Toyota dropped out of Formula One racing because of the world-wide recession.
Because of the disaster that’s struck the Japanese company in recent days, the question must be asked: how long will Toyota continue to pour millions into North America motorsport?
The manufacturer is heavily involved in NASCAR (all three series – the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World truck series), the NHRA and USAC sprints and midgets, among other series.
Drivers of their cars include Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann, among many others. (I was shocked when I went to the Toyota Racing website and counted up all the drivers – 40, to be exact, and they’re all big names.)
Anyway, it’s costing Toyota serious money to support all those teams and drivers, not to mention doling out the promotional dollars for the races the company headlines (the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy car race, for instance).
With the economic hammering Toyota’s taking, something’s gotta give somewhere.
I expect the company will find a way to hang on in Sprint Cup and maybe – maybe – the trucks. But everything else will likely be in danger of getting the chop.
Watch Andrew Ranger race in Toyota Showdown
Speaking of Toyota, their annual early-season “Daytona 500” for short-track racers will take place Friday and Saturday nights in California and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Andrew Ranger will be in the thick of the action.
The 2010 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will be the seventh held at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Calif. The race features guaranteed starting positions for the champions of each of NASCAR’s touring and weekly series, including the Canadian Tire.
In 2009, Ranger – 23, of Roxton Pond, Que. – won his second Canadian Tire Series championship in three years on the power of a single-season series record six wins. Three of those victories came on oval tracks while the others were a result of his tremendous prowess on road courses.
It was through his road-course ability that he caught the attention of the U.S. stock-car media last August in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Montreal. Ranger staged a race-long battle with Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose before settling for a third-place finish in the race.
Last year, 2008 Canadian Tire champion Scott Steckly qualified mid-field but was eliminated early when he was caught up in a multi-car pileup. Let’s hope Ranger has better luck this year than he did in ’08, when his race lasted all of 31 laps.
Speed Channel will televise both nights of action – including the headline race Saturday night – starting at 10 p.m. EST.
24 Hours of Daytona live on Speed
Speaking of Speed Channel, it will carry much – not all, but much – of the Rolex 24, starting at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
There are many Canadians racing at Daytona – Karl Thomson, Scott Maxwell and Kenny Wilden in the Continental Tire Challenge and Mark Wilkins in the Rolex 24, for instance – but the only all-Canadian entry I’m aware of is the Bullet Racing team out of Vancouver, B.C.
The Maple Leaf-adorned No. 22 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup will be piloted by Ross Bentley, Darryl O’Young, Kees Nierop and Sean McIntosh.
“We have all the tools: a proven car in the 911 GT3, a formidable driver line-up, an excellent and experienced crew and above all, tremendous chemistry,” said team owner Steve Paquette.
“Our past two ventures in the race, 2008 and 2009, taught us a great deal about what is required in order to be competitive and we are ready to surprise a lot of people.”
The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car has won the GT Class in the Rolex 24 four of the last five years and again leads the entry numbers in 2010 with 13 cars.
Further motivating the Bullet team is its commitment to the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation’s SUPERHERO campaign. Before and during the race, the team will be collecting donations in both lump-sum payments and per-lap pledges.
As I said, coverage starts at 3 Saturday afternoon but Speed will break away to go to California for the above-mentioned stock car race. It will return to Dayton but check listings for the exact time.
Dickies to sponsor Micks in Canadian Tire series
Speaking of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (which we were two items ago), the Williamson-Dickie Co. of Canada has thrown its Dickies sponsorship behind driver Kerry Micks for the 2010 season.
Dickies sponsored Dave Whitlock for years but he retired at the end of the 2009 season. Micks, who’s been supported throughout his career by Beyond Digital Imaging, is the perfect recipient for the Dickies dollars.
The announcement was made last Saturday during the Canadian Motorsports Expo.