Okinawa Motor Festival

CONTRIBUTED BY AMY MADDOCKS

Oki Motor Fest Street Jam
Oki Motor Fest Street Jam

Any motor-heads out there? Enjoy watching car or motorcycle racing? Or perhaps you want something a little different to do on a weekend? If so, the Okinawa Motor Festival is a fantastic event for you!

Since moving to the island last summer, I have greatly missed my home-town demolition derby’s and races we used to go to, so this event piqued my interest. Therefore, my husband and I packed up the car and headed up north to Yukari Field (by the bullfighting ring) to see what it was all about.

Oki Motor Fest car line
Oki Motor Fest car line

Needless to say, we were both pleasantly surprised by the event and how much fun it was! There were many different cars competing, along with motorcycle races as well. After the time trials—which were awesome, by-the-way—everyone was allowed to walk down to the pits to get an up close look at the cars, their engines, and talk to their drivers (if you speak Japanese!).

Oki Motor Fest D
Oki Motor Fest D

Another highlight of the day was watching the drifting. A certain part of the competition was actually judged on the angle, speed, show factor, and amount of smoke—the more smoke the better! The smell of burning rubber on asphalt always gets my heart racing, as it would any motor enthusiast, and there was plenty of that to be had!

Oki Motor Fest Car
Oki Motor Fest Car

Basically, anyone who enjoys racing or for those looking to do something a little different one afternoon, I highly recommend you try to catch the next race. They host them each year in January, April, July, September, and December, with time trials and rehearsals on the first day and the final races on the second day.  JapanUpdate ran a specific article about the January event here. I have also heard that many Okinawan racers who want to practice the sport spend many weekends at the same track, honing their skills. I have not seen this myself, but a few people at the event told me you can usually go to the same place as the event on a good weather weekend and expect to see at least a few drivers practicing some pretty cool drifting.

Oki Motor Fest Motorcycles
Oki Motor Fest Motorcycles

A few words of advice: the track is not set up for spectators to be comfortable! We came unprepared and ended up standing to watch the races for a few hours (although we stood by one curve of the track that had the cars racing past us only a few yards away—so I’m NOT complaining!). I recommend you bring strollers for the little ones and folding chairs for the rest of the family. There were plenty of places to put chairs up and lots of room for standing, but no bleachers or seats. Most people preferred to stand so they could snap photos and film, but there were plenty of places to put chairs up. There is plenty of parking space but plan on walking a bit to get to the actual event if you arrive late. We came late and only stayed a few hours and there was still plenty of parking, but more people were piling in on our way out. Last year they had over 2,300 spectators over the weekend and I expect there were more this year.

Oki Motor Fest Food
Oki Motor Fest Food

There were several food and drink vendors set up with your typical festival food—ranging from corn dogs & French fries to Soba and sweets (bring Yen for food & drink purchases). There are also bathroom facilities available to use but you will need to go up the hill and through the bullfighting ring to find them (there were no signs pointing the way—we luckily found a staff member that spoke English). If you go in the front doors of the bull fighting ring, turn to your left and walk to the back of the arena, the bathrooms will be along the back wall. Also, if you plan on staying the whole day there will be some down time while waiting for different events to clear the track. There was about a one hour wait (perfect time for some festival goodies) after the car races while they set up jumps for the motorcycle events. We didn’t have little ones with us but noticed that the kids all seemed to have a blast during the event and there was plenty of space for them to run around.

Oki Motor Fest Cycle Race
Oki Motor Fest Cycle Race
Oki Motor Fest Jump
Oki Motor Fest Jump

Cost:  Adults = 1000 yen or 15 dollars (this entry fee will get you admittance to BOTH days’ events, and entry into a raffle for prizes), Children = 800 yen

Hours:  9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day (arrive early for the best racing!)

Yearly Events in: January, April, July, September, and December 

Directions: Drive north on Hwy 58 (or take the express) almost to Nago. A few minutes before you enter the city, take a right onto Hwy 329. Follow 329 across the island and turn left at the Futami traffic light, then immediately right (there were parking attendants to guide you at this point). If you are coming from the east side of the island, drive north on Hwy 329 past Camp Schwab and the entrance to Futami bypass tunnel, then turn right at the traffic light (same light as above).

37 COMMENTS

  1. Amy,
    My brother is a marine at camp kinser, him and a few buddies of his are wanting to go watch the races or drifting in general around the area and I was curious if you could possibly give me a few ideas of where they could go to watch drifting around Okinawa. Sadly I did not find out about okinawa Motor Festival soon enough, I saw they had there final races on December 8th and 9th (If they even happened at all) from the site Japan Update. Please and Thank You for any information or help you could give me.
    -Kristina

  2. This event is still looking for sponsorship, so I don’t believe any races are being held. However, I did find out that many weekends you can go to the same location to watch drivers practicing their drifting. If anything changes, I will post it here. If anyone hears of anything, let us know!

  3. Editor’s Note: Due to technical difficulties this comment was not saved on our server. We are re-publishing it now to continue the conversation on this post.

    From Jennifer on 9/17/13:
    “Do you know of any events in Sept or Oct?”

  4. Are there any events to go and, spectate for August, September and, October? I have been without smell of rubber, fuel and, beautiful cars. Except seeing the occasional subaru legacy B4.

  5. As far as I know, this operation has been temporarily suspended, and the organizers are currently looking for new sponsors. I will keep checking with them to find out when/if that happens, and I will post the results here when I can. I’m sorry I don’t have better information for you! If you want to check for yourselves, Japan Update has their contact information and can point you in the right direction.

  6. I found out these races are still going on, but are being sponsored by a different company. I have yet to find out which company (to find out dates), so if any of you find out, post it here!

  7. Also, I bought your book Too Precious for Earth and sent it to a friend who lost her baby at birth. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  8. Will people in the Air Force get in trouble if spotted at this event? I know they have stuff other than drifting but drifting is illegal. We really would like to go but not sure if it’s worth getting in trouble over.

    • Jorden, when we went in January over half of the spectators were Americans. I’m assuming since this is a controlled event, put on by sponsors, part of a series that travels throughout Okinawa and mainland, and safely maintained by the event sponsors, that it isn’t on the “banned” places currently. It may be different when they are practicing on weekends, but during the actual races when the sponsors are there I can’t see it being a problem. I have never heard of watching drifting as being illegal, but I’m also not an expert. If you find out differently, I’d like to know!

      • Thank you so much for your information! I don’t think it would be a problem. Especially considering drifting is not the only activity taking place at this event. I’ll keep an eye and ear out but if I don’t hear anything, we’re going. My husband LOVES LOVES LOVES cars and so do all of his friends and their just dying to go to this event! Thanks again!

        • No problem, Jorden! I asked around a bit and found out that drifting on public roads IS illegal (especially if you are participating), but watching a sponsored, controlled event isn’t. I’ll keep checking into it to make sure and get back to everyone if I find out differently. Have fun!

  9. Since we left last year, has the Air Force lifted their ban on attending drift events at the bull ring? We sure hope so! It was a ridiculous rule.

    • Gregg…it isn’t listed on the current bulletin of banned places/events. Let’s hope they don’t change their minds, because I can’t understand why it wouldn’t be allowed!

  10. Whups, just realized the Japan Update article doesn’t list the July dates. They will be on the 28th and 29th as well. When you go to your first event you’ll get a flyer that lists the dates for the whole year. If you speak Japanese, the event phone number is 098-935-3755. Hope this helps!

  11. Jessica, Jenny is right; the big event is on the 28th/29th this month. For the other dates you can click on the link in my article for Japan Update. They have each date listed for the rest of the year. Have fun!

  12. Thank you Thank you Thank you for posting this! Our family THRIVES on this stuff. But I’m also curious on how to find out the dates for the upcoming festivals?

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