It seems like only yesterday that Hiromu Naruse was showing me the highlights of his latest creation, the MRS hybrid sports concept. That was six years ago. I can still remember his quiet voice and those piercing eyes that made you hang on every word he said.
Exactly how the accident came about on 23 June that killed Naruse and seriously injured two occupants in a BMW 3-Series near the Nurburgring will reveal itself in subsequent police investigations.
But for now, the motoring world in Japan and abroad is just trying to come to terms with the loss of one of its brightest and most experienced stars. Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda, who considered 67-year old Naruse a life-long mentor, wrote in his blog, “In Germany, at the Nurburgring, driving an LFA… Naruse-san has gone to that holy circuit in the sky. His spirit will live on inside my heart. We will pick up where he left off and continue to make better cars. Naruse-san, thank you and farewell.”
As Toyota’s chief test driver, Naruse’s enthusiasm and passion for his work was infectious. He had entered Toyota in 1963 and rose through the ranks to take the hallowed position of chief test driver by the early 90s. The ‘Nur Meister’ as Ferrari had named him, was involved in the development of nearly every major car from Toyota for the last 40 years. From the legendary 2000GT to the Celica, the MR2 to the Corolla AE86, the Supra to the Lexus IS, his DNA flows through many of Japan’s greatest cars.