New Toyota stock car to be unveiled in Salisbury
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 29, 2012
By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — For the first time, Rowan County will host the official unveiling of a new race car for Toyota.
Toyota Racing Development will reveal the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Camry during a private open house for media May 22 at the engineering facility at 1125 Competition Drive.
The new car is being developed jointly between Toyota Racing Development’s Rowan County location and the main facility in Costa Mesa, Calif., said Les Unger, national motorsports manager for Toyota Motor Sales.
Toyota secretly unveiled a prototype of the car Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda and driver Kyle Busch each took the vehicle — camouflaged with a zebra-striped paint scheme — for 10 laps around the track about an hour before the final practice for the Daytona 500.
Toyota will officially present the car in Rowan County because “it’s in the heart of NASCAR country,” Unger said.
Most reporters who cover NASCAR live in the South, making it easier for them to attend, Unger said.
“It’s exciting that Rowan County gets to be home to this announcement,” said Robert Van Geons, executive director for RowanWorks Economic Development. “I think citizens would be really impressed with the amount of innovation and research and development being done in our own backyard.”
The unveiling will occur between the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 19 and Coca-Cola 600 on May 27.
Toyota built the Rowan County facility because of the company’s involvement with NASCAR, Unger said.
NASCAR determines when new cars are brought into competition and is working closely with Toyota, Dodge, Chevrolet and Ford on the design of the new cars, Unger said.
“We are all in the process of testing and designing under NASCAR guidelines,” he said.
Toyoda traveled from Japan to get a firsthand look at the company’s newest racing car. He is an enthusiast and tests virtually every product the company designs before it goes into production, Unger said.
The new race car will have “some differences noticeable to the eye, as well as under the skin,” he said.
Toyota Racing Development has graciously allowed economic developers to show off the LEED-certified facility to visitors from across the state, Van Geons said.
“It’s a great example of advanced motorsports operations in North Carolina,” he said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.