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History of Suzuka


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#1 Speed Demon

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Posted 27 February 2002 - 19:22

While trawling around the Internet yesterday, I came across Suzuka's official website (http://www.suzukacircuit.co.jp/ ). Now, not reading any Japanese proved a bit of a stumbling block, but I did manage to find a history page.

I'd always thought I knew the history of Suzuka - designed by John Hugenholtz, updated in 87 etc, etc - but given that there appears to be something like a 26-page history here, I suspect I may be a little short on definitive knowledge on what is, after all, one of the most famous circuits in the world (how many Scalextric kits have been inspired by it?!)

As well as a detailed text, it does have some track maps which seem to give alternative layouts:


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So, what is the story behind these? Does anyone know or - better still - read Japanese out there? I'm dying to find out what it all means! :confused:

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#2 fines

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Posted 27 February 2002 - 20:03

That's news to me, too! And I'm supposed to be the Japan expert here... :blush: I will investigate! :cat:

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 27 February 2002 - 23:32

I would suggest that they were proposed layouts...

#4 MrAerodynamicist

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Posted 28 February 2002 - 00:48

I think they went a bit mad with the pen on top one! Surely no one could have thought it viable to build the corssover so close to a hairpin?

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#5 fndc

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Posted 28 February 2002 - 12:30

This is my mother tongue.
Let it translate into English.


progress of course design.

1.Shouwa35 years 26th August .
#Shouwa 35 =1960.
original design.

2.Shouwa36 years 16th January.
modified plan after an inspection tour of Europe

3.Shouwa36 years 29th January.
Mr. Hugenholtz advised paln.

4.Shouwa36 years 29th May.
survey map.

5.Shouwa37 years 15th January.
final result.


sorry fines!

#6 Speed Demon

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Posted 28 February 2002 - 18:22

Thanks fndc.

It's true, you really do learn something new each day! So it's fair to say that John Hugenholtz had a slightly different design in mind than stands today. But did he design the orignal scheme too? And what's the first circuit map?

There's plenty of historical detail on the Suzuka site. Any chance of a few more translations, fndc?

#7 DEVO

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Posted 28 February 2002 - 18:51

Can you imagine 2 cross overs... that would be something. Not to mention a cross over on a hairpin.

#8 fndc

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Posted 01 March 2002 - 12:42

Hi Speed Demon,

I don't know the original plan by Hogenholtz.

The first map is very first plan,which is situated on rice field(flat place).
But this plan was denied by Souichirou Honda who was a founder of
Honda Motor Company.
He said that you can't crush rice fied,because rice is very important for Japanese.
So circuit is moved on hillside.

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 March 2002 - 14:44

This is terrific information... fndc I can assure you that you are a most welcome addition to our ranks, and thanks for joining up just to answer this riddle.

#10 fines

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Posted 01 March 2002 - 16:06

Originally posted by fndc
This is my mother tongue.
Let it translate into English.


progress of course design.

1.Shouwa35 years 26th August .
#Shouwa 35 =1960.
original design.

2.Shouwa36 years 16th January.
modified plan after an inspection tour of Europe

3.Shouwa36 years 29th January.
Mr. Hugenholtz advised paln.

4.Shouwa36 years 29th May.
survey map.

5.Shouwa37 years 15th January.
final result.


sorry fines!

:wave: Hello Tooru, nice to see you finally aboard! :) :) But why apologize?

Somehow I knew the numerals would be dates, but didn't remember the Shouwa designation of Hirohito's reign. Many thanks! :up:

#11 hhh

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Posted 01 March 2002 - 21:47

:D
Ok everybody, now I have to get things straight.
My father designed Suzuka at the request of Mr. Honda.
I believe it was in 1961 that he received a telegram stating simply:"Please come to Tokio, Soichiro Honda"
My father went there and had a number of staff to help him and was given the plans of a large site and there was a 3D model of the site as well.
As there were quite a number of hills and existing roads between the rice fields, he made a design that would give the least amount of earth to be moved, including (already) the cross-over which was and is very unusual for a circuit.
However, as my father's opinion always was that a racing circuit must have a combination of different corners and challenges, a cross-over was certainly possible.

After the first sketches were made, they went to inspect the site with Mr. Honda by helicopter.
Once over the site, my father's fisrt thought was, that almost any design in that area would be impossible because of the many rice field.

And here I must correct member fndc (I'm sorry) but Mr. Honda said, "tell me where you want the track, and we'll sort it out".
So my father went back to the Honda office, made some changes and two or three days later they had another visit to the site.
Where the new track was planned, all the rice field had been buldozered away!
The local farmers had been paid off by Honda and been given another site for their rice fields.

So that may be the reason there are two or three lay-outs on their web-site attached to my father.
He went back for the opening race, which I think was won by John Miles in a Lotus 23.

I came there in 1998, racing the Viper, and was given the Royal treatment by the Suzuka Director Mr. Yamada and Mr Kawashima who worked with my father on the plans. Everybody remembered my father which made me feel very proud!

Most F1 drivers still say it is one of the best circuits around, even though the chicane has been put in and one of the real fast corners (the one before the tunnel-underpass) has been modified.

I can tell from experience that it is a fantastic challenging circuit.

John Hugenholtz

#12 Doug Nye

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Posted 01 March 2002 - 21:58

John - lovely to hear first-hand information (by proxy) if that isn;t a contradiction in terms... I think it was actually Peter Warr of Team Lotus fame who won that opening race in the Lotus 23 wasn't it? He certainly won a very early race there - the first Japanese Grand Prix perhaps? Somebody - I have no doubt - will put me right on this.

DCN

#13 hhh

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Posted 01 March 2002 - 22:08

Yes Doug, you are absolutely right it was Peter Warr, but you have to admit I was close!
It was officially called the Suzuka GP and I am sure I still have the programme for that race.
Thanks for the correction.

#14 Schummy

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Posted 01 March 2002 - 22:45

:up: Those sketches are fascinatings. and the way I see it, I think we have possibly the best configuration in the current layout (well, with Casio chicane).

The Esses appear in the last two draws, before that they were not so great IMHO. Degner curve is more exciting in the last sketch (at least I love the way it is now), but I confess I would love to see the Degner version in the very first plan. Happily we have a Degner-Hairpin section like the first and last version, what let some overtaking (intermediates sketchs have a curby section). I love the Spoon double corner in the current configuration, and possibly is better than some of the twisted versions there were. Corner 130R is definited just in the last two sketches, we are lucky for that!

I usually don't like current tracks a lot, but I think in Suzuka we have a real gem, and with those sketches I can see we have got a nice non compromised project what evolved better and better. :cool:

#15 Speed Demon

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Posted 02 March 2002 - 10:29

Well, it's certainly been worthwhile starting this thread! Not only do we now have a much clearer understanding of the evolution of Suzuka (incidentally, Degner has been modified since the last track map above, Schummy) but we've enticed two valuable new members to the forum.

Welcome aboard John. Strangely enough, I was about to email your brother, to find out more from him about the early days of the design of Suzuka - but I think you've already answered my questions!

Slightly off topic, but have you raced on any of your father's other circuits John? Jarama, Hockenheim etc? What do you think of them and how did your father get started as a circuit designer? It's not exactly a common job!

#16 fndc

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Posted 02 March 2002 - 10:54

Thank you, John.

And rice episode is on Suzuka's official site.

I have read your article on magaizne.
Do you come to Suzuka again?

#17 hhh

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Posted 03 March 2002 - 08:15

:lol:
No brother here; in Holland I have always been called Hans and abroad John, all of it is me!
This is really because my father was called the same Hans/John.
I have raced at other circuits my father designed:
Hockenheim - the stadium (which is his part) just great
Zolder - modified quite abit since the 60's but still very challenging
Nivelles - closed for a long time and now being torn down, although I visited the ruins about 4 years ago.
Jarama - don't like that one, very difficult!
Suzuka - just great.
Don't know if I'll be back racing there, I competed in the FIA GT race in 1998, but since then the FIA is mainly being run in Europe.
If you find me a nice sponsor for the Porsche SuperCup race at the GP I'll be there.

#18 Speed Demon

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Posted 03 March 2002 - 10:04

:blush:

Should have guessed that hhh meant Hans Hugenholtz! Well, there you are. You learn something new every day!

#19 Geza Sury

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Posted 04 March 2002 - 09:37

Originally posted by hhh
Nivelles - closed for a long time and now being torn down, although I visited the ruins about 4 years ago.

Can you tell me a little bit more about Nivelles? I heard, that the drivers didn't like it. Why? What happened with it after the Formula One brigade switched to Zolder and before it was torn down?

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#20 hhh

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 06:56

Nivelles as it was built, was the first part of a circuit that should have been twice as long. The problem was that the circuitowners couldn't get the complete area, or maybe the landowners raised their price when they found out that a circuit was being planned. In any case the complete plan was never executed and the circuit was a bit short, although very fast and interesting.
The racing stopped because of noise regulations from the local council, not because drivers didn't like it. During a certain period the idea was to alternate the GP between the three Belgian circuits.

#21 Geza Sury

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 18:22

Thanks for the interesting info, John! It seems to be a hopeless task, but does anyone have a drawing of the planned circuit?

#22 Schummy

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Posted 08 March 2002 - 00:20

It´s amazing to have John here with his first hand info :)

I thought Nivelles was not loved by drivers and certainly it was not by certain journalist, but I never related the track with the great designer!

Now, knowing the terrain restriction I can understand it, and it brings me another point: Jarama. I have heard Jarama's owner (R.A.C.E.) didn't want to use more area for the track because of a golf course they wanted to build, and it compromised somewhat the design. I always thought it was amusing as RACE is the "national racing autority" for Spain in FIA and Jarama was going to be the only permanent track in Spain. Can John tell something about this?

Thanks anyway :)

#23 jonpollak

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 19:01

Now that Suzuka is off the 2007 calendar I feel this thread deserves a bump.
This weekend's race may just, god forbid, be the last F1 race held there.

I went trawling over on YouTube and dredged up this little gem.

Suzuka retrospective


Jp

#24 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 15:17

Now that Suzuka is on the 2009 calendar I feel this thread deserves a bump ;) It is not nostalgic related in any way, but as I happened to be in Suzuka, TNF is more my thing, being chauvinistic and the future is the continuation of the past, I felt it suited to post some pictures of developments in Japan. Unfortunately the track area is completely closed of and photos from the Ferris wheel are the best one can do.

How it will look like in october. The new covered grandstands with spectators area.
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Impression of new pits and hospitality buildings.
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The new pit buildings under construction.
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Grandstands and hinterland in development.
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The new service tunnel.
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As the main straight is not yet resurfaced, a club circuit was used through a connection between the part before the Casio Triangle (chicane) and the Dunlop C curve. Last sunday a bike race was on.
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I was surprised about the Motopia, an amusement park on one side of the track. It is great to spend some time with a family there (introduce kids to racing). The capacitiy of it all as well as general facilities is just grand.