THE REVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: TOYOTA SUPRA GETS BACK TO AMERICAN RACING IN NASCAR XFINITY SERIES
Toyota Supra is back at the track! Beginning in 2019, the globally-recognized iconic sports car will prove its championship mettle in the hotly contested NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS). Supra will make its on-track debut in the NXS race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
“When you talk Toyota and cool cars, Supra is the first thing that comes to mind for many auto enthusiasts,” said 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.”
Toyota worked with its subsidiaries, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) in Costa Mesa, California, and Calty Design Research, Inc. (Calty) in Newport Beach, California, to develop a Supra for the NASCAR competition. The two teams applied key learnings 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 vehicle entries in the NXS.
“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. “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 competitions since 2007, tallying four manufacturer championships while Camry has earned two driver championships and 142 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 a dominant force 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 previously worked together to design:
- 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 has worked hand-in-hand 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. “Supra is an iconic cool car, and to have it racing in NASCAR to highlight Supra’s return speaks to how important this is. 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.”
Reflecting Toyota’s commitment to motorsports, the manufacturer now showcases six models across 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.