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Toyota Supra heading to NASCAR, maybe before showrooms

Supra name to replace Camry as Toyota’s car in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series

Published: July 9, 2018, 2:30 AM
Updated: July 14, 2018, 7:13 AM

Toyota Supra NASCAR Xfinity Series race car - The Toyota Supra will take over from Camry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

The Toyota Supra may not be a production model yet, but it will make its competition debut in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series (NXS) prior to the 2019 Daytona 500, Toyota USA has announced.

Toyota Supra for NASCAR Xfinity Series - The Toyota Supra will take over from Camry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

To refresh, the Toyota Supra went out of production in 2002, and enthusiasts have been pining for its return since. With a series of sporty concepts, fans got more rabid about the legendary nameplate’s return, and started guessing about “when,” rather than “if,” it would come to market.

At this past spring’s Geneva Motor Show, Toyota unveiled a racecar concept of what the new Supra would like in racing livery. It still did not disclose if there was a production model coming, but if there is, this is what it would look like when it goes racing.

Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept - The Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept grants a glimpse into what a production Supra might look like.

Now the name is shown on a car for NASCAR’s second-tier series and, yeah, it looks nothing like the GR Supra Racing concept, which isn’t really a surprise, since NASCAR has strict rules about the bodies of its series’ cars. This racing Supra will be taking over from the Camry nameplate, whose production 3-box bodystyle is better suited to the NASCAR template than the fastback Supra … or rather, what the production Supra might look like when it, you know, gets produced.

But, hold on …

“Supra’s return in production form is huge news, but now we’re also going to see this iconic sports car return to American motorsport,” said Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing, at the unveiling of the NASCAR race car. “From a marketing perspective, it’s important to have a race car that evokes the dynamism and character of its showroom counterpart. We’re confident we’ve accomplished that with Supra, and we hope racing fans the world over will proudly cheer its success on track.”

“Production form … showroom counterpart…” I guess it’s a done deal. Wonder if it will get into showrooms before the racecar gets on the track.

Toyota FT-1 Graphite Concept - The Toyota FT-1 Graphite Concept was reportedly the design base for the production Supra.

The design was worked over by TRD (Toyota Racing Design) and Calty Design Research. The two had previously collaborated on three generations of Camry bodystyles raced initially in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) and NXS, as well as the Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and a Camry in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“We’ve had tremendous success working with Calty to develop race cars that match the look, feel and excitement of their showroom counterparts,” said David Wilson, president of TRD. “For Supra to be racing in NASCAR just speaks to how important this vehicle is to us, and that we believe Supra can be a bona fide championship winner.”

Toyota Supra for NASCAR Xfinity Series - Testing the aerodynamics of the Toyota Supra for NASCAR Xfinity Series

Well … “Supra” can be a bona fide championship winner, since the race car is about as far removed from the production Supra, if it ever comes, as … well … the Camry race car (which has already won NASCAR championships, so it’s a proven formula) is from the production Camry.

“Supra is an iconic cool car, and to have it racing in NASCAR to highlight Supra’s return speaks to how important this is,” said Kyle Busch, who won the 2009 NXS championship in a Camry. “I’m hoping to be the first guy to get Supra to victory lane, but I’m sure there’s a few other Toyota drivers thinking the same thing.”

Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept - The Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept grants a glimpse into what a production Supra might look like.

The Supra has previously proved its mettle in GT road racing around the world in the 1980s and entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice in the 1990s.