Taki Inoue was a pay driver who disappeared as quickly as he arrived. He was a Formula 1 driver for a season during which time he was involved in controversial incidents in Monaco and Hungary.
Early racing career at home and abroad
Having started in a novice saloon-car series at Fuji during 1985, Inoue enrolled in the Jim Russell Racing School in England two years later and spent 1987 and 1988 racing in British Formula Ford. Somewhat accident prone, he returned to Japanese Formula 3 for five years but little changed.
Inoue decided to race in the 1994 FIA Formula 3000 Championship with a Super Nova Racing Reynard 94D-Cosworth run by Inoue’s former FF1600 entrant David Sears. Ninth at Estoril was the best result of another less-than-impressive campaign but his healthy sponsorship budget helped fund Vincenzo Sospiri’s championship challenge the following year.
Formula 1 with Simtek and Footwork
Inoue ended 1994 making his Grand Prix debut in Japan. His Simtek S941-Ford was slowest in qualifying and he crashed after just three laps of the race. F1 has always accepted a healthy wallet as well as talent and Inoue returned for a full season with Footwork-Hart in 1995. He was eighth in the Italian GP but it was those accidents for which he is best remembered.
He was being towed back to the pits during practice at Monaco when safety-car driver Jean Ragnotti arrived at the Swimming Pool section at full speed. Collision was inevitable and the Footwork was flipped. Inoue, who had undone his seatbelts, was lucky to escape injury after falling headfirst onto the tarmac. He then suffered engine failure in Hungary and was run over by a support vehicle while trying to extinguish a small fire.
Hoped-for backing for 1996 did not materialise and Inoue only raced in national GTs thereafter. Now retired from racing, Inoue has interests in an African mine and a management company.