• May 14, 2006



Toyota, currently running roughshod over other automakers in the showrooms, will be hitting NASCAR next year with the goal of doing the same thing to its competition on the track. Word around the pits is that this is causing sleepless nights for other teams, but not for reasons one would think. The concern here isn't the lap times, but simple economics - if Toyota subsidizes its Nextel Cup teams as it does for its teams in the Craftsman Truck series, the support that a big-ticket sponsor has to offer up could be cut in half from the current yearly value of $16M or so. Yanking several million dollars out from under the currently-established teams would be a catastrophic event with the potential of completing shaking up the pecking order. The first bit of evidence in support of this theory is the recent decision by UPS to defect to Michael Waltrip's Toyota team; a decision that certainly could have been fueled by the promise of a greatly-reduced sponsorship bill.

If indeed Toyota offers significant financial support to its teams - which it currently claims is not in the budget - it is unlikely that other manufacturers will step up and start cutting their own checks (as it is, rumors are already flying that one of the Big 3 is already looking to pull out of the Nextel Cup).

[Source: USA Today]



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  • 18 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Haha, F1 has little tech? What are you talking about. F1 is the most technologically advanced racing in the world. Why do you think so many people hold it in such high regard. Getting 750+ hp from a 2.4L NA V8 is not low tech. Getting all that downforce without using ground force is not low tech. Don't even bother comparing F1 to Top Fuel. You should know that outside America people don't consider going in a straight line a form of racing.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It should be intresting to watch Toyota PR hide this from the enviromentalists as well as they do their inefficient SUVs.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Toyota in NASCAR sucks. It's bad enough that Toyota trucks are racing, now Toyota Camry's, I suppose, will be in Nextel. My friends and I are losing interest real fast with Nextel racing with Toyota on the track next year. I'll perhaps watch the Daytona 500 and then that will be it. I won't watch any more races. We don't need a Jap car racing in Nextel. It's not right! Hope Toyota does horribly in Nextel. They're probably buying their way into racing. Down with Toyota!
      • 8 Years Ago
      gbh, you make some extremely valid points. You're right about the rules. That's one reason I like T-F so much. Do whatever you can do to get down the 1/4 fast. 4.47 ets?! Wow.
      • 8 Years Ago
      i think the next team to go nascar should be hyundai... if a big 3 decides to drop out.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I admit to not knowing much about NASCAR. I understand that this is a big deal in terms of marketing.

      But it's not like a Toyota NASCAR car is "really" a Camry. Would it even have a real Toyota engine? Aren't NASCAR cars carburated??
      gbh
      • 8 Years Ago
      All racing (that has spectators and sponsors) is about entertainment and competition.

      It has always (last 15-20 years esp.) seemed that nascar is 95% about off-track entertainment and advertising. If they were still racing stripped shells of a car you could get on the dealer lot, with modified factory engines...

      Bob, like most forms of racing, they have LOTS of rules. Nascar's rules force the use of very primitive engine technology in order to (theoretically) slow the cars down - and to keep it from gettin' all high-falootin' like them thar fancy boys in F1. Nascar is primarily about entertainment and advertising dollars -not primarily about racing.

      The average nascar consumer can understand carbs and pushrods. The reality is they put a ton of engineering time and effort into those stone-axe engines, to get the HP they get with restrictor plates and such.

      Without a boatload of rules on many forms of autosport, speeds would top 300 MPH on a regular basis on the longer road tracks. This would make racing FAR more interesting to watch and demand even higher skill levels of drivers, and engineering would be shifted to a whole new level.

      Reality is, of course, race driving would return to being a much higher-risk occupation. It would also become a bit more dangerous for the on-site spectator. That would be bad for sponsors - so it will never happen again.


      This is why many drag racing classes are saddled with Roots blowers. Everybody who's forced to run one would swap it for a turbo or a twin-screw in a heartbeat. Between the cabal that still makes those museum pieces, and the fact that instantly Top Fuel would get a WHOLE lot faster... it won't happen anytime soon.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm honestly surprised that this story hasn't sparked more angry comments. Not because it deserves to, but because I thought fans of the series would be far more outraged about a "Camry" entering the good-ol'-boy world of NASCAR.

      Of course, the final Toyota race car will have as much in common with a Camry as it does with a bulldozer, same with the "Fusion," "Monte Carlo," etc... which I suppose could be why there's not that much controversy here.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Another advantage of roundy-round is that it's very watchable, at least if you are at the track and not watching it on TV. At your typical road course, you can sit in one corner and watch the cars for just a small section of the track. Oval tracks often have seating that lets you see the whole track at one time.

      And the engines are pretty far removed from current motors, but you can look at them as a much more developed version of the carbed smallblock V8's that are popular with Joe Average Hotrodder - or, for that matter, what's actually used at the NASCAR version of the minor leagues. I've even seen a modern NASCAR V8 stuffed under the hood of an older Camaro and driven on the street.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Bob_Ericson:

      1) I agree with you when you say technology used in the F1 is not readily accessible to the general public, but if you have the time and are willing to take the effort, you could learn about anything, including but not limited to *hydraulic* valves.

      2) A 4 second quarter mile is fast, but it's a sledgehammer compared to a scalpel (racing in other forms). The only skill in a Top Fuel racer is to keep the vehicle in a straight line, and let all the power stuffed under you do it's work to get to that finish line in a hurry. Is that level of skill anywhere near the amount of precision in F1, the WRC or the new Formula D? Nascar comes a bit closer, but driving in an oval? Isn't that a bit boring?

      3) Big engines, big power. Apart from being politically incorrect and not "gay", according to Redneck texan, I do agree all that horses and torque made from burning so much fuel is bound to give you a kick, but you have to give it to the others to make that kind of power using their tuning skills.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The reason that Nascar is so popular is that in any given week 5-10 different teams have a chance at winning the race. And usually, it comes down to a 2-4 car race near the end. When was the last time any other racing series can say that. When can any other racing series, say that there were as many green lap lead changes as there are in Nascar.

      Yes, the go around in circles ... but the just means there are some 40 odd cars vying for a small amount of track.

      That's what the aduience wants. Competition, the thrill of victory, the thrill of coming in second by 0.001 seconds. Not having one person win the entire season. Not having the top 2 cars lap the entire field and have a 30 second gap between themselves.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Rubber,

      Actually, F1 is my favorite racing. But, Top Fuel is a close second. I pretty much loathe NASCAR.

      I do know a bit about F1 engines, but not nearly enough. If you've got links, post them!

      On the contrary, Car & Driver (before they really started sucking) did a big expose on John Force's Chief Mechanic and what a phenominal blend of art and science goes into Top Fuel. Never seen anything remotely like that in other organizations. Not that T-F is just engines... They'res plenty of "personality", but with other forms of racing, it is way too much personality for me.

      I'm a gearhead at heart and wish F1 was more like T-F in this regard. But, with the rules the way they are, every variable that's in the chassis maker's control is so limited that such changes and deviations from your competitors is a huge secret. I'm sure the manufacturers don't like the anonymous role their talents all to often play.

      It's all about the rules.
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