By Mark Kleis
Wednesday, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 9:11 pm
 
A fatal accident just outside of Germany's famed Nurburgring race track earlier today claimed the life of Toyota's head test driver, Hiromu Naruse.

The incident involved a head-on crash between Naruse, driving a preproduction Lexus LFA, and a BMW test driver in a standard 3-Series sedan.

UPDATE: The accident, which occurred on Germany's 410 highway just a few kilometers from Nurburgring, has now been confirmed by a Toyota spokesperson who spoke withThe New York Times.

The 67 year old Naruse was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, although details concerning the cause of death have yet to be released.

Naruse was piloting one of only two LFA test cars in Germany when his car collided with the 3-Series. Both the driver and the passenger of the 3-Series have been listed in critical condition and they remain in intensive care.

Early reports by first responders suggest that Naruse was taking the turn at a high rate of speed and crossed into the opposing lane, colliding head-on with the BMW. The complete accident investigation is still underway.

Remembering Naruse
Naruse was interviewed on May 26th by Lexus Magazine, where he shared some insight on his experience behind the wheel of the LFA.

"When we raced the LFA in Nardo, Italy, I thought I might not return to Japan alive. The purpose of this 'test' was to evaluate the car's durability at 200 mph for a long period. The race was in the dark with no lights on the track, plus there were birds flying at me - and imagine if a tire burst! We created the final LFA through these kinds of test experiences."

Naruse had been with Toyota since 1963, where his colleagues say he left an enormous impression by helping to shape and develop countless cars. In addition to being referred to as the "Godfather of the LFA," Naruse was also largely credited with the Toyota 2000GT.



References
1. 'Meet Hiromu Naruse, chief test...' view
2. 'Fatal accident on highway 410...' view
3. 'Toyota's chief test driver...' view
4. 'Toyota's chief test driver...' view