One-time Grand Prix racer Masahiro Hasemi will be celebrating his 66th birthday today!
A former motocross racer, Tokyo-born Masahiro started out in car-racing with a Nissan Bluebird, before going on to forge a record as one of his country’s finest racing drivers. He was a multiple champion in Formula 2, Formula Pacific and in touring cars.
His one Grand Prix outing came at the rain-hit 1976 Japanese Grand Prix at Mount Fuji. While the event was more famous as the scene of Niki Lauda’s early-race withdrawal and James Hunt’s run to claim the championship, Hasemi made his debut with the locally-built Kojima.
In teeming conditions, Hasemi’s specially-designed Dunlop tyres allowed him to set the fastest lap of the race (although this claim to fame is still under some dispute) before his challenge faded when the rain started to ease.
Hasemi went on to run a team in the All-Japan Championship.
[Image via F1 Nostalgia]