We’ll be the first to say that Japan has come up with some terrifying weird things (panty vending machines, anyone?), but every once and a while, there is some absolute genius coming from the Land of the Rising Sun that cannot be refuted. And no, we’re not talking about drifting. Rather, in addition to Japan’s love affair with the automobile, a budding race series caught our attention: the D-Van Grand Prix.
The annual race held at the Ebisu Circuit is exclusively held for heavily customized Dodge vans. And as you can imagine, these family wagons are anything but what Chrysler intended 20-30 years ago. Rather, stripped interiors, super-sticky track rubber, Brembo brakes over cross-drilled rotors, heavy-duty automatic transmissions and built Magnum 360s are all par for the course.
Birthed from some midday shenanigans, D-Van Grand Prix organizer Takuro Abe was first at a track event held for a motorcycle racing school. Eyeing the vans used to haul the bikes around, Abe pondered how they’d fare on the track. So, together with a friend, the two took the Dodges through the circuit during a lunch break. Despite the rule that large cars weren’t allowed, the big vans suddenly became a fan favorite.
Surprisingly enough, the big D-Vans are surprisingly spry particularly considering their bulk. Laying low on sportier suspension with large sway bars, the Dodges prove their salt enough for the series to draw in nearly a 100 participants, with the numbers increasing year after year. If you’ve ever doubted Dodge’s versatility, you’ve gotta watch this: