Published January 30, 2010
The head of Toyota's racing effort says the company's massive recall announced this month and subsequent losses won't affect the manufacturer's NASCAR teams.
"Our program is pretty well set," Lee White, president of Toyota Racing Development, said Friday. "Our program involves technical support more so than writing checks. TRD is very good at managing our budgets. ... I honestly don't think there will be any impact on the motorsports program.
"But we, like everybody, have to be smart and keep our programs where they're success-oriented that reward winning, that reward good results and not just be out there for fun."
On Jan. 21, Toyota recalled 2.3 million U.S. cars and trucks and halted production of eight models this week following reports of an accelerator pedal defect. Shares of Toyota stock have fallen 17 percent since the recall, according to a report on Bloomberg.com. And one industry insider familiar with inner workings of the manufacturer said Toyota was losing $500 million for every week assembly lines remain idle.
White acknowledged the Toyota teams in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series face "a very, very serious challenge" ahead.
"We have great drivers. And we're optimistic that they're going to get their time in front of the microphones and get to say good things about the company."
White predicts Toyota will come back "stronger than ever" and the company's focus will return to engineering.
"This is not marketing 101," White said. "This involves lives, and it involves safety. ...
The reputation of this company will be established by the way they deal with this. (Toyota) is responding in a very moral and ethical manner unlike any car company I've been associated with, and I've been associated with a few of them."