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Toyota and Mount Fuji

AS we suggested in April 1999 the Toyota Motor Corporation has confirmed that it is negotiating to buy the Fuji International Speedway, which is located close to its Higashi Fuji technical center, where the company is developing its racing engines. The Mount Fuji track, which is located in the shadow of the famous dormant volcano, hosted the Japanese Grand Prix in 1976 and 1977 but in recent years has not been used for any international events. Originally planned as a 2.5-mile oval with 30-degree banking at either end, the project ran into difficulties after the main straight and one banked turn had been finished. In the end a road course was built to use what had been built and this was opened in 1965. The fearsome banking did not last for long and after several huge accidents it was deserted and a link road was built to join the main straight with the road course.

Toyota refuses to say what it intends to do with the facility but a massive redevelopment is expected and it is likely that the track would bid for the Japanese Grand Prix contract in 2007. Fuji is currently 80% owned by Mitsubishi Estates with the remaining 20% being owned by a building contractor called Taisei. Toyota does not currently have a race track but rival Honda owns both Suzuka and Motegi.

If the deal does go ahead it is likely that Fuji will be rebuilt with a combined oval and road course so that it can be used both for Formula 1 and oval racing and for car testing.

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