This story starts mid-2016 when Toyota decided to show a TMG 86 Cup Car at the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The car was built by Toyota's European racing division, Toyota Motorsport GmbH, and it was never intended to race in the U.S.—that is, until someone at Toyota thought it might be interesting to see how the car would perform on the track. So, it was decided. Preparations began immediately so the car could race in the Pirelli World Challenge at the Utah Motorsports Campus outside Salt Lake City. It would compete in the TCA Class, which is dominated by Civic Si's and MX-5 Miatas—and most of these competitors have been racing in this series all year long.
Dan Gardner and his team at DG-Spec Racing had a mere 35 days to prepare the 86 for the big event. Sorting out a race car is not easy—in this case, the team had to fine-tune the suspension, engine, brakes, differential, and other parts, plus make sure everything was compliant for the Touring Car A class. Then there was the race itself—the track is 3.048-miles long with 15 turns, plus there would be two races in a single day. So, while the challenge was daunting, when race day came, the Toyota 86 and the DG-Spec racing team with veteran sportscar driver Craig Stanton behind the wheel were ready.
In race one, they finished on the podium in 3rd place; then in race two, they came in 4th place—the results surprised a lot of people, considering this was the car's first outing ever in World Challenge, the top professional sprint road racing series in North America!
It typically takes 90 days, minimum to develop a car to race. For the Toyota 86, the engine had to be broken-in; the ride height and sway bars had to be adjusted, the differential set up, the brakes tuned, and several other items; then, everything had to be tested on a race track. The closest track was Willow Springs in Rosamond, California, and being that it was mid-summer, the mercury was pinned at 115° heat. Dan Gardner said, "If a car can survive that heat, it can survive anything!" After the initial testing, a big decision was made: transport the car to Utah and test on the track they would be racing on—that's a 678-mile one-way drive from the TRD HQ. At the track, they fine-tuned the suspension, tested the diff and brakes, gathered data, and dyno-tuned the engine for the track altitude. All in all, the TMG 86 logged 300-400 track miles plus 200 miles on dynos in two states, with the team driving nearly 3,000 miles!
Here's a tip: to improve the handling of your Toyota 86, install a set of TRD Lowering Springs—these proprietary springs lower the 86 approximately one inch, so it has a lower center of gravity, plus they're stiffer--making it more responsive in the corners.
Preparing the 86 for this race was a Herculean task—the deadlines were insane and the to-do list was extensive. That's why Toyota and TRD selected DG-Spec to handle the project. The company is owned by Dan Gardner, who is a 3-time National road racing champion. DG's team is made up of some of the finest technicians, engineers and mechanics who live to race—so much so that to get the 86 race-ready in record time, they logged thousands of hours, many of which stretched into the night and early mornings. Only the most dedicated and determined team would volunteer to make sure the 86 was not only ready, but competitive.
The next challenge: determine the driver. Dan selected Craig Stanton for a variety of reasons: First, Craig had raced and performed for DG-Spec before and second, his credentials are second to none. He was the Grand-Am Koni Challenge Champion in 2004 in GS class, the Grand-Am Rolex Series Champion in 2005 in GT class, and he competes in USAC, NASCAR and SCORE off-road events. And when he's not racing, he's coaching amateur and professional drivers—plus, in his "free time," he races bicycles and competes in triathlons.
Let's put things into perspective: This was Round 7 and 8 of the Touring Car A class of the Pirelli World Challenge, which started in April. The other teams had five races and five months to get ready—DG-Spec had days. Many of the other teams showed up to the track with a semi-truck/trailer rig. Intimidating.
The 86 Race Team rolled into the track in a Toyota Tundra towing a modest 24' race trailer. When the 86 was unloaded, it instantly created a stir in the pits. First, because it was an 86. Second, because it was sporting throwback 86 livery from Le Mans. Friday was practice and at the end of the day, the 86 was 0.10 second off the fastest car after practice, which exceeded expectations. The challenge was Saturday, because there were two races in one day, which is grueling. Plus, these are mixed class races—that means the Touring Car, Touring Car A and Touring Car B classes all race together. It makes things hectic, as the TC cars are faster and the TCB cars are slower. It takes great skill to focus on the track ahead while keeping one eye on the rearview mirror to make sure another car is not about to crush you. When the checkered flag fell on race one, Craig and the 86 took a podium finish in 3rd place—an excellent result for their first race. Unfortunately, in Race 1, the 86 got hit, which affected its handling in Race 2. So, for that race, it came in 4th—just off the podium. But the fans didn't care, they were going crazy because this was the first time a TMG 86 Cup Car went racing, and it sent a message to the other teams: The 86 is not just a fighter, it's a contender!
The TMG 86 is a purpose-built race car and it serves as inspiration for Toyota 86 owners. To help 86 owners live their dreams, TRD offers a full range of 86 accessories allowing owners to build their own canyon-carving creation:
TRD Performance Dual Exhaust—bolt on performance! This exhaust system is race-tested with a stainless steel natural finish muffler body and double-walled, wide-diameter, slant-cut exhaust tips with rolled edges. It uses OEM connector flanges and gaskets, and re-uses factory hardware and hangers for easy, professional no-drill, no-cut installation—plus, it's noise compliant in all 50 states!
TRD High-Performance Air Filter—allows the maximum amount of air into the engine with the minimal amount of resistance. Plus, it's washable and reusable—regular cleaning helps free airflow and top performance, and it's designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle.
TRD Quickshifter—its optimized linkage shortens the shift throw up to 25%, providing the 86 with a race-car-like feel, without compromising quality, fit and finish.
TRD Brake Pads—a direct replacement for stock pads, they're made from an aramid/ceramic-strengthened compound that delivers an optimum combination of cold and hot friction, plus, they offer excellent price-to-performance ratio in a high-performance street pad.
TRD Lowering Springs—TRD developed proprietary spring rates just for the 86 (linear in front, progressive in rear), which lowers vehicle’s center of gravity by 1 1/8-in. Their red powder-coat finish provides superior corrosion resistance, and they're designed to work with stock struts and shock absorbers.
TRD 18-in. Alloy Wheels—these alloy wheels have the perfect offset and are designed to be light and strong.
Think of the 86 as a blank canvas and TRD accessories as your pallet of colors—allowing you to create your own personal masterpiece (so long as the accent color is red).
To improve handling, you have to control body lean in the corners. One way to accomplish that is by adding the TRD Sway Bar Kit to the Toyota 86. It includes front and rear sway bars that are designed to limit body lean without adding harshness to the ride so the 86 delivers flatter, firmer cornering and enhanced handling—all while reducing wheel slip. Another benefit, they feature a gloss-red powder coat finish. With the TRD Sway Bar Kit, 86 owners can transform a good handling car into a great one!