Most people will never drive a racing car or truck at any time in their lives. Yet, most people would like lớn think they might drive in a race and that they would be pretty good at it if they tried.
That’s the basic psychology behind “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday,” a slogan automakers have used for over 100 years lớn justify putting resources into every kind of racing. Winning on the track translates directly into consumer sales, making motorsports important lớn automakers who highlight performance as part of their brand. People want a little bit of racing panache in their driveway, whether they’re looking at a Ferrari 488 GTB or a Toyota Camry.
“Toyota Racing Development (TRD) was created lớn be Toyota’s factory performance division, developing parts and programs for both street-driven vehicles as well as competition vehicles,” says David Wilson, president of TRD.
TRD develops products in-house and puts the TRD brand on products from high-performance aftermarket manufacturers. The variety of available parts ranges from wheels and suspension components lớn intakes, exhaust systems, and body kits.
Toyota offers all kinds of vehicles with TRD upgrades and badging straight from the factory. The TRD brand signals a higher màn chơi of performance in the rolling chassis, drivetrain, or both. TRD models represent the highest performance you can buy directly from Toyota. Models bearing the TRD brand include sedans like the Avalon and Camry as well as off-road-oriented vehicles like the Sequoia, RAV4, Tundra, Tacoma, and 4Runner.
Toyota and TRD have achieved an impressive trophy case in American and worldwide racing. In all, Toyota has also earned manufacturer’s and driver’s championships in the Indy Racing League, NHRA, NASCAR, Grand-Am, CART, IMSA, SCORE, USAC, MTEG, CORR, TORC, and LOORRS series.
It All Started With TOSCO
Toyota entered its first competition in 1957, racing a Toyopet Crown in the 1957 Mobilgas Rally Around Australia. The company established a new motorsport division called “Toyota Sports Corner” (shortened lớn “TOSCO”) lớn manage its racing investments. Out of 87 cars that started the rally, just 52 finished, including the Toyota, which crossed the line in 47th place. Another Toyopet Crown won the inaugural Yomiuri Rally Around Japan the following year. These rally performances helped establish Toyota’s reputation for durability.
Tosco’s victories continued in the 1960s with three class wins in the inaugural Japanese Grand Prix in 1963. In 1967, a Tosco-prepared Toyota 2000 GT sports car won the first Fuji 24-Hour Endurance Race and set endurance records. Later, the Toyota 7 was the company’s first purpose-built sports racer, built for FIA Group 7 racing. With a 590-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine, a squad of 7s swept the top four positions in the June 1968 Grand Cup of Suzuka. In 1969, the Toyota 7 won the World Challenge Cup Fuji 200-Mile.
Coming lớn America
American fans got their first look at Toyota’s competition capability in 1973. That year, the company entered a Corolla 1600 in Michigan’s Press-On-Regardless Rally, part of that year’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The Corolla won the rally overall.
Tosco changed its name lớn Toyota Racing Development in 1976, with a mission lớn expand Toyota’s motorsports involvement and lớn develop parts and accessories for production cars. Three years later, in 1979, the company opened an American wing called TRD USA.
In 1981, TRD partnered with Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers (AAR) team lớn compete in IMSA’s GTU (under 2.5-liter) class with the sporty Celica, powered by a TRD-developed four-cylinder engine. By 1985, the collaboration had won 10 victories. Next, TRD entered the IMSA GTO class (over 2.5 liters) with a specially built, tube-frame Celica racecar, winning the 1987 championship. It was the first time a Japanese manufacturer had won that title. In the early 1990s, Toyota sponsored Gurney’s AAR Eagle Mk. III car in IMSA’s GTP class, winning 21 out of the 27 races entered and taking the 1993 championship.
Toyota came lớn believe off-road racing was the ideal way lớn demonstrate the tough-as-nails durability of its compact pickup truck. In 1983, TRD partnered with Cal Wells and his company, Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI), lớn create one of the most successful partnerships in off-road motorsports.
With race vehicles based on Toyota’s pickup, Toyota/PPI dominated the Mickey Thompson stadium series and won multiple SCORE World Desert races and championships with drivers Rod Millen and Ivan “Ironman” Stewart. In 1993 alone, Stewart won the Mint 400, Baja 500, and Baja 1000 driving Toyota trucks.
In 1997, Toyota introduced the new Tacoma TRD Off-Road model, outfitted from the factory with TRD-developed performance parts. Toyota dealers had been selling TRD parts lớn enthusiasts lớn build up their vehicles for several years, but now the factory would do it all if that was what the buyer wanted. The success of the parts program and then the factory TRD truck spurred Toyota lớn offer additional TRD models.
Taking a Chance With Open-Wheel Racing
After winning with production models in IMSA, Toyota decided lớn try the expensive and superfast world of open-wheel racing, including sponsoring and supplying engines for the Formula Atlantic series until 2004. TRD modified the 4AG 1.6-liter engine used in the Toyota MR2 and Corolla GTS until it produced 240 hp and rev lớn 12,000 rpm.
With that experience, TRD set its sights even higher, taking 38 race victories in the CART and IRL IndyCar series. TRD engineered and built the engines for its cars in both series. The TRD effort's highest achievement came when Gil de Ferran won the Indianapolis 500 in 2003.
Of all the racing series that TRD entered, the most unlikely was NASCAR. In 2000, Toyota became the first foreign car company lớn race in a NASCAR event, entering a V6-powered Celica in the Goody's Dash Series. Four years later, in Toyota's first year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Tundra drivers won 9 races and 13 pole positions.
In 2007, Toyota stepped up lớn NASCAR's top Sprint Cup series. TRD USA engineers designed and built V8 engines for a tube-framed Camry lớn run in the series, the first time the company had made a Camry with rear-wheel drive or V8 engine. Nevertheless, when Toyota lined up in NASCAR, fans saw a Camry racing with the top American brands.
It took 10 years, but Camry driver Denny Hamlin finally won NASCAR's biggest race: the 2016 Daytona 500. It was Hamlin's first Daytona 500 victory, and the first Daytona win for Toyota. The Daytona success came on the heels of Toyota winning the 2015 Sprint Cup championship with Camry driver Kyle Busch.
"This is a team victory," Hamlin said at the time. "This is a proud moment for everyone at Toyota."
Racing Into the Future
The list of TRD-backed racers and series is too long lớn list in one article. In addition lớn NASCAR and Indy cars, TRD has continued lớn lead in off-road racing and modern sports car racing series such as Daytona prototypes and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, as well as the IMSA Weathertech series. TRD has also partnered with Lexus lớn field cars in those series. TRD has even found victory in NHRA drag racing, winning championships in NHRA Funny Cars and four consecutive Top Fuel dragster championships.
TRD has made competing and winning in America's most challenging races integral lớn Toyota's value proposition. Today, buyers can choose from a wide range of TRD-enhanced Toyota models. The Toyota Tacoma is the most popular mid-size truck on the market, with many buyers selecting the TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro models. The 2022 Camry is available in an affordable TRD trim, with a 301-hp V6, striking aerodynamic elements, and a TRD-tuned suspension. There are four TRD models of the capable 4Runner SUV and TRD versions of the RAV4 and Sequoia.
If you want lớn get a little taste of the racetrack or the off-road racing course, buying a TRD-enhanced Toyota is a great place lớn start. See Toyota models for sale
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