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Hiro Matsushita

Hiro Matsushita
Nationality  Japan
Born (1961-03-14) March 14, 1961
Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture
Retired 2001
CART Championship Car
Years active 1990-1998
Teams Dick Simon Racing
Paragon Racing
Walker Racing
Arciero-Wells Racing
Payton/Coyne Racing
Starts 117
Wins 0
Poles 0
Best finish 23rd in 1991
Previous series
1989
1989
1986
American Racing Series
North American Formula Atlantic (West)
United States Formula Ford
Championship titles
1989 North American Formula Atlantic West Division champion

Hiroyuki "Hiro" Matsushita (ヒロ松下 Hiro Matsushita, born March 14, 1961, Kobe, Japan) (full Kanji:松下弘幸), is a former driver in the Champ Car series. He is the grandson of Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.. The family relationship has allowed him to receive financial backing from Panasonic throughout his racing career.

Contents

  • Racing career 1
    • Early career 1.1
    • CART Champ Car 1.2
  • Personal life 2
    • Nickname 2.1
  • Racing record 3
    • 24 Hours of Le Mans results 3.1
    • American open–wheel racing results 3.2
      • Indy Lights 3.2.1
      • CART 3.2.2
  • External links 4
  • References 5

Racing career

Early career

Matsushita started his career racing motorcycles in his home country between 1977 and 1979, before making the switch to four wheels. With Panasonic backing, he then moved to the United States and entered his first Formula Ford race in 1986. He came second at the 24 Hours of Daytona and third at the Sebring 12 Hours in 1988. Matsushita began to make his name known by winning the 1989 Toyota Atlantic championship (Pacific division) with the largest point margin of all time.

CART Champ Car

He graduated to Champ Car in 1990, scoring one point in his debut season. Inexplicably, he never showed the pace that took him to four Atlantic victories; instead, he quickly earned a reputation for being at the tail end of the grid, always outperformed by his teammates. Nonetheless, he became the first Japanese driver to race in the Indianapolis 500 in 1991, and followed that achievement with a top ten finish at Milwaukee. Matsushita missed the 1992 Indy 500 after suffering a broken leg during a practice crash. He was sidelined for several weeks, and missed the next six events as well.

At the Phoenix race in 1994, Matsushita endured a horrific crash in which his car was cut in half by Jacques Villeneuve's car traveling at full speed. Miraculously, he emerged from his destroyed car unscathed. The same year, he earned his best career finish of 6th position at the Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway. This result was made possible by an extraordinarily high rate of attrition that saw only 8 cars finish the race. Matsushita was 11 laps behind the leader at the drop of the checkered flag.

By the time he retired in 1998, Matsushita had started 117 Champ Car races for Dick Simon Racing, Walker Racing, Arciero/Wells Racing and Payton/Coyne. He holds the record for most starts in American Championship Car Racing history without scoring a Top 5.

In 2001, Matsushita competed in the Baja 1000 off road race in a Mitsubishi Montero.

Personal life

Away from the track, Matsushita owns Swift Engineering, an aerospace firm and race car constructor which he bought in 1991. He also owns Pacific Marketing, which oversees sponsorship arrangements for Panasonic. Matsushita resides in San Clemente, California.

Nickname

Matsushita earned the nickname "King Hiro" from Emerson Fittipaldi, who was complaining about Matsushita's reluctance to cede track position when getting lapped by the leaders.[1] The nickname came about as a result of the voice-activated microphone ("vox") Roger Penske's team was using. Fittipaldi's epithet was said so quickly that the circuit cut off the first syllable of the first word he used. Fittipaldi, allegedly, had intended to say "Fucking Hiro!"[2]

Racing record

24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1999 Team Goh
David Price Racing
Hiroki Katoh
Akihiko Nakaya
BMW V12 LM LMP 223 DNF DNF

American open–wheel racing results

()

Indy Lights

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Rank Points
1989 Panasonic Racing
PHX

LBH

MIL

DET

POR
13

MWL
12

TOR
6

POC

MDO

ROA

NAZ
8

LAG
18th 14

CART

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Rank Points
1990 Dick Simon Racing
PHX

LBH
19

INDY
DNQ

MIL

DET
Ret

POR
12

CLE

MEA
Ret

TOR

MIS

DEN
15

VAN
Ret

MDO
17

ROA
Ret

NZR
Ret

LS
Ret
31st 1
1991 Dick Simon Racing
SRF
Ret

LBH
13

PHX
14

INDY
16

MIL
10

DET
14

POR
14

CLE
14

MEA
12

TOR
Ret

MIS
Ret

DEN
14

VAN
16

MDO
14

ROA
12

NZR
12

LS
20
23rd 6
1992 Dick Simon Racing
SRF
DNS

PHX
16

LBH
10

INDY
DNS

DET

POR

MIL

NHM

TOR

MIS

CLE
Ret

ROA
14

VAN
13

MDO
Ret

NZR
14

LS
15
27th 3
1993 Walker Racing
SRF
11

PHX
10

LBH
14

INDY
18

MIL
13

DET
13

POR
Ret

CLE
12

TOR
16

MIS
14

NHM
13

ROA
13

VAN
12

MDO
13

NZR
21

LS
19
26th 7
1994 Dick Simon Racing
SRF
15

PHX
Ret

LBH
DNQ

INDY
14

MIL
23

DET
DNQ

POR
21

CLE
15

TOR
18

MIS
6

MDO
18

NHM
Ret

VAN
DNQ

ROA
14

NZR
16

LS
Ret
26th 8
1995 Arciero-Wells Racing
MIA
Ret

SRF
11

PHX
Ret

LBH
19

NZR
DNS

INDY
10

MIL
19

DET
14

POR
17

ROA
13

TOR
Ret

CLE
13

MIS
Ret

MDO
15

NHM
22

VAN
17

LS
22
28th 5
1996 Payton/Coyne Racing
MIA
18

RIO
Ret

SRF
10

LBH
Ret

NZR
Ret

500
14

MIL
Ret

DET
19

POR
Ret

CLE
17

TOR
Ret

MIS
15

MDO
Ret

ROA
Ret

VAN
15

LS
Ret
28th 3
1997 Arciero-Wells Racing
MIA
Ret

SRF
Ret

LBH
20

NZR
Ret

RIO
Ret

STL
15

MIL
17

DET
19

POR
15

CLE
20

TOR
22

MIS
9

MDO
19

ROA
Ret

VAN
14

LS
Ret

FON
Ret
27th 4
1998 Arciero-Wells Racing
MIA
Ret

MOT
16

LBH
19

NZR

RIO
15

STL

MIL

DET

POR

CLE

TOR

MIS

MDO

ROA

VAN

LS

HOU

SRF

FON
30th 0

External links

  • Profile Page
  • A biography

References

  1. ^ Oreovicz, John (2001-08-22). "Tora Finding His Form". ChampCarWorldSeries.com. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  2. ^ "Motor Sports Dictionary - K". Dictionary of Gambling. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dean Hall
North American Formula Atlantic
Pacific Division Champion

1989
Succeeded by
Mark Dismore
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