Toyota Over Spending to destroy USA auto giants?

One fear is that Toyota will spend its way to domination in the sport of NASCAR, raising costs for everybody and perhaps eventually running off an ailing domestic manufacturer. Officials at Ford, which has struggled financially while sales of Toyota’s have gained greater share in the United States, have been most vocal in their criticism. Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, said his manufacturer’s NASCAR operation is financially sound. But he said Toyota’s spending spree in acquiring crew chiefs, drivers, engineers, tire changers and other support personnel has affected his teams. That includes Robert Yates Racing, which lost Jarrett and his UPS sponsorship. “I think they have been predators, and people would say that might be extremely negative," Davis said. “I would say that in the business world, people are predators. That’s how you get things done. When anything new comes in with a lot of resources, then those entities are going to try to acquire the best people, the best equipment, the best that they can get. That’s a bit predatory to me. And if you pay people more money than they were getting and you entice them other ways, in a way that’s more than normal, then it’s a bit predatory." Team Red Bull has been accused of paying 200 to 300% more to hire John Probst, a top Ford engineer. Davis said he heard that Michael Waltrip Racing came up with more than $20 million to lure Jarrett, the 1999 Cup points champion and a favorite among longtime Southern race fans, away from the Yates team. Salaries are a closely held secret throughout NASCAR, and Michael Waltrip Racing officials have denied those figures. Davis said he voiced his concerns privately with NASCAR. So far, NASCAR officials say they see this as business as usual in a sport in which teams openly raid competitors. Earlier this month, for instance, Roush Racing hired the crew chief Larry Carter away from Michael Waltrip Racing. New York Times

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