Daijiro Inada (稲田 大二二郎, Inada Daijiro, February 24, 1947- ) is a Japanese tuning car commentator. He is the former editorial director of Sanei, a publisher of automotive and motorcycle magazines. His nickname is "Dai. He is also known as "GOGO", "The Immortal Man" (see below), and "Runaway Locomotive". Born in Nagasaki Prefecture. Expelled from Gakushuin University.
After working in the editorial department of Sanei Shobo's motorsports magazine "Autosport," he launched Japan's first automotive tuning magazine "Option. He is also known as one of the founders of the All Japan Professional Drift Championship (D1 Grand Prix), but on December 9, 2010, he announced his resignation from the board of directors of D1 Corporation, the D1 Grand Prix management company. At the same time, he withdrew from the 2011 D1 Grand Prix jury.
He has been promoting tuning cars since the founding of Option, and is also the founder of the Tokyo Auto Salon's predecessor, the Exciting Car Show. In recent years, he has been critical of the Tokyo Auto Salon, where only campaign girls and spectators come to see the cars, and has also held the Exciting Car Showdown, but this event is now on hiatus. In order to improve the status of tuned cars, he also runs a non-profit organization called "Option Land" with the catchphrase, "Think about the environment because you drive.
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
Case 2 Challenging the Bonneville
Bonneville refers to the Bonneville Speedway located in the Utah side of the Nevada border. But a speedway course doesn't mean that it's paved at all. A desert of a dried up salt bed is used, called the Salt Flats.
This speed trial began taking place at this enormous piece of land, more than fifty years ago in 1949. For a top speed run of 200~300 km/h, a straight stretch of road is required, and technically, it can be pulled off on a public highway. Back in the days, we have performed high speed runs at the Daytona Beach, the German Autobahn, and even oval tracks but when the speeds started to exceed 400 ~ 500 km/h, these locations were not sufficient. This is when we started going to the salt flats. Here, people can even race jet engine cars going at mach speeds.
Every year in August, when all the salt beds are available, there's an exhibition called the Bonneville Speed Week.
In 1986, a team led by Ryusuke agreed to let me enroll in the FC Seven challenge where I learned a lot about the Bonneville flats. The Option team's first battle was in 1989.
The cars participating was TBO's 130Z (S130) and the Option (D-Speed) 180SX. I was expecting to easily exceed 300 km/h but the Bonneville challenge was not that easy.
First, the radial tires were no match for the Bonneville's salty surface. The vehicle would begin to slip and go into a spin after 250 km/h. Due to the strict regulation conflictions, big aero kits couldn't be installed to hold the vehicle down. Also, the fuel delivery to the engine does not perform up to par in these conditions because of the raised elevation.
The first Bonneville try was a failure since I ended up spinning before I can reach 300 km/h. Despite this experience, the Bonneville challenge and the Yatabe trials had given me hope that the future of top speed runs are bright.
The next attempt in 1990, the cars like the TBO, Central's Z32, and JUN Auto's Z32 accepted the pursuit for 300 km/h. In 1991, JUN Auto's Susumu Koyama trapped in at 421 km/h (261 mph). Wanting to beat his record, I hopped in the vehicle and gave it a shot. The motor ended up blowing at 420 km/h. People like Koyama and Central's(Dandy) Mr. Tanaka were already in the glorious 200 mph club, which too me eight years to join in 1997 with JUN Auto's GT-R at 383 km/h (237 mph).
Bonneville had taught me a lot of things from the air resistance against the body of a car, the relationship between the tire and velocity, aerodynamics, the engine air intake temperature, etc. It's a scary feeling when you don't understand how the forces of speed will react to the machine in those conditions. These valuable experiences will surely improve Japan's tuning skills.
I still love Bonneville. If I decide to challenge it again, I would like to aim for the 300 mph club.
CASE 3 Top speed on a public road
Now we are on the third part of Dais stories of top speed. The top speed stage moved from the Yatabe course to Bonneville, after the untimely death of Masa Saito. There was no places left to run, since we were banned from Yatabe and Bonneville required strict safety precautions.
A lot of people suggested to me after Masa's tragic death that I stop my pursuit for top speed. However, I felt that if I quit, Masa would say, "That's not fair Dai, I'm up here alone in heaven." And I myself don't want to quit racing yet.
Achieving top speed is definitely my life’s work.
At this point, Japan had no where left to race the cars, so the only choice was to go somewhere overseas.
In August of 1999, I headed to the German Autobahn because the speed limit was not enforced there. I prepared Blitz's Skyline R34GT-R (Option&BlitzR348) for my first run there. But there was only one section where I could reach 300km/h and it was at 4am when no cars were present.
I put my whole life on this opportunity. Once the 700 horse powered GT-R was about to exceed 330km/h, a car running next to me came over to my lane. At that moment, I knew that if I let off the gas, I would lose this one shot. I've already started and was determined to finish it. I steered the car carefully inward to avoid the car, destroying the power steering belt. I held on to the steering wheel firmly until I hit 343 km/h. (1999 October Edition). In addition, Top Secret's Smoky Nagata piloted the 350GT at the same location in August of this year, but finished at 341km/h.
When I checked for the next world speed challenge, I found that New Zealand had a place to perform top speed runs. That place was a remote location next to a ranch. I asked around to hear more about this, was informed that Japan's JAF club was about to hold a speed trial, in which the FIA application, location security, and speed measurement were all going to be taken care of.
I knew that since it was a closed course, it would be pretty safe. So I invited many shops to come with me and we prepared rides such as VeilSide's R34 GT-R, Scoot FD3S, Garage Fukui aka Phoniex's Power Lancer Evolution, Top Secret's A80 Supra, Ricoh Racing Aristo, HRF Roadster and also Jun Auto's Impreza, ridden by Mr. Koyama.
December 2000. This place was outrageous. There was a 6 kilometer of straight road, where the average speed measuring section was a 1 kilometer stretch. But the problem was 2 lane bumpy narrow roads that was elevated in some sections causing erratic steering of the cars. To make things worse, there was light rain.
Despite these obstacles, there were a few 300 km/h runs like the Veilside GTR averaging 341km/h with 1300 horsepower. Its top speed was 346km/h and it was a life-or-death situation for me. I wonder if exceeding 350 km/h on a public road is even possible… (Feburary 2000 edition)
In the next segment, I will challenge that idea.
CASE 4 Silver State Classic Challenge
Highway 318 stretches across the Nevada desert in the United States. The straight road points to the endless horizon under the beautiful cobalt skies this day.
For a 100 miles on this road the throttle will remain wide open. This is a dream come true for the speed junkies. On September every year, this one shot deal comes by.
This was the world's fastest speed challenge on a public road, the "Silver State Classic Challenge".
After racing Yatabe, Bonneville and the German Autobahn, I was looking for a new stage to race on. Then I remembered seeing on television a long time ago, a high speed race that was held on a public road. After inquiring about this to my American connection, I learned that this was the Silver State Challenge. If I transported the Blitz R348 to the United States after racing the German Autobahn, I knew that I could make it into this race.
In September, 1999, we shipped the OPTION&BLITZ R348 (BNR34) to Los Angeles. I drove the machine from Las Vegas to a town called Ery, which was the starting point of the race on highway 418. I was very excited to be able to drive on such a magnificent road.
About 150 cars gathered at Ery such as small European cars, sportscars, muscle cars, etc.
This Silver State Classic race was no ordinary race. The classes were split up according to the vehicle's potential average speed from 110 to 180 mph. And then there was the unlimited speed class. These classes were created for a margin of safety. This race provided the people to fulfill their dream of running their car to the max on a public street.
For example, if your car has 150mph top speed, the 110 mph class will be ideal. The objective is to try to maintain the speed of the class you are in for the whole race.
That rule however, did not apply to the unlimited class. It was whoever finished first for that class. The record average speed so far was 207.78 mph, or 333 km/h. This means that if I slowed down at the hills to 200 km/h, then I have to drive at least 360 km/h at the straight section to make up for it. It's like driving from Tokyo to Shizuoka in 25 minutes at that rate.
This kind of unimaginable speed gets me really excited. I had to take this challenge.
The first challenge with the Option&Blitz R348 had engine problems and was only able to produce about 280 km/h (174 mph). I noticed that this calm road turned into a monster once at high speed. Even at 100 km/h, the small bumps on the road felt like a huge impact, and couldn't imagine what t hat would feel like at 300 km/h.
The race ended quietly after running out of gas at the 70th mile mark. Even so, I felt as though this was an amazing race.
The challenge was taken more seriously in 2003 with collaboration between Option and Jun Auto. The Stream Z was born. Here, a tire explosion caused a big crash. And in 2004, we had engine trouble.
2005 was our next opportunity. I have no clue where I'll be when this article gets published. The September 25, 2005 Silver State Challenge may be my last race for all I know! On the contrary, if I do set a new record here, it will be a historical day in the Japanese tuning car industry.