The president who drove Toyota Gazoo Racing to greatness
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But what’s a Gazoo? It’s derived from a Japanese word, “gazo”, meaning image. It was first used in anglicised form (gazoo.com) for a Toyota used-car website way back in the 1990s. Which is about as far from its current usage as you can get. But still, that’s where it came from.
So the brand has been floating around for a long time. But it really started to emerge into the automotive lexicon thanks to a very famous man and a (now) very famous car.
Back in 2008-09 Toyota ran prototypes of the LF-A supercar in 24-hour endurance events at the Nurburgring under Gazoo branding – which really put the spotlight on the name, because the forthcoming LF-A was hot news at the time. Yes, it was “LF-A” for the protoypes, but became “LFA” for the production car in 2010.
Anyway, another thing put the spotlight on the Gazoo LF-A: one of the drivers. Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, did his best to stay anonymous but when was that ever going to be possible?
Toyoda was made president of the company in 2009 and is widely known as the man who declared Toyotas boring and instigated a new product plan that we’re seeing the fruits of today.
Toyoda is still a regular racer, often entering under pseudonyms such as “Morizo Kinoshita” and “Mr Morizo”.
For some Nurburgring LFA in-car action from 2013 with Kazuya Oshima at the wheel, check out the video below.