Toyota rocks motorsports with unveiling of new Camry racecar and 2018 production Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Racing Development/Mike Levitt LAT

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

In an unprecedented move following the unveiling of its new 2018 Toyota Camry production model at the North American International Auto Show at Detroit’s Cobo Center, Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and Toyota North America rolled out the new Camry racecar that will hit the track in just a few weeks at Daytona International Speedway.

With the crowds were still in awe over the new 2018 production model Toyota Camry, the curtains again rose, the lights flickered, the engine fired and a new racecar roared onto the stage.

Ed Laukes, VP of Integrated Marketing Operations for Toyota Motor Sales USA said, the dual unveiling is something the company takes great pride in. And doing it at the biggest auto show in the world, just weeks ahead of the racecar’s first on-track outing is something he hopes fans will take notice of.

“The 2018 Toyota Camry NASCAR racecar has been years in the making, and to unveil it simultaneously with our new production Camry is a milestone moment for our organization,” Laukes said. “The collaboration between Calty Design Group and TRD has produced a NASCAR Camry that showcases aggressive styling that is sure to turn heads on the race track and among our fans in Toyota showrooms across the country. Reimagining both the Camry racecar and its production counterpart has been a tremendous undertaking and our goal has been to maintain parallel design characteristics so our fans can enjoy driving a Camry that closely resembles the one their favorite NASCAR driver races each weekend.”

In a surprise move, 2015 NASCAR Champion Kyle Busch and 2016 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin also presented the NASCAR Manufacture’s Trophy from 2016.

When asked by Toyoda why Busch didn’t repeat as series champion, Kyle responded, “Don’t worry boss we got next year.”

“I tease those guys but honestly I am so proud of what they have accomplished,” Toyoda said. “It has been 10 years since we began racing in NASCAR and I feel we are really part of the family now. It is a tremendous honor.”

Work on the new racecar began months ago and was a top secret project that led to confidentiality agreements across the industry. At Joe Gibbs Racing, windows overlooking the entire shop floor, which is usually a focal point of fan tours, were covered with heavy black material to keep people from seeing the new cars being built. At the front desk, visitors were even required to sign-in to keep track of who was coming and going so any potential leaks could be tracked.

“It truly was top secret,” a source told Kickin’ the Tires. “We couldn’t tell anyone what we were doing and no outsiders were allowed on the shop floor, while we were building the new cars.”

Even officials at NASCAR, which are required to approve new body styles and design changes were sworn to secrecy. Creating the new production car, according to Toyota, was the work of chief designer Masato Katsumata and engineers from Calty Design Research. But Calty then had to work with TRD and NASCAR to transform the production model into what will race on the track.

The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in America for 15 consecutive years and has been listed as Cars.com’s “Most American Made” vehicle for the past two years and has evolved into an eye-catching sedan with the new generation for 2018, according to the company.

In 1957, nearly 60 years ago, Toyota came to the United States with its first production car and in that time, the company’s presence has been felt by tens of millions of people. Whether it be the 136,000 workers at its 10 production facilities across the nation, the thousands of salespeople and millions customers at its 1,500 auto dealerships, the $22 billion infrastructure investment or the millions of people now driving Toyota’s vehicles on U.S. roadways; the company has become a part of the American culture. Toyota is also looking to invest another $10 billion in the U.S. market over the next five years, according to Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Company.

“The Camry is a huge part of our manufacturing here in the U.S.,” Toyoda said, during the unveiling. “They make a Camry nearly every minute … made over 25 million vehicles in the U.S. over the past 25 years.”

In 2015, after almost a decade in NASCAR’s top series, Toyota won its first driver’s championship when Kyle Busch fought back from injuries suffered in a massive crash at Daytona and took home the title. Then, in 2016, Toyota won its first-ever manufacturer’s champion – a feat that showed just how far the Japanese carmaker has come since its first race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since 2007. Marking its 10th season at the highest level of racing in NASCAR, Toyota drivers have secured 95 victories, so far.

It’s already been a huge year for Toyota, as it also unveiled its new high-end Lexus LS flagship model on-display at an 18,000 square foot exhibit inside the arena. In all, Toyota will have on-display a total of 45 new cars, trucks at SUVs at the auto show.

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