Kunimitsu Takahashi, 1977 Japanese GP

Have a shot of hot sake for one-time World championship racer Kunimitsu Takahashi, who is celebrating his 72nd birthday today.

Born in Tokyo, Takahashi started out on two wheels, becoming his country’s first-ever race-winner when he won a Grand Prix in 1961 at the controls of a 250cc Honda, aged just 21.

A huge accident at the 1962 Isle of Man TT put paid to what further motorcycle racing ambitions he may have had, and he made the decision to try four-wheeled competition when he’d recovered.

He was a regular in sports car circles in the 1970s, and his one Formula 1 start came at the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix, where he piloted a Tyrrell 007 with backing from Meiritsu, the same cat that was run the year before by Kazuyoshi Hoshino. After qualifying at the back of the field, he finished two laps adrift in ninth place, and ahead of Hoshino on the Mount Fuji circuit.

He joined the local Formula 2 scene in the following years, and he continued to race well into the 1980s and 1990s, winning the Japanese sports car championship three times.

[Image via F1 Rejects]

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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.