When The McLaren F1 Conquered Japan

Screenshot from BOSSCARS on YouTube
Screenshot from BOSSCARS on YouTube

Now is as good a time as any to remember when the McLaren F1 went to Japan in 1996 and ran the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship. Unsurprisingly, it cleaned up.


The season went to none other than the Lark-branded F1, back before it went to its long-tail configuration. It was run by David Brabham and John Nielsen as well as Ralf Schumacher and Naoki Hattori, the latter pair claiming the most wins for the season, the former pair taking the title. McLaren F1 race cars still looked just like McLaren F1 road cars at that point.

Brabham and Nielsen, Ralf and Naoki made McLaren the first and only non-Japanese manufacturer to win the top GT500 class. That’s impressive, sure, but really it’s just a pleasure to listen to that naturally-aspirated V12 howl through the gears, blipping on the manual shifts, getting pole at Suzuka.

Correction: This article initially stated that Ralf Schumacher and Naoki Hattori won the 1996 season. They only had the most wins. Their teammates David Brabham and John Nielsen won the season overall on points.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.



that seatbelt... looks... unsafe.