This is undoubtedly one of the more obscure birthday entries we’ve featured, but today marks the 59th birthday of the first Japanese driver to finish a Formula 1 Grand Prix, Noritake Takahara.

Born in Tokyo, Takahara began his motorsport career at the wheel of a Honda Noritake TakaharaS800 coupe in 1969, and travelled to Europe in 1973 for a limited series of Formula 2 races.

He drove in the non-championship 1974 International Trophy race in a MArch 741, but then returned to Japan and won back-to-back national Formula 2000 championships – the equivalent to Formula 2 – in a March BMW in 1975 and 1976.

His maiden F1 appearance came at the rain-soaked 1976 Japanese Grand Prix at the Mt Fuji circuit in a rented Surtees, in which he finished in ninth place and three laps adrift. Much no doubt to the chagrin of his contemporaries at the time, including Masahiro Hasemi, Takahara secured a seat in the locally produced Kojima 009 in the following year’s Japanese Grand Prix, but crashed out on the opening lap. He spent the rest of the 1970s competing in the national Formula 2 championship before retiring altogether in the 1980s.

[Original image via]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.