There are many types of safari. Apart from the web browser there are surfing safaris and safari holidays in Africa where one can stare at wild animals all day. But Japan surely holds the coolest safari there is – particularly if you are a motorsport fan!
In Super GT the first practice session of every weekend includes a few more vehicles than are on the entry list, as busses make an appearance on the circuit. These coaches are booked out weeks in advance, and become quickly packed with fans. Those lucky enough to get a ride get driven around the circuit at low speed while a huge variety of cars blast past being driven flat out. It is as brilliant an experience as it is a brilliant idea, and it is explained very well in this video from NISMO TV:
Such an experience is available thanks to a mixture of a large fan base, some realistic thinking and a willingness to fill out forms that seemingly is confined only to Japanese motorsport. Realistically, little can go wrong. If a racing driver can’t spot an enormous bus trundling around the circuit, they probably aren’t fit to race in the first place. Even then a collision between the two wouldn’t be likely to result in injuries. The heavy bus would ‘ win’ the battle of which vehicle was damaged more while the cars are built like a brick. It would be ignorant and dangerous to say that nothing could go wrong, but if done correctly the circuit safari is far from an instant recipe for disaster.
It is a shame that we don’t see this anywhere else. Thailand, which hosts the foreign Super GT round is the only other country where you can find such a brilliant quirk. At the same time though it gives Super GT a unique selling point, and it reflects the controlled insanity of Japanese motorsport. But then again, who doesn’t love the idea of going side by side with an F1 car up eau rouge while sitting in any old standard coach bus that you would take to work. Maybe Libery Media buying F1 could help the cause!
In the mean time though, you may have to shell out on a trip to Japan. It will be worth the money just for these 2 brilliant laps of madness.
Photo courtesy of Toyota