The World of 300+km/h by Daijiro Inada TOP > COLUMN > Daijiro Inada > CASE 1
The Founder of the Option Empire, Daijiro Inada
The World of 300+km/h
CASE 1 The Yatabe High Speed Test Course
CASE 2 The Speed Week in Bonneville
CASE 3 The Autobahn in New Zealand
CASE 4 The Silverstate Classic Challenge

Dai is the founder of Option, the Tokyo Auto Salon, and the D1 Grand Prix. Half of his life was spent accepting high speed challenges. Let's listen to what he has to say about the world of 300+km/h and its history.
CASE 1 The Yatabe High Speed Testing Course
I'm sure everyone has heard about the Yatabe top speed time trials which Option magazine and Option video have been covering for all these years. It was a challenge for a tuned vehicles to produce the highest top speed at the Japan Automobile Research Institute, (AKA Yatabe), in the Ibaraki prefecture, Japan.
Around 1980, the beginning of the modified car craze, the tuning movement shifted from drag racing to top speed racing. Here, the tuners and the street racers began to run their cars on the famous Tomei Highway.
This was around the same time of the launch of Option magazine (1981 June issue).
The top speed runs provided the racers with more extreme thrills because the acceleration did not stop after reaching a quarter mile. At the time, Japanese cars like the Nissan Fairlady Z30, Nissan Skyline Japan or DR30, Toyota Celica and imported cars like Porsche, Pantera, Pontiac Trams Am were popular modified vehicles. Even though racing on a public highway was very dangerous, it was an era that tuned Japanese cars put a challenge on the fast imports.
People were talking a lot of smack like "My Z beat that Porsche" or "The Pantera isn't as fast as it seems". Also lots of street racing accidents were starting to occur. With that, Option decided measure the top speed of these vehicles at a closed test course
In the 1981 October issue of Option, 13 Japanese and imported vehicles including tuned cars and brand new sports cars, accepted the challenge of the top speed trials. The Trans Am marked 246km/h (152.9mph) while the naturally aspirated 30Z (S30) trapped in at an amazing 257 km/h (159.7mph). My car, which was the turbocharged 130Z (S130), could only achieve 247km/h (153.4 mph). In that era, turbocharger tuning had just started.
We asked Mr. Kunimitsu Takahashi, a professional race car driver, and Mr. Osamu Mochizuki, a test driver for Mitsubishi to help us out. The tuned cars were not reliable yet, and we just couldn't take any chances by using a non-experienced driver.
At first, the lightly tuned cars reached 250-260km/h (155-161mph). 4 months later from the first challenge, the Pantera reached 300km/h (186.4mph) and created a huge fuss all over. After that, The tuners got fired up in building a fast Japanese car. From that point on, the drivers realized the danger of this challenge excused themselves from driving at the track.
This is when I started to drive the top speed cars.
It began getting really dangerous from this point on. The cars that would go 250-260km/h would never run in a straight line. No one knew when a tire would blowout or the engine would explode. I was risking my life while the people told me that "the car isn't fast because Dai is scared to hit the gas pedal". In reality, I was on the gas like I had a death wish.
One memorable token that I have is the HKS Celica M300 which marked 300km/h (186mph). The car was the first Japanese car which reached 300km/h in December, 1983 and it was 2 years after the first time attack.
After that, I have been in so many different cars that I lost count. The absolute limit was getting closer, with 300 km/h (186 km/h) at the bank, exit the bank at 320 km/h (199 mph), and 340 km/h (211 mph) at the straightaway at the Yatabe course. After this we had to change the testing to 0~300 km/h test, which would see how long it would take for the vehicle to accelerate to 300 km/h. But soon enough, this challenge would finally come to an end.
Masa Saito, the vice president of my company Dee's Club and the editor in chief of Option2 magazine, died at Yatabe in a car accident. We couldn't use this course anymore, and the 0~300 km/h time trials ended here.
However, there is no doubt that the testing that occurred gave power to the Japanese car tuning scene. My efforts and Saito's life had blossomed the Japanese aftermarket car parts industry.
In Case 2, the sequel to this story
Nissan Fairlady S30
In 1981, The S30 with 257.60km/h (160mph) owned by Mr. Kubo was the fastest Japanese car at the first top speed attack. (From OPTION, October 1981)
Pontiac Trans Am & DeTomaso Pantera
The fastest machine over all at the first top speed attack was Pontiac Trans Am with 264.71km/h (164.5mph) owned by Mr.Okawa who is the founder of Trust. The Pantera GTS clocked in at 241.6 km/h (150 mph). (From OPTION, October1981)

HKS Celica M300
The first Japanese car that reached 300km/h (186.4mph) was the HKS Celica M300. The 300km/h barrier was so difficult and it took 2 years to break since the first time attack.
This was Dai in 1983. He explained to us after his first top speed testing that the wind was so strong this day that some cars were blown off course by 5 meters. It was very difficult to stay on the correct line. He was all shook up.
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