Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder of Japanese automobile manufacturing giant Toyota Motor Corp., will be one of the four drivers of the Toyota team taking part of the grueling Nurburgring 24-hour race this year, a company spokesman revealed on Wednesday. Toyoda, who is currently president of the Japanese carmakers, has a well-known love for motor sports and has competed in the world-renowned endurance race in Germany before.
The Nurburgring is a motorsports complex in the village of Nurburg, in Rhineland south of Cologne, where the endurance race will take place on May 19 and 20. The circuit is world-famous for its demanding turns and elevation changes. The complex features a Grand Prix track, and the much older and longer “North Loop” which dates back to the 1920s that is made up of rough roads, tight turns, blind corners and hills with little room to safely stop if you miss. The race has been known to claim lives because of the difficulty of the track. The longer course used for the endurance race is 12.8 miles (20.8 km) long and features more than 300 meters (1,000 feet) of elevation changes from its lowest to highest points, giving the course a famous nickname to racers – “The Green Hell”.
Given that President Toyoda has gone through this difficult course before – in 2007 and 2009, when he was then a vice president of the company – people can be relatively at ease that the Japanese executive knows what he’s doing. “It’s not merely a private activity,” the company spokesman said. “This is part of the company’s effort to produce good cars by judging the performance of our production under such severe conditions,” he added. And Toyoda is making a very good show out of it, too. This will be his first participation in the endurance race since becoming the Toyota’s top executive in June 2009. The company as a business has seen rough times when Toyoda took the reins, faced with a very weak global economy and plagued with recall scandals that the car company is recovering from until now. Toyota has grown out of that adversity, steered ably, it seems, by Toyoda. With the commitment he has for the company, and a truly distinct love for cars as shown by this act, he may just be able to lead Toyota to greater heights. Even if he loses this race, finishing it unscathed is almost always an achievement for carmakers who join the race, and so it will be for Toyota.
[via Global Post]