Nobuhiro Tajima Suzuki Pikes Peak winning racecar

The Marvelous Monster, Nobuhiro Tajima's Pikes Peak Destroyer

By Mike Kojima

It's no wonder why Nobuhiro Tajima's Nickname is "Monster".  We don't think it's because of his history as one of the most winning drivers in Hill Climb history, we don't think it's because of his wild driving style.  We don't think it's because of his shredding in WRC rally and rallycross either.  We think it's because Mr. Tajima is simply the biggest Japanese guy in Japan or certainly the biggest guy we know.  Tajima san is physically huge, tall and muscular, head and shoulders above your typical Japanese guy!  Although he is physically intimidating and a fierce competitor, he is a really nice person face to face.

Nobuhiro Tajima Suzuki Pikes Peak winning racecar
Tajima san gives the clouds around the summit of Pikes Peak a worried look.  The weather can change in minutes and his run came just int time.  Minutes after his climb to the top, it started to rain and snow on the course, messing up Rhys Millen's chances for the year.

Tajima San's entry into competition was in the 1968 All Japan Dirt Trial Championship. Amazingly he won his very first event. From there his carreer progressed though a successful run of victories in rally and rallycross.  Tajima San then graduated to the vaunted ranks of International Rally or WRC when he entered the 1981 Lombard RAC Rally. In 1983 he established Monster International, a motorsport preparation shop. In 1986, he established Suzuki Sports, Suzuki's in-house motorsport division and returned to WRC competition, competing in a Suzuki Cultus in the 1986 Olympus Rally.  It is here where he started his famous, long running association with Suzuki, taking his first class win and finishing 15th overall. He returned again the following year where he won his class again, finishing 7th overall. Additionally, he competed in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

Nobuhiro Tajima Suzuki Pikes Peak winning racecar
Tajima san doing some warm up exercises right before getting into the car while watching the sky.  Physical conditioning is pretty important for this event as it's hard to simply breathe near the summit.  The top drivers all use on board oxygen systems to keep reflexes fast and minds clear.

Tajima San's debut at Pikes Peak came in 1992 with the notorious twin engined Suzuki Cultus, driving in the Unlimited category. In 1995 he returned with another twin engined car, a Suzuki Escudo. The following year, he drove a more conventional car, panning the quirky twin engined cars that gave him fame for a V6 Suzuki Escudo in which he finished second to Rod Millen's record-holding Toyota Celica Alltrac.  The Alltrac was a highly developed car that was a proven winner in International Hill Climb events.

Nobuhiro Tajima Suzuki Pikes Peak winning racecar
Good Luck! Note the oxygen system.


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Wednesday, July 07, 2010 4:52 PM
Impressive is the angle of the halfshafts in the rear to allow the car to jump without too much downward angle.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010 4:53 PM
Front too!
Wednesday, July 07, 2010 6:44 PM
This site is just fantastic. You guys cover the best events and you go into real actual depth!

LOVE IT. Keep up the good work.
Thursday, July 08, 2010 3:40 AM
The turbos look like WRC units, minus the inlet restrictor that they are machined for. My thoughts as to why the rear wheels are in the tunnels? it has to fit inside a shipping container to get here and it may not be able to get any wider. If that is the case, then I would have put fairings around the tires to reduce the turbulence.
Thursday, July 08, 2010 6:24 AM
I don't like how pikes peak is slowly turning into an all tarmac event, it makes it less exciting to watch than the huge plumes of dirt and lurid 4 wheel drifts that make for stunning photographs and a real challenge for the drivers.
Thursday, July 08, 2010 9:05 AM
Those are TR30Rs. Magnesium compressor housings. As for the wastegates, maybe custom pieces. The old Cosworth Champ car engines, and the Audi R8s have non-aftermarket looking wastegates also. Might have just been built in-house or some Motorsports only company.
Thursday, July 08, 2010 9:38 AM
Dang, I counted at least 5 GoPro cameras on that thing! I wanna see some of that video! It's interesting about the transponder failing...I had not heard about that controversy.
Thursday, July 08, 2010 9:44 AM
i'd been lookin everywhere for detailed pics of this car... thanks a lot mike!! u're the man!!!
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Thursday, July 08, 2010 10:37 AM
That thing looks more like an LMP car than a Suzuki SUV!
Thursday, July 08, 2010 7:09 PM
Another awesome article! Thanks!
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Thursday, July 08, 2010 10:04 PM
I dig the level of preparation with the engine, turbo, and charge cooling. The "skyscraper" has A LOT to catch up to if they want to beat this thing. I can think of like 10 things off the top of my head right now...
Friday, July 09, 2010 7:25 AM
is that an oxigen tank i see? is it 4 the pilot?
Mari Umekubo
Mari Umekubolink
Friday, July 09, 2010 8:09 AM
Yes, it's used in the higher altitudes.
Thoroughly interesting Mike! THX!
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Friday, July 09, 2010 3:42 PM
requesting time off from work as soon as i can for the 2011 event. its about time someone comes correct to battle for record holder.
Saturday, July 10, 2010 12:03 AM
Eric (Hsu), care to share some of your thoughts in regard?
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Sunday, July 11, 2010 7:57 AM
Mike and I (and Jeff) shared some of our thoughts over lunch last week. They are long and detailed and could be easily misunderstood over the internet. The next time we meet at a time attack, ask me and I'll explain them to you then. The Skyscraper is a cool car, but it needs development time (and some different parts in my opinion).

I am sure Rhys will come back next year and go much quicker. Will he smoke the Monster or Rod's record? Well let's look at the cars in a brief comparison.

The Monster has a highly developed engine, turbo, ecu, chassis, aero, and suspension package. The engine has magnesium compressor housing TR30s turbos ($4k+ each). The inlet plenum is magnesium and appears to be designed for various length runners (to be determined by engine developer). I generates 910hp @ 8750. It probably uses a motorsport grade ECU that controls both engine, transmission, and possibly diffs. It uses motorsport grade turbochargers mounted low in the chassis for a low CG and lightweight tube and fin intercoolers with plenty of dry carbon ducting for airflow. It uses hydraulic differentials with multiple maps so Tajima can adjust things to his liking on the fly. All of this indicates to me that the engine is professionally prepared, the car is well engineered and extremely well though out. The proof is in the pudding since he is a record holder.

Rod Millen's Tacoma was purpose built from clean sheet so I'm guessing that the chassis and suspension is optimized. It might be a bit old school by today's standards, but it purpose built nonetheless. It is not a converted road race car's suspension. The engine is a highly developed ex-IMSA GTP Toyota 503E engine probably with a motorsport grade ecu, harnesses, sensors, etc. In the IMSA days in qualifying the engine made over 1100hp in qualifying and I think it was raced at 900+hp RESTRICTED. At Pike's Peak they don't need to run a restrictor so your guess is as good as mine's how much power the Tacoma was cranking out. The engine was dominant in IMSA and was highly developed by TRD back in the late 80's and early 90's.

The Skyscraper makes 700hp tops (turbo sizing limited I think), but with more development time on the Hyundai engine they may be able to make more next year. I doubt the Hyundai revs to 8750+rpm. 700 is well short of Rod or Tajima. The big heavy tube and fin intercooler is high mounted. The ECU isn't capable of controlling the transmission. It has mechanical diffs on a race track with varying surfaces (remember that PP is currently both paved and dirt so how could the same diffs work optimally for both?). There are more points, but like I said, ask Mike or I in person next time. I think they'll need plenty of time to figure things out and become a serious contender. Rhys is a hardcore competitor and hates defeat so it will be very exciting to see the changes to the car for next year. I wouldn't be surprised if the car was revamped entirely.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Sunday, July 11, 2010 8:03 AM
BTW, here's a good shot of the Tacoma's engine, turbo, etc.

Monday, July 12, 2010 11:08 AM
Eric, thanks for taking the time to explain your thoughts (I'm not an engineer as you are), and my mechanical understanding is definitely much less than yours....but I get the whole pictures, and what you're trying to say.
I'm sure, like you said, that Rhys Millen will work the bugs out for the next year event, but so will Tajima....lol, it should be interesting.
I'll catch you at the next Time Attack event.
Friday, July 16, 2010 11:04 PM
Garrett TR30R. These turbochargers are specifically designed with 6 customizable options from the factory. They are based on the GT28R platform yet make a heap more power compared to their larger framed cousins. The info I have on my desk shows that they flow enough to make 600HP PER unit. A far cry above what anything remotely in its class can produce. Last I was quoted for a set of these turbos with the options I was looking for was $16.5K for TWO turbos. They have an ultra light alloy mix of titanium and combination of alloys in the turbine housings making the entire unit weight a mere 12lbs!!! (that's right the entire turbocharger weighing only 12lbs!!!...that means compressor housing, CHRA, turbine housing) They have a vband inlet and discharge on the turbine housings as well.

Garrett at this point in time aren't making them due to the release of the GTX series turbos where they have spent much of their time in developing. However you can still order these but don't expect to get them ANYTIME soon. From what I was told its a minimum of a 2-3 year wait. So now the question is...who can make a comparable unit and readily available.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, July 17, 2010 7:34 AM
I thought they were unobtainable by non works people? They are so rare I could only recognize the Motorsport non containment housings.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Sunday, July 18, 2010 6:02 AM
I think it depends on which TR30R you are looking for. I am guessing that not all of them are that super exotic. We regularly sell two different TR30Rs (WRC Sierra and WRC Focus) and they aren't $8,250 each even after our mark up despite the turbos being a part of an ultra expensive Cosworth engine. I'm sure they could be though depending on the configuration. Also, they are regularly in stock for us albeit in very low quantities. It could be because we are considered works Ford however.
Sunday, July 18, 2010 7:54 PM
Eric, is there a way I can contact you to obtain two of these turbochargers? I've been contacting Garrett and all distributors for these and everyone comes up dry. You are the first to say you physically have them in stock. Let me know how to get ahold of you.

Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Sunday, July 18, 2010 8:14 PM
I just sent you a message. Check your inbox on motoiq.
Saturday, June 22, 2013 10:40 AM
The wastegates are DSPS units. Standard stuff on lots of LeMans and Rally cars. They also provide most of the anti-lag valves for WRC teams.
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