Published October 22, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
Whether this Prius or a Camry or Tundra or Sequoia take top honors, it appears the deck is stacked so Toyota comes out the actual winner in this company sponsored build competition featuring NASCAR stars.
Fresh from his third NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season on Saturday in Charlotte, Clint Bowyer finds himself neck-deep in another chase – to win the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge.
Bowyer, currently fourth in the Sprint Cup Chase, is vying for victory in the vehicle-modification build competition and pinning his hopes on his “Tekked-Out Prius.” He and his team have turned the world’s most popular hybrid into a model of ultra-high-tech interactivity.
Bowyer, whose Prius was modified under his direction by RKM Performance Center in Mooresville, N.C., believes that taking the high technology for which the Prius is already famous to extremes will pave the way to victory.
“When you think of a hot rod, you don’t think of a Prius,” Bowyer said. “A young, sophisticated global thinker meets a connected, socially conscious traveler – that’s the theme of the Tekked-Out Prius.”
The RKM Performance crew performed major electronic modifications on the Prius, starting with a 17-inch custom touch screen with built-in Windows 7 computer, two ASUS 12-inch tablets, and a side-view camera system that replaces the factory mirrors. A staggering 45 feet of fiber optic lighting and a thumping 16-speaker JBL audio system with two amplifiers and six crossovers brighten the mood inside of the sinister-looking black-on-black Prius.
The interior also received major luxury touches with custom leather and suede upholstery, imported German carpet and electric blue stitching accents.
As a racer, Bowyer wanted the Prius to have some attitude, so a set of Megan Racing springs and shocks bring the hi-tech hybrid down "lower than a Sprint Cup car," according to Bowyer, while it rolls on a set of custom EVOD wheels.
The competition will be intense. Bowyer and his Prius are facing big efforts from fellow NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, who is creating a “Rowdy” edition Camry; NHRA Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria and her modified Tundra Prerunner; and NHRA Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown, who is modifying a Sequoia for maximum speed.
Each is competing for the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge title and a $50,000 check from Toyota to the driver’s chosen charity. A win by Bowyer will benefit the Emporia Community Foundation, which provides services and support to improve the quality of life in Bowyer’s hometown, Emporia, Kan., and its surrounding counties.
Voting opened Oct. 20 and will continue through Oct. 29. Fans will be able to vote once per day on the Toyota Racing Facebook page, where they can also enter to win prizes, including a Toyota Racing “Dream Trip,” which will be given away to one lucky fan.
The final vehicle builds will be unveiled during a press conference at the Toyota display at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas on Oct. 30 at 11 a.m. local time.
Fans will be able to tune in live to watch the entire press conference on the Toyota Racing Facebook page or LiveStream.com/Toyota and see the winner announced in real time.