The Most Notorious Street Racing Team That Ever Existed!
In the mid 1980s to late 1990s, there was a street racing team that gave life to Tokyo’s highways during the hours past midnight. There is little evidence of their existence with the exception of very few videos, photos and magazines that covered their activities. Despite the limited resources, they indeed existed. This particular racing team is known and remembered by a small minority of people who truly understand the history and original meaning behind “JDM” tuning culture. The team is known as the Midnight Club. They held a strict code of ethics in a world where street racing is known for recklessness as well a high illegality, built machines capable of reaching speeds near or beyond 200mph, and engaged in top speed endurance races on the Wangan expressway.
Like the name suggest, the team met up and raced at midnight. Meeting spots were advertised as miscellaneous services in the classified section of newspapers to avoid attention from law enforcement. If an individual found the meeting spot, it wasn’t easy to become a member of the team. The club required that members vehicles had to be able to reach a minimum speed of 160mph with 190mph being the average racing speed. However, having a fast car wasn’t enough to join. Initiates of the club went through a very demanding and lengthy recruitment process. New members were required to attend all club meetings for a full year without any absence. They also had to prove that they could race responsibly with proper driving etiquette at high rates of speed without posing a threat to other motorist or team members. These requirements made it extremely difficult for prospects join, but allowed for the team to consist of highly skilled drivers. These high standards are due to the teams strong priority for the safety of others before their own in their high risk activities and made it hard for cops to catch them. Once a part of the team, members weren’t allowed to disclose any personal information with other members or speak of the activities outside of the club.
In order to race reliability at high speeds for long duration of time without sacrificing handling capabilities, many members invested in tuning their cars above and beyond their original capacities. This was during the pinnacle of the Japanese tuning industry. Many of the cars built in the Midnight club reached engineering capabilities that were ahead of their time and still have the ability to out perform modern sports cars. To put things into perspective, modern super cars are barely starting to achieve top speeds beyond 200mph. However, modern super cars can’t maintain those speeds for long amounts of time. Nearly 20 years ago, the Midnight Club had members reaching speeds around 200mph and some above for long endurance and with great reliability. The outrageous performance of their vehicles were due to heavy modifications that included reinforced chassis, weight loss, aero kits that improve downforce, fuel cell placement, cooling systems, etc. This over engineering is what the world originally associated the term “JDM” with when magazines published stories about the team and their achievements.
Their machines were raced on the Tokyo to Yokohama express way. More commonly known as Wangan, the team are credited for being one of the reasons for giving this route its modern popularity.
All great things must come to an end. In 1999, some club members ran into a conflict with members of a Bosozoku biker gang. At some point during the night, the conflict escalated into a dangerous race that lead into a traffic zone. This event caused an accident that injured many innocent motorist and killed some of the bike members. Although the Midnight Club wasn’t directly responsible for the Bosozoku’s actions, the clubs policy for the safety of others lead the team to disband immediately and disappear forever.
Midnight Club the game derived it’s name from the actual team and uses the kanji for Wangan as homage. The club also inspired the anime series, Wangan Midnight. Two members of the club became the inspiration for Wangan Midnight’s main rivalry between the Blackbird 911 and Devil Z S30z. It is noted that the real Devil Z is a S130z, not an S30z like in the show. The Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune and Tokyo Xtreme Racer video game series are inspired depictions of the street racing conducted by the team. Although members were sworn to secrecy, some people speculate that many of the members were famous tuners. Whether it is true or not, it is assumed that Smokey Nagata of Top Secret, Ama san of Re-Amemiya and a few other tuners were members.
Scarce magazine images from the 90s Defunct Forums