US: Toyota’s Mirai – the first fuel cell NASCAR pace car image

The alternative fuel car is among the first fuel cell vehicles to be produced in a large series and become commercially available across the globe and now the Mirai is setting its “pace” on the track as well.

While many of the NASCAR attendees go for the show to make a first account of the roaring engine sounds and the smell of burnt gasoline, the audience this weekend at the Toyota Owners 400 were treated a slightly modified story: the pace car was Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cell model. The fuel cell electric vehicle glided silently across the track in Richmond, Virginia but it made quite the buzz by taking the honor of being the first hydrogen-powered car in history to pace a NASCAR race. “Having a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle pace the Toyota Owners 400 is an historic moment for both Toyota and NASCAR and we’re proud it’s the Toyota Mirai, ” commented Ed Laukes, vice president at Toyota’s US unit. You should also know that even if pacing a NASCAR race might sound not to difficult – the every day car might not actually be able to cope.

Even the new Mirai, Toyota’s pinnacle in environmental leadership and innovation, had to be put through a series of performance reviews. There are other green initiatives that have taken place on the tracks s far: the Camry Hybrid paced the Coca Cola 600 back in 2009, Kia’s Optima Hybrid paced a race in 2011 and the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid did the same last year. Ford is even a leader among off-the mark pace cars – a Fusion Hybrid served the duty as far back as 2008 for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the automaker was the first to pace a Nascar race with an electric vehicle – the Focus EV for the Richmond 400 in 2012.