Toyota was the title sponsor of the 35th Monterey Historic Automobile Races. To honor the sponsorship, Toyota brought four historic factory race cars for demonstration laps around Laguna Seca, including the two profiled here, a Toyota 2000GT and a Toyota Eagle GTP racer.
Scooter Patrick, the original driver of the Toyota 2000GT, once again was behind the wheel of the great looking low-slung coupe, while current F1 driver Timo Glock took the reins of the 750 hp Toyota GTP. Both were crowd favorites.
Toyota Shelby 2000GT
In 1967, Toyota entered into an agreement with Shelby American Racing, Inc. to develop the 2000 GT for SCCA Production competition. The terms of the deal were simple: The manufacturer was to ship three cars (chassis #10001, #10005, #10006) to Shelby in California, where they would be modified to current SCCA regulations and developed for the 1968 series.
In the summer of 1967, Shelby received the three chassis, which had already been prepared for racing in Japan. On September 6, 1967, chassis #10001 took to the track for the first time at Riverside Raceway in California with former Formula one driver Ronnie Bucknum piloting. After only two test outings and several Shelby suspension and engine modifications, Dave Jordan took to the track for a third test and shaved over four seconds off the lap times. The Toyota 2000 GT had arrived and was about to make an imprint on the American racing scene forever.
When the 1968 season began, SCCA ace Scooter Patrick was assigned to the # 33 car, while Dave Jordan became the official driver for the #23 car. The freshman 2000 GTs showed true potential and stamina in the SCCA C-Production class, famously scoring three 1-2 finishes. All told, the pair racked up four wins, eight 2nd place finishes, and six 3rd place finishes, with an overall finishing record above 80%. This not only proved the already famous reliability of Toyota and development skills of Shelby, but also the inherent speed of the 2000 GT itself.
Period Driver: Scooter Patrick
Monterey Historic Races Demo Driver: Scooter Patrick
Toyota Eagle GTP
The IMSA Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) cars in many ways represented the pinnacle of American sports car racing and were often blazing new technology trails. At the front of this illustrious pack stands the All American Racers’ Toyota Eagle MKIII, a car that utterly dominated the GTP class and set records that stand to this day.
Under the direction of AAR team boss Dan Gurney, designers John Ward and Hiro Fujimori created a car that made best use of the rulebook and the small but mighty Toyota 4-cylinder twin-cam. Everywhere you look, the efficiency and intelligence of the basic design is on display: A rigid carbon fiber structure with a tidy pushrod and rocker arm suspension layout; a compact driver canopy to maximize airflow to the large rear wing; and careful packaging of the various components. The design also allowed a wide range of aerodynamic configurations making it easier to adapt to the variety of race tracks around the country.
The diminutive Toyota 2.1-liter turbo engine was greatly underestimated but Toyota Racing Development relentlessly refined the little powerhouse to produce amazing performance on the track. So much so that the MKIII won 23 of 27 races entered – including an IMSA record 14 straight victories. Toyota and driver Juan Fangio II earned manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles in 1992 and 1993.
The Toyota Eagle MKIII was later voted the car of the decade by On Track Magazine, and many believe that the Eagle MKIII was the best of its breed in the greatest era of American sports car racing history.
- Won 23 out of 27 races entered
- Set the GTP record with 14 straight victories
- Back-to-back Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships (1992 & 1993)
- 12 Hours of Sebring Champion (1992 & 1993)
- 24 Hours of Daytona Champion (1993)
- Holds track record at Daytona International Speedway (Road Course; Time 1:33.875 / 136 mph)
- Holds track record at Lime Rock Park (Time 43.112 / 128.59 mph)
Period Drivers: PJ Jones, Juan Fangio II, Andy Wallace, Kenny Acheson, Rocky Moran, Mark Dismore
Monterey Historic Races Demo Driver: Timo Glock
[Source: Monterey Historics]