According to reports, Toyota’s chief test driver, 67-year-old Hiromu Naruse, has died in a crash on highway 410 near the famed Nürburgring race track in Germany. He was driving the recently spied Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition at the time of the accident, and reports say he veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with two others test drivers in a BMW. The two BMW test drivers survived the crash, though one is reportedly still in critical condition. Police are investigating the crash and have yet to determine its cause.
Naruse was heavily involved with the development of the Lexus LFA supercar he was driving, along with many other past sports cars from Toyota’s history since he joined the company in 1963. Enthusiasts today call him the “Godfather of the LFA,” though he was involved in the development of sports cars for Toyota going as far back as the storied 2000GT from the late 1960s – and including our very own AE86.
Club4AG’s founder Moto Miwa shares a little about Naruse-San’s life. Thanks Moto.
He was the chief testing driver for Toyota’s Development team who started with the company in 1963. He was the head of over 300 test drivers at Toyota globally, and has possibly logged more miles than any other test driver from Japan.
Not too long after his start of career at Toyota, we was assinged a task as the … See Morefirst project leader for Toyota’s racing programs, which later branched and branded as TRD. His first mission was the team project to race at the Spa Franchamps, and Nurburgring from a base in Switzerland in 1970’s.
Also, as one of the few who people accredited as Nur-Meister, he was among the handful of drivers in the world, intimately familiar with the famous Nurburgring course in Germany where the ultimate benchmark performance is gauged among all automobile manufacturers in the world.
A very few men could do so much to analyze a pre-production street car…and even more rare for someone from Japan. Abilities such as isolating each components as minute as consistencies of rubber bushings in isolated particular areas, determining tire behavior and details of construction on 30 or more levels, and just simply being totally at one with a car to be tuned before production.
Testing engineer of equally long career at Ferrari and BMW both claimed him as “The man with the longest logged distance as vehicle testing engineer” As such, worked diligently day after day, being passionate about his automobiles.
Many of his assistant drivers and engineers often claimed him as crazy, for being such a perfectionist, and to not stop on any development until he was forced to by other departments…
List of cars he has ‘tuned’ as the leader of testing engineer/driver for product development are as follows:
1965 Toyota Sports 800
1967 Toyota Corona 1600GT
1967 Toyota 2000GT
1970 Toyota Seven (race car)
1971 Toyota Celica GT (and all succeeding Celica and XX/ Supra, and WRC Corolla/Celica)
1981 Toyota Soarer (and all successor Z chassis)
1984 Toyota Corolla Levin, Sprinter Trueno (AE86)
1985 Toyota MR2 (and all successors of the W platform)
1989 Lexus LS400
1990 Toyota Soarer/Lexus SC300
1994 Toyota Supra JZA80
1998 Toyota Altezza/ Lexus IS200/300
1999 Toyota MR-S (USA MR2 ZZW30)
2004 Toyota Prius 2
Also, adviser to countless other Toyota and Lexus development programs.
We will all miss him.
We will indeed. Lets hope his many many proteges can pick up where this legend left us. Rest In Peace. If you would like to read more about his long and very detailed career, check out this interview with the late Naruse-San at the Gazoo Racing Website.