released on July 2007


The 1957 Toyopet Crown

The path from the Toyopet Crown in Australia to the TF107 Formula 1 race car has been a 50-year tale of passion, challenge and creativity, which epitomizes the true spirit of Toyota. Motorsports is one facet of automotive culture that is deeply bound to peoples’ lives, and it is this recognition — along with the desire to challenge its own limits, which has driven the company to participate so enthusiastically in the sport over the years.

When Toyota entered its Toyopet Crown — the first Toyota ever seen in the Down Under — in the 1957 Rally of Australia, it became the first Japanese manufacturer to venture into the world of motorsports. By joining and successfully completing the rally, Toyota took its initial step towards creating bridges of international understanding through shared involvement in motorsports.

Toyota in 1963 began competing in the Japanese Grand Prix, a competition which eventually spurred the manufacturer to create its first purpose-built race car. This proved a vital stage in Toyota’s development, as it began to leverage the know-how achieved through race car development to continuously improve the quality and performance of its regular line-up.

The Toyopet Crown at the 1957 Rally of Australia. As the first Japanese car maker to join an overseas rally, Toyota significantly contributed to motorization in its home country.

Toyota production cars have also made their mark in races across the globe. In fact, there is possibly no better testament to the durability and reliability of stock models than success in the grueling World Rally Championship (WRC), such as Toyota achieved with the Celica and Corolla in the 1990s. Aside from marking Toyota’s arrival as a contender on the international motorsports scene, these models’ impressive results reinforced Toyota’s image of product quality — and, not to mention, gave associates worldwide an added sense of excitement and pride.

The growing enthusiasm inside — and outside — the global Toyota family further encouraged Toyota to keep on broadening its motorsports involvement. From international races such as the Le Mans 24-Hour challenge to national races like the Indy 500 in the USA and various grassroots events around the world, Toyota continues to connect with people everywhere through the universal enjoyment of the sport.

In 1999, Toyota made the landmark decision to compete in F1, the ultimate motorsports event. At the announcement ceremony, TMC’s then-President Hiroshi Okuda summed up the basic philosophy underlying Toyota’s motorsports participation throughout the past 50 years: “We want to realize our long-time dream of sharing in the excitement and entertainment of the world’s premier racing event with automobile fans across the globe. That is why, as we head into the 21st century, Toyota has decided to take on the challenge of Formula 1, the absolute pinnacle of the sport.”

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    The Toyota 2000GT at a speed trial at the Yatabe Test Course in October 1966. Running for 78 consecutive hours, it established three world records and 13 international class records.
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    The Celica GT-Four wins its first victory in the WRC Safari Rally in 1990
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    Juha Kankunnen (right) and the Celica GT-Four win both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships in the WRC in 1993. Toyota was the first Japanese maker to win both titles in the rally and won the Drivers’ Championship twice.

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