(LAST UPDATED: November 8, 2011) - multiple edits, including adding more content
Japan's premier racing series is Super GT. It is a great combination of intense and dramatic racing with the appeal and charm of traditional sportscar racing. The cars that compete in this series are all silhouette racing machines purpose built for racing. The premier class is GT500, featuring cars packing no more than 500 horsepower. The lower class is GT300, featuring cars packing no more than 300 horsepower. To keep the competition close, success ballast is added to dominating cars to make them heavier. What gives this series its appeal is the intense and dramatic racing, not to mention Japan's beautiful Race Queens. They race on Japan's toughest racing facilities as well as have a round or two outside of Japan. This blog post is about perhaps the finest racing series in the Asia-Pacific except the Australian V8 Supercar Series and besides Formula Nippon- Super GT.
PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is about Super GT as in the racing series formerly known as the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC).
--- A Look at Super GT ---The series now known as Super GT was born the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC) in 1993. The first championship year was a year later and with two classes of racing- GT1 and GT2. The current alignment of GT500 and GT300 was born in 1996. The final year of JGTC in the 2004 season. Since 2005, Super GT has taken over.
Through its time, the Super GT Championship has been heralded for its intense racing and its drama. Each race (which some Japanese like to call as "hot-go races") is sort of a sprint race and an endurance race in one. Two-driver teams compete with the intent of taking home the victory for the race weekend. The series usually runs anywhere between 7 to 10 races a season. To ensure a level playing field, penalty weight is added to cars based on winning performances. Weight is added to your car for the next race if you do very well in the current race. This can play some serious games with your car and its driving character. Like in any sportscar race, driver changes need to be made through the race. The wild popularity of Super GT includes more than just racing. In fact, the series is famous for the Race Queens (or "Lace Queens" as some Japanese pronounce). As you might imagine, some of the Race Queens can be even more popular than the racing action!
So there is something for everyone to enjoy in Super GT.
Cars and Racing.Many people were introduced to the realm of Super GT through the Gran Turismo series. There has been at least one Super GT car in every major GT title since GT's inception. If you want to go on Gran Turismo, then Super GT cars are told to be very fast and capable. I still somewhat found that hard to believe considering series like the FIA GT1 World Championship.
This video below is your preview of what Super GT is all about with Round 1 of the 2010 season at Suzuka (hope you understand Japanese! :D):
Cool, huh? ;)
Tracks.The championship is contested all across Japan with the exception of Malaysia's Sepang Circuit. Japan has some challenging courses. Classic courses like Suzuka and Fuji are raced by Super GT. Other tracks include Okayama (formerly T.I. Circuit Aida), Sugo, Autopolis, and Motegi on the 2010 calendar. Past tracks include venues like Tokaichi, Mine, Nakayama, and Sendai Hi-Land among others.
In 2004, a one-off All-Star race at California Superspeedway (nowadays known as Auto Club Speedway) in Fontana, California, USA in an event called GT Live! It featured all the cars and stars of Super GT racing under the lights at California Superspeedway. The winning teams were as follows:
• The winners of the JGTC All-Star 200 was the G'Zox NSX (driven by the tandem of T. Kaneishi and E. Comas) in GT500. The GT300 winner was the M-Tec NSX (driven by the tandem of T. Yamano, H. Yagi, and H. Kurosawa), which finished 6th overall.
• The winners of the JGTC All-Star Sprint Race was the PIAA NSX GT500 team, driven by the tandem of T. Matsuda and Andre Lotterer. The GT300 winners was the ARTA Garaiya (driven by the tandem of M. Nitta and S. Takagi), and they finished 6th overall.
Past and Present Super GT/JGTC Racers.I can not recall a whole lot of Super GT racers right away. I will name a few of them just to give you an idea as to who races in this series and who used to race in this series:
• Ukyo Katayama
• Keiichi Tsuchiya (yes, the drift god himself)
• Juichi Wakisaka
• Benoit Treluyer
• Michael Krumm
• Ralf Schumacher
• Go Mifune
• Kunehiro Amemiya (or "Amemiya-San")
• Andre Loetterer
• Pedro de la Rosa
• Érik Comas
• Satoru Nakajima
Please note- I named as many drivers off the top of my head as far as racers in this series (past and present) are concerned. The majority of champions in this series are Japanese. Among the various champions in all classes of competition...
• ...only one champion was Australian (David Brabham, 1996 - GT500).
• ...only one champion was Danish (John Nielsen, 1996 - GT500).
• ...only one champion was Spanish (Pedro de la Rosa, 1997 - GT500).
• ...only one champion was British (Richard Lyons, 2004 - GT500).
• ...only one champion was Irish (Ralph Firman, 2007 - GT500).
The only other one-time or multiple-time, non-Japanese champions include: Érik Comas (France), Michael Krumm (Germany), André Lotterer (Germany), Benoît Tréluyer (France), and Loïc Duval (France).
Past and Present Super GT/JGTC Cars and Teams.This is another top-of-my-head list of teams past and present. These are either teams or teams plus the car being raced. The majority of
--- Toyota/Tom's ---
^ from: forum-auto.com - the Castrol Supra may be the most popular JGTC/Super GT car ever, especially for you Gran Turismo types. The Castrol Supra was the first to take down the dominating Skylines in the (then) JGTC for the championship in 1997.
Supras have long been the car of choice for Toyota in this series. Now, their car is the Lexus SC430 (which I believe is the Toyota Soarer in Japan).
• Castrol Tom's Supra
• Denso SARD Supra
• Esso Ultraflow Supra
• WoodOne Tom's Supra
• Toyota Corolla Axio
• Petronas Lexus SC430
• Autobacs MR-S
• Kraft Trueno
• Wedssport Celica
--- Nissan/NISMO ---
^ from: gtplanet.net, by way of www58.tok2.com - Skylines/GT-R's have long been the weapon of choice for Nissan/NISMO teams in Super GT. The Pennzoil GT-R team won the 1999 (then) JGTC championship in the GT500 class.
Nissan keeps plugging away with their Skylines/GT-R's. They did change from the GT-R to the 350Z as the latest GT-R was still in the works. Their latest GT500 weapon is the R35 GT-R.
• Motul/Pitwork Z
• Calsonic GT-R
• Xanavi GT-R
• Xanavi Silvia
• Pennzoil Zexel GT-R
• Loctite Zexel GT-R
• Kure GT-R
--- Honda/Mugen-Dome ---
^ from: www.raybrig.gr.jp (best I could find) - Before being replaced by the HSV-010, the NSX was long Honda/MUGEN/Dome's car for Super GT battle.
The NSX was showing its age, and it has lasted for some time in Super GT. A newer model of the NSX race car was unveiled starting in 2003. The performance advantage was so great that the NSX'es had to have these snorkel air restrictors on them. It took away from the beauty of the 2003-ish NSX'es, but they were still plenty capable. The HSV-010 is Honda's latest and current weapon in the Super GT races.
• Raybrig NSX
• Mobil 1 Nakajima NSX
• Castrol Mugen NSX
--- Other Makes (no specific order) ---
Various other makes comprise the many cars that have raced in Super GT. Besides the major three makes in GT500, there are other car companies represented, including cars from the aforementioned makes above. Every car company from other Japanese makes to American and European makes have competed in GT500 and/or GT300. Even the almighty McLaren F1 has raced in Super GT.
^ from: mitsuru-1029.cocolog-nifty.com - If you can believe it, a Porsche 962C even raced in this series!
^ from: bimmer.jp - Team Lark won the GT500 championship in 1996. The championship-winning drivers of this team were David Braham and John Nielsen.
• Taisan Starcard Porsche 962C
• Lark McLaren
• Yellow Corn McLaren
• Dentaire Projet Racing Ferrari 360 Modena
• RE Amemiya ASPARADRINK RX-7
• STP Taisan Dodge Viper GTS-R
• ARTA ASL Garaiya
• Vemac 350R
• Mooncraft Shiden
• NOMAD Lamborghini Diabo GT1
• CUSCO Subaru Impreza
• Taeivon Trampio Mitsubishi FTO (one of few front-wheel drive cars to EVER race in this series. Maybe even the ONLY FWD car ever to race in this series)
So you can say this series has had an entire mess of cars race in this series. Here's something interesting I read on Wikipedia about the GT500 cars. There was an FIA GT1-spec Maserati MC12 that tested against GT500 cars. The GT500 cars were faster than the Maserati MC12. Part of the reason why Super GT's GT500 cars are faster than FIA GT1-spec cars is because of the aerodynamic regulations in Super GT.
--- How I Discovered Super GT ---Two words- Gran Turismo. It began with Gran Turismo games, then continued with an edition of Road and Track magazine which highlighted a little more on Super GT. Of course, when I got into the series, it was known as the JGTC. JGTC stands for the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship. Those were the good old times when the GT500 competition was the Toyota/Tom's Supra, Nissan/NISMO R34 Skyline, and the Mugen/Dome NSX. Rounds of Super GT (then as JGTC) were aired on Speed Channel in 2002 and 2003 as part of a television package called "On the Limit." Then when GT Live! raced at California Superspeedway (now Auto Club Speedway) for the Super GT All-Star Race in 2004, Speed Channel had a one-hour show featuring the Super GT All-Star Race as well as some drifting. G4TV featured an episode of "Street Fury" that had some more highlights of the Super GT All-Star Race that year. Of course, this was before "Street Fury" had that watered-down series of episodes a few years later.
Now that I've gotten your attention, I want to share a little more with you!
--- What If: Super GT... Interregional and International Racing? ---It will likely never happen that Super GT will shy away from its native Japanese audience. However, what if the series did some regional or international racing stops? Here are some dream non-Japanese schedules:
Dream Venues: Interregional.This would be a lineup of races outside of Japan, but within its region, the Asia-Pacific. I have included some American venues in case the series would ever want to visit the United States again. So here is a list of races I think would make for great interregional racing in Super GT:
• Korean International Circuit - it would be a great track to host this level of racing.
• Shanghai - I don't think this series has EVER raced in China. But if it did, this wouldn't be a bad stop.
• Zhuhai - not as glamourous as the Shanghai circuit, but still a tough one.
• Buddh International Circuit - if the series wanted to go further inward in Asia, the new Indian F1 course wouldn't make a bad place to visit.
• Dubai Autodrome - before the fancy Yas Marina Circuit, the UAE has this tough track.
• Yas Marina Circuit - the very glamourous and interesting UAE track in Abu Dhabi.
• Sentul Circuit - Indonesia's only major racing facility.
• Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - one of America's most formidable race tracks.
• Portland International Raceway - the challenging carbon neutral race course in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
• Eastern Creek Raceway - the only track in Australia that I think would be the best to host Super GT. The longshot would be if Albert Park was made to host Super GT in addition to other events.
Dream Venues: International.Yeah, that's right- international tour! What if Super GT competed around the world? This would be a dream schedule I have for a world tour. This is not so much:
• (all venues from the previous section)
• Silverstone (with Arena section) - the home of motor racing for decades in Great Britain would be a great Super GT venue.
• Eurospeedway Lausitz (road course) - Europe's only proper speedway features one of the most intense infield road courses.
• Circuit Paul Ricard - both a race track and a work of art, this French course is very unique.
• Catalunya - Spain's formidable racing facility since its opening in 1991.
• Nürburgring (Grand Prix course) - Germany's premier race track would nicely suit Super GT [on the Grand Prix course and not the super-long 24-hour course].
• Mantorp Park - this Swedish race track boasts a competitive road course along with a very fast backstretch.
• Monza - the long-time high-speed playground some distance away from beautiful Milan.
• Istanbul Park - this Turkish race track has a great overall rhythm to it.
• Kyalami - this track in South Africa would be a great challenge for Super GT cars to contest racing on.
• Virginia International Raceway - the restored classic road course in southern Virginia, USA makes for a very tough racing challenge.
• New Jersey Motorsports Park - this track in southern New Jersey and mostly serving the Philadelphia area is a huge racing challenge.
• Barber Motorsports Park - a road racing gem in the American Southeast makes for some great action in Alabama.
• Road America - this track in Wisconsin boasts a four+ mile configuration that would be a great challenge for Super GT.
• Mid-Ohio - always a tough order to race this technical course in central Ohio.
• Circuit of the Americas - the new track in the Austin, TX, USA area will play host to Formula 1, MotoGP, and even the Australian V8 Supercar Series. Now imagine if Super GT wanted to try this track out too.
• Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez - former home of the F1 Mexican Grand Prix, this track still remains a big time challenge. A good blend of high speed
• Interlagos - perhaps the finest racing facility not only in Brazil, but in all of South America.
It would be great seeing these cars expand their boundaries a bit more like the DTM does. The DTM is German, but they've raced across Europe.
--- Race Queens of Super GT ---
^ from: speedhunters.com - Super GT's Race Queens can be more popular than any of the racing!
Essentially the walking and living billboards of racing, Super GT is best known for their Race Queens apart from the dramatic and competitive racing. Their outfits vary by team and by style. Many Race Queens wear these belly-baring tops and mini skirts along with either pumps, sandals, or boots (usually platforms). Some wear hot pants as part of their outfit. Some outfits are mini dresses. You may also see things like one-piece swimsuits or flared leg warmers as part of their outfits. Regardless, the goals of Race Queens are to promote the team she represents and promote the company/companies they represent. They are eye-catching beauties Most Race Queens take on other roles outside of being Race Queens. Some, for example, get into modeling and acting among other things.
No one collection of people help promote and expose Super GT quite like the Race Queens of Super GT. Japan has many beautiful women, and none more beautiful than a Race Queen.
IN CASE YOU'RE INTERESTED: If you want a deeper blog post regarding Race Queens (and other Grid Girls), visit my blog post called "Grid Girls" here on John's Blog Space!
The 2010 season has concluded back last month. Congratulations to the 2010 champions:
--- 2010 Super GT GT500 Champions ---
DRIVERS' CHAMPIONS: Takashi Kogure and Loic Duval (#18 weider Honda Racing - Honda weider HSV-010)
TEAM CHAMPIONS: #18 Weider Honda Racing
--- 2010 Super GT GT300 Champions ---
DRIVERS' CHAMPIONS: Kazuki Hoshino and Masataka Yanagida (#3 Hasemi Motor Sport - Nissan Tomica Z)
TEAM CHAMPIONS: #3 Hasemi Motor Sport
This blog post, for the most part, is over. Time for links! Learn more about Super GT by checking out these links:
• Super GT Official (Japanese)
• Super GT Official (English)
• Super GT on Facebook
That's all for Super GT. Not too many ways online to connect to them. I don't think they are too social. You can get social with ME, however! :) And here are a few ways to do so:
Become a Fan (or Like) my Facebook Fan Page and subscribe this blog (and my others) via FeedBurner (or any other aggregator in the sidebar)! Visit (or subscribe):
• Subscribe to John's Blog Space!
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