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What if a Toyota wins in the Motor City?

By admin | June 14, 2008

By Richard Allen


Since the Michigan International Speedway opened in 1968 it has served as a combination playground and battleground for the “Big 3” automobile makers based in nearby Detroit. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors have each vied for bragging rights against each other on what is considered their home track.

Last year, to the dismay of many in and out of Detroit, Toyota joined the NASCAR fray. However, once the season got underway it appeared as though there was little chance the Japanese auto giant would challenge for supremacy with the “Big 3”.

This year has been a different story. Not only has Toyota threatened to challenge the supremacy of the American manufacturers but they are about to actually dominate.

By adding Joe Gibbs Racing to their stable Toyota went from also ran to winners over the course of one off season. JGR has amassed five victories and has Kyle Busch atop the series standings. Those wins have come in places like Atlanta, Talladega and Richmond. The U.S. based companies did not want to lose on those tracks, but at least those tracks are not within the hub of the American auto industry.

For sure, Ford, Chrysler and GM do not want to lose to any other brand any where. But they do not want to lose to any of the other brand in their own backyard and have to live with the ridicule of their nearby competitors. But worse, none of the three want to lose to a foreign car maker and have one of those drivers celebrating in the shadow of their own corporate offices.

NASCAR has always been an American sport dominated by American manufacturers. But of late, that has changed. The “Big 3” are competing for more than just bragging rights this weekend in Michigan. They are competing for a certain measure of honor and pride.

A lot is at stake for the car companies. Toyota and its teams have no doubt put a great deal of emphasis on this race. We will soon see if Ford, Chrysler and GM are up to the challenge.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to “What if a Toyota wins in the Motor City?”

  1. Shaun Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 1:30 am

    If Toyota does win, it WILL be a victory for auto workers here in America. After all, many of the Toyotas on the road or coming off the assembly line right now are made right here in the US, where as a lot of the American manufacturers are building outside the US or get all their parts from outside the US. I think those who trash Toyota because it’s a Japanese company need to look at the facts and realize if they want to root American, they may want a Tundra or Camry to cross that finish line first.

  2. AndrewFromTN Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Well, Shaun, I can’t argue about the ASSEMBLY PLANTS but how much of the parts for a Toyota are manufactured in the US? Is it more or less than a U.S.-based company?

    There’s a simple reason why GM, Ford, and Chrysler have had to move some (NOT A MAJORITY) of their plants out of the U.S. It’s simple, money. Here in middle Tennessee we have GM’s former Saturn plant in Spring Hill and about 40 miles away we have a Nissan plant in Smyrna. The GM plant is unionized and workers there make $25-30 per hour. The Nissan plant is non-union and the workers there make $14-17 per hour. I know his because I have friends who work for GM in Spring Hill and I applied for work at the Nissan plant.

    That difference in pay of $8-$16 per hour means $16,000-32,000 given a 2000 work year. When you add in the higher cost of benefits for GM vs. Nissan it gets even worse. So, can you blame GM for going to Mexico, Canada or elsewhere?

    I agree it is not as black and white as those who dislike Toyota simply for being Japanese. But, the same is true in reverse. Toyota is not as bad as they say but not as good as you say. GM is not as good as they say but not as bad as you say. The sad part is that in 5-10 years; GM , Ford, and Chrysler may no longer exist or may be owned by foreign interests. Chrysler has already had this happen having spent several years as a unit of Daimler-Benz (Mercedes). While I’m, personally, not fond of Toyota, they have a right to be here and in NASCAR. I just don’t want the auto industry to go the way of consumer electronics, cameras, and others that have little or no U.S. based manufacturing.

    There’s an old saying “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” If GM, Ford, and Chrysler go down the tubes, I think we’ll be the world’s richest third-world country.

  3. Joe Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I get so tired of hearing that because some Toyotas are manufactured in the U.S., that makes them an American car. The fact remains that Toyota is a Japanese corporation, and as such, the PROFIT$ go back to Japan to be invested there - not here. The old saying about putting lipstick on a pig springs to mind … JMHO

  4. GO TOYOTA ... Says:
    June 16th, 2008 at 2:48 am


    I read this article from Australia and seriuosly can not believe how ignorant the American society is.

    You people brag about profits going off-shore but what about all the subsidaries around the world that are owned by Ford or GM and the profits leaving thier respective shores headed for the US.

    eg - profits from Ford Australia and Holden leave Australia bound for the US !!

    I sometimes read comments stating people should stop buying foreign owned automotive products in America and support local … fine - i suggest the rest of the world stop buying anything from Ford, GM or Chrysler and see how much a burning wreck your beloved companies become then … !!

    Stop being so arrogant and think outside of the borders that you ignorant people live within !!

    What is Ford, GM or Chrysler without the subsidaries they own around the rest of the world … let me help you idiots abit - NOTHING !!

    The rest of the world can ruin your beloved automotive companies just as quick (if not, quicker) then you people could try doing to others !!

    Have a think about it … !!