TOYOTA TO DEBUT 360 SILVER CROWN/SPRINTCAR ENGINE AT 67th ANNUAL TURKEY NIGHT GRAND PRIX
TORRANCE, Calif. (Nov. 20, 2007) - Toyota announced today that it will expand its USAC involvement to include engines developed for Sprint Car and Silver Crown competition beginning with the upcoming Turkey Night Grand Prix at the Irwindale Speedway, Nov. 22.
Toyota began its USAC National Midget Series participation in 2006, scoring four victories with Steve Lewis' 9 Racing team, including the manufacturer's debut event at the Copper World Classic in Phoenix with Dave Steele behind the wheel. In 2007, Toyota added engine support for Cruz Pedregon Racing, with both teams finding their way to winner's circle during the season, including 9 Racing's Steele, who recently won his second consecutive Copper World Classic.
"Entering the first-ever Toyota-powered sprint car in the 2007 Turkey Night is another milestone in Toyota's 25-year history of motorsports participation in the United States," said Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager. "We believe that the new Toyota 360 sprint car V8 will carry the Toyota brand into winner's circle not only in USAC Western Sprint and Silver Crown competition, but also at numerous other local short track ovals across the country."
Rick and Kevin Gerhardt's Western Speed Racing will debut the new Toyota Sprint Car engine with driver Bobby Santos behind the wheel at the upcoming Turkey Night Grand Prix. Santos also is a development driver for the Toyota-powered Bill Davis Racing NASCAR team. Western Speed Racing will campaign a two-car Toyota-powered team for the full 2008 USAC Western Sprint Car Series.
"The Gerhardt family has built Western Speed Racing into one of the finest, most diverse short track, open-wheel teams in the country," said Gary Reed, TRD vice president of Special Racing Projects. "When their competitors see those orange cars sitting in the pit area, they know they better be ready with their A-game because that's the only game the Western Speed Racing team ever brings to a race track."
"We're really excited because we know the history of what Toyota has done in NASCAR, particularly with the trucks," said Kevin Gerhardt. "This is a very competitive series with former drivers like Jason Leffler, J.J. Yeley, Kasey Kahne and Casey Mears. For this year's Turkey Night and next season, we'll be utilizing the new Toyota 360 Sprint Car engine and with Toyota power, we're expecting to continue to be upfront."
The Toyota 360 engine that will be used in the program is a derivative of the current eight-cylinder Toyota engine used in NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series competition. Minor modifications will be made to accommodate the alcohol fuel run in USAC competition, as well as the switch from a carburetor to a mechanical injection system. The cylinder heads will be similar to those used in the Toyota USAC National Midget Racing Series program.
The Silver Crown and sprint car initiative is further evidence of Toyota's commitment to USAC and enhances a program that already includes the $25,000 Toyota Challenge, a year-end bonus fund that extends to all USAC National Midget Series competitors, along with a contingency program that rewards exemplary performance at the grassroots level for Toyota-powered teams.
TOYOTA 360 SPRINT CAR ENGINE SPECS
Block: Cast iron, 360 cu. in. V8
Heads: Aluminum as developed for the Toyota 4-cylinder USAC midget engine.
Fuel: Alcohol with Mechanical Fuel Injection
Other: Also approved for USAC Silver Crown Series
Distributor: Ed Pink Racing Engines, Van Nuys, CA