I am compelled to say that Suzuka Circuit is beyond my expectation. Many would think that this circuit is for motorheads. Partially true in a sense. Many circuits worldwide do not really get much better or more iconic than Suzuka! This circuit is, yes, family themed.
As you might have read earlier in my previous posts, Suzuka Circuit comes with a theme park, Motopia and also a Racing Theatre that allows visitors to understand the fundamentals and objectives of motorsports.
Let me start with my first experience in Racing Theatre. It is a sort of education centre for the public and it houses motorbike technologies from A to Z that has been developed over the past fifty years. With that comes experience and wisdom. So, if anyone has any technical queries, they are more than happy to oblige.
I was told to be at the Racing Theatre mid day as there would be some breathtaking stunts to be performed by some professional Japanese riders. It was the closest I’d ever been to a Moto Trial performance. What a thrill! These riders performed their stunts with complete ease. Wow! Amazingly, these trials riders could hold their bikes upright even when their bikes were stationary and performing some “rodeo-like” stunts as though their bikes were weightless.
After the performance, I entered the Racing Theatre’s hall. I was greeted with a host of racing bike collections stored neatly in see- through cubicles and an actual Formula 1 car hanging on the wall. The fully air-conditioned hall was a great relief from the killing heat outside.
While patiently waiting in line at the information counter to enter the Main Theatre, I can’t help but noticed the wall was actually decorated with helmets of the legends, past and present. One was Lewis Hamilton’s, Mick Doohan’s, Kevin Schwantz and many others. Moving forward, there was a section called “Waiting Garage” where pit crew’s tools were prominently on display. This resembled the pits during an actual race. Expensive tools were on display so visitors could really have a feel of how it looked like during a race. How I wish this is my garage! (Please bear with a not-so-clear picture as nobody was allowed to take any pictures in this section. But for reader’s sake, I did it quietly).
My turn finally came to enter. The Main Theatre is actually a 4D experience theatre. It has a total of sixty seats and four seats reserved for wheelchair bound visitors. It is a huge racing simulator that gives visitors the feel from a Formula 1 driver eyes, complete with air and water splashing. The only thing missing is the G-Force. Here again, no photography allowed but I somehow managed to snap away, albeit stealthily. Opsie!
After getting splashed and dripping wet in the Main Theatre, I walked to the ‘Discover Motorsports’ section. This section allows visitors to try their hands on some simulators that focused mainly on racer’s lightning speed judgement, kinetic vision and technology. A total of 14 types of experiences but I only had time to try a few.
There is a wind tunnel here to let visitors feel how it is like to ride on a bike at 300 km per hour on a bike. Visitors would get a chance to test their response on leaning, flipping and pedal acceleration and response on the bike.
Moving on, we arrived at the last section of Racing Theatre. The “Legends of Suzuka” section. Here they have Ayrton Senna’s actual 1990 McLaren MP4/5B Formula 1 machine, striped down Wayne Gardner and Michael Doohan’s 1990 Honda RVF750, striped down Nine World Champion Valentino Rossi’s Honda RC211V and Takashi Kogure’s Honda HSV-010 GT.
Right next to the theatre, there stood the iconic Suzuka Circuit’s Ferris wheel. It is safe to say that this Ferris wheel is the tallest structure in the entire mie prefecture. Again, I was challenged to ride in it, scaring myself with its majestic height and hopefully I won’t soil myself while riding it.
On the Ferris wheel, one will be able to have a bird’s eye view of the entire circuit – a clear view of the circuit paddock, main straight, grandstand and the final turn and of course, Motopia. There is also a go-kart track where Lewis Hamilton had his training there. Just before I reached the highest point of the wheel, I witnessed a pit walk session and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the number of people queuing up to take the opportunity to get up close to the Suzuka 8Hours racers!
After getting off from the passenger’s cabin and not soiling myself, it was time to take a trip down memory lane, reminiscing my younger days at theme parks. In this case, the Motopia.
Motopia is located adjacent to the circuit. Technically, it is across the road but one need not worry because there is a tunnel to lead you safely across. Again, if you read my previous posts, a Motopia ticket is compulsory for every visitor as one will need to walk across Motopia in order to gain access into the circuit.
Aqua Adventure, a waterpark , in Motopia is opened during summer only; Baito Adventure Village, has a famous swing ride named Power Ring; Pipira’s Moto Field, where kids can ride pocket bike safely as the floor and walls are padded; Puto’s Mobipark, where kids and parents can ride together on hand powered rides and many more.
Some of the attractions…
Last but not least, the souvenirs. All over Motopia and Circuit there are plenty of souvenir shops. As it was a trials and free practice day, it was the best time to shop because during race day, the circuit would be sardine-packed! I bought myself some Suzuka Circuit souvenirs before everyone else does so I could focus on the race during race day the following day.
The souvenirs shops at Motopia….