On this day: The first JGTC race

Many unhappy memories are associated with May 1, 1994. The death of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Ayrton Senna, and the death of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger the day before, both of whom were beloved in Japan – Senna as a hero for McLaren Honda who won all three of his titles at Suzuka Circuit, Ratzenberger as a two-time JTC touring car champion, Japanese Formula 3000 race winner, and winner of the Suzuka 1000km in 1991.

10,000 kilometers east of Imola, Italy, and the events of one of motorsport’s blackest weekends, there was a new dawn – the date of the first round of the inaugural 1994 All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC), held at Fuji Speedway during the Golden Week holiday period, on May 1, 1994.

Thanks to Japanese motorsport archivist Rocketpencil, we have the entire TV broadcast of that first race of what we now know as Super GT, with its’ two-class structure, the early basis of what would become GT500 and GT300. This was also the first Golden Week race at Fuji Speedway, a tradition that continues today with the annual running of the Fuji 500km on May 4th.

There was a star-studded grid for this race, with reigning champion Masahiko Kageyama and his Calsonic Nissan Skyline GT-R, and featuring a number of Japanese racing legends such as Masahiro Hasemi, Toshio Suzuki, and Naoki Hattori. Even international drivers like Anthony Reid and Mauro Martini were on the grid, and one driver that’s still active today, Akira Iida.

The video is 51 minutes long, and features a number of Japanese-language interviews, in-depth machine analysis, and even support race footage.

 

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