Toyota reveals Supra Funny Car

Images courtesy of Toyota

Toyota reveals Supra Funny Car

NHRA

Toyota reveals Supra Funny Car

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A Toyota Racing project that began at the start of 2020 will finally get on track in February as the manufacturer introduced its Toyota GR Supra Funny Car on NHRA championship Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
J.R. Todd, the 2018 champion, and former U.S. Nationals winner Alexis DeJoria will pilot the GR Supra Funny Car beginning in 2022. The new body will debut at Pomona in the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals on Feb. 17-20.

“Paul Doleshal and everyone at (Toyota Motor North America) felt like now is the perfect time to roll out the Toyota GR Supra and bring Supra to NHRA fans,” Andy Graves, Toyota Racing Development executive engineer, told RACER. “We brought the GR Supra to Xfinity, and that’s been doing well. But to bring the excitement to NHRA and have this new car to be able to use the Supra body style, it’s really going to be awesome, and we’re super proud to represent it.”

Designing a new body for one of the series it competes in is not new for the folks at Toyota or their team at Calty Design Research. But Graves was upfront that doing so inside the NHRA parameters was “a much bigger challenge” than the NASCAR vehicles.

When you look at any race cars or trucks in NASCAR, they are relatively close to their production vehicle counterpart. Not so in drag racing. The width of a Funny Car is bigger, and it also has a longer wheelbase.

“Talking to … everyone at NHRA, they definitely challenged us as well to try to put more styling in the race car like the production vehicle,” said Graves. “They have a desire to try to move in that direction and want to challenge manufacturers, as they have new model changes, to go in that direction. It was a process for us to do that.

“And with the Supra, especially our Toyota GR Supra, with the quarter panels and the sides, there’s a lot of big humps and bulges on the production car. Which to transition that into the deck and the sides of the vehicle for Funny Car, it took a lot of work to make sure it looks like a Toyota GR Supra. To make sure we have the performance. And to also satisfy NHRA technical division. It was a much bigger task than we’ve been accustomed to.”

Once Calty got the design set and sent it back to Toyota, it went through wind tunnel tests, and CFD runs before a back-and-forth with Calty began.
“We have this loop where we give them the performance feedback of what we’d like to see changed or what areas, and then they try to make those changes and make sure that it retains as much styling as possible,” said Graves. “I’m fairly confident to say it has way more character in it than any other Funny Car that competes today.”

Supra, Funny Car, Toyota

Another unusual part of this process was Toyota involved one of its drivers. Todd provided feedback on the driver’s field of vision, and there was continued focus on the safety aspect of making sure there was more head surround room with safety foam. Graves said Todd helped tremendously.

“I was really excited,” Todd told RACER. “Working hand in hand with Slugger [Labbe, Toyota Racing Development engineering manager], he would come in with questions about what would I like to see improved. Typically, a driver doesn’t get asked that, and it’s like, ‘Hey, shut up. Get in there and drive the car and deal with it.’ So, that shows how much Toyota cares and what they’re willing to do to go out there and makes things better to compete and make sure that the driver is comfortable and give you all the tools and resources you need to win.

“We were doing things like having me wear camera glasses inside the car that eventually got the visor cam on my helmet, which gave them my field of view of what I could and couldn’t see. They basically went to work on that and changed the greenhouse on the car and made it a lot better than what we currently have with our Toyota TRD Camry.”

Toyota has run with the Camry Funny Car since 2012. It was the championship-winning car for Del Worsham in 2015 and Todd in 2018.

“It’s still extremely competitive; I don’t know in how many races this year where we’re close to if not having top speed at those at those,” said Todd. “It just shows how good that body has been throughout the years, and now we’ve got this brand-new GR Supra coming in that is going to blow everybody’s mind when they see it. And for me as a driver, knowing that you have a body that’s going to have more front downforce and just better aerodynamics than what we had in the past gets me really excited as a driver to where I can’t make as many excuses about not keeping the thing in the groove or straight down the track. I’m really, really excited to get this thing on the track and see what we can do with it.”

 

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