Toyota President Akio Toyoda Racing a Supra in the Nurburgring 24 Under Fake Name
When you run a car company, you don't have to settle for Gran Turismo.
Toyota Gazoo Racing will enter three cars into this weekend's 2019 ADAC 24-hour Nürburgring enduro, and for the most part, they'll be piloted by top-shelf professional drivers; Super GT's Takeshi Tsuchiya and Naoya Gamou, VLN Endurance driver Uwe Kleen, and other drivers of similar caliber. But among the team's list of wheelmen is a nondescript "Mr. Morizo," whose first name isn't even listed. Moriz-who?
Don't be fooled—it's actually an alias for none other than Toyota's 63-year-old president Akio Toyoda. Toyota confirmed to The Drive that the executive will drive Toyota Gazoo Racing's number 90 GR Supra in the famed endurance challenge despite not being listed on the ADAC's entry list for this weekend's race.
Why Morizo chose the Supra is obvious; he was one of the driving forces behind the model's revival, and has reminisced about driving endless laps of the Nürburgring in his third-generation A70 Supra. So as stunt-y as it might seem, this 63-year-old and his Supra may be a force to be reckoned with when the green flag drops in Nürburg. It's not the first time he's run mostly incognito at the Nurburgring 24, having previously driven a Lexus LFA in the 2014 race.
Toyoda's fondness for driving is rooted in both his family legacy—he's the grandson of Toyota Motors founder Kiichiro Toyoda—and his childhood dreams of becoming a taxi driver, according to Automotive News, and it was he who declared an end to boring cars at Toyota after taking over as president in 2009.
Obviously, running one of the world's largest automakers affords Toyoda the opportunity to drive any of Toyota's expanding lineup of sports cars on a whim, but that doesn't mean he feels like waltzing into the paddock as Toyota's president. He'd rather be treated as an equal in the company of fellow racers, and uses his "Morizo" pseudonym to blend in as much as possible.
"There is a sense of closeness. They feel that they can talk about anything and approach me," Toyoda told AN. "But when they view me as president, they keep a distance."