The Daytona 500 has been about as ’Americana’ as any sporting event in the US today. The only others that are on that level are the Indy 500 and the SuperBowl. So it’s no surprise that in the 50 years that the event has been held, only one of the pace cars involved doesn’t have an American lineage to it.
That is until now.
Joining the Porsche 914 that was used as a pace car in 1971 is the all-new Toyota Camry, which has been tapped to lead-off the Daytona 500 and open the NASCAR Sprint Cup season next February. But that’s only after it makes an appearance at the 2011 SEMA Auto Show.
In an event that has fielded a steady number of Pontiacs, Buicks, Chevrolets, Fords, and so many other US-born automakers, the decision to choose the 2012 Camry as the official pace car of the 2012 Daytona 500 is a testament to the Japanese automaker’s growing influence in the US stock car world.
The Camry Daytona 500 Pace Car is powered by a 3.5-liter six-cylinder, twin-cam engine that produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb/ft of torque at 4,700 rpm that’s aided by a TRD custom stainless exhaust system.
As a pace car, the Camry comes with its share of "pace car features", including a Tein adjustable suspension system, a Whelen LFL Liberty LED lightbar, an on-board fire extinguisher, four-point Simpson racing seat belts, a full roll cage, and a set of 19" BBS RS wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 tires with a StopTech Big Brake Kit.