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Japan Street Racing
Street racers, known natively as hashiriya, often occur on expressways and highways, where they are known as kōsoku battle or commonly known as Roulette-zoku as they drive round and round on circular expressways and frequently occur on the Shuto Expressway in Tokyo. Japanese racers have also popularized racing along the narrow winding roads of the mountains of the country, known as Tōge.
The most notorious group to be associated with street racing was the Mid Night Club who gave street racing worldwide attention with its 300 km/h antics. It was known for its high standards and organization until they were disbanded in 1999 following a fatal accident involving a group of motorcyclists. The expressway racing scene is portrayed in the manga Wangan Midnight, as well as in the biographical (Tsuchiya) Shuto Kōsoku Trial.
With heavier punishments, patrolling police cars, crackdowns in meeting areas and the installation of speed cameras, expressway racing in Japan is not as common today as it was during the 80s and 90s. Still, it occurs on a not so regular basis. Persistent racers often install spring assisted license-plate swivelling mechanisms that hold plates down at speed or picture-proof screens over their plates. In 2001, the amount of hashiriya dropped from 9,624 (in 1995) to 4,365 and police arrests in areas where hashiriya gather are common. Cars are checked for illegal modification and if found, owners are fined and forced to remove the offending modifications.
One of the causes of street racing in Japan is that, despite the numerous and famous race circuits, they can become overcrowded. Furthermore, such circuits may cost as much as ¥20,000 to race, while a highway toll may cost less than ¥1,000.
As in other countries, street racing also occurs on long straights in industrial areas, which are used for drag races, known natively as Zero-Yon for "0-400" (meters; in America, racing to a quarter-mile, 1320 feet, or 402 meters, is the norm), Yon is Japanese for "4". This practice gave its name to a 90s popular game franchise, Zero4 Champ series.