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Whether you have watched anime shows like Initial D or are an avid fan of the Best Motoring videos that you can currently find all over YouTube, you’re probably familiar with touge racing. But what exactly is touge racing?

What does touge mean?

A mountain pass similar to ones used for touge racing
A mountain pass similar to ones used for touge racing | Wikimedia Commons

The word “touge” is the Japanese word for “pass.” More specifically, the word refers to a mountain pass or a narrow, winding roadway found in the mountains of Japan or anywhere else in the world, reports Kansei. But the word “touge” also has a double meaning when it comes to the actual type of racing.

When it comes to touge racing, there are typically two cars involved; one leads while the other follows. If the lead car pulls away, then that driver wins. But if the chase car is able to keep up with the lead car, then they change positions and do the run again. If the chase car passes the lead car and doesn’t get passed for the remainder of the race, then the chase car wins.

During a touge race, the objective isn’t for the cars to drift around the corners. However, Kansei notes that the lead car will sometimes drift around corners in an attempt to block the chase car. In either case, participating in a touge race can increase a driver’s skill exponentially. Katsuhiro Ueo, the 2002 D1 champion, once told the editors at MotorTrend:

“When I first began drifting at Touge, I learned a number of techniques that would have taken months to accomplish if I were to practice on any sanctioned track. For example, at Touge there is no room for error and I believe that is one factor that will force a driver to not only improve his skills but also become aware of his or her surroundings.”

Touge races don’t always take place on mountain roads

While touge racing is traditionally conducted on twisty mountain roads, there are some sanctioned touge events held in various parts of the world on racetracks. One example is Touge Battle held by Aggressive Line Event in the Philippines. This outfit holds various touge events at a racetrack and touts more safety in a controlled environment versus being out on the streets.

Is touge racing illegal?

Two cars race at the Nürburgring
Two cars race at the Nürburgring. | (Photo by Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Yes, at least on public roads. Many police departments are on the lookout for any type of racing going, so you better believe that certain mountain roads are being monitored from time to time. Fortunately, that’s why legal touge runs do exist, but they are mainly held on normal race tracks.

You can technically use any type of car for a touge race, however, most racers will use popular platforms like a Nissan 240sx, Nissan Skyline, Honda S2000, or a Toyota MR2. At least those are the most popular cars that you’ll find in the Japanese Best Motoring videos.

Either way, if you want to experience touge racing first hand, then you can find out if there are any events at a racetrack near you. If that doesn’t work, then you might be able to find some racers on your local mountain road as well, however, we don’t condone illegal street racing. Stay safe and keep it on the track!


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