A Yen for Speed

May 25, 2003

Outraged By Toyota's impending entrance into NASCAR, a passel of
stock car fans. In February, Toyota, which has its headquarters
in Japan, announced it would enter as many as six Toyota Tundras
in the Craftsman Truck Series next season. NASCAR rules state
that only "American-made" vehicles can compete, but because the
Tundra is produced entirely in the U.S., Toyota got the green
flag. The idea, though, hasn't sat well with many of the
carnescenti. At The Winston in Concord, N.C., last weekend the
anti-Japanese sentiment was palpable. "NASCAR is the last purely
American sport," said a disgusted Carl Dover, 46, who had staked
out a spot in the infield. "The [Japanese] are into everything."
Charles Walker, a columnist on an auto racing fan website,
catchfence.com, recently bemoaned the possibility of an American
car losing to a "rice rocket."

"We know there has been some initial disapproval of what we're
doing," says Les Unger, Toyota's U.S. motor sports manager. But
the company is encouraged by the support it's getting from
drivers and owners. "The interest in our sport is now global, and
this acknowledges that," says Bill Davis, owner of Ward Burton's
car. "It'll also bring more money in." Toyota is already a major
player in open-wheel racing--there will be six Toyotas in the top
10 starting positions in Sunday's Indianapolis 500--and its foray
into NASCAR likely won't stop with trucks. Toyota Camrys are
expected to race in Winston Cup in 2006 or '07. "This will bring
more people to the sport," says driver Jimmy Spencer. "If you
drive a Toyota truck or car, now you've got somebody to support
at the race." Toyota's Unger agrees: "We think this will be good
for Toyota, for the fans and for NASCAR." But longtime aficionado
Dover isn't buying Toyota's pitch: "I hope their engines blow up
in every race." --Lars Anderson

COLOR PHOTO: WORTH CANOY/ICON SMI (FANS) NEW WAVE Patriotic NASCAR fans fear Toyota will take thecheckered flag. COLOR PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)