DOTY: The Toyota Sprint Car Engine

Brad Doty

Toyota has announced that they are developing a 410 cubic inch racing engine, which is obviously aimed at taking on the competition in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, along with The Ollie’s Bargain Outlets All Star Circuit of Champions and every other 410 c.i. series and track around the world.

A lot of people have voiced their concern about what having Toyota and its seemingly-unlimited resources might do to the sport.

People are worried that Toyota has the resources to develop an engine that will obsolete many of the current 410 engines that are designed around, and have the same basic specs as, the small block Chevrolet that came out in the 1950s.

With any argument or debate, there is always more than one side to the argument.

Having Ford, and now Toyota, involved in 410 sprint car racing can also be a good thing, as long as someone is looking out for what is best for the entire sport.

Throughout the history of sprint car racing there have been many brands and configurations of engines used.

Car owner Casey Luna ran a Ford engine that won the WoO championship with driver Bobby Davis Jr. during the turbulent 1989 season. That was during the “split” when some of the teams were running the rival United Sprint Ass’n.

There have also been other teams who’ve had success running a Ford engine at times, as well.

The new Ford that Tony Stewart Racing is using, the FPS 410 (short for Ford Performance Stewart), is a new 410 and is different than the Ford 410 of the ‘80s.

The new design, which resulted from a collaboration between Ford, Tony Stewart Racing, Ricky Warner, Ron Shaver, and Durham Racing Engines, is lighter and has smaller cylinder heads and fuel injector – which helps lower the center of gravity.

Gary Stanton developed and brought the Mopar 410 to sprint car racing in 1995 with his own team and then Karl and his son and driver, Mark Kinser, won the 1999 WoO championship with the MOPAR team.

Stanton also built the MOPAR midget engine, and when MOPAR left circle track racing, Stanton then worked with Toyota and their midget engines for a time as well.

Soon after that he developed the SR-11 midget engine, but his most recent midget engine, the SR-11X, is an all-new engine completely of his own design.

The SR-11X has proven to be more than capable of competing, and winning, against any of the midget engines in the world. It is competitive enough that it gives midget car owners another option when purchasing an engine.

There are numerous types and builders of midget engines, but the numbers don’t lie; Toyota has been the dominant midget engine for several years.

They don’t come cheap, though.

Many of the teams who use the Toyota say that, although the initial cost might be higher than some others, the dependability and durability offsets that cost. Toyota also has many of the top teams contracted to run their engines, which also raises their odds of success.

The biggest concern, and question, people have with the Toyota 410 is: What is it going to cost?

Many are worried that it will be far more expensive than the current engines, but could also be superior and, therefore, in order to be competitive owners will have to purchase the more expensive engine.

In that case, many teams will not be able to afford it and will be forced out of the game.

When TSR and Ford started developing their new 410, they were given certain parameters by the “410 powers that be” (sanctioning bodies, track owners, etc.) that limited them so that they couldn’t build an exotic engine that would be so superior that existing engines couldn’t compete with it.

Toyota will have to adhere to those same parameters.

When Luna ran a Ford engine, or Stanton and Kinser ran a MOPAR, they didn’t make the Chevy obsolete.

Although I haven’t spoken to anyone at Toyota, people in the business who I trust say that Toyota very much wants to keep the cost of their engine in line with everyone else, so team owners will have another option on what engine they want to use.

The cost of the Toyota 410 engine isn’t the only thing worrisome to many car owners.

There is also the concern by some that Toyota will have contracts with many of the top sprint car teams, similar to their midget program.

And, if they have most of the top teams running their engines – even if the engine cost itself isn’t much different than the Chevy or Ford – that the odds will be in their favor of winning most of the races.

I have no idea if any of these concerns are going to be an actual issue or not but, on the other hand, there could be a big plus to having major automotive manufacturers involved in sprint car racing.

Toyota and Ford not only have the resources to design and develop a competitive engine, but they also have the resources to market their involvement in sprint car racing.

That could possibly bring a lot of interest to the sport of dirt racing, and particularly sprint car racing.

There is talk by some that Chevrolet might also be getting more directly involved in sprint car racing as well.

I think having different engine manufacturers competing against each other might get the fans excited, especially those diehards who are loyal to one particular brand!

It’s going to be up to the sanctioning bodies to make and enforce rules so one engine or manufacturer doesn’t have a distinct and overwhelming advantage and there is a level playing field for all.

If that happens, it will be a very fun time for all involved going forward.


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