Skip to main content

Though many notable automakers have participated in NASCAR races throughout the sport’s lengthy and memorable history, dating back well before even the inaugural running of the Daytona 500 in 1959, only three major automakers feature in today’s races: Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota.

Most consumers know Toyota SUVs and sedans for their reliability. However, the automaker’s cars are also quite fast. The revived Supra can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds. These cars can hold their own on the racetrack, and that’s not the only great thing about the relationship between manufacturer and sanctioning body.

Toyota’s relationship with NASCAR

Before NASCAR, Toyota had dabbled in open-wheel racing at the Indy 500.

As that event saw its popularity drop, Toyota left despite its many wins. It officially joined NASCAR in 2007, becoming the first Japanese automaker to do so. Since then, Toyota has proven as essential to the sport as its American counterparts.

In addition to enjoying some exciting wins, Toyota has sponsored multiple NASCAR races since 2012 and has invested large sums into the sport and its training programs, allowing it to gain respect from race fans. As a result, the U.S. sales of Toyota passenger cars such as the RAV4 compact SUV have also grown.

Toyota’s NASCAR success may also be attributed to its driver selection method. Since 2013, it has sponsored youth academies and sent the most capable potential racers to its TD2 driver development program. Instructors have helped these young racers hone their skills while encouraging good physical health.

As for the cars, Toyota Racing Development’s American and Japanese teams of engineers work together to produce powerful racecars. While NASCAR uses these cars in America, Japanese motorsports fans see them in All-Japan Formula 3 and Super GT competitions.

Which cars does Toyota race in NASCAR?

Toyota entered its debut NASCAR Cup Series season in 2007 with the Camry. The consumer version of the midsize sedan exhibits sporty handling, especially on the TRD trim. It also comes with a rear spoiler, a splitter, and stronger anti-roll bars.

The Camry’s racing engine was so powerful in 2008 that NASCAR had to intervene — without technically mentioning Toyota, of course — with a midseason rule change. Such an action is fairly uncommon, but NASCAR seemingly believed the Camry had an unfair advantage over the other cars.

“The bulletin calls for all teams using engines with a cylinder-bore spacing of more than 4.470 inches to carry a tapered spacer (restrictor plate) with four 1.100-inch diameter openings. That’s 0.250 inch less than the previous opening and is expected to reduce horsepower,” Al Pearce wrote for Autoweek at the time. “While the new rule doesn’t target Toyota by name, that manufacturer is the only one using cylinder-bore spacing of more than 4.470 inches.”

Despite the mandated changes, the Toyota Camry continued to dominate, grabbing 10 victories that year.

Also in 2008, Toyota delved into NASCAR truck racing with the Tundra pickup. Right away, decorated driver Kyle Busch guided the Tundra to a record number of wins in the NASCAR truck series.

As of 2017, the Toyota Camry was more capable than ever on the racetrack. A TRD-spec Camry came equipped with a 725-hp V8, paired with a four-speed manual transmission, TRD explained. Intensive safety features included a fire prevention system, window net, and foam designed to absorb severe side impacts. Each car was also subjected to a rigorous safety test both before and after races.

In 2019, the Toyota Supra also joined the ranks of NASCAR in its Xfinity racing series. The optimized Supra reportedly harnessed up to 700 hp and came with several safety features and body enhancements. It snagged two wins in its debut year with Christopher Bell in the driver’s seat.

Toyota’s NASCAR success

Though Chevrolet has won the most NASCAR championships, Toyota has three season-long titles and 180 Cup Series wins under its belt, the most recent coming from Christopher Bell at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 22, 2023.

ManufacturerCup Series VictoriesLast VictoryChampionshipsLast Championship

Toyota’s success within NASCAR undoubtedly strengthens the automaker’s already stellar brand loyalty as the impressive capabilities of the Camry, Supra, and Tundra inspire fans to acquire models of their own. 


The 2021 Toyota Supra Is 1 of the Most Affordable Luxury Sports Cars