We were in the middle of a three-day off-road rally across wild west desert towns such Goldfield, Ely, and Tonopah, across sand and silt desert tracks and over the rock-littered and tree-forested mountains. (I was on assignment to perform the duties of codriver in the Class-I Groff Motorsports race car for days One and Three, while Jaynes was assigned to shoot the race.)
This legendary competition over the roughest terrain and scorching heat of the Silver State made the perfect staging place for Toyota to show off its most advanced racing-engine technologies--and for testing the limits of the most talented race-car drivers in the world.
Though no stranger to racing, Toyota put its speed program into high gear with the inception of TRD in 1995. Located in Costa Mesa and Tustin, California, TRD designs and builds Toyota racing engines in addition to building and marketing performance aftermarket parts for many Toyota vehicles. The group has grown from 50 people in early 1995 to more than 200 today, in part due to the explosive growth of motorsports and the performance aftermarket industry in the U.S.
One of TRD's biggest projects has been the supercharged 4.7L V-8 newly available on Tundra, Sequoia, 1998-2002 Land Cruiser, and Lexus LX 470 models. The supercharger will boost horsepower by 50 percent (maximum gain is 235 hp vs. 353 hp at 5200 rpm), torque by 50 percent (maximum gain of 239 lb-ft versus 359 lb-ft at 5200 rpm), low-end torque by 32 percent at 2800 rpm and pressure by as much as 7 psi. This year, Toyota expects to sell about 1500 trucks with the supercharger option, which is priced around $4000.