When did buggy racing first start in Japan? The inaugural JMRCA sponsored Japan 1/8 Class Buggy Championships was officially recorded in 1973. However, not many people still remember the days of "grass-track" races where the pioneers of buggy racing first started. Various opinion indicates that before the first Japan National Championship, two or three proper race events had already been held.
According to Mr. Naohiko Otsuki, the creator of the Kyosho Dash 1 - the first "Made in Japan" RC car (refer 1st installment), before RC buggies were seen in Japan, he had seen pictures of Italian buggies in foreign magazines. But the drive system from the engine consisted of a primitive round belt and these machines did not appear well constructed.
At that time, off-road buggy racing was very popular even in the realm of full-sized cars. In 1970, the year of the World Expo in Osaka, a limited release of 100 Daihatsu Fellow 360cc buggies went on sale. This added a new stimulus, and the success of the Kyosho Dash 1 triggered the development of RC buggies in Japan.
After the Dash 1, Mr. Otsuki created the first Kyosho RC buggy in 1972: the Dash 3 DUNE BUGGY. However, shortly before the Dash 3 was released, the Ishimasa Rat Buggy was on the market. Mr. Takahashi (President of Ishimasa), created a unique brand from his combined stonemasonry business in Himonya Meguro (inner Tokyo). This is thought to be the first "Japanese" RC buggy, and featured an ambitious assortment of components: front wheel strut suspension; split rear axle and a layout faithful to the full-sized VW buggy.
At a time with nothing to use as a guide, Mr. Otsuki is full of praise for Ishimasa's (his one-time rival) originality.
Soon after the Ishimasa, the Kyosho DUNE BUGGY was released. However, as it was a modified version of the Dash 3 on-road racer, it couldn't really be called a true buggy. Without front/rear suspension, a buggy body was simply mounted on a rigid chassis for a relatively unsophisticated result.
Even while RC buggies were being born, buggy racing activity was developing. The simple designs provided a wide range of opportunities for dedicated racers to modify the machines which added another aspect to the growing fascination with buggies.
The first race was held in 1972 at the Tamagawa Ground in Kawasaki. People looking for chance to race their machines got together and did just that: this was the very beginning of buggy racing. The race was basically a two-make race with the Ishimasa RAT against the Kyosho DUNE. The sophisticated RAT looked to get an early advantage versus the simply constructed DUNE, however the DUNE's durability ensured its recovery in the later half of the race.
At the time, racers were able to modify many components in their machines, so a 10 car race, would inevitably feature 10 different cars. At this time, Mr. Otsuki says he gathered an amazing depth of knowledge from these pioneers of buggy racing, when it was just beginning. This was the era of experimentation.
Sometime after the Tamagawa race, another buggy race scene started in Kakio, Yokohama. Club CPRT sponsored the event held in an open lot at the back of Touin Gukuen. Many people would still remember this race series which ran over a long period and was held up to once every two months.
Then in 1973 at the Sagamiko Picnic Land, the first 1/8 class Buggy Championship was held. This saw the duel between the RAT and the DUNE expanded into a three-way challenge with the entrance of a new player: the Seki Mokei CAT.
The CAT BUGGY, created by the president of Seki Mokei (of Setagaya, Tokyo), was the most advanced design of the day and pioneer of double-wishbone suspension. The CAT was very fast and very popular, but suffered durability problems. With so many hand-made components, production costs were high and the CAT was sometimes referred to as the "Bolt Monster", aspects which would be considered more valuable now than they were back then.
The Sagamiko Picnic Land saw epic battles between the DUNE and the CAT BUGGY. Lateral weakness in its double-wishbone and bouncing from its low rings resulted in frequent rollovers. Mr. Otsuki noted this and shortly after, the Kyosho buggy was using a trailing link.
The Kyosho DUNE BUGGY showed its first evolutionary leap in 1973~4. The Racing Buggy RX100 had improved durability and lighter weight, which was improved even further with the Dx Chassis Kit to set a new performance benchmark. Spike tires mounted on the rear wheels made a huge impact and when Mr. Otsuki thinks back to the risky decision to invest in molds to produce spike tires, it was definitely the right choice.
The inspiration for spike tires came from one of the early fanatical buggy racers. The outside of the thread pattern on the rear tires on this racer's Ishimasa RAT BUGGY were cut off and replaced with small pieces of rubber fixed with super-glue. At this point, Mr. Otsuki realized that spike tires would improve lateral resistance.
The Kyosho Dx chassis which included spike tires, had much improved straight running performance and also handled uneven surfaces better. Due to its light weight, it also produced more speed. After the Dx Chassis Kit, Kyosho accelerated its development for improving durability and speed which led to an extended period of unrivaled performance. The next thing, both the RAT BUGGY and the CAT BUGGY had disappeared.
After this the market was flooded with new RC cars when manufacturers rushed into the fast growing hobby. Kyosho won the right to continue through these turbulent days of the "RC car wars" with its circuit buggy. Kyosho developed the double trailing-arm circuit buggy and became the leading brand in the engine powered buggy category.
Kyosho's development continued apace with the 4WD Land Jump 4D through to the Inferno 4WD, winning the World Championships, for the last six times running.
Genealogy of Kyosho Off-Road racing Models
|Genealogy of Kyosho Off-Road racing Models|