It is almost here — the coming of the Japanese automotive juggernaut into the most American brand of competition. Many fear that Toyota will enter NASCAR’s NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series and muscle to the top — by pooling their efforts until they dominate their rival manufacturers — Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet.

While some fans are fine with it, others are upset with the inclusion of this foreign brand into the traditional home of America’s Big 3 automakers.

Toyota will enter the NASCAR stock car scene after spending three seasons in the Craftsman Truck Series, where they ammassed 13 victories through 2004-05, and have a great chance to win this year’s title behind con-tenders Todd Bodine, Johnny Benson and Ted Musgrave. This evolution is exactly what many NASCAR fans are fearing will happen in NASCAR’s premier series — a slow entry, but eventually total domination.

The Rise of Toyota
The Rise of Toyota

Those anti-Toyota fans cite the fact that Toyota is a foreign manufacturer and that this is an American racing series, and should stay that way. But, who can blame NASCAR from accepting Toyota into the ranks of manu-facturers?

In the long run, their participation may strengthen competition for all. With the entry of Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull and the conversion of Bill Davis Racing from Dodge to Toyota, NASCAR might see the end of the so-called field fillers, or those teams that field a single car per specific race
and are lucky to even qualify for the event. Think Morgan Shepherd and his “Victory In Jesus” team.

With the addition of the Toyota, NASCAR will enjoy between 10-13 more quality cars and drivers per race, who will have to qualify on speed. This will help create a more competitive and entertaining environment. Instead of Eric McClure or Hermie Sadler wrecking out or running 30 laps and registering another DNF for any myriad of reasons, fans will get Brian Vickers, Jeremy Mayfield and Dale Jarrett with quality teams
and real sponsors.

All of those points aside, the problem remains to some that Toyota is a foriegn brand. In today’s global environment, automakers must view each of their markets from a world-wide perspective in order to compete.

Both Ford and GM are international players, too, with a presence on all continents. And for those who pull for MOPAR machines must admit that German engineering ain’t all bad, since Chrysler is really now owned and operated by Europeans.

But a little research into the production versions of the entries into the NEXTEL Cup Series (the street version of the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, Dodge Charger and Chevy Monte Carlo), revealed some amazing facts.

The Camry is the only Cup car assembled in America. The chart below details where each car is assembled, and the percent-age of parts in each that were made in the United States and Canada. You may be a little shocked.

This was originally written for The College of William & Mary.