The world of NASCAR as we know it was changed when Toyota entered the ranks of racing in 2007 with the Toyota Camry. This got the blood boiling for many fans who took it as a personal affront that a foreign car manufacturer was allowed to race with their beloved Fords, Dodges, and Chevys. The most common argument made was that NASCAR rules state that vehicles competing on the racing circuit must be based on American vehicles. I think we can clear this little misunderstanding up right away.
The Toyota Camry, the nameplate on the 2007 race car, is manufactured in Georgetown, Kentucky. This same Camry has been the best-selling car in the United Stated for years and Toyota employs some 152,000 American workers. It is obvious that Toyota can now be considered as much an American manufacturer as GM and Ford, who still build a significant number of their vehicles in Mexico and Canada.
Plus, Toyota developed their race cars for NASCAR in North Carolina. These facts make Toyota more than qualified to race according to the NASCAR rulebook. And race they have.
Toyota’s years of building cars and racing in other motorsports like Le Mans and Formula One paid off when they entered the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. They were already competing in the NASCAR Truck Series by 2007 and as a result, they were competitive right out of the gate by attracting drivers like Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip. By 2008, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart would be driving Camrys. Now the question becomes, who will be the next manufacturer that NASCAR allows to join the ranks? Could it be BMW or Volkswagen? Hyundai perhaps?
If you want my opinion, and I’m sure you do, my money is on Hyundai to make the move into NASCAR with the Sonata. In recent years, Hyundai has made major investments in the US with a design center in California, an engineering facility in Michigan and a manufacturing facility in Alabama. They now employ over 100,000 American workers, they are building the Sonata, a car that is currently dominating the mid-size sedan market and they have pretty much turned Mobile, Alabama into “Hyundaiville.”
The France family will welcome them with open arms because there will be more competition and more marketing dollars while stirring the pot with a little dash of controversy. This is always good for business, just like in 2007 when NASCAR added Toyota.
My NASCAR friends, it’s only a matter of time so get ready for Hyundai!
Photo source: Motor Trend