Drag Illustrated Issue 182, May / June 2023 | Page 26


Toyota Develops GR Supra for New NHRA Jr . Roadster Program

By Rob King

Toyota continues to make its mark on the NHRA after more than 20 years competing professionally in the series with the collaboration effort to unveil a new Jr . Roadster . In support of NHRA , Half Scale , and Antron Brown to establish this new class , Toyota and TRD , U . S . A . ( Toyota Racing Development ) engineers developed the GR Supra Jr . Roadster .

The addition to the NHRA Summit Racing Jr . Drag Racing League hopes to encourage families interested in getting their kids involved in drag racing at a young age to look at this as an additional option to the popular Jr . Dragster class .
“ The motivation behind developing the GR Supra Jr . Roadster nearly two years ago was primarily around the concept of giving families an alternative to the already-popular Jr . Dragster class within NHRA ,” said Paul Doleshal , group manager , Toyota Racing . “ With the Jr . Roadster , it has a shorter wheelbase compared to the dragster and therefore can ideally fit in the bed of a Tundra and taken to the racetrack . Our TRD engineers have worked closely with Antron Brown , who fields Jr . Dragsters , to ensure that the new Jr . Roadster is ready for a class of its own and we hope that our other OEM partners in NHRA will
design their own bodies for the cars and we can see them all competing very soon .”
The GR Supra body was unveiled in November 2021 for the Funny Cars of J . R . Todd and Alexis DeJoria . Both competed with the new body for the 2022 season and were joined by Ron Capps , who went on to win the championship . Using the GR Supra as the look for the new Jr . Roadster was only logical based on the excitement and fan reaction that ’ s been seen since the GR Supra Funny Car took to the track . The GR Supra Jr . Roadster body was built by Riggeal Fiberglass in Pennsylvania .
“ It ’ s truly thrilling to see a new vision like the GR Supra Jr . Roadster from Toyota and have that be a future option for young racers ,” NHRA President Glen Cromwell said . “ The GR Supra delivered an impressively innovative body style into the Funny Car ranks last year , and for our young competitors in the Jr . Dragster ranks to have the chance to match their favorite racers is a great opportunity . Toyota continues to show its strong commitment to drag racing and the importance of providing exciting options to our young racers and the future of NHRA drag racing .”
NHRA ’ s Jr . Dragster class started in 1992 and has proven a popular launching point for young racers looking to start their careers in drag racing . The class currently competes at over 130 NHRA member tracks across the country on any given week . Some current Toyota Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers got their start behind the wheel of a Jr . Dragster including J . R . Todd , Shawn Langdon , and Justin Ashley . With the new Jr . Roadster class , the hope will be that future generations can have yet another option to compete on the dragstrip .
“ The Jr . Dragster class has really been a pivotal piece of NHRA since its inception ,” said Antron Brown , Toyota Top Fuel driver . “ My kids have raced them and several of my competitors got their start racing them or have kids or family members of their own competing . The addition of the Jr . Roadster class is important for so many reasons , but the primary objective for all of us that have been involved in its development was to give families an option that doesn ’ t require a trailer or additional costs to bring the car to the track , and these will give them that opportunity .”
There is currently no designated time frame from NHRA as to when the Jr . Roadster class will begin competing , but GR Supra Jr . Roadsters will be available for purchase through Half Scale ( HalfScale . com ). DI
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