Why Toyota & Their N24 Supra Entry Matter
Mr. Morizo

At this year’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing Team entered an A90 Supra with a curious driver: Mr. Morizo. It turned out — as you’re likely aware if you’ve followed this year’s race — ‘Mr. Morizo’ was none other than Toyota’s CEO and President Akio Toyoda.

Before the race even started I felt the wake of the entry of Mr. Morizo to the Nürburgring 24 Hour. Tons of people were excited by the entry, but there was also a strong contingent of skeptics eager to spew complaints. Most cried ‘it’s just a publicity stunt,’ which isn’t a conclusion that requires genius-level intellect to arrive at or near. Sure, it was a publicity stunt, but — admit it — it was a good one.

Besides, it was so, so much more than that.


Akio Toyoda was out driving in, arguably, the most grueling endurance race in the world on the most insane track in the world. Mr. Toyoda’s dedication to and passion for the driving experience is obvious not just in his efforts at the race (as well as a dozen previous personal N24 entries, his work as a development driver, and so on) but also in the trickle-down effect on Toyota’s lineup.


As Mark Riccioni pointed out to me after the race, the GR Supra entry with Mr. Toyoda had a far deeper meaning than publicity or R&D — meaning that is very honorable (and very Japanese). This year’s entry really started in 2001 when Akio Toyoda was Vice President at Toyota and launched Gazoo Racing with the philosophy of building “ever-better cars.”

Part of this plan involved a driver training program at the Nürburgring which leaned heavily on a man named Hiromu Naruse, co-founder of Gazoo, who trained Akio Toyoda behind the wheel. Toyoda recalls, “With the Supra, I could be a master driver. I trained my master driver ability by driving Supra a long time ago. I went to Nürburgring and together with Mr. Naruse, who taught me how drive the car.”

It’s worth pointing out that Akio, Naruse, and Gazoo did this training by purchasing a used A80 Supra as production of the car had since ceased.


Sadly, Naruse passed away suddenly in 2010, before development on the next-generation Supra was announced. Coincidentally, he passed away near the Nürburgring on June 23rd, around 9:00pm. When Toyoda drove his stint during the N24 (which ended on June 23) he drove around the time that his friend and mentor Naruse passed away. After the fact, Akio Toyoda released the following statement:

“Many things came to mind when I was driving this third stint… entering the 13th year of competing in this race, with this car, the Supra, and so on. Yet to tell you the truth, I found it difficult to concentrate on driving. I’d like to think Mr. Naruse is listening to us as we discuss all this now… We started to enter this race with Mr. Naruse 13 years ago, but our team was really a ‘hand-made’ team. We could not even use the name ‘Toyota’… We regretted that we practiced using a Supra that was no longer in production… We didn’t have anyone cheering for us, and everyone always seemed to focus on the negative.”


It’s funny how how in 2019 — years after Toyoda made these first memories — he found himself in a factory-backed, current-model Supra, yet some things still don’t seem to change. While negativity still abounds in the corners of the internet, it was clear that Mr. Toyoda experienced a certain sensation while he was racing in the Nürburgring 24. He had something, in a car, that the vast majority of cars on the market today just don’t offer.

Fun. And, perhaps, even something spiritual.


When the Gazoo Supra finished 41st overall from roughly 150 entries — and third in class out of eight cars, two of which didn’t even finish — the team was ecstatic. Especially considering that the car had only been entered in four-hour events prior to this. It was a massive team effort, and one that was successful.

It wasn’t about setting records; it wasn’t about being the fastest. Beyond getting seat time and data, and simply finishing the race, it was about something more. History, honor, and simply having a good time behind the wheel of a car. The latter few of which, I’m afraid, we forget about all too often.

Enter Amir

As I was aimlessly scrolling through Facebook the night before the race I came across a well-thought-out post that my friend Amir Bentatou from RS Future had written.

Note: Amir himself hardly needs introduction, but I’ll quickly catch you up to speed. This is his 911, which “was built to be fun on track, a platform that was my dream car with all of the parts I thought were cool.” And this is his NSX, which has since been K-swapped and turbocharged for GTA Street Class. He has owned a plethora of other driver’s cars as well, but there just isn’t enough room here to get into that.

I reached out to Amir and asked if he’d like to expand on his post a bit, a request to which he kindly obliged. I’ll hand it over to Amir to finish this one off…


Amir Bentatou: I say what I’m about to say as a Honda guy that has never thought much about Toyotas.

There has been a lot of hate towards Toyota over the last few years: ‘Their Le Mans wins were hollow.’ ‘The 86/FR-S/BRZ sucks and underwhelms.’ ‘The new Supra isn’t a Toyota,” and so on. This seems to be accentuated by the fact that people think it’s cool to complain, or to just act cool on the internet.


Despite what you may like or dislike, the overarching theme to all of this is a manufacturer that has shown commitment to motorsport and making fun cars. We are in an automotive landscape that sees Ford discontinuing models, an industry-wide move towards electric vehicles, and manufacturers who are building cars that are larger, heavier, and more autonomous.

This makes Toyota one of the few manufacturers attempting to build usable and affordable cars aimed at enthusiasts. What has Toyota received in return for this? Constant criticism and hate directed towards the cars they’re developing for enthusiasts.


This isn’t 1995. Toyota is building cars that are relevant to the modern market, yet still fun to drive. Building cars is risky and expensive. Partnerships allow manufacturers to combine resources minimizing the risk, allowing them to build cars that would typically never exist.


These partnerships are not a new concept, either. Automotive manufacturers have worked together for decades, the only difference seems to be that modern technology equips ‘enthusiasts’ with platforms to complain, regardless of whether they are qualified to do so.


Toyota gets it. What other CEO would enter the 24 Hours of Nürburgring? Or personally oversee their Le Mans/WEC program?


Back to the current standard complaints flying around the internet about Toyota.

First, their Le Mans wins are legit. It’s not their fault no one else showed up. Audi had plenty Le Mans victories with no real competition and got wrecked when Porsche came back to play. No one questions Audi’s success. Furthermore, I’m glad Toyota has signed up for the new FIA WEC regulations. Seeing Toyota battle Aston Martin/Red Bull and whoever else joins Hypercar is going to be great.

Next, the 86/FR-S/BRZ is a good car that fills a void in the market no other manufacturer will enter. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of the 86, however, I appreciate what Toyota has done by building it. I spend 40 to 50 days at the track a year, and the massive amount of 86, FR-Ss and BR-Zs I see out there is enough proof for me that people are buying and using these cars how Toyota intended.


Realistically, the new Supra is going to be fast and awesome. The JZA80 really wasn’t that great (fight me). It’s a formidable drag car, but other than having a 2JZ, what does it do well? Even the successful race versions of the Supra used the 503E and 3U-Z rather than the 2J.


With the possible exclusion of total power potential – which is still unknown – the new Supra’s engine is leaps and bounds better than the 2JZ. Finally, the new chassis is going to be lightyears better.

I cannot wait to get behind the wheel of a new Supra and I’m grateful for the effort Toyota is making to provide us with what may well be some of the last attainable driving-minded cars ever made.

Amir Bentatou
Instagram: that911 & rsfuture

Introduction & Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto



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great article and points. the first step of any racing is just showing up. i'm not a Toyota guy at all but kudos to them for all their racing.

out of curiosity, anybody know who the last auto prez/CEO to race like this would be? i can think of James Glickenhaus and his beautiful SCG's. i'm sure there are other small brands and examples like this out there. but i was thinking more of somebody (anybody?) this high up in a large, mainstream manufacturer.


Mark Reuss, president of General Motors.


Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer raced a Vantage in a couple rounds of the 24H Series, and before a GT4 class 370Z when he was a Nissan exec.


Andy Palmer is another CEO that is doing great things. Aston Martin has gone from making cars that were beautiful but terrible, to creating some of the most exciting and innovative super cars.
Their partnership (again a partnership!) with Red Bull Advanced Technologies has led to them making what imo is the most exciting super car since the F1.


Aston Martin's previous CEO Dr Ulrich Bez raced in N24 too. First with the Vantage and later Rapide


Nailed it Amir. All of the hoo-hah about the 2JZ-powered JZA80 overlooks the fact that it was never really a great handler, and was more of a grand tourer than an outright sports car. Hell, you could even call it Japan's muscle car if you wanted - fast in a straight line, but heavy and cumbersome around corners.

However they've managed to get it done, good on Toyota for really embracing sports cars in the last few years in a way that many of their contemporaries haven't, and massive props to Toyoda for putting his money where his mouth is in the firmest possible way.

The people whingeing about the Supra not being "a real Supra" are probably the same ones whingeing about the R35 not being a "real GT-R" and the V35, and the V36, (or even the V37) not being "a real Skyline", yet the R30 had a turbo inline-four in the flagship performance model and nobody thinks that's not "a real Skyline", because it's old and therefore "authentic".

Great article and photos as well Trevor. PS - can we see some more of that race-spec Lexus LC? Oof.


Lachlan, did you read from internet that Supra can't handle? TBH it is internet myth..

In reality Supra MKIV was a world class car and every review/test drive report did rave about it's handling. Cars like 911, 300ZX, GT-R and Supra are not outright sport cars, they are very very sporty GT cars. It doesn't mean that they can't handle, it is actually quite opposite. And Supra was one of the top dog in its class. MKIV was immediatly legendary car because overall performance, potential and ride quality, not just because of F&F. I Still use my old sup as a DD. Car has it's own flaws but they just add more character to it. Afterall, these are really old cars nowdays.

I truly believe that A90 is little bit the same. Good Performance, great handling and good looks. It has a lot of potential but the same time car itself is world class sports car. It gives tough times for Cayman in every comparison. Like A80 did for 911.


@VLad My comments about the engine being the only great thing come from experience with Supra's. It's not that they don't handle well, or that they're bad cars. Almost anything can handle well with enough work, or the right setup. I don't think they handle well or feel great in comparison to the other halo 90's Japanese cars like the NSX, FD, and GTR. While they're not bad handling car, the feel and performance isn't as good (this is just my opinion).


Thanks! There are some great things about the JZA80 , but rose tinted glasses leave enthusiasts forgetting the many not so great things.

I agree regarding the R35, and in the same respect the new NSX. They are incredible cars, but the romance of 90's cars leaves their modern counterparts unappreciated.


No worries! I think you've nailed it again with "rose-tinted glasses", and people comparing meticulously-modified JZA80s with the stock A90. I thought about dragging the NSX into this as well, but besides the price differential, the new one represents many of the same things as the original - a supercar built to challenge the best in the supercar field from a maker that hadn't done so before.

Michael Anderson

Really well written! Thank you Amir!

As someone who owns a bunch of cars, and nothing newer than 1992, I am not the audience for this car. But I completely agree with the sentiment that not only is Toyota putting their money where their mouth is, but doing what is necessary to bring the cars in with both performance and affordability, where they can be used by real people.

I too see a ton of the FRZs at track days, and know that other companies had a chance to do something similar, and did not pull the trigger. I hope Toyota is rewarded for the effort, but in this day and age, where everyone wants to complain, on public forums, about things they have no interest in buying in the first place, I am fearful.

But what a statement for the CEO to not just show up, but honor the brand with a good performance in the brand's new sports car.


Thanks! I agree 100% we see tons of concepts and renders of manufacturers supposedly bringing fun affordable cars. However they never come to fruition. While I'm a 90's car guy, the more I think about the Supra, the more I consider getting one.


Long Live Toyota

Martin J. Duke

Great points. Thanks for mentioning them. And also, in the SP3 Class at the NB24 a GT86 won the class! The 86 has poroved to be a low cost highly relaible car.


They've had a good amount of success with that platform in the N24. With time I believe they'll be like NA & NB Miata's, where they become an affordable cult classic track car.


fair point...
great article guys


Great article, very nice pictures!

I enjoyed reading the words of Amir.
Exactly what I'm thinking as a die-hard Toyota enthusiast. It seems that we're all living in a time where there is just too much hate around (well on the internet at least).

However, one thing I do not understand in terms of Supras...
It seems to be a thing these days to say EITHER MKV or MKIV.... and never MKV AND MKIV.
As a longtime owner and builder of my very own Supra JCRX (Japanese Club Racer eXperimental) I can only disagree on most of the things being stated here.

The thing is that Supras can always be regarded as a base for your very own project (respectively one of the best bases the car industry has ever seen in terms of modability in varous directions). And yes, if you build a 8 second drag car - guess what - it will not handle well on your local Touge.

However it always depends on what you make of your own car. I for example decided to go in the opposite direction as your typical JZA80 fanboy would go. Proper "ClubSport" track build a la 911 GT3, 2JZGE NA motor with some classic NA mods, you name it...
(I already hear them yelling "a Supra without a turbo is no Supra".... LOL). It handles like a breeze... even outhandling some newer exotics in the corners of my local racetrack... on the straights not so much :)

So the thing that I'm trying to say is that Supras should always be regarded as an epic base for further individual customization. Which brings me back to the MKV.
Yes I'm of the rare species of MKIV guys that think that the MKV is going to be a great car. I can only dream of Japanese (and also German due to BMW influence) brands starting developing parts for this little monster. I even got to drive the MKV last week and it is a hell of a car.

So all I wanna say is peace and keep in mind that we are all part of a dying species in times of e-mobility and autonomous driving. Let's celebrate the car as we know and love it together and not fight about a little BMW logo on some parts of the new Supras engine bay.
In the end Toyota just released a two seater RWD inline 6 sports coupe - try to remember that.

Keep up the great articles Speed Hunters! Always a pleasure to come here.


Beautiful car! There is nothing wrong with an NA Supra. My buddy Brendan has an NA Supra that he's tracked a few times, and is probably one of my favorite Supras out there.

The MKIV ise a great platform indeed in many regards. My point was directed towards those that try to claim the A80 is superior to the A90. Which I would disagree with.


You can put a A90 next to the A80 and guess where the people would go. The new BMW would never, never ever outperform or outshine the legend.


Mr. Taft?


Amir, well said. It kills me that Ford killed all their cars for what? I will never buy a Edge ST. I currently own a Focus ST, and will buy a RS on the used market, one day. The Ford GT is unobtanium, the mustang ho hum. Wait a minute, the Supra is Toyota's Mustang. Where's Toyota's hot hatch? I guess I'm just mad at Ford.


A few years ago, Ford was the one company I thought was killing it. From the Fiesta, Focus, GT, Raptor, and more, it seemed as though they were building the best cars out there. It's too bad that only a few years later, they've transformed completely. This makes Toyota's commitment even more impressive.


don't forget the Yaris GRMN.


Lovely written words by Amir. I would also like to see more photos of the LC500 btw. Come to think of it, why is Toyota bringing the LC500 to the ring in the first place ? Are they testing parts for the upcoming F version ?

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Exactly what I've been telling everyone about the A90, but then most people could care less and continue criticizing the car for being "unworthy of the Supra name". What a bunch of clowns.

The GT86 and BRZ aren't really selling in the numbers Toyota had hoped for, which is sad. I think the lack of power from the factory is part of the reason.


Don't worry, 99% of the time, people who talk crap about cars are people who would not buy them anyway. They stay in their internet/instagram/youtube wonderland thinking that A80 Supras were all daily driven reliable 1000+ hp dream machines. They talk about being "worthy" of the Supra name when they did not even have a driving license when the A80 went out of production. They are very vocal on comments and forums, but not very productive in real life. They are the real problem in today's car culture and should not be given any attention.

Concerning the 86's, I would disagree with you. There is no lack of power, any person who really knows about driving and owns one would agree. The big problem is the power delivery due to the torque dip. With an UEL header and a reprogrammation that basically get rid of it, you can taste that this car is pretty fine and well balanced with 200hp. It's funny how people never talk about the Miata not having enough power but like to bash the 86 (which is in the same category) for this very reason. I never understood why people have always expected the 86 to make more power. It has always been intended to be a light, affordable, nice handling car, just like a Miata, or the Celica, MR2 and MR-S in their time. Here again, rumors (turbo version, STI version, etc) from the internet created fake expectations and people kept on repeating the same things over and over again, even without driving the car even once (not enough power, etc). It's especially funny and ridiculous considering that Toyota and Subaru always made it clear that there would not be more powerful versions.

The reason why they are not selling is simply because people are no longer buying as many affordable sportscars as before, the way people think has changed, not only in the US but also around the world. Regular people want sporty hatchback and SUV's, with as much HP as possible to go to groceries and bring the kids to school. Only people who know will want a small, light and nimble coupe nowadays. Miata still sell because they are the only serious affordable roadsters out there, but that's all. In that general climate, it's a blessing that companies like Toyota still dare to build 86's or Supras, this is the only thing that matters, and we should rejoice about it. We don't care if they are build with Subaru or BMW, as long as they are here.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I don't have any issues with the GT86, but I was mainly speaking of people's thinking in general. It does not help the fact that it gets benchmarked against cars like Porsche Cayman.

I personally drive a low-powered family sedan but with Lotus tuned handling, so I have a rough idea about what the GT86 is about.


Other manufacturers take note. This is too cool! Now if only world political leaders entered into the front line of wars to settle disputes and spared everyone else! Toyota still make plenty of cool new cars that fit the current trend of consumer demand anyway. Velfire and Alphard, Hiace, Landcruiser and Hilux are the best vans, utility and 4WD by far. Im not in the market to buy a compact AWD SUV but the CH-R is certainly the coolest of that segment too.


I love the new Supra, It is better than the A80 in every way including looks and performance. I really want to see the full potential of the B58 and can't wait to see what the aftermarket is going to come up with for the years to come.


Just the fact that Toyota makes a badass 6-speed manual pickup truck says it all, to me. They get it, and they actually care.


Whats up with the store? Down since yesterday..


New Supra looks amazing in race trim!


I could not have written this article better myself I had an entire year. Bravo Gents. Seriously. I also could not agree more. In the current market where most auto manufacturers seem to aim more towards building the same sort of cookie cutter SUVs that clutter up our roads, we should be thankful that marques like Toyota are still making cars to satisfy us dwindling enthusiasts. Fact is we are the minority, and that they even make the cars for us at all is special. No matter what parts or who joins forces to make it, the fact that they exist for us is no small feat, even if we appear ungrateful. We should cherish cars like the new Supra, because (it pains me to say it) face it, they won't be building cars like this forever. I'm an old dog in this world, i remember when the old Supras were new on the lot, it fills me with such joy to see billboards advertising a name that resonates deep into my childhood. If anything we should all thank My Toyoda, because despite what some may think, he hasn't forgotten us. And that reason i will never forget him. Just like Mr K. bringing us the Z car, it's people like him that make our lifestyle possible. I will bow to him any day and be honored to shake his hand. If I can ever afford to even stand next to a new Supra, i will do so proudly. Thank you (sorry about the rant and post length)


A CEO going racing is a like a president going to war on the front lines: awesome and inspiring to everyone who is following him into battle. Good on Toyota for still getting out there and experiencing their products!


This new supra to me it's the gravestone of the enthusiasts aimed sport cars. Toyota made the only thing possible to build an affordable sportcar and that's what happend, criticysm all over, the worst part of internet rushing to give us their take on a car they didn't even ever saw in person and so on. And this rant is especially aimed to my very own kind, JZA80 SUPRA OWNERS, a bunch of 30 to 40 years old kids apparently, who don't understand, or refuse to undestand today's world, and those simple facts and rules it, and that even my mom seems to get. This is it guys if I was in some kind of decisional position at nissan, honda or any other car company I would have no doubt. Focus everything on atonomous driving, people mover, or hyper cars that costs at least 300000$ beacause these are the only markets left. Enjoy your PURE 30 years old cars, until it lasts ENTHUSIAST, because this is what it's only going to be left of our culture to posterity.