Toyota's entry into stock-car racing has some good ole boys revved up. Will the Japanese automaker take over Daytona like it's overtaking Detroit?
Who knew a Toyota Camry could cause such controversy? America's favorite family car (my em) has the NASCAR Nation all revved up in a heady debate over globalization. When the green flag drops on the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, a radically souped-up version of Toyota's humble sedan will become the first foreign car to roll into stock-car racing's marquee circuit since Jaguar gave it a spin in the 1950s. And that doesn't sit too well with some of the good ole boys who drive Fords, Chevys and Dodges. They see Toyota as a deep-pocketed predator out to overrun an American institution. "They will use their money and their technology to make the rest of us play catch-up," racing team owner Jack Roush griped recently, adding for good measure: "Americans shouldn't buy Japanese cars."
Yeah, real Americans should stick to outdated junk built in Canada and Mexico. Or the newer, better models designed in Germany and Japan.
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And then there's Toyota's track record to consider. Before NASCAR, Toyota spent 12 years in Indy car racing, winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2003. In 2004, it entered NASCAR's Craftsman Truck series, racing its Tundra pickup. After a slow start, Toyota quickly gained traction and last year won nearly half the races on the circuit and captured the series championship. That sounds a lot like Toyota's relentless rise in the America car market. Maybe those good ole boys of stock-car racing ought to be worried.
"When the green flag drops, the bullshit stops."
Let's see what happens at Daytona.