Press Release | TOYOTA RACING
DAYTONA BEACH (February 17, 2023) – David Wilson, president, TRD was made available to media prior to the Daytona 500 on Friday:
DAVID WILSON, president, TRD (Toyota Racing Development)
What’s new for you heading into 2023 and what are you most excited about?
“2023, there’s a lot of excitement, anticipation that we all share at this time of the year – being back at the beach. For Toyota, 2023 represents our 20th anniversary of coming into the sport and into the Truck Series. We’re going to spend some time celebrating that and recognizing that as it’s been an incredible journey and continues to be. Of course, we’ve got a couple of new faces. Looking forward to our year with Tyler Reddick, Ty Gibbs of course and we’re going to have some fun this weekend with Travis (Pastrana) racing in the Daytona 500. Might have to help with his enthusiasm level (laughter), but we’re looking forward to a great season and here we go again.”
Where do the OEMs stand on electrification within your NASCAR program?
“Obviously social and market forces are driving all of us as car manufacturers to be respectful and to be sensitive to put carbon reduction at the front of our business. When you take it to the race track, I think every motorsport globally is faced with the same pressures, including NASCAR. The question is how and when and what. What I’ll say is all of us sitting up here have been working very closely with NASCAR on new technologies, on a focus towards reduction of carbon, but it continues to be a work in progress.”
Do you feel you’ve been kept in the loop on information around the Garage 56 program?
“I have to start by saying that I have to kind of be nice to both of these guys as I might be leaning on them for Formula 1 tickets later (laughter). All kidding aside, yes, we were outspoken about it. Here’s the good news is that NASCAR has been amazingly transparent with all of us on what’s been happening on the testing. We’ve attended testing, the data has been shared with us and the silver lining is that NASCAR is learning some things from that testing and will learn some things when they take that car to Le Mans that will benefit all of us. Will it benefit some just a little bit more? Of course, yeah.”
Would the OEMs be open to a team salary cap and how would you expect to be impacted?
“The issue of budget cap falls under the larger umbrella of cost containment of putting some business sustainability across this sport that our teams have struggled with. This isn’t something new, it’s something that other sports have engaged, stick and ball obviously, but also Formula 1 on the motorsports side. Generally speaking, we’re supportive of it in the interest that it could again put some measures of reasonableness on what’s spent. That’s not a bad thing. The challenge, like every other application of budget cap is going to be on how and how it’s implemented and measured and controlled. As we all sit up here today, we have direct engagements with our team partners and more of those are not check writing engagements, they are technology based. Technology is a form of currency so how you value those and measure them will be a challenge, but principally right now, this is a conversation between our racing teams and NASCAR.”
Did you figure out why Denny Hamlin and Tyler Reddick suffered from carbon monoxide exposure at the Clash? “Yes, they both did suffer from some carbon monoxide exposure. The subsidization is it was a multi-faceted issue. One probably being the mufflers that we ran, and the other racing in a bowl and a lot of time at low speed contributing to that. I’m not aware if other drivers suffered to the same extent, but we don’t have any cause to believe that it is a Toyota-specific issue.”
Do you have enough data to feel comfortable about what happened to rear of the car? “I would start by saying that the simulation that NASCAR has done, the crash testing that NASCAR has done, the engineering that NASCAR has done is all positive and sound. Like anything else, the real experience is going to be in what happens on the race track. We are going to see that – good, bad or otherwise – it is going to happen, and we are going to continue to collect data. We are satisfied that NASCAR continues with a mentality that there is no such thing as a perfectly safe race car, and it is something that all of us as an industry have to remain focused on and committed on continual improvement.”
If you had to go and find the next Christopher Bell, what would it take in today’s dollars to develop them?
“A gazillion. Is that fair? All kidding aside, Christopher (Bell) certainly, arguably, is the poster child. I’ve said before – everything that we’ve invested, our partners like JBL, ExxonMobil and Safelite, all that they have invested. All it takes is one Christopher Bell to make it all worthwhile. We’ve checked that box. The motivation was certainly to grow our own, but that was just a motivation. More broadly, as a stakeholder, as a company that gets so much value from competing, it has become more of a social responsibility and culture. It mirrors part of our culture – in having respect for people and giving these young athletes opportunities that they may not otherwise have had. There is nothing more that I enjoy more than walking down the grid any given Sunday afternoon and giving out hugs and high-fiving a third of the grid, a half of the grid – it seems like, because we have helped them in some matter – I don’t care who they drive for. Their success is our success to some extent. We will continue to be committed to that, and we are good. We will be okay.”
Are we going to continue to see more development in World of Outlaws?
“That has been a passion project for TRD. We have had that 410 engine on our to do list for a better part of a decade, ever since we turned a wheel in USAC, in the midgets, it became apparent that we needed to develop a Sprint Car engine. The World of Outlaws season started just the other day. We are getting closer to a broader coverage of our TRD 410 but want to make sure it is right and ready for a broader market as well. Stay tuned.”
What will the Toyota Racing program and TRD look like without Kyle Busch?
“We were so close to getting out of here. (laughter) I was the one touting everything that Kyle Busch and Toyota have done together in the past decade and a half. I guess I said last year that we will forever celebrate that record of success, because of the Kyle Busch rule being implemented, there will probably not be another driver ever that matches his level of success with one manufacturer. He is going to be missed. Life goes on. I sleep well at night because I know how that went down and how everybody acquitted themselves, so we are focusing forward. We have a terrific young man in Tyler Reddick. We are convinced that he is going to be great for our brand. He is a good person. We are going to – and are – having fun with him. On the Truck side, you mentioned TRICON and our friends along those lines. That is a very capable outfit – one of only three vertically integrated teams in the Truck garage that can not only go race, but can built their trucks. We were very intentional in bringing them in the fold. They have become an extension of our driver development program. It is a process. One of the things we are intentional about is being strategic and focusing forward and anticipating changes. It is not going to happen overnight, and certainly there are days that we will miss Kyle and there are days that we won’t.”