Toyota to run in NASCAR Nextel Cup in 2007
Toyota have announced that they are to enter the NASCAR Nextel Cup in 2007. They have been supplying the Craftsman Truck series for several years. NASCAR is all about marketing for the car manufacturers that supply - I guess that's true for all motor-sport, but what I mean is that Toyota is having to really go out of it's "comfort zone" to compete in a category that has huge marketting potential. While GM and Ford have relevant heritage in producing the carburated, iron, small block V8 engines used in NASCAR, Toyota struggled we are told, to find a supplier in Japan that still made carburettors. That's not to say that NASCAR is low-tech - they use many of the same materials and surface treatments as used in Formula 1 - but they work to a set of restrictions that are somewhat unusual by motor-sports standards.
Those restrictions that are well policed, not only to keep costs down and keep the cars safe, but also to retain the heritage of American stock car racing, are controlled by the French family that owns NASCAR. They are really going to have their work cut out with Toyota joining the show if they are going to avoid having Toyota do what they (in conjunction with Honda) have done to two other US series, Champcar and IRL, and that is to push up costs and drive out domestic manufacturers, before cutting and running themselves.
Long suffering Champcar fans must have viewed Toyota's withdrawal from the IRL, leaving it, like Champcar, effectively a spec-series, with some Schadenfreude given that they have repeated all the mistakes CART were accused of (running too many non-US drivers, running too many non-US races, allowing Japanese engine suppliers to trounce the domestic manufacturers). NASCAR has been by far the most popular motor-sport in the USA for many years now. As far as single seaters are concerned there's only one race that matters - the Indy 500 - and they couldn't even sell out the Brickyard for that last year. Letting Toyota in could be the first big mistake they make.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Toyota won't push GM, Ford and Chrysler out and they'll all happilly co-exist. But I have my doubts. If they start running lots of foreign drivers that'll be warning sign #2. When they start running races in Mexico, Australia and Japan, be affraid, be very affraid.
The trouble with your theory about Toyota taking over NASCAR is that they’ll have Michael Waltrip as their first driver/owner. Singlehandedly, he could do enough damage to Toyota’s NASCAR effort to drive them out forever. MW’s a gutless driver that’s always finding excuses for finishing 33rd or worse. There’s nothing wrong with the NAPA Chevy a new driver couldn’t fix. Michael Waltrip’s brother had guts. All he’s got is a high yappy voice.
baz () - 11 07 06 - 08:47
I believe it’s not a French family but a family named France.
DICK - 24 11 06 - 21:49