The Suzuka International Racing Course-- better known as the Suzuka Circuit-- is one of the oldest race tracks in Japan. It can accommodate around 155,000 people and is usually packed whenever there are racing events.
The Suzuka Circuit is well-respected as one of the most challenging race tracks. However, it's not all butterflies and rainbows in professional racing and the track has its own 'not so public' details that you may or may not have known about.
10 Originally designed as a Honda test track
The Suzuka Circuit was originally designed to be used exclusively by Honda. It was designed in 1962 by Dutchman John "Hans" Hugenholtz and has since been modified 4 times to make it safer. It is being used both as a car and a motorcycle race track.
9 130R Corner
Speaking of modifications, the 130R - named for its 130-meter radius - was modified after two major accidents happened in 2002 and 2003. It is one particularly challenging corner that tests both the driver's skill and the vehicle's power.
Sadly, the changes made did little in terms of preventing accidents as, during the 2003 MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan, the track's first major event since the revisions, rider Daijiro Kato was killed when he crashed in the new section, on his way to the braking zone for the Casio triangle. MotoGP has not returned to Suzuka since the incident.
8 1st win on November 1, 1987, won by Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger
The circuit has been around for a while, and it is well-loved by F1 racers. Suzuka first hosted the Japanese Grand Prix in 1987 with Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger emerging victorious. The track has seen many championships and all the controversies that came with it.
7 One of the few circuits that have a figure-eight layout
Much like a bee's dance, the Suzuka circuit is patterned in the shape of a figure-eight. With its twists and turns, the layout is indeed very creative, with the 1.2 km back straight passing over the front section by means of an overpass. The unique shape of the circuit has warranted appearances in video games such as the Super Monaco GP, Forza Motorsport 2, Gran Turismo 4, RaceRoom and many more.
6 Accidents and Deaths
Just like in most sports, accidents happen and things may take a turn for the worse; in fact, people could lose their lives. There have been 17 fatalities to date in the track's five-decade existence, most of which are Japanese professional racers with the exceptions of American safety car driver Elmo Langley and French driver Jules Bianchi. On October 2014, Biachi collided with the crane tractor deployed to attend to Adrian Sutil's car which has spun off to the runoff area at Dunlop Corner. He was rushed off to the hospital and then flown to France for further medical attention. Jules Biachi succumbed to his injuries in July 2015 after 9 months in a coma.
5 LAP RECORD: 1:30.983, set by Lewis Hamilton
After a long 14 years, the lap record of 1:31.540 set by Kimi Raikkonen in 2005 was finally broken when Lewis Hamilton set a new record of 1:30.983 during the Japanese Grand Prix 2019. Hamilton, clearly elated, broke the previous record in his Mercedes winning the Grand Championship with Valtteri Bottas coming in second.
4 Favorite among F1 drivers
Suzuka Circuit has been and remains a favorite among F1 drivers because of the race's long history of holding its events on the track. The first sector at Suzuka with its rapid changes of direction as the track rises and falls is one of the best places to watch a Formula 1 car and racer in action.
3 The Japanese culture is part of the attraction of Suzuka
Japanese culture is fascinating, and it is part of the reason why the Suzuka circuit is so attractive to both fans and drivers. The heartwarming enthusiasm of the fans that flood the stands, the welcoming attitude of the people, and the oh-so-amazing Japanese cuisine are just some of the many reasons it is beloved by F1 and the racers in the competition.
Whether you like raw food, noodles, rice or fried street snacks, there is a Japanese dish to cater to your tastebuds. Oh, and did we mention Wagyu beef? The race car drivers would certainly welcome a hearty helping after hours on the track.
2 You can hold your wedding and reception there
For die-hard racing fans or if you just want a completely unique wedding venue, it is also possible to hold your wedding and reception at the Suzuka circuit. The couple can also do a one of a kind photoshoot with their car on the race track - now isn't that just cool? The track has a stand-alone chapel where the wedding ceremony can be held, and a VIP suite overlooking the course perfect for a dreamy reception. But that's not all, they also have various catering cuisines to choose from on your special day. Suzuka has everything you need for a champion wedding.
1 Many things to do around the area
If you think that racing and weddings are where it stops, you cannot be further from the truth. The Suzuka Circuit also has a Natural Hot Spring Kur Garden where you can immerse yourself in an open-air bath in a relaxing bathhouse to wash away the stress of the day. In the area is an automobile campground where you can lounge around and have a picnic with family and friends. You can rent tables, chairs, and event tents to really get into the spirit of camping. Racing is not the only sport in Suzuka, as they also have a bowling circuit. Best of all, the Suzuka circuit is right next to Motopia, an amusement park complete with a pool and tons of other attractions to keep the kids busy while the adults watch the races.
Inspired to hop on a plane and visit Suzuka Circuit yet? Try it and you just might end up wanting to stay and study at the Suzuka Circuit Racing School to be the next Hamilton!