CONSTRUCTORS: DOME COMPANY
Name: Dome Company
In 1965 Minoru Hayashi built his first racing car. It was based on the Honda S600 sportscar, which had first appeared the previous year, and in the early 1970s he began to produce the first single-seater chassis for Japan's 500cc formula. In the late 1970s Hayashi established an associate company called Dome, the intention being for this company to manufacture cars with small production runs, using racing machines to develop the technology. The first Dome appeared in 1978 and was called the Dome Zero. It was launched at the Geneva Motor Show and was followed by the Dome P2, although neither was given type approval by the Japanese Government and so did not go into production. Dome entered Le Mans in 1979 with drivers Chris Craft and Gordon Spice. This was followed by the Dome Zero RL80 and RL81 models.
In 1980 Hayashi decided to build a Formula 3 car - which was designed by Masao Ono - who had previously been involved with the Kojima F1 program. The Hayashi 803 followed conventional F3 designs of the time and was followed by the Hayashi 320 in 1981 with which Osamu Nakano won the Japanese Formula title. Ono then switched to Dome to work on the sportscar designs and Hayashi Racing switched to Ralt chassis to win the Japanese F3 title with Kengo Nakamoto. The Hayashi 321 did appear briefly in Europe with Nakano driving.
The 1984 Hayashi 322 was a success and Shuji Hyodo won the Japanese F3 title in one of the cars. There were further cars in 1985 and 1986 but neither was successful.
The Dome sportscar program continued in sportscar racing and in the late 1980s Dome also began designing chassis for TOMS. In 1987 Dome began competing in Formula 3000 in Japan, having decided that the ultimate goal for the company must be Formula 1. The first design was built in 1987 although the team entered Jan Lammers that year in a March 87B. In 1988 Dome established a separate company called Jiotto Design to design cars. This had its own 25% windtunnel (formerly used by the Japan Automobile Research Institute (JARI), CAD CAM and autoclaves.
Dome continued to race in F3000 with drivers Lammers, Keiji Matsumoto, Ross Cheever and Thomas Danielsson until 1992 when Marco Apicella was signed to drive the new Dome-Mugen F103. In 1994 he won the All Japan title. The Formula 3000 program continued until 1998 with Shinji Nakano, Katsumi Yamamoto and Juichi Wakisaki but without much success.
At the start of 1995 Tadashi Sasaki, the team manager of Minardi, joined Dome and that autumn the company announced its plan to enter F1. Akiyoshi Uko designed the Dome F105 and Sasaki organized a deal for Dome to buy the Minardi semi-automatic gearbox and its hydraulic system. Apicella began testing the car in the summer of 1996 and the work was later taken over by Nakano and Naoki Hattori. Dome was hoping for a supply of Mugen Honda F1 engines but the announcement that Honda was entering F1 with British American Racing may have ended Dome's F1 hopes.