NASCAR has been the very definition of all-American auto racing for 50 years. So why does Toyota want to get out there on the track and swap paint with the Fords and Chevys? Call it a quest for sales, wrapped in the American flag.
'We are a national company, committed to production in the United States, and NASCAR is a crucial part of American racing and entertainment,' says Les Unger, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s national motorsports manager. 'We believe we can add something to the sport, but most importantly we believe we can get our money's worth by participating.'
Toyota is no stranger to auto racing. But NASCAR is a big step - even though Toyota's first entry is aimed at one of NASCAR's lesser-known venues. This year, Toyota wants to campaign cars that look like Toyota Celica coupes in Goody's Dash, a NASCAR series with 19 or 20 races confined primarily to the Southeast.
Unger says Toyota's bid to join Goody's Dash has been well received by NASCAR. Assuming all goes well, the Dash is only a test. From there, Unger says, Toyota could move up to NASCAR's Craftsman Truck series for racing pickups. Eventually the company might find itself competing in NASCAR's premier Winston Cup series.