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The Fuji Grand Champion Series (富士グランドチャンピオンレース) ran from 1971 to 1989. It was a drivers' championship in Japan and was originally for 2 litre Group B6 cars. The series was started in 1973, and all races were held at the Fuji Speedway circuit.
In its second year of running, it had its first fatalities. At the start of the second race of the second round of the 1974 series, two cars were racing for the lead. They collided and Hiroshi Kazato and Seiichi Suzuki crashed into them, causing a fire. Both Kazato, 25, and Suzuki, 37, were killed. The race was immediately abandoned, and the circuit was reconstructed with the hairpin first corner that exists to this day, bypassing the banking.
A change in the rules in 1979 made it possible for single seat sportscars, similar to the revived Can-Am series, to race in the series.
In the second race of 1983 Famiyasu Sato was killed in practice. Later in the series, Toru Takahashi was killed when his car spun, and the aerodynamics of the car caused it to fly through the air, driver's head-first into the catch fencing, also killing a spectator. This led to a further change in the circuit where a chicane was added in 300R (the final corner) to slow the cars.
The maximum engine size limit was increased to 3 litres in 1987. In 1988, the series changed its name from Fuji Grand Champion series to Grand Champion series because some races added into the championship were not held at Fuji.
The late 1980s saw attendance dropping, and after 1989 the series folded.
The series was revived again in 2002 as GC-21, like its predecessor; the series used Dallara GC21 cars, which were rebodied F3 cars powered by 3S-GTE engines. Like its predecessor, it raced exclusively at Fuji Speedway with the exception of 2004, when the circuit was undergoing a major renovation work. Despite running on a small field (usually five and six cars at a time), it ran on into 2006 when the series again folded. Between 2006 and 2007, it formed part of the LMP2 class in the Japan Le Mans Challenge.
|1971||Masa Sakai||McLaren M12-Chevrolet|
|1972||Hiroshi Fushida||Chevron B21P-Ford|
|1973||Noritake Takahara||Lola T292-Ford|
|1974||Masahiro Hasemi||March 73S-BMW|
|1975||Noritake Takahara||March 74S-BMW|
|1976||Noritake Takahara||March 74S-BMW|
|1977||Tetsu Ikusawa||GRD S74-BMW|
|1978||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||March 74S-BMW|
|1979||Satoru Nakajima||GRD S74-BMW|
|1980||Masahiro Hasemi||MCS BMW|
|1981||Fujita Naohiro||MCS BMW|
|1982||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||MCS BMW|
|1983||Keiji Matsumoto||MCS BMW|
|1984||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||MCS BMW|
|1985||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||MCS BMW|
|1986||Geoff Lees||MCS Yamaha|
|1987||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||MCS Ford|
|1988||Geoff Lees||MCS Mugen|
|1989||Geoff Lees||MCS Mugen|
- Arron, Simon (2008-10-11). "Touching tribute to the fallen heroes of a bygone era". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-05-06.