ghosts of fuji speedway
Nowadays motorsport becomes so safe that sometimes it’s even boring to watch it. But it was quite different couple decades ago.
Terrible crashes, blood and death – that was the real history of motorsport.
James Hunt knew a lot about that. “There's a lie that all drivers tell themselves. Death is something that happens to other people, and that's how you find the courage to get in the car in the first place. The closer you are to death the more alive you feel”, - he said.
And that’s the way it really was. LeMans, Nurburgring, Monza and others were collecting driver’s lives. And do not forget American NASCAR: they still have a lot of fatal incidents. But that just increased the amount of fans: every boy dreamed to become a racer, every girl dreamed to be with a racer.
Nascar was very popular in Japan in the early 60-ties. And that was one of the reasons to build a new speedway for NASCAR near Fuji mountain. There was enough budget to build first 30 degrees banking, but then money were over and the popularity of NASCAR in Japan was over too. It was decided to change the configuration of the track and combine banking with traditional circuit.
The new configuration hosted the races more then 10 years, several Grand Prix were hold there but it was decided to rebuilt the track after a number of serious crashes
The innovation resulted in an unique racing circuit with a long and wide straight finished into a rapid banking and then numerous chicanes followed one by another. This configuration hosted F1 Grand Prix of Japan until 1977.
The Formula one architect Herman Tilke had reconstructed the circuit for the needs of F1 after the purchasing of the Fuji Speedway by Toyota company. He changed the first turn making it more sharp and slow. And then it was decided to keep the historic banking and turn it into 30 degrees Memorial park.
The old banking is opened for visitors, but tourists are prohibited to get on the top of banking because it’s not safe. And really: the slope is so steep that one cannot stay still there and has to balance every second.
The old banking is situated outside the new speedway. If you walk from the North entrance you have to pass Main Grand stand first, then an amount of car parking and go far straight. There you will find an old track, hot, cracked and grassy among the trees and bushes. It looks abandoned and you have that strange feeling of shadows that accompany you while you walk to it’s far point. It should sound trivial but you can even feel that ghosts from the past.