Where Is Mis Speedway? [Expert Review!]

It is a sad day for motorsport as news comes out that a top notch motorcyclist has passed away. The world feels less and we can all lose a bit of our motorsport spirit. One of the greatest names in motorsport history and a true pioneer has passed away – Osamu ‘Mis’ – Mitsubishi Motorsports Club. The Japanese driver was a three time World Champion, two time Isle of Man TT Legend and a member of the Motorsport Hall of Fame. He was also the founder and first president of the International Motorcycle Racing Association (commonly known as the AMA), the forerunner to the Formula One Teams Association and the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association. He is survived by his wife, Noriko, and son Toru.

If you have followed any motorsport news in the last few decades, you will probably know who Osamu ‘Mis’ is and what an integral part he had in the growth of motorcycling as we know it. This unique brand had a profound effect on all of motorsport. So, to pay homage to him, let’s take a look back at the most iconic moments from his incredible career.

1972: The First American Motorcycle Grand Prix

It was in 1972, when the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) held their first Grand Prix event, that people began referring to it as the “Mis Grand Prix”. Although it was a one-off event, held in a temporary street circuit in Maryland, it set a precedent for future events in the country. It was a hugely significant moment for American motorcycling, as well as the sport in general. This was largely thanks to Mis’ – he had spent a large portion of his career in the country, and was very proud to represent his country in competition against the best world-class teams. The year prior to this event, the AMA had changed their name from the American Automobile Sports Association (AASA) to reflect the growth of motorcycling in the country. This event also saw the Formula Two Championship debut, with Mario Andretti – then world and European champion – taking home the gold trophy. It was a groundbreaking moment not just for America, but for motorsport as a whole. The race was watched by a record number of people, with over 100,000 attending in person and another 200,000 watching on television. This was due mainly to the fact that year was the “World Cup” season, meaning there was always something exciting happening on the world stage. It was also the part of the year when the Formula Two season ended, so there was a sense of urgency about getting the race done and over with.

1974: World Championship Wins, Part 1

In 1974, Mis – now a four-time World Champion – achieved an unprecedented feat by winning four consecutive World Championships. He achieved this in part by dominating the Daytona 500 – tying the race record with a then-astonishing winning margin of over 22 minutes. In addition to his haul of World Championship wins, he won the prestigious Daytona 500 race a record six times during his career, which helped make up for some of the pain of his earlier career setbacks. He also went on to become an integral part of what would eventually become – the American Motorsports Association (AMSA), winning the title of Driver of the Year five times. The year after this incredible run of form, Mis – who was, by this point, already an “Old Gentleman” – retired from the sport.

1976: The Return Of Mis’

It would be almost 20 years before we would see Osamu ‘Mis’ back in a competitive setting. In the 1976 season, he came out of retirement and formed a team with former teammate and fellow Japanese racer, Shigeki “Mikazu” Hirano to represent Japan in the World Sportscar Championship (WSC). The two had previously worked together to great effect in the early 1970s, and with the backing of their respective governments, Mis – with his characteristic driving style – immediately began to set the pace. The team won the very first race they entered, the 12 Hours of Sebring, in a Porsche 935. This was followed up by – what would become – one of the greatest comebacks of all time as Mis – now representing Brazil – bagged another championship in his home country. On the downside, Hirano – now driving for Germany – broke a leg in a testing session before the start of the season, ending his championship hopes. This would prove to be a major blow to the WSC as well as the sport as a whole, as Hirano was at the time widely considered the best drivers in the world. The season was also marred by the death of Mario Andretti, who passed away from cancer on May 2, 1976, before the start of the championship. However, the season did see another record-breaking performance from Mis – this time at the 24 Hours of Daytona – where he became the first person to ever lap the idyllic Florida street circuit in under seven hours. The previous record had stood for over 35 years.

Despite these setbacks, the WSC would continue to grow in importance throughout the 1970s, becoming the premier World Championship in motorcycle sport. The series was renamed the World Sportscar Championship in 1979, then the World Sportscar Championship (Super Bowl) in 1980 – as the sport began to accept more and more cars. It also attracted a wider audience in the United States, due to the country’s love of football (American football, not Japanese football!). In addition to this, the championship began attracting a far more international field of competition. In 1981, the series would even become the first ever to allow formula one-style cars, with the smaller, more nimble cars proving a great attraction to fans of the sport. Formula One stars Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet would go on to win the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1981, their first time racing against each other. It was also in 1981 that the series would see the beginning of an annual tradition, with the 24 Hours of Daytona becoming part of the World Sportscar Championship. In keeping with the “Super Bowl” nickname, the annual running of the 24 Hours of Daytona would be contested by the season’s top drivers, with the winner given the “World Championship” trophy. This tradition continues to the present day. In 1988, the World Sportscar Championship would be replaced by the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the Daytona 24 Hours becoming the season finale instead. Although it has lost some of its luster as a world-class championship, the 24 Hours of Daytona is still seen as the capstone of any serious motorsport fan’s collection.

1984: The Last American Motorcycle Grand Prix

It was 33 years after that first grand prix that we would see the last edition of the American Motorcycle Grand Prix. However, it would not be the last time the country would see the glory of Osamu ‘Mis’ – in 1984, he would capture his fifth World Championship, becoming the only person ever to win five titles in a row. The feat was all the more impressive as he began the season with a bang by winning the 24 Hours of Daytona, his first race back after retirement. This was just the start of an incredible run of form, with Mis – now representing Portugal – taking the checkered flag at the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 4 Hours of Silverstone. The championship win at the latter event would make him the first person ever to win the World Championship in four different decades! What’s more, it would see him break three World Records, including one for the most wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona (seven), the 12 Hours of Sebring (six) and the 4 Hours of Silverstone (three). The season was rounded off with a win at the World Championships in Portugal. Although the series would not continue after this year, it had made an indelible mark on motorsport. Osamu ‘Mis’ had become, in the words of one journalist, “The ultimate man of the moment”.

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