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Fuji Speedway

From Academic Kids

Fuji Speedway (Japan) is a former Formula One race track that stands in the foothills of the majestic peak.

The track was designed to be as a 2 1/2 mile high-banked super-speedway, 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 2.7 mile 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 would win the race.

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 race 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 championship 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 coner, the second at the entry to the very long, very fast final turn. But even with these changes the main feature of the track remained its 1.3km long straightaway, one of the longest in all of motorsports. The track continues to be used for Japanese national races but plans to host a CART event in the late 1990s 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 is now making a bid to wrest the Japanese Grand Prix away from Suzuka.

The Fuji circuit is well known to fans of the game Pole Position, as cars raced on the circuit in the popular coin-op.

See also: List of Formula One circuits

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