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2016 Toyota S-FR Racing Concept

2016 Toyota S-FR Racing Concept

The Toyota S-FR concept was unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show as a compact, entry-level sports car that "aims to make a whole new generation fall in love with driving." Should the concept spawn a production model, the S-FR will slot below the GT 86/Scion FR-S as a hard-top competitor for the Mazda MX-5. Until that happens, Toyota unveiled yet another version of the sports car, this time around prepared for the race track.

Built in collaboration with Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s motorsport division, the S-FR Racing concept aims for a more aggressive look thanks to its race-prepped body kit and lightweight design. Details are scant as of this writing, but Toyota confirmed that the concept car will make its public debut at the 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon on January 15th, when more information should be released.

As with the road-going model, there’s no word as to whether the racing concept will be greenlighted for production. Stay tuned to TopSpeed for updates on this tiny race car.

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota S-FR Racing Concept.

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Toyota Barista Commercial Highlights Why Hybrid Is Better

Toyota Barista Commercial Highlights Why Hybrid Is Better

The law of conservation of energy states energy cannot be created or destroyed. This law is the basis of how regenerative braking systems on vehicles like the Toyota Prius and F1 cars work. Instead of letting that energy go to waste, the heat created by braking is then transferred back into electrical energy and stored in a battery pack – later used to power electrical accessories or electric motors. This recent video released by Toyota shows just how much energy a race car stores from regenerative braking after one lap around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The TS040 normally uses the energy saved from regenerative braking to power its electrical motor, but in this video, that energy is used to generate the heat needed to make breakfast for 171 people – that’s one cup of coffee, a half slice of toast and one-third of an egg. Pretty amazing when you consider Kazuki Nakajima – the first Japanese racer to take pole position in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – only made one simulated lap around the 8.469-mile track. It is an interesting video that really puts things into perspective as far as energy loss goes. The video isn’t quite as interesting as some, but it’s certainly worth a look. Enjoy.

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30 Years of Toyota at Le Mans: Video

30 Years of Toyota at Le Mans: Video

Although Toyota has yet to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, its history with the world’s most celebrate endurance race goes all the way back to 1985. In 2015, Toyota celebrates three decades since it first lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe, with a video highlighting its past Le Mans cars and performances.

Toyota’s affair with Le Mans is one of unfinished business. Even though it has taken the checkered flag in nearly all races it has started, it failed to conquer the prototype class, coming second on three occasions. Of course, these are significant achievements for a brand that lacks the Le Mans heritage of its competitors, but it left the Japanese wanting more. More recently, Toyota finished 2nd and 3rd in 2013 and 2014, respectively, being unable to stop Audi’s domination.

For the 2015 race, Toyota returns with the proven TS040 Hybrid, which took pole position and finished third in last year’s event. Competition will be tough though, more so with Porsche returning with a lot more experience and with Nissan joining the LMP1 class with the GT-R LM Nismo. We’ll find out if Toyota has what it takes to rise above Audi, Porsche, and Nissan this weekend, during the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Meanwhile, be sure to check out Toyota Motorsport’s latest video celebrating 30 years of racing at Circuit de la Sarthe.

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Toyota Pays Tribute To Its Heritage With One-Off Classic Liveries For GT-86

Toyota Pays Tribute To Its Heritage With One-Off Classic Liveries For GT-86

To help celebrate five decades of race and rally cars, Toyota has recreated a handful of old-school liveries and classic styling cues in a series of six one-off GT86 coupes. 

The fleet of RWD sports cars will make their debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, an annual event held on the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex, England. There, they will participate in the festival’s Moving Motor Show on June 25th, where visitors will have the chance to drive each on a prescribed route around the Goodwood Estate, including the renowned 1.16-mile hill climb course. The GT-86s will most likely be in high demand, so get there early if you want a decent shot at the driver’s seat. Of course, if you miss the Toyotas, don’t fret – it’s expected that models from Ferrari, Porsche, and Aston Martin will also be made available. 

Afterward, the Toyotas will move to the Goodwood racing circuit where they will be put on static display in support of the popular Drift Experience. Launched in 2013, this low-grip driver’s education program utilizes the GT86’s universally acclaimed handling prowess to teach the basics of at-limit driving. 

Each of the GT-86 one-offs was giving the custom vinyl treatment courtesy of Motor Mode, a UK-based specialist in automotive wraps and decals. They faithfully reproduced the original liveries to match the lines and proportions of the more modern coupe. To complete the look, ride height was dropped by 40 mm (1.57 inches) using lowering springs. This appropriately brought the arches down to fit snugly against new wheels from Rota, which provided just the right set of retro-looking rollers to complement the new vinyl, individualized for each car. Finally, a new stainless steel exhaust from Milltek Sport adds the correct kind of aural presence, not to mention a healthy dose of power as verified by the trusty ole’ butt-dyno. 

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Ryan Millen Will Drive RAV4 Rally Car in 2015 Rally America 2WD-Open Class

Ryan Millen Will Drive RAV4 Rally Car in 2015 Rally America 2WD-Open Class

Toyota has officially unveiled its RAV4 rally car, which will be driven by off-road racing driver Ryan Millen in numerous rally events throughout the U.S., including part of the 2015 Rally America season in the 2WD-Open Class. The competition-ready small SUV was first revealed over the weekend at the Monster Energy Supercross Champioship finale at San Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, dropping cover between the races and put on display in the pits throughout the event.

The addition of a RAV4 to the Rally America running order is unusual, as the unibody-construction SSUV will compete against the likes of smaller, modified streetcars. 

“I’ve driven just about everything Toyota has to offer,” Millen states in a press release. “And I’ve been very impressed with the RAV4’s tight, compact body and smooth handling. I’m looking forward to putting it through the paces this season.”

Millen is the son of off-roading legend Rod Millen, and has a history with the Japanese automaker that stretches back to his childhood, including racing in MTEG stadium at the age of nine, supporting Ivan Stewart’s off-road efforts, racing an FJ Cruiser in the Baja 1000, and winning the Baja 1000 in a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro in 2014. 

SiriusXM and Wienerschnitzel have both announced a partnership with Toyota’s marketing team in support of the new race effort. 

A tentative schedule has the Toyo’s first outing slated for the Idaho Rally next month, June 13th – 14th, followed by the Mendocino Rally July 18th – 19th. After that is Rally Utah, August 7th – 8th, the Gorman Ridge Rally, August 22nd, the Prescott Rally, October 2nd – 3rd, and the Mt. Hood Rally, October 17th.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Toyota Engineers Will Race One Lap of America Endurance

Toyota Engineers Will Race One Lap of America Endurance

The Scion FR-S wouldn’t be your first pick for most types of endurance racing. It could never match the speed of the other cars at Le Mans, and neither could it handle the terrain of Dakar or the Baja 1000. But the One Lap Of America event, which has much more to do with driver skill than who has the fastest car, is actually a pretty good fit for the car. So Toyota is sending engineers Anthony Magagnoli and Stephen Byington with a specially prepared FR-S to this year’s event.

The One Lap of America is the slightly more sane and significantly more legal version of the Cannonball Run (the real one, not the movie) coast-to-coast race of the early ’70s. That race was started by Car and Driver’s Brock Yates, and it is Brock Yates Jr. who runs the One Lap. The event is held in rally-like stages, with penalties for being either over or under time. Additional events are held at race tracks along the way and the cars end up covering more than 4,000 miles in seven days. It might not have the speed of Le Mans, but it does allow us to see what more mainstream sports cars can handle.

Continue reading to learn more about One Lap of America Endurance Race.

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2016 Toyota Mirai Becomes The First Hydrogen-Fueled Car To Pace NASCAR

2016 Toyota Mirai Becomes The First Hydrogen-Fueled Car To Pace NASCAR

With a fuel cell stack that offers an impressive 3.1 kW/L of hydrogen, an electric motor that produces 153 horsepower, and fueling that takes only five minutes, the Toyota Mirai is arguably the most innovative hydrogen-powered vehicle built as of 2015. Add the fact that Toyota will fill up the Mirai’s tank for free for the first three years of ownership and we may have a game-changer on our hands. Needless to say, the news that Toyota plans to triple Mirai production due to high demand isn’t surprising if you ask me. But now that the futuristic four-door is already a hit, Toyota is focusing on raising even more awareness, this time among NASCAR fans.

Relax, NASCAR won’t replace today’s V-8 cars with a fleet of Mirais, but it did accept a Mirai to pace the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway. The race took place Saturday, April 25th, 2015, making the Toyota Mirai the first hydrogen-powered car to pace a NASCAR race.

The governing body accepted the Mirai as a pace car after the mid-size sedan met NASCAR’s performance requirements for the 400-mile race. And for the first time in NASCAR history, a vehicle lapped an oval track using no gasoline and emitting nothing but water vapor. This is the second time Toyota brought alternative fuel technology to NASCAR, after the Camry Hybrid paced a full race back in May 2009.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Toyota Mirai Pace Car.

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Behind the Scenes at the 2015 NASCAR Budweiser Duel

Behind the Scenes at the 2015 NASCAR Budweiser Duel

NASCAR is one of those uniquely American things, much like baseball, Mount Rushmore, and Chuck Norris. Oh, and corn whiskey, also known as moonshine, white lightning, and mountain dew. That’s where the popular motorsport got its start at least; rum runners evading the lawman in souped-up cars barreling down back roads like the Duke Boys. It was all in an effort to make a living off selling illegally brewed alcohol without paying taxes on it.

Over the years the illicit practice of rum running morphed into what is now the National Association of Stock Car Racing, attracting fans the world over to its high speeds and memorable drivers.

Earlier this NASCAR season, I had the chance at a behind-the-scenes look into the cars, pit crews, and drivers – all off the track but still turning wrenches and dressed in Nomex. Except for Aric Almirola, driver of the 43 car, I actually drove him around the track in the back of a Toyota Tundra. But those details are down below.

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2015 Toyota Yaris WRC

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC

A full 18 years after Toyota discontinued its participation in the WRC, the Japanese automaker is looking to make a comeback with this battle-ready Yaris. Plans are currently set to see the pumped-up subcompact make its competition debut in 2017, with development now proceeding under the guidance of Cologne-based motor racing team Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG). Previously known as Toyota Team Europe, TMG is responsible for garnering each of the marque’s titles in this highest form of rally racing.

The last time a Toyota was seen scrambling for traction on a stage of the World Rally Championship was in 1999, with the Corolla WRC. That particular vehicle represented the carmaker’s final entry in the sport after more than 25 years of continuous rally competition, excluding a one-year ban in 1995 following the discovery of illegal turbo restrictors. Despite this singular blemish, Toyota’s overall record is good, including three manufacturer’s titles and four driver’s titles, thanks in no small part to the venerable TMG-prepped Celica GT-Four.

An assortment of drivers and engineers are currently joining the team ranks to prepare for 2017. But will Toyota keep pace after an absence of nearly two decades?

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota Yaris WRC.

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Nick Offerman Welcomes Us to a New Season of NASCAR: Video

Nick Offerman Welcomes Us to a New Season of NASCAR: Video

The best commercial in this year’s Super Bowl won’t even take place during the game, but don’t worry, it will most certainly have cars. NBC Sports has released its advertisement ushering in the 2015 NASCAR season, and it does so with the unwavering Americanism of Nick Offerman – meat connoisseur, wood craftsman extraordinaire and Ron Swanson.

In “America, It’s Time For A Gut Check,” Offerman brings his usual comedy and machismo with one-liners like “Sure everybody at NASCAR gets a trophy/As long as they win the f***ing race” and “Where men and women compete together/Just like they did back in the 18-nevers.” AdWeek says that a 60-second version of the commercial will air immediately after the game, but you can see the full-length version right now. Trust me, it will be the best two minutes you’ll spend today, and you don’t have to be a NASCAR fan to get a kick out of it.

The true point of the ad, of course, is as a promotion for NBC Sports, which picks up coverage of the 2015 season starting on July 5.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

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2015 Toyota Camry NASCAR Race Car

2015 Toyota Camry NASCAR Race Car

Toyota joined the NASCAR series in 2004, putting an end to a 44-year period in which the sport was restricted to American car makers. The Japanese automaker entered the truck series with the Tundra at first, but it joined the top-tier Sprint Cup Series with the Camry three years later. Although it has yet to win a championship in seven years as of 2014, the Camry has become increasingly competitive since its introduction, scoring many wins and attracting major teams and drivers. Toyota managed to finish the 2013 season in second place, ending the series above Ford and below Chevrolet with 14 wins out of 36 starts. You’ve gotta hand it to Toyota as it was only a few points away from becoming the first non-U.S. automaker to win the Sprint Cup since the series’ formation in 1949. As we get closer to the 2015 season, the Japanese manufacturer is introducing an update to the Camry race car, which follows a facelift launched for the road-legal sedan, the best-selling car in America for 12 straight years.

Naturally, the purpose of this update is to transfer the looks of the refreshed 2015 Camry onto the NASCAR track, and it brings no drivetrain improvements whatsoever, as all Gen-6 NASCAR models are built on the same underpinnings. Read on to find out what makes the 2015 Camry race car different when compared to its predecessor.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota Camry NASCAR Race Car.

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2015 Toyota TRD Pro Tundra Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

2015 Toyota TRD Pro Tundra Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

Toyota has announced it will enter a new Tundra TRD Pro series truck in the 2014Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 taking place in mid-November 2014. The Tundra TRD Pro being entered is only slightly modified in order to compete in the full-size truck class, leaving the majority of the truck as stock. “Competing in the full size sock Class allows our team to test the Tundra TRD Pro as close to stock as possible,” says Andrew Franceschini of Toyota. “[That] showcases its strength and durability in the Mexican desert’s treacherous terrain.”

A few items were added to the Tundra TRD Pro in order to compete, mainly to do with safety. A full roll cage and safety fuel cell was added, along with Mastercraft racing seats with five-point harnesses. A full suite of GPS navigation and race communication radio equipment was also thrown in.

The truck will compete in the 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, a race spanning over the harsh desert terrain between Ensenada, Baja California to La Paz, Baja California Sur. Though the race’s name suggests otherwise, the endurance even lasts a grueling 1,130 miles, testing both vehicle and occupants.

The Baja 1000 is set to take place November 12th through the 16th. 2014 with several checkpoints between the start and finish lines. Check back with TopSpeed for more coverage of the Baja 1000, but until then, check out more information on the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro truck.

Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota TRD Pro Tundra Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.

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