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June 19, 2019

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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FUMES #462

September 10, 2008

Toyota plays NASCAR's game by NASCAR's Rules - and still loses.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

It's hard to believe that the powers that be at Toyota Racing Development are all that shocked over what has transpired in NASCAR this season. First it was NASCAR dialing back the horsepower in Toyota's Nationwide Series engines this past July when the Toyota horde - led by Kyle Busch - threatened to make a mockery of the series (not hard, admittedly). And now it's Toyota's truck engines that are coming under fire from NASCAR, with "adjustments" being made to reduce Toyota horsepower in that series.

Toyota Racing Development president Lee White told media sources last Friday both NASCAR moves were aimed at equaling the competition, because Toyota has flat dominated this year. “Without a question, this latest one is a direct result of winning four straight races and finishing 1-2-3-4 at Bristol,” White said. “I just don't swallow the technical argument.”

Nor should he, because this, of course, has nothing to do with how advanced technically Toyota is (NASCAR's argument is that Toyota's engine program is leaps and bounds ahead of Dodge, Ford and GM and thus has an unfair advantage), but instead it has everything to do with NASCAR's ingrained notion of "managing the competition" a founding pillar of NASCAR since the beginning. All things must revolve around "The Show" in NASCAR, it's their raison d'etre as longtime competitors and fans alike will attest. That Toyota would think that they're somehow different is probably the more surprising thing in this latest NASCAR vs. Manufacturer dust-up.

Toyota has spent a ton of money since entering the NASCAR scene, and they spent a ton more when they lured Joe Gibbs Racing away from GM (Toyota paid JGR basically double what GM was offering, other long-term incentives). And Toyota figured that if they supported NASCAR and spent "whatever it takes" to get JGR to the front, then it would be well worth it. Subscribing to the old racing adage that Cubic Money x Talent = Victory, Toyota simply has spent more than their competitors in NASCAR. A lot more. And the results speak for themselves. (Kyle Busch's win total in all three NASCAR series this year alone would make a pretty decent career for some drivers.)

But what Toyota didn't count on, amazingly enough, was that NASCAR wouldn't allow them to continue unabated without some sort of pulling back on the Asian manufacturer's reins. In most other racing series, whoever works the hardest (and of course spends the most money) usually wins the majority of the races. Effort = Results as Roger Penske is fond of saying. But Toyota is finding out the hard way that relentless effort and the resulting success doesn't necessarily bring unending accolades in NASCAR, but it will bring unending scrutiny and meddling if it affects The Show.

NASCAR's blatant move to "manage the competition" by penalizing Toyota is a harsh reminder that as much as NASCAR loves manufacturer money - especially the new, unlimited kind of manufacturer money that Toyota has brought to the series - the boys and girls in Daytona Beach will still determine what the game is and how that game is played.

Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
Silverstone Circuit, England, 1967. Jim Clark talks to Team Lotus teammate Graham Hill before the British Grand Prix on July 15, 1967. Clark (Lotus 49-Ford) would go on to win the race with Denny Hulme (Brabham-Repco) finishing second and Chris Amon (Ferrari) third. Hill recorded a DNF due to engine problems. One of the all-time greats and the inspiration for many of a certain age, Jim Clark competed in 72 Grand Prix races, winning 25 of them (with 33 pole positions). Clark was a two-time World Champion ('63 & '65). He also won the Indianapolis 500 in 1965 (he finished second in '63 and '66) and countless other races throughout his career.