Toyota Sienna Concepts to Compete in One Lap of America
Everybody loves watching a good automotive race. Sleek, powerful sports cars rounding the tracks at high speeds, suddenly being overtaken by the classic minivan mom-mobile. Wait, what was that last part? That’s the exact reaction Toyota is hoping for by entering not one, but two Toyota Sienna concepts in this year’s One Lap of America race.
“What could be a better test of our amazing Sienna minivan than putting it through the rigors of one of the ultimate endurance races,” said Andrew Lund, the Sienna’s chief engineer. “It’s really the best of both worlds to drive on public roads and then compete on so many unique courses.”
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One Lap of America is the successor to the Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Dash and, according to Toyota, inspired the Cannonball Run movies. The race takes drivers and their vehicles all across America to compete on different tracks. This year, the competition covers nearly 3,000 miles in 12 states—and in just eight consecutive days. In those days, racers and their vehicles will compete in 17 timed races, as well as travel from track to track on the highway in “non-competitive transits.”
Toyota hopes to shock fans by entering two Toyota Sienna concepts in the brand’s second year competing in the race. The first Toyota Sienna for the Toyota Engineering Motorsports team is the R-Tuned Sienna, which we saw in November of last year at SEMA. The second is one we haven’t seen before: the SE + concept Sienna, which will be making its debut in South Bend, Indiana, on the day of the first race.
The Toyota R-Tuned Sienna will compete in the Truck/SUV class; the Sienna SE + will compete in the Exhibition class.
The main drivers for the Siennas will be Rutledge Wood of Top Gear fame and Craig Stanton, Grand-Am Rolex GT Champion. Other drivers will include Sean Morris (drag racing specialist) and Andrew Lund.
“I’ve always loved this race, and this was the perfect opportunity for us to challenge perceptions…we’re already seeing a huge increase in the number of Millennials buying minivans,” remarked Kibo Kitahama, national manager, vehicle marketing and communications. “Toyota started the whole ‘Swagger Wagon’ phenomenon with Sienna, and our recent Sienna REAL Performance program took that swagger to a whole new level. This is going to be one epic adventure, and I think we just may shock some people along the way.”
As a side note, Toyota Siennas totally are the new in-thing. Marky Mark drives one, for crying out loud.
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But the two Siennas aren’t Toyota’s only competitors this year. The automaker will also be racing the Toyota Avalon and the Scion FR-S (which will be rebadged as a Toyota after the Scion brand is officially discontinued). The four Toyotas will join around 70 other vehicles to compete in One Lap of America this year.
One Lap of America kicks off in South Bend on April 30th on the skid pad at Tire Rack headquarters. It will conclude on that same skid pad on May 7th.
- Dawn CarberryContributor
Dawn Carberry is the digital marketing manager and the head blogger for the Haddad Automotive Group, located in the city of Pittsfield in Western MA. The Haddad Auto Group includes Haddad Toyota, Haddad Subaru, Haddad Hyundai, and Haddad Nissan new car dealerships, and Haddad of South County used cars.