While Toyota Gazoo Racing is familiar to fans of international sports car racing and rallying, the name has never made it stateside — until now, that is, as Toyota’s NHRA, Formula DRIFT, and IMSA and SRO sports car racing programs come under the Toyota Gazoo Racing North America (TGRNA) banner in 2022.
The origin of the name comes from “gazo,” which translates to photo or image. Many years ago, Toyota master driver Akio Toyoda founded GAZOO.com, a Japanese car website that showcased a virtual garage of images.
As Akio rose through the Toyota ranks to become its president, he started a skunkworks-style racing program and named it after gazo, an homage to the garage efforts of the team.
By competing in races such as Germany’s grueling 24 Hours of Nurburging, the knowledge gained from putting cars through the ultimate stress test of motorsports helped engineers create better performance road cars. Over several years the fledgling program grew into the global Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR) brand seen on a series of Toyota production cars today, each one putting performance front and center.
Apposite to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s mission to push limits and forge new technologies to help build ever-better road cars, a GR badge isn’t something that’s just given; it has to be earned. And those who engineer GR-branded vehicles are enthusiasts who believe in building the highest-quality performance cars and delivering an elevated driving experience for enthusiasts.
That’s where the GR mark comes into play in NHRA and Formula DRIFT, as well as in IMSA and SRO customer sports car racing.
Ryan Tuerck guided his GR Corolla to victory in the Formula DRIFT season-opener at Long Beach. Toyota Racing/Larry Chen
In the nitro-burning, 11,000hp world of NHRA drag racing, Toyota’s motorsports engineers have worked to perfect the new-for-2022 Toyota GR Supra Funny Car body. They worked closely with former Funny Car champ J.R. Todd to provide better safety elements and enhanced visibility to ensure the best chance of success.
With Funny Cars reaching speeds of more than 330mph as they explode down the strip in under four seconds, every element has to be perfect, and Toyota believes the GR Supra body delivers that back to its teams.
The proof comes in the heat of competition, and Toyota’s Funny Car drivers – 2018 champ Todd, reigning champ Ron Capps, and former U.S. Nationals winner Alexis DeJoria – are running strong on track, with Capps giving the GR Supra its first win at Bristol’s Thunder Valley in June.
NHRA Funny Car champ Ron Capps gave TGRNA’s new GR Supra body its first win at Bristol in June. Toyota Racing/HighRev
In Formula DRIFT, it’s a different kind of extreme as drivers pitch their cars at seemingly impossible angles to achieve the best drift through the turns to win head-to-head battles.
The GR Supra, GR86 and new GR Corolla are all represented in a sport where inch-perfect precision meets smoke-billowing spectacle. The efforts of Toyota’s engineers, drivers and teams have been rewarded in the early part of the season, Ryan Tuerck winning the Long Beach season opener aboard his GR Corolla, and teammate and reigning champ Fredric Aasbo taking his GR Supra to the top spot in Atlanta.
TGRNA also supports the global GR Supra GT4 customer-racing program, including an extensive at-track presence at all SRO GT4 America and (below) IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge rounds.
TGRNA supports GR Supra GT4 customers at the racetrack. Camden Thrasher
With every 330mph pass down the drag strip, or side-by-side duel in Formula DRIFT’s amphitheaters, TGRNA’s engineers are studying peak automobile performance and learning how to apply the lessons and knowledge gained to production vehicles worthy of carrying the GR badge.
Because of that ongoing commitment to being ever better, the Toyota Gazoo Racing brand will continue to grow, especially in the sports car world, as Toyota unveils more exciting new initiatives, including the new-for-2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing North America GR Cup, and models over the coming months.
You can find out more about Toyota Gazoo Racing North America HERE.
Enhanced performance: GR on the street
Just as racing never stands still in the quest for performance, so Toyota’s family of GR street vehicles continues to evolve and expand in the pursuit of ever-better cars and the pure joy of driving them.
A new member of the GR family arrives in dealers this fall, with the GR Corolla hot hatch earning its badge thanks to a 300hp, turbocharged, three-cylinder G16E-GTS engine and the GR-Four All-Wheel-Drive drivetrain developed with Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Rally Championship-winning team.
The GR Corolla is built in a dedicated GR facility in Motomachi, Japan, birthplace of legends such as the Supra A80 and Lexus LFA.
Rally inspired, the AWD GR Corolla packs a 300hp performance punch. Toyota media
In Toyota Gazoo Racing’s mission to never stop pushing and innovating, GR Supra is getting some significant performance enhancements, too.
For 2023, it adds one more dynamic element: an optional six-speed intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) for 3.0, 3.0 Premium and the limited A91-MT Edition models. For drivers who love the rewards offered by precisely-timed manual shifts, it’s the GR Supra they’ve been waiting for.
In addition, Supra’s braking control systems and suspension have been retuned for even better performance.