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Hideki Noda

7th March 1969 (Age 51)
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
Most recent race (in database):

"People think I’m useless," Hideki Noda said during 1994. "I’m looking forward to proving them wrong." Unfortunately, Satoru Nakajima’s former protégé only partially achieved that aim. Despite brief spells in both Formula 1 and Indycars, Noda was eventually unable to sustain an international single-seater career.

Karting success and early career

He made his debut in cars in the 1987 Japanese Formula Junior 1600 series with a championship-winning history in karting behind him. Race wins that first season prompted a move to Formula 3 in 1988 with JAX Racing Team’s Reynard 873-Toyota.

Noda’s ambitions lay abroad and with Nakajima’s help, he switched to the 1989 GM-Lotus Euroseries. He was fast – winning a British round – but his Christal Racing entry finished too many races off the track. Two seasons of British F3 under Alan Docking’s stewardship followed a similar pattern. Victory at Silverstone was the highlight as he finished seventh in the 1991 standings.

He drove a Reynard for three seasons in the FIA Formula 3000 Championship for 3001 International, TOM’s and then Forti Corse. Having not scored a point in 1992 and 1993, Noda opened 1994 by finishing fifth at Silverstone. He was then third at Enna-Pergusa and 10th in the championship.

Formula 1 with Larrousse

It was progress perhaps but hardly F1 form. However he replaced Yannick Dalmas at Larrousse for the final three GPs of the 1994 season. He qualified at the tail-end of the field and retired on each occasion. A plan to share the second Simtek seat with Mimmo Schiattarella during 1995 was scuppered before he could race for the team folded to leave Noda high and dry.

He found refuge with Sal Incandela’s Indy Regency Racing team in Indy Lights. He beat Hélio Castroneves in the rain-effected Portland race during 1997 despite breaking a rib two weeks earlier in a practice accident at Detroit.

Brief Indycar career

That victory did not open doors in America and Noda returned to the Japanese Formula Nippon Championship in 1998. He competed in the series off-and-on until 2005 without winning although he was fifth in the 2000 points for Team Le Mans. Noda returned to America in 2002 for six Indycar starts with Convergent Racing and then Indy Regency when 10th at Phoenix was his best result. Now in his forties, Noda recently raced in the Le Mans Series and in the 24-hour race itself before a couple of outings in Japan’s Super GT Series in 2012.

Now Team Manager of the SARD endurance racing team, the words erratic, wild, humorous and popular seem the most apt when describing Hideki Noda.