Fuji Speedway (????????? Fuji Sup?dowei?) is a motorsport race track standing in the foothills of Mount Fuji, in Oyama, Sunt? District, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It was built in the early 1960s and hosted the first Formula One race in Japan in 1976. In the 1980s, Fuji Speedway was used for the FIA World Sportscar Championship and national racing. Originally managed by Mitsubishi Estate Co., Fuji Speedway was acquired by Toyota Motor Corporation in 2000. The circuit hosted the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in 2007, after an absence of 30 years, replacing the Suzuka Circuit, owned by Honda. After Fuji Speedway hosted the 2008 race, the Japanese Grand Prix returned to Suzuka for the 2009-onward races. Fuji Speedway is known for having one of the longest straights in motorsport tracks, at 1.5 km (0.93 mi) in length.
196379: F1 launches in Japan
Fuji Speedway Corporation was established in 1963, as Japan NASCAR Corporation. At first, the circuit was planned to hold NASCAR-style races in Japan. Therefore, the track was originally designed to be a 4 km (2.5 mi) high-banked superspeedway, but there was not enough money to complete the project and thus only one of the bankings was ever designed. Mitsubishi Estate Co. invested in the circuit and took the management right on October 1965.
Converted to a road course, the circuit opened in December 1965 and proved to be somewhat dangerous with the banked turn (named "Daiichi") regularly resulting in major accidents. Vic Elford recalls:
"In 1969 I spent two months in Japan doing a test contract for Toyota and their Toyota 7 (5 litre V-8), which along with a big Nissan (6.3 litre V-12), was destined for CanAm. My last testing and then the subsequent Sports Car GP were at Fuji, but the track was run in a clockwise direction. The reason that banking was so horrific, was that at the end of the straight we went over a blind crest at around 190/200 mph and dropped into the banking. At other tracks (Daytona, Monthlery, etc.) you climb up the banking. One of the results was that although there were many brave Japanese drivers there were not too many with great skill and the death toll from that one corner was horrendous. To such an extent that the big Gp 7 cars were then banned in Japan and thus, neither Nissan or Toyota ever made it to CanAm."
After a double fatal accident in 1974 on the Daiichi banking where drivers Hiroshi Kazato and Seiichi Suzuki were both killed in a fiery accident that injured 6 other people, a new part of track was built to counteract the problem, and the resultant 4.359 km (2.709 mi) course which also eliminated 5 other fast corners proved more successful. In 1966, the track hosted a USAC Indy Car non-championship race, won by Jackie Stewart. The track had a 24-hour race in 1967.
The speedway brought the first Formula One race to Japan at the end of the 1976 season. The race had a dramatic World Championship battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, and in awful rainy conditions, Hunt earned enough points to win the title. Mario Andretti won the race, with Lauda withdrawing due to the dangerous conditions.
There was less celebration after the second race in 1977 as Gilles Villeneuve was involved in a crash that killed two spectators on the side of the track, leading to Formula One leaving the speedway. When Japan earned another race on the F1 schedule ten years later, it went to Suzuka instead. F1 didn't return to Fuji until 2007.
19802000: National racing venue
Fuji Speedway former layouts: Red 19651974, Blue 1975-1985, Green 19862004
The abandoned "30° Bank" of the old track
Fuji remained a popular sports car racing venue and FIA World Sportscar Championship visited the track between 19821988 and it was often used for national races. Speeds continued to be very high, and two chicanes were added to the track, one just past the first hairpin corner, the second at the entry to the very long, very fast final turn (300R). But even with these changes the main feature of the track remained its approximately 1.5 km (0.93 mi) long straight, one of the longest in all of motorsports.
The long pit straight has also been utilised for drag racing. NHRA exhibitions were run in 1989, and in 1993 Shirley Muldowney ran a 5.30 on the quarter-mile strip at Fuji. Local drag races are common on the circuit.
The track continues to be used for Japanese national races, but plans to host a CART event in 1991 were abandoned and it was not until the autumn of 2000 that the majority of the stocks of the track was bought by Toyota from Mitsubishi Estate, as part of its motor racing plans for the future.
On May 3, 1998 there was a serious multi-car crash during a parade lap before a JGTC race. The cause was a pace car going twice over the recommended speed in torrential rain. Ferrari driver Tetsuya Ota suffered serious burns over his entire body after being trapped in his car for almost 90 seconds. Porsche driver Tomohiko Sunako fractured his right leg. For further information see 1998 JGTC Fuji incident.
In 2003 the circuit was closed down to accommodate a major reprofiling of the track, using a new design from Hermann Tilke. The track was reopened on April 10, 2005. The circuit hosted its first Formula One championship event in 29 years on September 30, 2007. In circumstances similar to Fuji's first Grand Prix in 1976, the race was run in heavy rain and mist and the first 19 laps were run under the safety car, in a race won by Lewis Hamilton.
Rebuilt grandstand in the 2000s
The circuit has always hosted the NISMO Festival for historic Nissan racers, since the takeover and refurbishment in 2003, the event took place at TI Circuit. When the festival returned in 2005, the organisers allowed the circuit owner to bring in their Toyota 7 CanAm racer to re-enact the old Japanese GP battle. Toyota also hosts its own historic event a week before the NISMO festival called Toyota Motorsports Festival. Close to the circuit is a drifting course, which was built as part of the refurbishment under the supervision of "Drift King" Keiichi Tsuchiya. The short course nearby was built under the supervision of former works driver and Super GT team manager Masanori Sekiya and there is a Toyota Safety Education Center, a mini circuit. In addition to motorsports, Fuji also hosts the Udo Music Festival.
The only time the circuit is run on a reverse direction is during the D1 Grand Prix round as Keiichi Tsuchiya felt the new layout meant reduced entry speed, making it less suitable for drifting. The series has hosted its rounds since 2003, with the exception of the 2004 closure, the circuit became the first to take place on an international level racetrack and the first of the three to take place on an F1 circuit. The course starts from the 300R section, slide through the hairpin, then through 100R and ends past the Coca Cola curve. With the reprofiling, as cars no longer run downbank, entry speeds have since been reduced, the hill at the exit making acceleration difficult. As part of the 2003 renovations, most of the old banked section of track was demolished. Only a small section remains to this day.
Following both poor ticket sales and even worse weather it was decided by FOM that the FIA Japanese Grand Prix would be shared between Fuji Speedway and Suzuka on alternate years with Suzuka holding the next race on Sunday, October 4, 2009. After the global recession and its own operational deficit, Toyota decided to discontinue the hosting of Japanese Grand Prix since 2010.
Main gate of the circuit
Category Record Driver Car Date
WSC 1:10.02 Germany Stefan Bellof Porsche 956 October 1, 1983
Formula One 1:12.23 United States Mario Andretti Lotus 78-Ford October 22, 1977
Formula Two 1:12.62 United Kingdom Geoff Lees March 832-Honda/Mugen August 14, 1983
JSPC 1:14.088 Japan Kazuyoshi Hoshino Nissan R92CP May 2, 1992
Formula Two 1:18.31 Japan Satoru Nakajima March 842-Honda/Mugen April 15, 1984
Fuji Grand Champion Series 1:21.800 Japan Masanori Sekiya March 89GC Mugen October 29, 1989
WTCC 1:39.249 Germany Klaus Ludwig Ford Sierra RS500 November 15, 1987
Formula 3000 1:14.854 Japan Takuya Kurosawa Lola T92/50 April 10, 1993
Formula Nippon 1:15.304 Japan Kazuyoshi Hoshino Lola T96/52 October 19, 1996
Le Mans Prototype 1:16.349 Japan Ukyo Katayama Toyota GT-One TS020 November 6, 1999
JGTC (GT500) 1:23.886 Japan Yuji Tachikawa Toyota Supra May 3, 2003
Formula Three 1:26.344 Japan Tatsuya Kataoka Dallara F302 Toyota April 6, 2003
JTCC (Group A) 1:31.131 Japan Kazuyoshi Hoshino Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 October 31, 1993
JGTC (GT300) 1:31.356 Japan Suga Ichijo Mosler MT900R May 3, 2003
JTCC (Super Touring) 1:33.035 Japan Naoki Hattori Honda Accord November 1, 1997
Super Taikyu 1:35.173 Japan Kasuya Shunji Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 November 7, 1998
Formula One 1:17.287 Brazil Felipe Massa Ferrari F2008 October 11, 2008
Formula Nippon 1:25.525 France Benoît Tréluyer Lola FN06-Toyota March 31, 2007
Le Mans Prototype 1 1:27.499 Japan Kazuki Nakajima Toyota TS030 October 13, 2012
Le Mans Prototype 2 1:32.367 France Stéphane Sarrazin HPD ARX-03b October 13, 2012
Super GT (GT500) 1:32.481 Italy Ronnie Quintarelli Nissan GT-R April 30, 2011
JLMC (LMP1) 1:33.117 Japan Shinsuke Yamazaki Zytek 04S June 2, 2007
Formula Three 1:35.173 Japan Kazuya Oshima Dallara F306-Toyota March 3, 2007
LMGTE Pro 1:40.289 Germany Marc Lieb Porsche 997 GT3-RSR October 13, 2012
Super GT (GT300) 1:40.682 Japan Haruki Kurosawa Honda NSX May 3, 2005
Super Taikyu (ST-1) 1:46.304 Japan Masataka Yanagida BMW Z4 Coupé August 4, 2007
The new corners
This is the official listing of the new twelve corners. Only some corners have Japanese names, most of which are a result of sponsorship agreements. The rest are named after the radius of the corner in meters.
The fifth corner
First Corner 27R
Coca Cola Corner 80R
Hairpin Corner 30R
Dunlop Corner 15R
Netz Corner 25R
Panasonic Corner 12R
The Dunlop corner differs with the configuration used. In the full configuration, it consists of a tight right hairpin turn followed by a left-right flick. In the GT course it is a medium speed right-hander, bypassing turns 11 and 12.
Fuji Speedway in videogames
The Fuji circuit is well known to fans of the arcade racing game Pole Position, as cars raced on the circuit in the popular loop. Fuji Speedway (renamed "Namco Circuit" in the Namco Museum ports and "Blue Speedway" in Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade) was thus the first circuit ever to be featured in a video game.
Fuji is also featured in Top Gear, TOCA Race Driver, Gran Turismo 4, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo 6. For F1 Challenge '99'02, Grand Prix Legends, rFactor, GTR - FIA GT Racing Game 2, GT Legends and RACE 07 - The Official WTCC Game the track is available as free downloadable add-on.
Fuji Speedway in television
The Fuji circuit is featured prominently in the Japanese television drama Engine as the main setting for the racing scenes, as well as the home of the (fictional) "Regulus Cup". The track was also featured in an episode of the 11th season of the British automotive show Top Gear in which host Jeremy Clarkson takes a Nissan GT-R through its paces.
20072008 Japanese Grand Prix
Main articles: 2007 Japanese Grand Prix and 2008 Japanese Grand Prix
During the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, Fuji Speedway met with a lot of problems such as the paralysis of the transportation network provided by the shuttle buses, poor facilities including some reserved seats without a view, lack of organization, and expensive meals that meant a simple lunch-box was sold for 10,000 yen (US$87) at the circuit.
Newspaper accounts of the event also alleged problems with Toyota bias and control. During the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, the circuit prohibited the spectators from setting up the flags and banners to support the teams and drivers, with the exception of the Toyota F1 team whose owner also owned the circuit. Therefore, there were very few flags and banners in the event compared with other Grand Prix events.
For the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix race, organizers responded to lessons learned the previous year by reducing the total number of spectators allowed at the event. Compared to 140,000 persons allowed for Sunday events in 2007, attendance was restricted to 110,000. Additionally, walkways and spectator facilities were improved, along with larger screens. However, the race was also affected by rainy weather, which has historically interfered in a number of past races at the circuit, and later in 2013, led to interference with a 6-hour endurance race at the track for the FIA World Endurance Championship. Källa: Wikipedia.