We all have those moments.
For some it’s a bad acid trip that keeps them from doing something entirely foolish like cutting off their hippy hair and joining the Foreign Legion.
For others it’s a brush with death in middle age that changes their writing style from prose to poetry.
For others it’s getting half of their right foot blown off in a front engine nitro digger and deciding to perfect the rear engined dragster before ever blasting down the quarter mile again.
And, when that time comes, there is no ignoring it. Every snake sheds its skin, bubba, and when it does you better watch out. That sucker is a new hungry beast and only the fat rats will do.
And at the Tokachi racetrack in northern Japan, from July 15-17, a writhing mass of fat rats drunk off of copious amounts of high octane met this new beast face to face.
And the snake that shed its skin?
Toyota’s DENSO SARD racing team.
Little did Toyota know when they accepted Team SARD on as a company sponsored race division in 1989 they were changing the course of history.
That’s because only a few days ago Toyota’s Team DENSO SARD Supra HV-R (hybrid race vehicle) finished first in the grueling Tokachi 24 hour race; a vast improvement over last year’s 17th finish with the GS450h.
And this wasn’t some white flag, neck and neck showdown to the bitter, photo finish end sort of victory either.
This hybrid absolutely annihilated the competition -- beating out the runner up by 19 laps!
A victory like that is not common. I’m sure you can understand why a few eyebrows were cocked at the end.
But after the pee test the vehicle was cleared. No illegal anabolic steroids, no rogue red blood cells… this thing was as clean as Scooter Libby.
And by that, you know what I mean.
Something had gone on. Something reeked of foul play.
But there was nothing anyone could do about it. Because no matter how much they griped and said a rule had been broken, it was right there in their face all along.
The unfair advantage?
The Supra HV-R not only has a 480 hp V-8 growling under the hood, but a 10kw motor in each front wheel and a 150kw motor in the rear axel assembly.
This combination boosts the total output to a wicked 700 hp, and the motors aid in control of the vehicle by making minute adjustments to power distribution on the fly.
Not to mention, 220 of those ponies are gasoline free. In a 24hr race, staying out of the pits means lapping your opponents--and this deserves to be repeated--19 times.
All of this means that the old skin has been shed, a new path has been taken and we are facing a new era of racing and transportation.
It’s obvious to Toyota now that hybrids have the advantage, not only in the environmental realm but also on the race track.
If the 1st place finish isn’t proof enough, consider this. Toyota continued to pour millions of dollars into their hybrid race efforts after the GS450h’s 17th place finish last year.
Smart companies don’t invest in what they know will lose.
That only leaves me with one question…
How is it possible for the American automotive manufacturers to be stupid enough to continue to invest in gas guzzling behemoths that are losing sales and races?
Someone is being fitted for a dunce cap and their name doesn’t start with a T.
And as a side note, if you’re wondering how this track-bred beauty is going to impact you, well, just wait for the Supra FT-HS (hybrid sports car), set to be coming out in the next few years.
Keep your hopes in the future, but your sense in the present,