Located close to Shiroka, Japan and east of Osaka, the Suzuka Speedway offers an entertaining and challenging course. Originally called Motor Sportsland (but re-named shortly after it opened), the Suzuka Speedway is built near Suzuka City in Japan, on land previously used by rice farmers. Suzuka offers a balance of curves and speed where the driver must be able to keep their speed under control so as not to overshoot into the two critical curves on the track, most notably the “Spoon Curve”. Traffic can be tight at the beginning, bringing drivers into quite a few possible collision scenarios.
With six total curves, and a length of almost 6 kilometers, the Suzuka Speedway is well-regarded as one of the best racetracks in the world, with several unique features. It is a figure-eight design with a multitude of fast and slow corners, including the aptly named Spoon Curve, the now much slower 130R corner, and Degner corner.
The Suzuka Speedway is the host of the Formula One Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix and one of the oldest and most-famous motorsport race tracks in Japan.
Designed as a test track in 1962 by John Hugenholtz, Suzuka Speedway is a unique circuit. Naturally, the track doesn’t actually intersect with itself on its figure-8 layout; instead, the back straight passes over the front section by means of an overpass. Due to its unique layout, Suzuka is a massive test of driver skill and is easily one of the most difficult racing circuits in the world. Nevertheless, the track is loved by drivers and spectators alike for its challenging design and many opportunities for overtaking.
Safety has been a concern at the circuit’s 130R, a 130-meter radius turn starting past the Crossover, following two tragic accidents in 2002 and 2003. Track officials revised the 130R, which has been compared to Spa’s Eau Rouge, redesigning it as a double-apex section, one with an 85 meter radius, and then a second featuring a 340-meter radius, leading to a much closer Casio Triangle (chicane).
During the Suzuka Speedway’s first major event since the revisions during the 2003 MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan, MotoGP rider Daijiro Kato was killed when he crashed in the new section headed to the braking zone for the Casio Triangle. (MotoGP has not returned to Suzuka since the incident).
Other than the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, the Suzuka Speedway also hosts the Suzuka 1000km endurance race. NASCAR organized a pair of exhibition 100-lap races on the East Circuit, a 1.4 mile layout which utilizes the pit straight and esses, before rejoining the main circuit near the Casio Triangle. The cars were Winston Cup and Winston West Series cars and the field was by invitation for the two races, run after the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
Today, the Suzuka Speedway stands as one of the most unique racetracks in the world. There is an adjoining amusement park, shopping mall, museum, several hotels, a motocross track and even a bowling alley within the circuit or next to it. Moriwaki and a slew of other Japanese hot-rod firms are located across the street from the main parking lot.