At Japan’s first Red Bull Box Cart Race, held Oct. 11 in Odaiba, Tokyo, 78 box carts battled it out on the incline of Yumeno-obashi, competing for a grand prize of ¥1,000,000.
Not surprisingly for an energy drink, Red Bull has poured a lot of marketing dollars into the sponsorship of extreme sports and race-related events. Called Soap Box Races oversease, it would appear that wipeouts are just as important as winners. While the race judges here, led by actor Koichi Iwaki, did have to factor in course times and vehicle performance into their final scores, the event was less about white-knuckle adrenalin and more about homespun humor and creativity. In that respect, everyone was a winner.
The race was hosted by the Austrian Embassy, in commemoration of the country’s 140 years of bilateral relations with Japan. Fittingly, a lot of the competing carts were proudly flying the hinomaru and being as kawaii as they wanted to be. The Nippon posse included mobile sushi, daruma, takoyaki, rotenburo, castles and Ultraman, and the second and third prizes went to box carts based on pre-industrialization modes of Japanese transportation: the rickshaw and the palanquin.
The top prize, however, went to a sleek silver tube of toothpaste. Seeing as the fortysomething team behind it, スーパーアクリ1215, knows a thing or two about speed, you could say they had the advantage over design students and weekend hobbyists.
If it’s any consolation, we’d like to extend the Japan Pulse prize for originality and cojones to the LOST team, who stripped down to their coconut shells in the pre-race performance and drove a desert island to the finish.