Taki Inoue is a Japanese former racing driver and racing manager, currently a businessman who resides in Monaco, who recorded 18 starts in the Formula 1 World Championship. He made one F1 start with MTV Simtek Ford in 1994 and then spent a season with Footwork Arrows in 1995. In a post-F1 career, Inoue occasionally participated in sports car competitions.
Apart of his relatively unsuccessful F1 career as a 'pay driver', Taki Inoue is one of the most known bizarre characters of the world's premier open-wheel competition, being remembered by two non-racing accidents.
The first was when his towed car was hit and rolled in the pits by a course car (driven by Jean Ragnotti) at 1995 Monaco Grand Prix. The second one happened at 1995 Hungarian Grand Prix when he was hit by a rescue car after he jumped out from his F1 car to take a fire extinguisher.
Born in September 1963 in Kobe, Takachiho 'Taki' Inoue started his racing career in the late 1980s. He raced in the British Formula 3 and then in the Japanese Formula 3 until 1993, scoring no wins or podiums.
In 1994, he spent a season in the International Formula 3000 Championship with Super Nova Racing, driving the #33 Reynard-Cosworth alongside Vincenzo Sospiri as his teammate in the #32 car. Inoue scored no points in eight races while his teammate was relatively successful, finishing fourth in the championship.
The F3000 season finished in October and Taki made his Formula 1 debut in November, joining MTV Simtek Ford in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, the penultimate race of the 1994 F1 season. Inoue has a one-race deal with MTV Simtek Ford as a replacement for Domenico Schiattarella, driving the #32 Simtek S941-Ford.
He qualified for the 26th and the last place on the grid. He wasn't the slowest qualifier at Suzuka because Pacific-Ilmor's Bertrand Gachot and Paul Belmondo were slower than him. In the race, Inoue spun off after three laps.
For the 1995 Formula 1 season, he found a place in Arrows F1 team, owned by Japanese company Footwork. He was driving the #10 Hart-powered FA16 while his teammate in the #9 car was Gianni Morbidelli. He was 21st on the grid in the season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix, ending a race after 48 laps due to a fire on a car.
Three more DNFs followed in Argentina, San Marino and Spain, the first two after accidents and Spain's retirement with a broken transmission.
In the fifth round of the season, at the streets of Monte Carlo, the infamous accident happened during a practice session. Inoue's car stopped on the track. He explained that he didn't want to miss the next session so he was asking to tow him into the pits.
While Inoue was slowly driving his car around the Monaco circuit, Jean Ragnotti came in a course car and crashed into Taki's car, rolling him upside-down. Taki, fortunately, avoided serious injuries and started the race on Sunday, retiring after 27 laps due to gearbox failure.
In the sixth round, the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Inoue reached the finish line for the first time. After starting from P22, he finished ninth, two laps behind race winner Jean Alesi (Ferrari).
Later in the season, Taki managed to finish four more races in Belgium (12th), Italy (8th), Portugal (15th) and Japan (12th) but scored no points because only six drivers were receiving points.
One more bizarre non-racing accident happened in August at Hungaroring, during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Taki qualified 18th for the race but stopped after 13 laps with the broken engine which was caught by fire.
Taki wanted to hurry race marshals to extinguish a fire and he took one fire extinguisher but didn't look behind him when walking across the grass and he was hit by a rescue car. Taki suffered minor injuries but recovered for the next race.
For the 1996 F1 season, Taki had an opportunity to join Minardi F1 Team but a lack of sponsorship money ended his F1 career. In a post-F1 career, Inoue occasionally participated in sports car competitions in Japan and internationally, mostly driving Porsches.
In 2005, he and four Japanese teammates participated at Daytona 24 Hours with Auto Gallery/TRG's Porsche 996 GT3 Cup. He recorded last racing attempts in 2008 in the Japanese Super GT Series.