991. Takashi Yokoyama killed in 1997 Formula 3 race in Japan after airborne car strikes signboard & disintegrates

YouTube video download / RacingAccidents3 video / Raw footage of a 1997 fatal crash that claimed the life of Formula 3 racer Takashi Yokoyama, 25. Screenshot from the video clip shows Yokohama's airborne open wheel car before it struck a large billboard. There is no sound with the video.
 
This is the latest segment in a Headline Surfer multimedia compilation of the Top 1,000 "Worst of the Worst: Motorsports Crashes" captured on video or still images, with an emphasis on the need for constant vigilance in keeping drivers, crew members, emergency workers, and especially spectators, safe at racing events around the globe.​ There's a full description below on the premise of this multimedia feature along with a recap of previous segments.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A crash that brought out the safety car in the final race of the 1997 Formula 3 racing season in Fuji, Japan, where a young driver moving up fast from the back, Takashi Yokoyama, had failed to slow down in time, hitting a car in front of him and launching his own racing machine into the air before it tore through a signboard killing him instantly.

Yokoyama was just 25 years old. 

Here is a synopsis of fatal crash at Fuji that Oct. 19: There was a crash in front of Yokoyama early in the race between the leaders. 

Dutch racer Tom Coronel was clipped from behind by hard-charging Japanese racer Shigekazu Wakisaka, resulting in his car climbing over the top of Coronel's. One of Wakisaka's tires hit the side of Coronel's helmet before Wakisaka flipped over in the sandpit. Neither driver was injured though Coronel's helmet had tire marks on it.

An early race crash involving Japanese racer Shigekazu Wakisaka (upside down) and Dutch driver Tom Coronel led to a second fatal crash.

A full-course caution was ordered and the rest of the drivers were told by radio with their crew chiefs to slow down for the safety car to lead the field. Yokoyama, who started the race from the 17th position, was behind a group of racers on the front stretch that slowed down awaiting for the safety car.

Yokoyama, however, was apparently not paying attention to the slowing cars in front, track observers at the time have said, as he was traveling at 160 mph (257 kph).

Before he could even apply his brakes, Yokoyama's Dallara hit another vehicle and was launched into the air, crashing into a gantry carrying an electric signboard five-meters (16.5 feet) above the main straight. The car disintegrated rapidly upon impact and then fell to the ground.

The debris was scattered over 500 meters.

A full-course caution was ordered and the rest of the drivers were instructed by their crew chiefs on their radios to  slow down for the safety car which was making its way to the front of the pack Yokoyama, who started the race from the 17th position, was behind a group of racers on the front stretch that slowed for the safety car.

Yokoyama, however, was not paying attention to the slowing cars in front as he was traveling at 160 mph (257 kph). Before he could even attempt to apply his brakes, Yokoyama's Dallara hit another vehicle and was launched into the air, crashing into a gantry carrying an electric signboard five-meters (16.5 feet) above the main straight.

The car disintegrated rapidly upon impact and then fell to the ground. The resulting debris was scattered over 500 meters.

T. Yokoyama was killed in the 1977 F3 Japanese race / Headline SutrferTakashi Yokoyama is shown in the inset pic from 1996 when he was in British F3 racing.

A full-course caution was ordered after a crash involving two cars brought out the yellow flag and the other drivers were instructed on the radio by their crew chiefs to slow down for the safety car , which was making its way to the front to lead the field.

Yokoyama who had started the racing finale from the 17th position, was behind a group of racers on the front stretch that had slowed down waiting for the safety car. But he was not apparently paying attention to the slowing cars in front, track observers at the time said, as he was traveling at 160 mph (257 kph).

Before he could even apply his brakes, Yokoyama's Dallara hit another vehicle and was launched into the air, crashing into a gantry carrying an electric signboard 5-meters (16.5 feet) above the main straight.

The car disintegrated rapidly upon impact and then fell to the ground. The debris was scattered over 500 meters.

With the tragic circumstances of a young driver's life lost, Formula 3 officials subsequently called off the rest of the race.

Fast Facts: 
Takashi Yokoyama started racing in 1993 in the Japanese Formula Ford 1600. Moving quickly through the ranks, he entered British Formula 3 just two years later. With limited options for 1997, Yokoyama returned to his native Japan and signed to drive in the Japanese Formula 3 series for Dome. Unfortunately, as the team's second driver, he had to be content with a year-old Dallara F396. Yokoyama only scored racing finishes of 9th, 13th and 15th before he was killed in the final race of the season.
 
Did You Know?
Tom Coronel won the 1997 Japanese F3 Championship.
 
Premise for the series: 
Motorsports fans are drawn to racing for different reasons: The excitement of speed, skill of drafting & passing; strategies on when to pit for fuel, tires or repairs; the will to win and so forth. Ultimately, though, it's the big crashes like th one here at left from Daytona that fans seem to like more than anything. And though nobody wishes serious injury or death to drivers, crew members, emergency personnel & especially spectators, the sad reality is carnage is always lurking. Despite the latest technology & improvements in aerodynamics of vehicles, driver equipment and enhanced track safety features, the fine line between life & death is always at play in any given sanctioned motorsport. Given that Headline Surfer® puts such an emphasis on racing with Daytona Beach International Speedway, the 24/7 internet news outlet is counting down its listing of the top 1,000 Worst of the Worst motorsports crashes. While on the surface it may come across as gratuitous gore to critics, there can never be enough discussion about the need for constant vigilance in looking at safety.
 
Recap: WORST of the Worst Motorsports crashes:
2019-05-31 16:51:32
2017-01-27 19:17:04
2017-01-19 15:19:25 
2017-01-17 05:29:43 ​
2017-01-08 01:38:12 
2017-01-07 12:56:38 
2017-01-05 00:30:38 
2017-01-04 10:35:00 
2017-01-02 02:33:36 
2017-01-01 16:05:48 

 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.