In 1965 Minoru Hayashi built his first racing car, a rebodied Honda S600 coupe. Belonging to Tojiro Ukiya, it was called the "Karasu" (crow in Japanese), due to its shape. Built on a small budget and in a short time, the Karasau emphasized weight reduction and aerodynamics using FRP materials. The car went on to win its debut race at the Suzuka Clubman Race, despite Hayashi having no experience in racecar construction. In 1966 he went on to build the Macransa, a more extensively modified Honda S800 to compete at the Japanese Grand Prix, this was followed by the "Kusabi" three years later, which was a Formula Junior racing car, and the "Panic" in 1971.
In 1975 at Takaragaike, Kyoto, Hayashi formed Dome with an intention to manufacture cars with small production runs, using racing machines to develop the technology. Three years after the company's formation in 1978, the company produced its first concept car designed for road use called the Dome Zero (童夢-零) powered by a Nissan L28 engine and made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show of the same year. For the following year, Dome produced the production version of the Zero called the Dome P2, which was exhibited at Chicago Auto Show and Los Angeles Auto Expo. However, the car was refused type approval by the Japanese Government and was unable to go into production.
Dome continued as a sportscar constructor building cars for Toyota's motorsport department TOM'S to compete in the All Japan Super Silhouette Championship, then later using Group C cars at the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship which was also used to compete in the World Sportscar Championship until the end of the decade when Dome switched to Honda.
Minoru Hayashi would also assist his cousin Masakazu Hayashi establish his own formula car manufacturing concern (Masakazu of the self-named Hayashi aluminum wheel company). After producing cars for Japan's Formula Junior 1600 category for 10 years, the first F3 car was the Hayashi 803 Formula Three car, designed by the two Hayashi cousins. That was followed by the Hayashi 320 in 1981 designed by Masao Ono, who had also designed the 1976 Kojima F1 car. In a Hayashi 320 Osamu Nakako won the All-Japan Formula Three Championship title. A 320 was also modified for the Formula Atlantic category and won the Macau Grand Prix driven by American Bob Earl. A further development, the 321, saw action briefly in Japan and England. Ono then switched to Dome to work on the sportscar designs and Hayashi Racing switched to Ralt chassis to win the Japanese F3 title with Kengo Nakamoto.
In 1984, the followup Hayashi 322 was a success and helped Shuji Hyodo to win the Japanese F3 championship. In 1985 the Hayashi 330 won a single Japanese F3 race but finishes were good enough to place driver Shuji Hyodo third in season-end standing. A development of the 322, the 331, appeared in a handful of Japanese F3 races in 1986 without success and disappeared quietly. A downturn in the aluminum wheel business is credited in causing Hayashi to abandon racing.
In 1988, Dome would return to production car design establishing a design studio called Jiotto Design to design cars with its own quarter scale windtunnel to build the Jiotto Caspita supercar, which never went into production due to the recession.
Dome continued to compete with Lammers, Keiji Matsumoto, Ross Cheever and Thomas Danielsson, driving until 1992, when Marco Apicella was signed to drive the new Dome-Mugen F103, taking the title in 1994. The Formula 3000 program continued until 1998 with Shinji Nakano, Katsumi Yamamoto and Juichi Wakisaka but without much success.
Late in 1995, Tadashi Sasaki, joined Dome and that autumn the company announced its plan to enter F1 with a car designed by Akiyoshi Uko called the Dome F105 using a Minardi transmission and its hydraulic system. Apicella was installed as test driver 1996 and the test driving duties was later taken over by Nakano and Naoki Hattori. The planned 1997 World Championship effort came to nothing and the follow-up car, the Dome F106 never materialised due to lack of sponsorship and Mugen's refusal to supply engines. The Concorde Agreement also delayed the start for the team. By 1999, all development work would fold after Honda's involvement with British American Racing.
In 1999 Dome established Dome Cars Ltd in the United Kingdom and the Dome Tunnel in Maihara, Shiga Prefecture, which was originally intended for F1 construction and also focused its effort in the Japanese GT Championship, which they had been since 1996 and also competing as a team as well as building the Honda NSX for other factory supported teams. They also worked on the aerodynamics on the JTCC Honda Accord. In 2001, DOME Carbon Magic was formed in Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture, specifically for carbon composite development and manufacture. They continue to build and race the NSX in the recently renamed Super GT series.
Dome also upgraded their S101 Le Mans prototype chassis to meet new regulations for 2007. The new car has been dubbed the S101.5. The S101s were supplied to Racing for Holland etc. In 2008, Dome introduced a closed-cockpit prototype called the S102 for the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) class and entered in the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans as an entrant after an interval of 22 years from 1986.
In February 2012, Dome announced that it will enter an updated S102 in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. The updated car, designated the S102.5, will be powered by a Judd 3.4L V8. In a departure for Dome, the team will self-fund race operations, rather than lease their car to a separately funded race team. Dome have contracted with Pescarolo for race operations, and have instructed the team to focus development on outright speed over one lap, rather than on reliability or endurance pace for a 24-hour race.
- 8W feature on DOME F1 project
- GrandPrix.com profile
- 2006 Super GT profile
- Dome F1 prototype Video
- 2012 LeMans Announcement
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dome vehicles.|