Fun in the Sun: The 2024 Oarai Sun Beach Sand Flat’s race, shot on film

The 2024 Oarai Sun Beach Sand Flat's race
Marc Holstein might be German, but he’s a massive fan of Japanese culture—and an even bigger fan of Japan’s spellbinding motorcycle scene. The ace photographer splits his time between Frankfurt and Tokyo, is a regular face at the uber-popular Mooneyes show, and has been behind the workshop doors of some of Japan’s most enigmatic custom builders.

Marc’s latest adventure took him two hours northeast of Tokyo, to the picture-perfect coastal town of Oarai for the annual Oarai Sun Beach Sand Flat’s race weekend.

Now in its second year, the Oarai Sun Beach Sand Flat’s event is a throwback to the American beach racing of the 1940s. A couple of hundred vintage bikes and cars descend upon the sunny beach town for the weekend, kicking up sand and flirting with the Pacific surf on a 1/10th-mile track, while scores of spectators cheer them on.

The emphasis is on style; capturing the atmosphere of the heyday of beach racing. But even though the vehicles and competitors look like they just stepped out of a time capsule, the vintage vibe does little to dull their competitive edge.

“Unlike some events I’ve seen in Europe that tend to focus more on the show, this one was all about serious racing and beating the competition,” Marc tells us. “The level of skill and speed among the participants was truly impressive, and it was inspiring to see a significant number of female riders taking part too.”

“Among the standout personalities at the event was Kazuo Fukada from the family-owned Buddy Customs cycle shop in Yokohama. Both he and his son Kosuke are renowned for their speed on the track and their expertise in building Harley Davidson engines. Kazuo’s daughter Mizuki not only races but also excels in creative graphic design and did a fantastic job as the flag girl.”

“Another remarkable rider who caught my attention was Atsushi ‘Sushi’ Yasui, fearlessly speeding through various classes and creating stiff competition, particularly in the ’45’ class finals where he was ultimately bested by Kazuo. Sushi also heads the Freewheelers company, known for their cutting-edge leather jackets and clothing.”

“Overall, it was a beautiful event filled with wonderful people, and I was delighted to meet and interact with everyone there.”

Appropriately, Marc shot almost everything at the Oarai Sun Beach Sand Flat’s weekend on Kodak Gold 200 film (save for the high-speed panning shots, which were taken with his digital rig). We’ve selected 34 of his best images for your perusal—so top up your glass, flip through the galleries on this page, and start planning your next trip to Oarai.

Images by, and with special thanks to, Marc Holstein.

The 2024 Oarai Sun Beach Sand Flat's race