Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hot-Rodded Prius Part Of Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge

Published September 12, 2012

By Philippe Crowe

Toyota Racing cooked-up a challenge: four teams, fronted by world-class drivers and gearheads, face-off to create customized versions of their favorite Toyotas. One chose to modify a Prius.

Clint Bowyer, who Saturday night secured his fourth berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a dramatic win in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, is the one who chose to modify a Prius in order to win the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge.

Bowyer is pinning his hopes on what he calls his “Tekked-Out Prius.” He and his team are turning the hybrid into a model of ahead-of-the-curve ultra-high-tech interactivity.

Fans will determine by online voting which of the four modified Toyota vehicles will win the challenge – along with $50,000 to the winning driver’s charity of choice.

Other teams chose a Camry, a Sequoia and a Tundra.

“When you think of a hot rod, you don’t think of a Prius,” said Bowyer. “But pressure’s always good. If you buckle under pressure, you’re not going to be in our world very long.”

Bowyer – whose Prius is being modified under his direction by RKM Performance Center in Mooresville, N.C. – believes that taking the high technology for which the Prius is already famous to extremes will pave the way to victory.

“A young, sophisticated global thinker meets a connected, socially conscious traveler – that’s the theme of the Tekked-Out Prius,” Bowyer said.

Among the modifications the team plans: a camera system to replace the factory side-view mirrors, with multiple five-inch interior monitors providing visibility; a Carputer Windows-based on-board computer to operate voice and video control functions; and a custom front and rear console incorporating fiber optics.

Bowyer and his Prius will be facing efforts from fellow NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, who is creating a “Rowdy” edition Camry; NHRA Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria and her reworked Tundra Prerunner; and NHRA Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown, who is modifying a Sequoia for maximum speed.

Each is competing for the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge title and a $50,000 check from Toyota to the driver’s chosen charity.

A win by Bowyer will benefit the Emporia Community Foundation, which provides services and support to improve the quality of life in Bowyer’s home town, Emporia, Kansas, and its surrounding counties.

A 28-episode online reality series has been developed around the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge. Fans can see what Bowyer’s team plans for the Tekked-Out Prius in Episode 3 below. New episodes are uploaded regularly at

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Voting will open on Oct. 20 and will continue through Oct. 29. Fans will be able to vote once per day on Facebook, where they can also enter to win prizes, including a Toyota Racing “Dream Trip,” which will be given away to one lucky fan.

The final vehicle builds will be unveiled during a press conference at the Toyota display at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas on Oct. 30. Fans will be able to tune in live to watch the entire press conference and see the winner announced in real time.


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