DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While winning at Daytona International Speedway is the dream of motorcycle riders around the world, for some, simply getting the opportunity to race at famed “World Center of Racing” is a thrill of a lifetime.
In their second year racing during Daytona 200 Week by Honda, native Japanese riders Katutoshi Ishigami, Yasuo Arai, and Shingo Saeki swept the podium spots in the Vintage Superbike Heavyweight division race on the first day of AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) on Monday at DIS.
For the Japanese riders, racing at Daytona isn’t so much about the winning or the losing as it is about racing on “holy ground.”
Vintage racing, especially motorcycles from the 1980’s era, is rapidly becoming popular in Japan. Ishigami, Arai, and Saeki decided to make a pilgrimage to Daytona and race their vintage bikes on the storied track.
Ishigami described the opportunity of racing at DIS as simply “fantastic – Japan has nothing like this.”
Ishigami won Monday’s Vintage Superbike Heavyweight race on a 10-year-old Kawasaki that he assembled himself. Ishigami services the bike himself and says that, “every year, I change a little something.”
In fact, most of the riders in the Japanese group ride their competition bikes daily through the streets of Japan and use them as their primary means of transportation.
The 2008 Daytona 200 Week By Honda marked the Japanese rider’s first trip to Daytona’s high banks and the group repeated their journey of over 10,000 miles in 2009 in order to relive the experience.
The Japanese racing group has no official sponsors and pay for all of their expenses out of their own pockets, including the cost of shipping their 1980 vintage motorcycles from Japan to Daytona Beach – a journey that takes over a month.
Despite these financial strains, the group will continue to come back to Daytona as long as they can afford it.
AHRMA Days continue on Tuesday. For more information and tickets for Daytona 200 Week By Honda events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.
Monday’s AHRMA Results:
200 GP: 1. Dennis Poneleit, 1968 Honda; Pre-40: Alex McLean, 1937 Norton; 350 GP: 1. David Roper; Open Two-Stroke: 1. Thomas Fournier, 2004 TZ; Sound of Thunder: 1. Brad Hendry, 2008 Ducati; Formula Vintage: 1. Alexander van Dijk, 1970 CR; Formula 750: 1. Tim Joyce; Sportsman 750: 1. Michael Dixon, 1980 Yamaha; Sportsman 350: 1. Bob Demetrius, 1972 Honda; 500 Premier: 1. Tim Joyce, 1962 Norton; Formula 500: 1. Ralph Hudson, 1970 Suzuki TR-500; Formula 250: 1. James Pooler, 1974 Can Am; Production Heavyweight: 1. Tony Read, 1973 Triumph; Sportsman 500: 1. Will Harding, 1956 BSA; Vint. Superbike Light: 1. Ed Milich, 1980 MotoGuzzi; Super Mono 2: 1. Jim Hoogerhyde, Honda; Open GP: 1. Robert Simpson, 1979 Yamaha; Motard: Reggie Barnsdale; BOT Formula 2: 1. Robert McLendon II; Classic 60’s 650: 1. Charles Skarsaune, 1967 Triumph; 350 GP: 1. David Roper, 1970 HD Sprint; Bears: 1. Doug Macrae, 1972 Norton; Classic 60’s: 1. Keith Williams, 1966 Manx Norton; Vint. Superbike Middle: 1. Ed Milch, 1980 Ducati; 250 GP: 1. Paul Germain, 1968 Yamaha; Class C – Foot: 1. Alex McLean, 1937 Norton; Class C – Hand: 1. Tim Droege, 1939 HD WLD; Formula 125: 1. Bion St. Bernard, 1971 Bridgestone; Production Lightweight: 1. Flori Gruenwald, 1972 Honda; BOT Formula 1: 1. Jonathan Glaefke; BOT Formula 3: 1. Robert McLendoon III; Super Mono: 1. Manabu Sato, 1998 Yamaha; SOS Two-Stroke: 1. Alex McLean, Honda RS 125; Transatlantic Challenge: 1. Jonah Wasserman, 2004 Triumph Thruxston; Vint. Superbike Heavy: 1. Katutoshi Ishigami, 1977 Kawasaki.