Akio Toyoda is so badass he flipped a GR Yaris rally car

When Chairman Akio Toyoda spoke recently at the opening of Toyota’s new R&D center, he did it standing before a wrecked GR Yaris rally car. It was one he overturned himself while hot-shoeing it at the newly built Shimoyama Technical Center, a 1600-acre proving ground that will serve as the new home base for Gazoo Racing and Lexus.

According to Toyoda-san, conceptualization of Shimoyama began nearly 30 years ago. After spending a decent chunk of time getting his Master Driver certification at the Nürburgring under the tutelage of Hiromu Naruse behind the wheels of cars such as the JZA80 Supra, Toyoda-san realized it was necessary to build a similar center in Japan.

Shimoyama is located in the mountains about 30 minutes outside of Toyota City, and contains multiple tracks, including a 3.3-mile “country road” course inspired by the Nürburgring, packed with elevation changes and different types of corners. Toyota, along with other manufacturers, often rent time at the actual Nürburgring, which has become an unofficial sports car yardstick with carmakers posting their best ‘Ring times for bragging rights. The problem for Toyota was that they had to haul prototypes, parts, equipment, and personnel halfway around the world in order to test their cars in very limited windows.

Shimoyama, on the other hand, has a massive facility housing a 40-bay garage and an army of full-time mechanics, engineers, and designers — all on-site. Toyoda-san says, “The most important thing in carmaking is drive, break, fix, repeat.” With the opening of the new center, he expects car development to be sped up markedly. The center also includes a more traditional test track and a gravel rally course. It was at the latter that the chairman hit a dirt mound and upended the GR Yaris (10:20 in video above).

While Toyoda-san says it’s a little embarrassing, rather than sweep it under the rug he wanted to use the totaled car as an example of how he expects Shimoyama to test cars. “There’s no plant,” he said, “but cars made here will be on the world’s roads putting smiles on faces.” We’re not sure how many car company chairmen have flipped a rally car, but we feel better about Toyota knowing that theirs did.

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5 Responses to Akio Toyoda is so badass he flipped a GR Yaris rally car

  1. Taylor C. says:

    Not sure if other CEOs and chairmans and big wigs get equal amounts of media exposure, but to see Mr Toyoda’s involvement extend past just talking about financials and metrics is really something outside the box. I would never imagine someone like Carlos Ghosn doing the same, whether or not he was doing those scandalous things back then.

  2. Sedanlover says:

    Hold up… at 18:36 in that video it looks like the mechanics are working on a Ferrari.

  3. Bryan Kitsune says:

    Toyoda makes me happy to be a Toyota fan.

    Hopefully the Shimoyama center helps get a new Celica developed quickly. 😉

  4. Legacy-san says:

    Toyota builds cars…other car companies sell cars.

    Big difference

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