|Fuji International Speedway|
|Location||Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan|
|Record time||1'14.30 min. 211.203 km/h|
|Record driver||Jody Scheckter|
Fuji Speedway is a race track standing in the foothills of the Mount Fuji, in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It will host the Formula One once again in 2007 after being acquired by the Toyota Motor Corporation in 2000. Toyota has now won its bid to host a Grand Prix event, replacing the Suzuka Circuit as host to the Japanese Grand Prix in the 2007 Formula One season.
The track was originally designed to be as a 4 km (2.5 mile) high-banked superspeedway, but there was not enough money to complete the project and only one of the bankings was ever designed. Converted to a road course, the circuit opened in December of 1965 and proved to be somewhat dangerous with the banked turn regularly resulting in major accidents. A new part of track was built to counteract the problem, and the resultant 4.359 km (2.7 mi) course proved more successful. The speedway brought the first Formula 1 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 after Gilles Villeneuve was involved in a crash that killed two people on the side of the track. It would be the second and last time the Fuji circuit would host a F1 race and when Japan earned another race on the F1 schedule 10 years later, it went to Suzuka instead.
Fuji remained a popular sports car racing venue and 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 1.3 km long straightaway, one of the longest in all of motorsports.
The long pit straight also 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 track was bought by Toyota, as part of its motor racing plans for the future.
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 10 April, 2005. Toyota has now won its bid to host a Grand Prix event, replacing the Suzuka Circuit as host to the Japanese Grand Prix in the 2007 Formula One season. 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, it was built under the supervision of "Drift King" Keiichi Tsuchiya. The short course nearby is 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.
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 was thus the first circuit ever to be featured in a video game.
Fuji is also featured in Gran Turismo 4, where the circuit is available in its current (with or without the last chicane), 1974-85 and 1986-92 layouts; and in TOCA Race Driver, in its 1993-2004 layout. The circuit was neither featured in TOCA Race Driver 2 nor TOCA Race Driver 3.