Address: Tokachi Speedway, Kasai District, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan
PH: +81 155-52-3910
Circuit type: Permanent road course
Tokachi Speedway was part of the new breed of circuits which sprang up in Japan in the 1990s, capitalising on the country's boom in interest in motorsport. Largely flat and featuring a mix of mainly medium and slow speed corners allied to a long main straight, it was the first international standard-circuit to open on the north island of Hokkaido.
Construction began in 1992 and was largely complete by October of that year, though work to complete the grandstand, pit garages and other ancillary buildings was postponed until after the harsh local winter, which often sees considerable snowfall. The Tokachi International Speedway circuit was complete by May 1993, with a grand opening featuring a 400km N1 endurance race and a 300km Group A touring car event.
The circuit features a main 5.091km Grand Prix course, which has seen the bulk of the major championships. This can be divided into a shorter 3.405km Clubman course and a 1.7km Junior course which mainly holds racing school activity and boasts its own small pit and paddock facilities. Both the Clubman and Junior courses can be run simultaneously, while the Grand Prix and Clubman courses are both certified to FIA Grade 2 standard.
The following year saw the arrival of the Japanese Touring Car and F3 championships and the first running of the Tokachi 24 Hours. This was a GT and touring car race, normally held as part of the Super Taikyu series but also open to machinery from Super GT. In 1995 Tora Takagi won the inaugural F3000 race, while the category returned the following year (as Formula Nippon) to see Ralf Schumacher take the victory spoils, though that turned out to be the final event at Tokachi for the powerful single seaters. The Japanese GT Championship arrived in 2004, the race being won by Michael Krumm and Masami Kageyama, but this proved a one-off affair.
By 2009 the circuit was in financial trouble, finding it difficult to make a profit in the post-bubble economic world, with the operating company racking up large debts. By March the company went into liquidation and applied for bankruptcy, leading to the cancellation of the 16th edition of the 24 Hours. In August came salvation, when the circuit was bought by mobile phone games maker, the MSF Corporation.
The circuit was renamed to the simpler Tokachi Speedway by the new owners in 2010, who have continued to hold occasional national and mainly local level races, with the highlight being the D1 drift series.
Tokachi Speedway is located near to the city of Obihiro in Hokkaido, Japan. The nerest airport is Tokachi-Obihiro Airport, around 20 minutes to the north of the circuit, which has regular connections to Tokyo-Haneda.
The circuit can be reached from the airport or Obihiro itself by heading south on route 190 and then route 238. After around 7km, turn left onto route 201, signposted for Toyokoro and Komahata. The circuit is a few hundred metres on the right hand side.