Toyota unveils 2025 NASCAR Camry, following Ford’s Dark Horse Mustang
Toyota revealed today a newly designed NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Camry XSE race car that will make its debut in the 2024 NCS season. Toyota, Toyota Racing Development, and Calty Design worked together to make the car look as much like the recently unveiled 2025 Toyota Camry XSE as possible.
New features of the Toyota Camry race car include “a distinctive hammerhead styling on the front fascia with an upper grille slot that is tied into the updated slim and wide headlights.” We aren’t sure what “slim and wide” headlights are, but that’s what the press release says. They are, of course, decals.
“The outside of the larger lower grille area also features C-shaped corner vents, while the hood features new character lines and new hood duct exits. The back fascia of the car includes revised quarter panel styling and chamfered bumper corners on the back of the corner panels that blend into the rear bumper. These features, along with updated thinner taillights, give the new Camry race car a more sculpted appearance.”
“The foundation of Toyota’s presence in NASCAR is our commitment to continuous improvement on and off the racetrack. Our Camry XSE race car reinforces that mantra and accurately reflects the key design attributes of the all-new production Toyota Camry,” said David Wilson, president of TRD.
The debut of the 2025 Camry race car, which takes to the track in 2024 beginning with the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race in Los Angeles in February, comes on the heels of the debut of the restyled 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse that was unveiled November 1.
“What a crazy year it has been revealing our new global Mustangs for racing. The positive response from our fans around the world has been amazing, and we’re confident that this Mustang Dark Horse Cup car will be no different and that NASCAR fans will be excited to cheer us on next year,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “Our Ford Performance staff, together with our NASCAR race teams, have worked tirelessly in the wind tunnel developing this car, and I can’t wait to finally see it race on the track next season.”
That “wind tunnel” reference is important—NASCAR essentially has a set of aerodynamic numbers the manufacturers must match, and thus sends them to the wind tunnel to achieve those numbers. All three manufacturers try as hard as they can to both make their aerodynamic goals, all the while styling the car, mostly through the use of decals, to appear as much like the street-going versions as possible.
The three manufacturers’ cars, while not identical, are very nearly so. All have a wheelbase of 110 inches, an overall length of 193.4 inches, a height of 50.4 inches, and a width of 78.6 inches. Weight is 3300 pounds. Each manufacturer builds its own engine, but all displace 358 cubic inches. These 2024 cars can be considered the next-gen of the Next Gen car, which debuted in 2022.
With that car, manufacturers, particularly Ford, did a serviceable job of differentiating the looks within the tiny window they had to operate in. The process of making the Camaro, Mustang, and Camry resemble their road-going counterparts is especially difficult for Toyota because all Camrys are four-doors, while the Mustang and Camaro are two-doors.
Chevrolet will soon find itself in the same position as Toyota, as the Camaro goes out of production in January. Chevy will likely keep the Camaro on track at least until 2025, but then what?
The Malibu would be the logical choice, but it isn’t clear how long it will be in production. The Automotive News list of projected model changes runs through 2027, but doesn’t mention the Malibu, though its “Product Pipeline” feature says the Malibu will end production in 2025. Automotive News also suggests that 2027 may be the year we see the all-new electrified Camaro that Chevrolet had promised. Can NASCAR put a gas engine in an electric car? We may find out sooner than later.
It seems likely that NASCAR will allow Chevrolet to massage the Camaro a little for 2024, out of fairness. But we’re willing to guess that the next major change to the NASCAR template will be a major change.