- July 01, 1947
- Not Active
Kazuyoshi Hoshino is a Japanese former racing driver, an owner of the Team Impul, and one of the most successful Japanese racers ever, what earned him a nickname of the 'fastest man in Japan' (Nippon ichi hayai otoko).
He was a national champion both in motorcycle and car racing more than ten times. He conquered Japanese premier single-seater competition (F2000/F2/F3000/Formula Nippon) six times. Hoshino recorded two starts in the Formula 1 World Championship, participating in the Japanese Grand Prix in 1976 and 1977.
In the Japanese Touring Car Championship, he was a champion once, in 1990. In sports car racing, he won five titles in the Fuji Grand Champion Series and two titles in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship. In the Japanese GT Championship, his best result was the third place. He was also third overall at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998, in a Nissan R390 GT1. He managed to win Daytona 24 Hours in 1992, at the wheel of Nissan R91CP.
Motocross champion early in a career
Born in July 1947 in Shizuoka, Kazuyoshi Hoshino gained his first racing success in motocross, becoming the national champion in 1968 in classes 90cc and 125cc, driving a Kawasaki.
After that, he switched to car racing, becoming a Nissan factory driver. He was driving a Nissan Fairlady 240Z in the Fuji Grand Champion Series, then switching to March 73S-BMW in 1974.
First championship title in Formula 2000 in 1975
In 1974, Hoshino also made a debut in the Formula 2000, driving a Surtees TS15 (Ford). Next year, he was driving a March 742-BMW for Victory Circle Club, scoring victories in two races and taking his first championship title in Japanese premier single-seater competition. He was tied in points with Noritake Takahara.
In the 1976 Formula 2000 season, Hoshino joined Heros Racing Corporation and scored two wins again but finished fourth in the points.
Two Formula 1 starts with Heros Racing
In 1976, Hoshino also made a debut in Formula 1 with Heros Racing, driving the #52 Tyrrell 007-Cosworth in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway. He was 21st on the grid, retiring after 27 laps.
A year later, Hoshino made one more start in the F1 Japanese Grand Prix, driving the #52 Kojima KE009-Cosworth at Fuji. He started eleventh and finished eleventh, two laps behind race winner James Hunt (McLaren).
Three championship titles in two years
In 1977, Hoshino's main competition was Formula 2. Driving a Nova-BMW for Heros Racing, he won three races and took his second championship title in a series. He defeated Kunimitsu Takahashi by five points.
Next year, Hoshino defended a title with the same team, winning again three races in a Nova-BMW. In 1978, his main F2 rival was Masahiro Hasemi and he defeated him by four points.
Five titles in the Fuji Grand Champion Series
In 1978, Hoshino also won Fuji Grand Champion Series for the first time, driving a March 74S-BMW. It was his first of five titles in the Fuji Grand Champion Series.
He was a champion again in 1982, 1984, 1985 and 1987. In all of those championship-winning seasons, he was driving MCS prototypes. In total, he scored 28 wins and 42 podiums in the Fuji Grand Champion Series.
Formula 2 vice-champion five times in a row
After winning two Japanese F2 titles in 1977 and 1978, Hoshino was the vice-champion five times in a row from 1979 to 1983. In that period, he won four races at Suzuka. The champions were Keiji Matsumoto (1979), Masahiro Hasemi (1980), Satoru Nakajima (1981, 1982) and Geoff Lees (1983).
Outside Formula 2, Hoshino added two more championship titles to his account by winning the JAF Formula Pacific Series in 1981 and 1982, driving a March 79B-Nissan.
Two attempts at Bathurst 1000, class win in 1982
Hoshino was a versatile driver from early days, so he raced also in touring car competitions. In 1981, he made a debut at famous Bathurst 1000 race in Australia, together with Masahiro Hasemi in a Nissan Bluebird Turbo. They didn't finish the race.
Next year, in October 1982, Hoshino and Hasemi returned to Mount Panorama in the #56 Nissan Bluebird Turbo, finishing 8th overall and the winners in Class B.
Founding his own racing team in 1983
In 1980, Kazuyoshi Hoshino founded a company Impul, starting to produce aftermarket parts for Nissans, such are body kits, engine components, and wheels.
In 1983, to help to promote his business, Kazuyoshi formed his own team Hoshino Racing. The team found a success in various racing disciplines. Later it was renamed to Team Impul and today it still competes in Japanese premier championships Super GT Series and Super Formula.
Three championship titles in Japanese Formula 3000
After forming his team, Hoshino continued to race in the Formula 2, staying among the front-runners. He was second in the points in 1983 and 1983, third in 1984 and fourth in 1985. In 1987, the series was renamed to Formula 3000 and Hoshino became the first champion after he won four races with March-Honda or Lola-Honda.
The next championship F3000 title came in 1990, when Hoshino was a winner in six of ten races, driving a Lola-Mugen for Team Impul. The last championship title in the premier single-seater championship Hoshino captured in 1993, after winning two races in a Lola-Cosworth.
Le Mans 24h debut in 1986
Parallel to his commitments in Formula 3000, Hoshino was developing sports car racing career with Nissan, participating in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship and selected races of the World Endurance Championship. He won Fuji 1000 in October 1985 and then made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1986. In his first Le Mans attempt, Hoshino was sharing a Nissan R86V with Keiji Matsumoto and Aguri Suzuki, not finishing the race.
In the following years, Hoshino recorded three more DNFs at Le Mans in 1987, 1988 and 1989. He finally reached the finish in 1990, in the fifth place in a Nissan R90C.
Japanese touring car champion with Nissan Skyline GT-R
In 1990, when he was F3000 champion, Hoshino finished third in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship and won the Japanese Touring Car Championship.
He was driving the #12 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R together with Toshio Suzuki. They won five races and dominantly took the title.
Two triumphs in the Japanese championship, win at Daytona in 1992
In the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship, Hoshino finally captured his first title in 1991, after winning three races in a Nissan R91CP. He was sharing a car with Toshio Suzuki. In the same year, they were second in the JTCC.
In February 1992, Hoshino's season started with an overall victory at Daytona 24 Hours, together with Masahiro Hasemi and Toshio Suzuki in the #23 Nissan R91CP. Later that year, he won one more JSPC title in a Nissan R92CP.
Racing in Formula Nippon until 1996, competing in JGTC until 2002
Hoshino's successful career has been continued with one more F3000 title in 1993, which turn to be his last championship title in a career. Hoshino was active in the Japanese premier single-seater competition until 1996, when it was renamed to Formula Nippon. That year, he scored his last victory in the season-opening race at Suzuka and finished third in the points, behind Ralf Schumacher and Naoki Hattori.
After leaving Formula Nippon, Hoshino stayed regular competitor in the Japanese GT Championship (JGTC) and Japanese Touring Car Championship (JTCC). In eight JGTC seasons with Team Impul's Nissan Skyline GT-R, he scored just two wins, finishing best in the third place in 1998 and 2000.
Podium at Le Mans in 1998
Kazuyoshi Hoshino wasn't competing at Le Mans between 1991 and 1994, returning in 1995 with Nissan Skyline GT-R LM and not finishing the race. He then reached the finish line in 1996, as tenth in GT1 class, and in 1997, as fifth in GT1 class.
In 1998, in his tenth participation at Le Mans, Hoshino finally reached a podium, finishing in the third place overall in the #32 Nissan R390 GT1. His partners were Aguri Suzuki and Masahiko Kageyama.
Retiring from racing at the end of 2002
It was Hoshino's last visit to Le Mans. In the following years, he raced in Japan only, retiring from racing at the end of 2002, at the age of 55.
Since then, Hoshino focused on leading his team in different championships, gaining the most success in the Formula Nippon/Super Formula. Team Impul's championship-winning drivers were Satoshi Motoyama (2001, 2003, 2005), Benoit Treluyer (2006) and Tsugio Matsuda (2007, 2008), Joao Paulo de Oliveira (2010).
Photos: Team Impul,