Not many top executives will put their lives on the line to participate in high-risk sports that can result in serious injury or even death. But that’s exactly what Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda did a few days ago.
Toyoda climbed behind the wheel of the Lexus LFA supercar for more than two hours and participated in the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race. Held in Western Germany, the race is one of the toughest auto races in the world.
Toyoda’s Racing History
It’s the executive’s third time to take part in the race, but his first after becoming Toyota’s president in June 2009.
Although some might see it as a publicity stunt, participating in the race has practical benefits for the grandson of Toyota’s founder. More than a flashy hobby or a personal challenge, he sees it as a way of learning how to make better cars.
Toyota’s president first learned his high performance-driving skills under the tutelage of Toyota’s legendary chief test driver, Hiromu Naruse.
Naruse once chided Toyoda by saying that he didn’t like hearing people like the future company president – who had little knowledge about driving – talk about cars.
The driving guru continued to mentor the executive nonetheless. He focused on accident prevention for the first two years.
Ironically, however, Naruse died in a car crash near Nurburgring three years ago.
Despite this, the competitive driving skills he passed onto Toyota’s president may have prepared the executive for the challenges ahead. This training allowed Toyoda to manage the auto giant through some of the most difficult times in Japan’s auto industry history.
Toyoda’s Racing Team
Racing through the rain, Toyoda and his team, which included three other professional drivers, finished 2nd in their class, and 37th overall out of 175 cars.
According to the executive,they overcame many difficulties during the race, giving them an invaluable experience overall.
With Toyoda’s guidance, Toyota is slowly emerging from the hardships of the past couple of years. They’ve regained their crown as the largest automaker in the world, and is now expecting record sales of new and used cars in Columbus. Thanks to dealerships like Carver Toyota of Columbus, you can now benefit from your own quality vehicle.