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DATE News (chronologically)
01/30/07
nascar
How Toyota will destroy Ford, Chevy and Dodge
This Jacksonville Times-Union article pretty much spells out how Toyota has set up their operation in NASCAR to ensure that they will eventually destroy the Chevy, Ford and Dodge teams even though they don't have any of the top teams in the sport in their corner. The strength is in their centralization at TRD of all engine development and other R&D. Whereas NASCAR has traditionally been a team sport, with many teams building their own engines, Toyota has taken all of that under one roof at TRD to ensure quality and a focused effort on where their money is spent.

Toyota, through its racing division called Toyota Racing Development, has been racing in the U.S. for 25 years. TRD not only has won in every form of racing, it's also dominated with championships in IMSA sports cars, Indy Cars, Grand Am Sports Cars and the Craftsman Truck series. Nextel Cup is the last, and biggest, challenge.

The company will start with eight Camrys at Daytona and a pair of Busch Series cars. It came to the truck series three years ago and quickly asserted itself as the front-runner, going from four wins in 2004 to nine in 2005 to 12 and a championship a year ago. In 2006, the top six drivers in the point standings were in Toyotas.

Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge used to pump a lot of money and engineering support into the truck series, but all three backed off once TRD changed the rules. Toyota teams all get their engines, trucks and technical support from TRD, turning competitors into teammates. By concentrating their money and research into one department, Toyota became a massive operation that could outspend any of the single teams.

Nextel Cup teams will be responsible for building their own cars, but TRD again will be a clearinghouse for engines and technical support. If Waltrip has a question, the answer probably will come from information provided by another Toyota team.

The U.S. car companies provide technical information learned by its engineers, but it rarely shares information learned by other teams. At General Motors, for example, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Ginn Racing each have separate engine shops and engineering staffs. They don't share their competitive secrets.

The Toyota teams don't have to worry about engines, and the engineering staffs compare notes.

"The reason I switched [from Dodge] is simple: TRD," said car owner Bill Davis. " It's a racing company. It's not a manufacturing company that has engineers that dabble in racing. It's a race-driven, 200-people company that races. That's what puts them above everybody else."

TRD has the rest of the sport running scared.

Toyota still is blamed for the downfall of the IMSA sports car series. Dan Gurney prepared two GT Prototypes in 1989, and by 1993 it was so dominant it chased away most of the competition. In 1993, Gurney's cars, which reportedly had a $38 million budget, won 17 consecutive races. It convinced other manufacturers to leave the sport.

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