These days, top-tier motorsports revolves around bespoke cars designed specifically for purpose. That’s always been obvious in F1, and it’s a thing in series like NASCAR and Supercars, which have long abandoned any semblance of being based on road-going vehicles. However, more accessible motorsports have often relied on modified factory cars. The Toyota GR86 Cup car is one such example, and you might be surprised just how much work goes it takes to turn one into a race car.
Race mechanic, pie enthusiast, and friend-of-site Bozi Tatarevic noted some of the neat points of the design in a recent post on Twitter. Tatarevic pointed out that Toyota, and its motorsports arm Gazoo Racing, has done a great job of outlining what separates the race car from its road-going sibling, which we’ve previously reviewed.
Most obviously, the Cup car gets an aero package front and rear, which makes sense when you’re doing battle at high speeds. It’s got a large front splitter which is credited with improving handling and stability, no surprise if it’s generating a touch of downforce for the front end. Out back, there’s a rather serious adjustable rear wing fabricated in carbon fiber. It helps keep the rear planted at high speeds and makes your real race car look exactly like the boy racers at your local gas station.
Further aiding handling are the Rotiform 18-inch wheels wrapped in slicks from tire manufacturer Continental. Race-spec tires are probably the biggest upgrade you can do to any street car, and can be worth in excess of four seconds a lap alone, depending on the track. The car also comes with JRI adjustable coilovers to let drivers dial in the ultimate setup, along with Alcon brakes for better stopping power with less fade.
There are also a number of 3D-printed components from Stratasys, a 3D printer company aligned with the GR Cup series. Most notably, there’s a nice hood scoop which likely helps air flow over the front end and slightly drop underhood temperatures. 3D printing makes sense for these parts, given the quantities involved. Toyota isn’t making a huge number of GR Cup cars, and going all-in on injection molding is expensive overkill for just a few parts. It’s also a good way to promote Stratasys’s business.
Naturally, there’s a full complement of safety equipment, too. There’s an FIA-approved roll cage and OMP racing seats and harnesses to keep the driver safe in a crash. This kind of stuff is pretty much mandatory for any kind of door-to-door racing series.
The drivetrain gets some attention, too. There’s a custom Borla exhaust, credited as better sounding and freer flowing compared to the stock unit, though there’s no mention of additional power. There’s also a Bosch engine control unit and supporting electronics, including motorsport-spec traction control and ABS. There’s also a digital display for the driver, more suitable for race use than the stock gauge cluster. Another big ticket item is the SADEV six-speed sequential transmission. This is a significant upgrade over the stock unit, as it allows for faster and more precise gear changes, something of great value in the heat of battle.
So what does all this gear set you back? Well, as reported by NBC Sports last year, a GR86 Cup Car costs around $125,000. That’s a great deal more than the $29,000-36,000 range of the roadgoing 2023 Toyota GR86. Beyond that, you also have to budget for equipment and transportation costs to get to various races on the GR Cup calendar. It’s a fair guess that want something like $250,000 to 300,000 to contest a full season comfortably.
However, in turn, Toyota does stump up prize money for competitors in the series, with the 2024 series having a $1,000,000 purse. Last year saw prize money awarded down to eighth place, helping spread the joy around even those a little ways down the order. Toyota also promises “first-class hospitality” so one imagines the catering table is pretty top-notch.
Ultimately, the GR Cup isn’t a cheap contest to enter, coming in comparably, if slightly more expensive, than the series run by Mazda for the Miata. But if you’ve dreamed of running a real Toyota race car in real competitive races, there is at least a very clear and simple route to achieving it. You just have to sign the checks, and you’ll know exactly what you’re gonna get. It sounds like a great deal of fun if you’ve got the bank balance to back it up.
Image credits: Toyota