D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Mar 29, 2021

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Toyota has had it pretty rough over the past couple of years and, as it attempts to recover some enthusiasm for its brand, those efforts could be seen as a “split personality.”

At the 2011 North American International Auto Show, Toyota’s booth was a prime example. On one side of the rather expansive space, Toyota was proudly showing off its new family of Prius hybrid vehicles while a few steps away sat the NASCAR Garage.

OK, so the other manufacturers involved in NASCAR also have electric or hybrid products on the road and under development. However, none of them had a giant NASCAR display surrounding them. It’s clear that Toyota racing development is also important to the auto manufacturer.

NASCAR is more important to Toyota than the casual observer might think. Being involved in North America’s biggest racing series was a key element to gaining brand exposure among the working class in the states. It took years of effort to get Toyota into the show, and they HAVE to stay there.

It may seem a contradiction to have a fuel-guzzling V-8-powered racecar sitting next to a hybrid model, but the name of the game is car sales. Perhaps not too many blue-collar types south of the Mason-Dixon Line will be buying a Prius, but they might be herded into a Camry to drive home in after a NASCAR race visit.

The interactive booth Toyota set up was actually pretty cool. They had the Denny Hamelin #11 on display outside the garage, and inside was a bunch of interactive displays for the fans to check out. There was a car racing game that allowed for some head-to-head action and a cut-away display of a NASCAR drivetrain. There was also a Toyota NASCAR racing engine on display that was downright drool-worthy!

Both sides of the marketing equation are necessary tools for Toyota; it’s just a shame the ideology behind the two is so far apart.