The first provisional entry list for the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours world endurance race slipped out of the Suzuka PR office this week.
In some corners, the 8 Hours of Suzuka remains one of the most important races in the world. In 2015 riders like Casey Stoner, Bradley Smith, Michael van der Mark and Pol Espargaro will race the Suzuka 8 Hours.
However, as it stands now, there are zero Americans entered for the prestigious race known in Japan as “Hachi-Tai”.
Americans won the very first Suzuka 8 Hours race held, in 1978. Mike Baldwin and Wes Cooley rode a Pops Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000-based machine that year and came home with the victory.
Through the history of the race, many different US riders have won the Suzuka 8 Hours including Doug Polen, Colin Edwards II, Wayne Rainey and Scott Russell.
Held in brutal conditions, some current American riders are probably too happy to not be in Japan in late July. This is nothing new, the quote of the race, maybe for all time, can be attributed to American world champion and a man who was probably a curmudgeon before he turned 21–Eddie Lawson. In 1990, Lawson teamed with Tadahiko Taira to race the event; they won it by two laps.
Like most GP riders of the era, Lawson didn’t like four-stroke motorcycles—at the time. He came home for the ’90 race and dismissing the accomplishment almost in entirety.
He was quoted at the time, “I just kept doing laps. Later, someone said that we won it.”
This story didn’t speak to a new behavioral pattern for “Steady Eddie”. Lawson finished second at the 8 Hours in the early 1980s and famously abandoned the second place trophy in the Tokyo airport. He grew tired of carrying the gigantic beast of a trophy and left it sitting in the middle of the terminal.