Noritake Takahara is a former racing driver from Japan who won several championship titles in his homeland but also tried to race in Formula 1. He was Japanese Formula 2000 champion in 1974 and 1976, and Fuji Grand Champion Series winner in 1973, 1975 and 1976.
In Formula One World Championship, he made a debut at 1976 Japanese Grand Prix with Team Surtees and then recorded one more F1 start a year later at 1977 Japanese Grand Prix with Kojima.
Starting a racing career in a Porsche 906
Born in June 1951, Noritake Takahara started his racing career in the early 1970s, driving a Porsche 906 in national sports car races. He was pretty successful, scoring several wins and podiums. He was third at Suzuka 1000.
Later that year, he switched to Lola T212-Ford. In 1972, he was combining McLaren M12-Chevrolet and Lola T280-Ford.
First championship title in 1973
Takahara captured his first championship title in 1973, winning the Fuji Grand Champion Series that took place exclusively at Fuji Speedway. He was driving Lola T292-Ford or Chevron B23-Ford.
In the same year, he competed in open-wheel competitions such were Tasman Series or Japanese Formula 2000. In both championships, he was driving a Brabham BT36-Ford.
Noritake Takahara at 1974 BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone
Formula 2000 champion for the first time in 1974
In 1974, Takahara scored his greatest success in the Japanese Formula 2000, winning two races in a March 742-BMW and taking the championship title ahead of Masahiro Hasemi. Outside Japan, he made Formula 1 debut in the non-championship BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, finishing 11th in a March 741-Cosworth.
In sports car races, he won two times in the Fuji Grand Champion Series in a March 74S-BMW, finishing as a runner-up behind Masahiro Hasemi.
Two championship titles in 1976
Takahara continued to collect championship titles in 1975, winning the Fuji Grand Champion Series in a March 74S-BMW. In Formula 2000, he finished second, tied in points with champion Kazuyoshi Hoshino.
Takahara's most productive season was 1976 when he won championship titles in both Japanese competitions he took part. In Formula 2000, he won championship driving a Nova 512-BMW for Heros Racing. In the Fuji Grand Champion Series, he was driving March 74S-BMW to his third championship title in the competition.
Noritake Takahara in the #18 Surtees at 1976 Japanese Grand Prix
Formula 1 Championship debut at 1976 Japanese Grand Prix
In October 1976, it was time to try his luck in Formula One World Championship. Takahara entered the season-closing Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway, the famous race in which James Hunt took his championship title after Niki Lauda retired from the race in rainy conditions.
Takahara was driving the #18 Surtees TS19-Cosworth which he rented prior to the race. He was 24th qualifier among 26 entrants. Just eleven drivers finished the race, Takahara was ninth, three laps behind race winner Mario Andretti (Lotus).
Noritake Takahara in the #51 Kojima at 1977 Japanese Grand Prix
One more Formula 1 attempt at 1977 Japanese Grand Prix
In 1977, Takahara was driving different cars in sports car races, including March 74S-BMW, Porsche 906, Shiden 77-BMW or Chevron B36-BMW, scoring some podiums but no wins.
In October, he recorded one more Formula 1 attempt, again at the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji. This time, he was driving the #51 Kojima KE09-Cosworth. His race ended quickly lap because he retired after a crash on lap 2.
Racing until 1986, ending a career with Porsche
After his second F1 attempt, Takahara raced in Japanese Formula 2 in 1978 and then focused on sports car racing until the end of a career.
He raced with different teams and cars, spending the final years with the Alpha Cubic Racing Team. He ended a career with the same manufacturer he started, driving a Porsche 956B.