Osaka Stories (Part 2 of ???)

It is three in the morning, and the port of Osaka is alive with the sound of street races.
The crowd is sparse for a Saturday night, perhaps because of the rumor of a police raid. As with all the other recent crackdowns, they will round up any spectators as well as racers, and accuse everyone of racing. This may seem ironic since most of the spectators show up in normal cars and minivans, a stark contrast with the ultra-customized rice rockets tearing up the race strip, but Japanese cops have the art of coercion down well – most innocent people will sooner confess to a misdemeanor and pay a fine rather than spend a night in a holding cell, no matter how cozy they may be (holding cells in Japan are reportedly clean and sometimes even carpeted).
For now though, there is no police presence and chaos reigns on the strip. The strip is a kilometer long, starting at the end of the shipping docks, leading through the security gate (which somebody has slid open and disabled) down to a four way intersection that has been turned into an ad-hoc drift pad. The racers start at the intersection, race to the end of the docks, tug on their parking brakes for a quick 180, race back to the intersection and pull long drifting turns right. Tonight is more of a practice night for local racing gangs, so there is no defined finish line. There are also no spotters or safety precautions in place like there would be for a competition, which is why we almost died coming here…
We had been driving around the area in T’s jeep looking for something to do when a white Toyota Crown came out of nowhere and almost fishboned us, then took off toward the (then) new ATC building. We followed, intending to pull the fools from the car and lay down the hurt, when we came upon the races. Intrigued, we parked a ways away and walked toward the sound of revving engines and squealing tires.
When we got there, the Crown we had followed was just lining up for a start. It took off down the docks, did an impressive 180 for a big sedan, and came back our way. As it turned right at the intersection, the front tire failed and it slammed into the guardrail at high speed, sending showers of sparks in the air and ripping off a door panel. Impressive performance, even though the Crown was the only normal car being raced that night. It stood out from the crowd of flashy RX-7s, riced-out GTOs, and elite hakogata Skylines, much as we college students did from the hardcore drivers observing from the sidelines.
We stood behind the guardrails, sipping on warm cans of cheap imported beer (Belgen Brau, around 160 yen at Lawson compared to cans of Kirin/Asahi at 250; these were the days before the happoshu boom) to wash the scent of burnt rubber and brakes down, and the cops never came.
It was one of the coolest nights I had ever spent in Japan, and we were eager to return at some point in the future, when we could afford the gas money and tolls from Nara again. Alas, it was not to be. T took some girl on a date to the ATC building a couple months later, and they happened upon a horrific sight – a man who had just hung himself and was dangling on the outside of the building. T swore never to return to that area, and the police cracked down on the races in that area hard, so they ceased to exist.
Related link: Osaka Stories (part 1 of ???)
I should note that Part 1 has become quite a popular link in the blogosphere, for all the wrong reasons. Some shithead comment spammer included a link for that page in his spams, presumably in an attempt to pollute blacklists with innocent domains. Take a look at the comments for that thread – it just ain’t right.

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