For years, Toyota has run a one-make racing series in Japan specifically for its own GR86 and the Subaru BRZ, appropriately titled the 86/BRZ Race. That series is finally coming stateside, in a sense, as Toyota has announced it will kick off a single-make GR Cup for North America next year with help from sports car racing promoter SRO, featuring race-ready GR86s built by TRD.
According to Gazoo Racing North America, the GR Cup will hold 14 events at seven circuits across the United States with “one million dollars in total purse and prizes.” But whereas Toyota’s version of this series in Japan welcomes BRZ entrants — and Subaru even markets a Cup Car Basic version of its boxer-powered, rear-wheel-drive sports car specifically for that series — the GR Cup for North America allows the GR86 only, and the cars themselves will be built for competition by Toyota Racing Development. From Toyota’s press release:
Single-make series racing, otherwise known as one-make racing, is a category of motorsports where all drivers compete using identical (homologated) cars from the same manufacturer. In Toyota’s GR Cup, the GR86 has been designated as that race vehicle. From a stock GR86, the vehicle will be transformed into the GR86 Cup car in TRD’s brand new, state-of-the-art facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. Here it will be fitted with Bosch engine management, custom Borla exhaust, SADEV 6-speed sequential transmission, Alcon brakes, JRI adjustable shocks, OMP safety equipment, roll cage, carbon fiber rear wing, 22-gallon fuel cell, TGRNA designed MacPherson strut, Stratasys custom bodywork, a TGRNA designed splitter and more. Pricing on the vehicle and track locations will be announced this summer.
Those are a lot of mods, and the resulting machine looks the part, with its flared fenders, large adjustable rear wing and prominent front splitter.
If you’re not familiar with SRO, the company organizes many high-level GT series around the world, including the Intercontinental GT World Challenge as well as regional championships for GT3- and GT4-class cars and TC America. It also heads the amateur GT2 and non-competitive GT1 Sports Club series, which are less professional, homologated categories and more like events themed after the days when supercars raced at Le Mans.
And this isn’t the first time Toyota has organized a one-make race around the 86 in the U.S. You may remember the annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity event put on in Long Beach, in support of the IndyCar race there. Toyota ended its partnership with that race in 2018 after 38 years, and it’s now sponsored by Acura.
From 2013 until the final Celebrity/Pro gauntlet in 2016, the Scion FR-S and Toyota 86 were used. Those were stock cars, however, and this dedicated GR Cup will deliver decidedly more hardcore racing than those more lighthearted but still tremendously entertaining sprints. Look forward to an announcement of where the series plans to go later this summer.