Nobuhiro Tajima, nicknamed Monster Tajima, is a Japanese veteran racer who was active in rallying until 2002, then taking over managing duties in Suzuki Sport. He was leading Suzuki team through the Junior WRC competition from 2002 to 2007 and then in the World Rally Championship in 2008.
Besides rallying, Tajima is most known as the seven-time overall winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and the first man to beat the 10-minute barrier at Pikes Peak before the track was repaved. Tajima also won eight times at New Zealand's 'Race to the Sky' hill climb race.
Born in June 1950 in Suginami, Tokyo, Nobuhiro Tajima started his racing career in 1968, competing in All Japan Dirt Trial Championship. His international career started in 1979 when he was driving a Toyota Levin at Southern Cross International Rally in Australia, finishing in the seventh place.
Two years later, in November 1981, Tajima made a WRC debut at RAC Rally in Great Britain, driving a Datsun alongside Kiyoshi Kawamura as his navigator. They didn't finish the rally.
In the following years, Tajima recorded few appearances in North American rallies. In the same period, in 1983, he established Monster Sport International company in Japan, starting a cooperation with Suzuki in 1986.
In December 1986, he was driving a Suzuki Cultus GTI at North American Olympus Rally, a part of the World Rally Championship, not finishing the rally. Tajima recorded two more appearances in the North American WRC round in 1987 and 1988, driving a Suzuki Cultus GTI in both events. In 1987, he was class winners and 15th overall. In 1988, he was a class winner again and seventh overall, taking few championship points.
During the 1990s, Tajima mostly participated in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, appearing also in WRC events which were also a part of the APRC calendar, such are Rally Australia, Rally New Zealand, Rally Indonesia or China Rally.
In the early 1990s, he was driving a Suzuki Swift GTi, then switching to Suzuki Baleno in 1996 when he became the APRC F2 class champion. He took one more F2 class title in 1998, driving a Suzuki Baleno Wagon Kit Car. Tajima's last rally in a Baleno was at China Rally in 2000.
In the WRC events during the 1990s, Tajima scored several class podiums while his best overall result was the 13th place at Rally Indonesia in 1996 and 1997.
Nobuhiro Tajima ended his rally career as a driver in 2002, after spending two years driving a Suzuki Ignis S1600 in APRC events, with Julia Rabbett as his navigator. Tajima's last rally event was the International Rally of Thailand in December 2002, when he suffered injuries in a crash.
In that time, Tajima made a deal to take over managing duties in Suzuki Sport which started its Junior WRC programme with Ignis S1600 rally car. The first wins came in 2003 and then, in 2004, Per-Gunnar Andersson became the JWRC champion. Under Tajima's leadership, PG Andersson took one more JWRC title in 2007, driving a Suzuki Swift S1600. The third JWRC title for Suzuki came in 2010 with Aaron Burkart.
In 2007, Suzuki entered the main class of the World Rally Championship with Suzuki SX4 WRC, participating in two rallies. In 2008, the team spent the only full season in the WRC, finishing in the fifth place among teams.
Parallel to his duties in rallying, Monster Tajima was developing a career of a hill climb racer in the US, making a debut at famous Pikes Peak in 1992. In his first attempt, he was driving twin-engined Suzuki Cultus. The next car was twin-engined Suzuki Escudo and he won the race for the first time in 1995.
He had to wait for the next overall win in 2006. After that, he recorded five more consecutive wins between 2007 and 2011 with different Suzuki prototypes. In 2011, the last event before the track was completely repaved, Tajima became the first man to break the 10-minute mark, setting the fastest time 9 min 51.278 sec.
From 2012, Tajima switched to electric power at Pikes Peak, running with different prototypes in the following years and setting electric-car records.
Besides becoming a legend of the Pikes Peak, Tajima is also the legend of the Cardrona Valley mountain in New Zealand, winning eight times in the 'Race to the Sky' hill climb race at gravel track. He recorded the first win there in 1998 and the last in 2007.