Monday, July 9, 2018

It’s ba-aaaack! Toyota’s motorsports program makes it official: Supra will return to the track in 2019 NASCAR season

Toyota's Supra build for the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series
Toyota Xfinity Supra. Photo: Toyota USA Newsroom
Toyota announced last week that the automaker’s official racing program will return the Toyota Supra to the track next year, with the debut set for Saturday, February 16, 2019, in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona.

“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’s Supra build for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is a collaboration between Toyota Racing Development (TRD) U.S.A., based in Costa Mesa, California, and Calty Design Research, Inc., in Newport Beach, California.

The TRD and Calty teams drew on what they learned in prior NASCAR projects, including the Camry that triumphed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2017.

According to Toyota, the design team had to scale the production Supra, which is returning to the consumer market for the 2019 model year, to meet specifications for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

“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.”

Since 2007, Camry has been the flagship of Toyota’s racing program, scoring two manufacturer championships, two driver championships, and 143 victories. The 2019 NASCAR season will be the first in which Toyota will have a different model in each of NASCAR’s three national series.

Along with Supra’s entry in the NASCAR Xfinity series, Toyota will race a Camry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. A Toyota Tundra will compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Supra has a storied racing past in both the U.S. and Japan. In the 1980s, Supra was a dominant force in Super GT competition and a contender in the IMSA Camel GT series. During the 90s, Camry also raced twice in the notoriously grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance competition in France.

According to Toyota’s announcement, The TRD–Calty collaboration dates to 2013, when they worked together to build a 6th-generation Camry for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. They also built:

  • A Tundra for the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
  • A 7th -generation Camry for the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series
  • An 8th-generation Camrys for the 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series

Calty’s key areas of focus have been ensuring consistency between Toyota’s production models and on-track race versions while pushing on-track performance ahead with each build, according to Toyota’s statement.

TRD and Calty began work last year on the new Supra build for the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity series.

“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.”

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