Our friend, Guzzi nerd and sometime contributor Andrew Gray sent a link to this intriguing clip.
It shows two Suzuki superbikes (they could be 600s, but I'm pretty sure they're 1000s), two supermotos and one AutoRace grasshopper, probably a Suzuki or Kawasaki
600 single, start on three different lines of a very widely spaced grid. Who is your money on?
They're racing on a banked, tarmac Autorace (Oto Resu) course in Japan. The sport of Autorace was featured in Sideburn 2, and it is designed purely for betting and only the strangely asymmetrical grasshopper bikes compete. It is the Japanese equivalent of greyhound racing. As we understand it, the riders are career professionals, it's their job and they're reasonably well paid for it, but, while they're on racing duty, live almost militaristic existences, with added religious ceremonies, isolated from the outside world, in an effort to avoid race fixing temptations or pressures.
This reminder of Autorace sent us on a YouTube hunt, where we found this video of a ceremony, where, we presume, they are handing out the numbers for the days racing. It could also be a graduation ceremony (I love finding something so new that it hasn't been covered to death and there are still tons of question marks). This goes some way to making sure one particular rider is not given one particular machine, but it looks easy enough to fix. Interestingly, and I didn't know this previously, riders are a mix of male and female.
One of those grasshopper bikes was up on UK eBay a few years ago, when I was feeling slightly more Buddhist about my bike ownership and I didn't bid on it. I'm going to spend the rest of my day kicking myself for this uncharacteristic failure to submit to my base weaknesses and just buy the useless machine.