It's a tragic and ironic story from Germany. Hiromu Naruse, the chief test driver for Lexus, was killed yesterday when he collided with a BMW sedan, which happened to be a production test vehicle. The company had been testing a prototype LFA Nürburgring Edition car on the German track, from which it gets its name. The occupants of the BMW are said to have survived the wreck, but the details of their conditions are not completely known at this point.

According to reports, the accident occurred between the track and a nearby Toyota workshop. Naruse, (who's identity has been confirmed by Toyota) apparently drifted into the opposing lane, resulting in a head-on collision with the BMW travelling in the opposite direction. An investigation has begun to determine the specific cause of the wreck. One can only speculate on who (or what) is to blame here. I will forgo any relavent Toyota jokes at the risk of being insensitive, and leave that conclusion up to detectives. In any case, the death of Hiromu Naruse is a tragic loss for Toyota and the automotive world. Our hope is that the unnamed occupants of the BMW will completely recover.

The 67-year old driver's involvement with Toyota sports car development goes back to the 1960s. He is credited for his involvement with the 2000GT. The success of the LFA will be due, in part, to nearly five decades of Naruse's involvement with Toyota and Lexus. He has impacted his colleagues at Toyota and beyond, while pursuing his passion for motorsports.

[NY Times, Autoblog, Left Lane]