Celebrating 50 years of Toyota Motor Sport at Festival of Speed
In 1957, a humble showroom specification Toyopet Crown completed the 19-day, 17,000km Rally of Australia, marking Toyota’s official sporting debut. Half a century later Toyota is competing at the pinnacle of world motor sport as one of Formula 1’s principle teams, deploying the most advanced designs and technologies to reach new heights of achievement.
In the intervening years Toyota has enjoyed success in a vast range of racing formulae around the world, including all-conquering dominance of the World Rally Championship, the American IMSA and Cart series and international Formula 3 competition. From the mighty Lexus SC 430 that defines the muscle of today’s Japanese GT racing, to the Camry-based stock cars battling for glory in American NASCAR racing, Toyota’s sporting involvement is wonderfully varied and vibrant, expressing the passion that has fuelled its activities for half a century.
The festival brings together an unprecedented array of Toyota sporting machinery, representing its greatest achievements. To mark the anniversary, a full replica of the 1957 Toyopet Crown rally car has been built and takes pride of place in the central display.
Panasonic Toyota Racing has a strong presence, with the TF106 race car from the 2006 season providing spectacular speed and sound on the hill climb course. Driving duties are shared between Ralf Schumacher and Franck Montagny, the grand prix team’s third driver. This year’s F1 contender, the TF107, is also on display.
On the rally stage, Carlos Sainz returns to the wheel of a Group A rally car, reviving memories of the world-beating performances that took him to two WRC driver’s titles with Toyota. Bjorn Waldegard is back behind the wheel of the Celica GT-Four (ST165) with which he dominated the Safari Rally, and Yoshio Fujimoto is driving its successor, the ST185. Between them these two cars claimed four World Rally Championship titles.
Also scheduled for hill climb action are the legendary Toyota 7 Can-Am car, the Japanese GT Championship-conquering Castrol TOM’S Supra and the formidable Toyota GT-One Le Mans car, piloted by Japanese race stars Hiroshi Fushita and Toshio Suzuki.
Toyota’s sporting heritage is also expressed in a landmark sculpture created specially for the festival by artist-designer Gerry Judah. The 40 metre high structure is inspired by Japanese tori gates, as Judah explains: “The idea was to create something very Japanese but also with a feeling of engineering and technology. It creates the effect of a procession from the festival towards Goodwood House, with a series of historic Toyota racing cars suspended from them. It is a complex piece of engineering, as all the different elements are interdependent.”
The festival will also feature a number of privately-entered Toyota models, including Rod Millen’s mighty Pikes Peak Tacoma.