Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Cup has taken a futuristic approach by introducing digital trophies and adopting the Polygon blockchain to record driver performances.
Collaborating with Toyota Connected North America (TCNA), the personalized digital trophies showcase various driver statistics, including podium finishes, lap times and finishing positions. These trophies are updated after each race weekend with a shareable package for the drivers.
“With the GR Cup Series, we see an opportunity to introduce technologies that will enhance the experience for our drivers and allow them to better engage with racing fans,” said Jack Irving, executive commercial director at Toyota Racing Development (TRD).
Tim Muttitt, TCNA’s technical program manager, said that the digital trophy program aims to push the boundaries of the driver experience within the GR Cup Series.
“Blockchain technology allows us to do that and keep it authentic, with the GR Cup Series designed to focus on the talent behind the wheel,” he said. “We’re enabling greater visibility to the drivers through this unique technology.”
GR Cup has yet to announce whether fans will be able to interact directly with the trophies or if the company plans to create digital collectibles. TRD has also not provided a comment on this matter.
Using blockchain ensures a permanent and non-fungible record of the drivers’ achievements, allowing them to share their accomplishments with fans in a new way. The technology also opens new opportunities to connect race fans with the series.
Toyota’s involvement in blockchain dates back to 2016. It joined forces with the R3 Consortium for blockchain technology research and development. In 2019, the company established the Toyota Blockchain Lab.
Toyota aims to transform into a comprehensive “Mobility Company” via blockchain technology. It uses blockchain to create an ecosystem that facilitates seamless and secure connections between users and various service providers.
Toyota’s approach aims to enhance openness and transparency while ensuring the security of interactions within the platform.
As explained on Toyota’s website, the GR Cup “is an amateur focused racing series.” In the series, drivers begin with a stock Toyota GR86, featuring only factory-available options.
The drivers’ vehicles are then taken to a TRD garage, aptly named “gazoo,” where they are equipped with official Toyota racing gear. Having all vehicles transferred to gazoo after every race ensures that all drivers start the race on equal footing across the grid.
Notably, the term gazoo comes from the Japanese word “gazo,” which means “image.” Its English spelling “gazoo” was first used 20 years ago for a Toyota website to sell used cars. Over time, the term became synonymous with “garage” for Toyota engineers. Then it is now used in Toyota Gazoo Racing, which serves as Toyota’s competition and performance arm.
As GR Cup drivers gear up for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville from August 4 to 6, they can access their racing data from the first three GR Cup weekends through Polygon. These races took place at Sonoma Raceway, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas and Virginia International Raceway.
The GR Cup Series is currently in its inaugural season. The competition is overseen by SRO Motorsports Group. The single-make series comprises 14 races in total, including double-headers at renowned tracks like COTA, Virginia International Raceway, Road America, Sebring International Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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