Misawa Airmen wind down by speeding up

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sadie Colbert
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

There are many ways one can choose to spend their free time to recharge over the weekend. A group of Airmen took that opportunity to enjoy what they love the most—speed racing.

“I have been riding motorcycles for more than two decades but started going to the track in 2017 when a friend of mine turned me on to it,” said Master Sgt. Michael Yurco, the 35th Security Forces Squadron Echo Flight chief.

A few hours of riding through roads surrounded by green, lush scenery of Mt. Hakkoda, Yurco and a few Airmen arrived at the Aomori Speed Park, in Aomori City, Japan, May 28.

The members relished in the thrill of racing, as they engaged with a passion and hobby available in the community.

“I try to make it to the track at least twice a month,” Yurco said. “When I started out, I was certainly nervous, but there were plenty of riders who set me up for success regarding safety equipment, track protocol and so forth.”

Other members, like Capt. Phillip McCoy, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, enjoyed the mountain back-drop while freely zooming by in his vehicle, tracking how well he safely and quickly lapped the course.

“Racing gives me an opportunity to let loose and push myself to be better at the same time,” said McCoy. “I like using my car for what it was designed for, which is something I don't normally get to do on Japan’s public roads. The timing aspect of it was just to get a baseline to compare each lap so I can assess what worked and what didn't as I go around the track.”

At the track, riders went faster than 200 kph with each pass, daring each other to race quicker. As the day went on, members traveled to grab lunch together, making time to socialize and have fun being in a unique community.

“While I’m coaching a motorcycle safety fundamentals course, we plan track sessions through local social media groups and encourage on-base riders of the value of track time,” said Yurco. “Communities such as this provide comfort while exposing them to the many great opportunities Japan offers.”

McCoy said going to the track for the first time was a nice way to break up the monotonous grind of work.

“The track day benefited my resiliency,” McCoy said. “It's a nice break from the daily grind, and it's something I've never had the opportunity to do before. I find trying new things—especially adrenaline-fueled things—to be pretty fulfilling. That was a big part of the draw for me.”

Yurco said the members of the track community are always eager to welcome new riders onto the speedway course and share their passion with Misawa AB residents.

“Although Misawa can seem isolated, it is unique opportunities like this that couldn’t happen anywhere else,” Yurco stated.