It’s a common practice for automakers to make next year’s model available in showrooms with a few months remaining in the previous year.
But racing next year’s model a year ahead of time?
That’s why it’s notable that the debut of the 2018 Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series occurred roughly seven months before the production version is on sale to the public.
“What’s unique is we made the decision early on to bring this to the track before the cars are being sold in the showrooms,” Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said on the latest edition of the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “That’s very aggressive. Normally, the cadence is to wait until Daytona 2018. The reason was we were so enamored with the new car. The styling was so spectacular.
“We decided to take this on, and it’s a tremendous burden on ourselves and the team partners because we were developing this car, running this in the wind tunnel, months before the public would see anything.”
The development of the 2018 Camry, which was kept under heavy wraps for months leading up to its 2017 Daytona 500 debut, was the subject of the latest NASCAR on NBC podcast.
Wilson explained the competition side of fine-tuning the car in the first half of the podcast, while Calty Design Research’s Kevin Hunter and Ian Cartabiano explained how the car was developed in the studio.
Hunter and Cartabiano both worked on the Camry street car before moving to the racing version.
“The TRD guys allow us to throw out the first ball,” Hunter said. “We give them what we think it should look like, a good rendition based on the parameters. They absorb and decide what’s good and what’s bad.
“There was a real strong ambition to make this car really cool and keep the production car identity. It’s the most sculptural race car to date.”
Cartabiano, who grew up a Bill Elliott and Davey Allison fan, working on a stock car was a dream come true.
“This was the job I always wanted,” said Cartabiano, who has worked on seven production vehicles for Toyota. “Having the opportunity to design a new Camry and coming back to the home studio and make a new NASCAR version. To design and draw and make a race car that’s not just a sketch but really well thought out, that’s a really cool challenge, which makes it fun.”
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