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Fuji, October 1987 Tom Walther's accident

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#1 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 25 December 2020 - 16:02

Tom Walther, one of the leading Canadian Superbike racers of the mid-1980s lost his life on 23 October 1987 in a multi-rider practice crash for a Japanese domestic round at Mt. Fuji. 
Four other Japanese riders were seriously injured in the crash. According to a source, one of them suffered head injuries that caused his death, four days later. The name of this other victim is still unknown.
Can someone confirm this second fatality? Any more details? bio notes? the name of the deceased?
Thanks in advance.


#2 ChiliFan

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Posted 26 December 2020 - 22:14

This was in Friday practice for the Fuji Super Sprint '87, an international non-championship meeting featuring most of the top GP riders. Tom was competing in the TT-F1 class made up of 750cc production superbikes like he raced in Canada, and according to Motoracing-Japan (https://www.motoraci...r/r1987_ps.html) there was a full grid of 40 starters, so I expect more than that number were on track in practice. An account in Canadian paper The Province says one rider's engine blew on a flat-out right-hander just over a crest and five more fell on the dropped oil, the last of whom was Tom. Seems like it all happened too fast for the flags to be shown, although one account (http://motorsportmem...hp?db=ms&n=4186) says fog was a factor. Footage of Friday practice in the TV broadcast (https://youtu.be/w5ccwpUbzVo) shows good conditions but the TT-F1 practice may have been early in the morning. Conditions on Saturday and Sunday were appalling - the TT-F1 race was stopped early and the 500cc and 250cc were cancelled. The broadcast ends with a statement about Friday's crash:


Roughly translated, it says:


October 23, 1987 Super Sprint '87

Fell and were killed during official practice:

Tom Walther (Canada)

Shusei Onaga

May both riders rest in peace.


Shusei may also be translated as Syuusei and Onaga as Konaga. I found two references to him racing in 1985, one of which lists him as 27 years old (http://panzer01v.php...uzuka4hf3a.html) so he would have been 29 or 30 at the time of his death. The January 1988 issue of Riding Sport magazine has a short article which I am transcribing at the moment and will post later.

Edited by ChiliFan, 26 December 2020 - 22:15.

#3 ChiliFan

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Posted 26 December 2020 - 23:56

From Riding Sport n.60 (January 1988):



Again very loosely translated:


At the Super Sprint held at Fuji Speedway from October 23rd to 25th, an accident occurred in which Canadian entrant Tom Walther and Shusei Onaga were killed. The location was a high-speed corner known as the B corner of Fuji Speedway.
During TT-F1 official practice on October 23, Nao Ikeda's machine hit trouble approaching this corner, and he went off the track and fell while blowing oil on the course. The oil flag was waved immediately, but the following riders, Tom Walther, Yoshihisa Hasegawa, Masafumi Matsumi, and Hideo Asano, fell on the oil one after another. Tom Walther was killed almost instantly. In addition, Onaga whose whole body was struck hard was taken to hospital, but he passed away later. Ikeda had a bruise on his face, Hasegawa had a bruise on his right wrist joint, and Matsumi had a broken left leg.
If anyone here speaks Japanese, better translations would be appreciated.

Edited by ChiliFan, 27 December 2020 - 15:52.

#4 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 30 December 2020 - 17:04

Great job ChiliFan, thank you!