Mitsuo Ito, the first and only Japanese to win an Isle of Man TT has been inducted into the inaugural Motorcycle Federation of Japan Motor Sports Hall of Fame. A lifetime employee of Suzuki Japan, Ito achieved this feat riding a Suzuki RM63 in the 1963 50cc Ultra-Lightweight TT.
Ito participated in domestic and international Grand Prix racing from 1959 to 1967 and competed in the 50cc and 125cc categories, claiming two 50cc Grand Prix victories 13 podiums and1 fastest lap from 29 starts.
In 1970 Ito also had a foray into car racing in Japan and won the only event he entered, the Japan Automobile Federation Junior Seven Challenge Cup held at Mount Fuji International Speedway driving a Suzuki Fronte RF single seater.
Mitsuo also famously partnered Stirling Moss in a Suzuki 360SS for a high-speed run on the Autostrada del Sol between Milan and Naples as a publicity stunt, with the 356cc two-stroke machine averaging 122.44kph (76.08mph).
After retiring from racing, Ito took part in Suzuki’s racing activities helping to develop racing machines and world-class technologies. In addition, Ito served as an engineering committee member of the MFJ for many years. He not only contributed to Suzuki but also the popularisation and development of motorcycle racing in Japan.
Mitsuo Ito: “I am very honoured to be inducted into the first hall of fame. However, it couldn’t have been achieved without the teamwork of everyone, so I don’t believe that I was personally awarded. It is a result of a brave decision by our second president Shunzo Suzuki, who had the foresight to participate in the TT racing, and I am honoured and thankful that I was selected as a participant and was able to win the race.”
Words © Geoff Dawes 2018 and suzuki-racing.com. Images courtesy http://www.suzuki-racing.com