Toyota, which has thrown its hat in the ring with the France family in NASCAR and Grand-Am, while abandoning CART and then the IRL, has made another step, this time into the grassroots’ open wheel market.
At the Performance Racing Industry show last week its new four-cylinder USAC midget engine was introduced. The 166-cubic-inch pushrod engine was displayed on the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) booth in a Beast chassis owned by Steve Lewis, who has abandoned Ford power to run the new car in his midget team.
And Toyota is now positioning itself to dominate the open wheel grassroots ranks as it tries to shed its Japanese image and become, at least appearance wise, and American company. It's strategically positioning itself to be accepted by the American oval track race fans when it makes its step into the top series of NASCAR.
"This is our first step into grass roots oval racing," said Gary Reed, TRD's vice president of special projects. "I would like to see us in sprint cars, in Silver Crown and in regional NASCAR programs." Recall that USAC is pushing for the new Silver Crown superspeedway car so they can race on France family owned (ISC) oval tracks against the team owners wishes. USAC, not the IRL, is aligning itself with NASCAR. Tony George and the IRL have been cast aside, whether they realize it yet or not.
Lewis added: "It's no secret that we would eventually like to be in Busch and Nextel Cup."
Rumors are that Toyota will announce a timetable to enter NASCAR's Busch and Nextel Cup series later in December, thereby fully engaging itself in the France family's monopolization of oval track racing in the USA.