Toyota has teased the next Supra a few times already and has already made it known that we’re going to see the Supra as a race car before we see its production form.
Given the Supra’s history and pedigree, that actually isn’t all that surprising. What is surprising is that Toyota has announced that a Supra will be going racing…in NASCAR.
Yes, NASCAR. If you’re shocked then please know you are not alone in that. I’m going to be honest, the whole notion really screws with my head.
If you think about it logically, this shouldn’t be surprising at all. Toyota has been racing in NASCAR for a long time now and their competitors like Ford, Chevy, and (previously) Dodge all turned their sports cars into NASCAR racers.
The Mustang, the Camaro, and (again previously) the Dodge Challenger have all put time in on the ovals. So, it makes perfect sense that Toyota would do the same thing with their upcoming sports car right?
Okay, so if it makes perfect sense for Toyota to send the Supra to NASCAR, then why does it still feel so damn weird?!
Look, the truth is I think its because some of us in the “tuner” community (myself included) feel a kind of “ownership” of the Supra and we can only see it doing GT races, drifting, and import drag racing. Mostly because that’s what we saw the Supra do while we were growing up and that’s where some of the most iconic images of the car comes from.
However, times have changed and Toyota is just still getting back into the swing of things when it comes to producing sports cars and if they’re going to sell this car they need to appeal to more than just the small group of people like me who would make the purchase heavily influenced by nostalgia.
And when it comes to motorsports, like it or not, NASCAR is the biggest stage with the most eyeballs watching.
If you really love the Supra then you’re going to want Toyota to make money on it so we won’t go another 20 years before we see the next one.
That being said I’m going to try to be open-minded about the Supra’s NASCAR debut and I’ll ask any Supra fan to do the same.
Besides, I’m pretty sure the new Supra is going to return to GT racing and more as we get closer to its launch. Ken Gushi, I’m looking at you!
In the meantime you can get a better look at the Supra NASCAR by clicking any of the thumbnail pictures in this post and for more info about it, check out the press release below.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2018) – 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 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, 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 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 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 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 in America, 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.
Toyota Motor North America will release more information about Supra in the future.