Toyota Supra will run in NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) next season. Supra will make its on-track debut in the NXS race at Daytona on Saturday, 16 Feb 2019 – the warmup race before the main event – the 500 on Sunday.
It’s the latest attempt to position Toyota as an American company against the noise of the booming guns of the Trump trade wars. Toyota has 14 manufacturing plants in North America – if you count Mexico, which is also under siege. There are ten in the U.S. , and 1500 dealerships here. All told, Toyota employs 37,000 people in the U.S. American? Well that requires a thought process with nuance absent in the ruling party plutocrats.
“When you talk Toyota and cool cars, Supra is the first thing that comes to mind for many auto enthusiasts,” claimed Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing. “Supra’s return in production form is huge news, but now we’re also going to see this iconic sports car return to American motorsport. From a marketing perspective, it’s important to have a race car that evokes the dynamism and character of its showroom counterpart. We’re confident we’ve accomplished that with Supra, and we hope racing fans the world over will proudly cheer its success on track.”
Well hardly showroom, and we will see what the highly flexible and political NASCAR rules allow for the 2019 season.
Toyota worked with its subsidiaries, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) in Costa Mesa, California, and Calty Design Research, Inc. (Calty) in Newport Beach, California, to develop a Supra for NASCAR competition. The two teams applied lessons from their prior collaborative efforts in NASCAR, which included the 2018 Toyota Camry that clinched the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
To build the Supra for NASCAR, TRD and Calty scaled Supra to fit within NASCAR’s specifications for race entries in the NXS. There’s plenty of room for fiddling here.
“We’ve had tremendous success working with Calty to develop race cars that match the look, feel and excitement of their showroom counterparts,” said David Wilson, president of TRD. Translation: we are good at decals and badges that look stock on the outside of the car.) “We’re confident Calty and TRD have developed another race car, Supra, that is capable of winning races and championships. For Supra to be racing in NASCAR just speaks to how important this vehicle is to us, and that we believe Supra can be a bona fide championship winner.”
Toyota has fielded Camry in NXS competition since 2007, tallying four manufacturer championships while Camry has earned two driver championships and 143 wins. The 2019 season marks the first year Toyota will field a different model in all three of NASCAR’s national series – Camry at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) level, Supra in the NXS, and Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS).
Supra previously raced in both America and Japan, where it was competitive in Super GT competition and a contender in the IMSA Camel GT Series in the 1980s. It also made two appearances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in the 1990s.
TRD and Calty Designed Race Cars
- 2013: Sixth-generation Camry for MENCS
- 2014: Tundra for NCWTS
- 2015: Seventh-generation Camry for NXS
- 2016: Eighth-generation Camry for MENCS
- 2017: Eighth-generation Camry for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Calty worked with TRD, Toyota’s North American race engineer arm, to “ensure consistency” between production models and on-track Toyota race cars, while also improving on-track performance with each new build. The groups began work on the NASCAR Supra in 2017.
“When Ed (Laukes) told me, they were bringing Supra back, I almost didn’t believe him. I figured he was messing with me, but Toyota did it and this is a big deal for the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” said Kyle Busch, who won the 2009 NXS championship in Camry. “I’m hoping to be the first guy to get Supra to victory lane, but I’m sure there’s a few other Toyota drivers thinking the same thing.”
Toyota now races six models in eight series in America. Toyota Racing Development’s lineup includes: Camry, Supra, and Tundra in the NASCAR national series; Camry in the NHRA Funny Car competition; Camry in the ARCA Racing Series and regional touring series; 86 and Corolla Hatchback in Formula Drift; as well as engines for dirt midget racing and other series.