 tenths) of your ability, you must leave room for error. Pushing yourself over the edge may not be too far from reality if you get yourself into a situation you can’t handle.

4. No passing!!! Unless they yield to you in the turnout…
Touge roads are usually public, with that in mind there may be people that live in these areas, some are cruising and others prefer to drive on their own at their own pace… be respectful of the other people on the touge.

5. Leave plenty of room between cars when in a group.
This should be obvious to most of you. You cannot compensate for another driver’s mistake. It takes us approximately 3/4’s of a second to react to something that happens on the road. If you are traveling at high speed that automatically decreases… which will usually result in damage and someone’s life!!! And don’t forget almost every turn on the touge is a blind one.

6. Make your touge group as small as possible.
This gives less attention to you and why you are there. Keeping this in mind the other rules can be easily followed especially leaving enough room between cars.

7. No need to break any moving violations on the way to the touge.
You’re going to have fun in the mountains already… just save it for the touge.

8. Scope out the spot before you start your touge session.
Only on those occasions when you’re cruising should you ignore this… but then some of us “CRUISE” faster than others!!! But Drift or Grip, whatever your session may involve, you should always check out the run. You never know what to expect around each turn on the touge.

9. Watch out for wildlife!!
Deer, Cat, Dog and other animals are unpredictable, not to mention tree branches, bushes and tumbleweeds. Deer, and Dogs are especially unpredictable… look out for animals they cause just as much if not more damage than an incident with a car. At least care for your front bumper or lips…

10. Do not take your ego to the touge.
There will always be someone faster than you… unless you’re TAKUMI of Initial D, But if the person behind you is faster… pull over and let him/her pass.

11. Stay alert, don’t have things around that will distract you on your runs.
Loud music, nagging girl friends or pussy boy friends may cause you to panic or become distracted. Touge sessions require a lot of concentration.

12. Check your equipment before you go. ie, tires, pressure, alignment, brakes, etc.
There is almost no room for error on the touge. If you must go driving on shitty equipment, then drive with even more room for error (5-6 tenths)

13. Look as far ahead of you as possible.
Your body subconciously follows what your mind (eyes) tell it to do, or go in this case. Just think about walking. You don’t look left and walk straight. Try it.

some things you might want to bring along to touge:
+ Tools
+ Jack
+ Flashlight/Floodlights(s)
+ Rope
+ Zipties
+ Duct Tape
+ Cell Phone
+ Walkie Talkies

You may think you will not need these things, but in case of an accident they can be VERY helpful!!!

Happy driving on touge’s everyone..!!

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