Carl Edwards Tops 230 MPH in Retirement


Ask a retired NASCAR driver if they want to drive something fast and the answer is usually an unconditional "Yes". Recently retired from behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota Camry, Carl Edwards admitted that he really didn't ask enough questions before agreeing to pilot the fastest SUV on the planet. Thrilled by the idea, Edwards just showed up with helmet in hand at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California.

Toyota had introduced the Land Speed Cruiser at SEMA 2016, and for the most part, the shiny black truck with chrome wheels simply looked like any other high-end SUV on the market today. The first clue as to what Toyota might be up to came with a peek under the hood. Although the new sports wagon featured a stock 5.7-liter V8, two Garrett turbochargers capable of producing 55 psi of boost were neatly tucked away on either side of the engine. After a quick look inside the cab, it was obvious Toyota wasn't planning on taking it for a routine test drive. The passenger's seat was replaced with a roll cage and the driver's seat was replaced with... well a Driver's Seat complete with a Simpson safety harness.

According to Chuck Wade at the Motorsports Technical Center, Toyota had decided to build a highly modified version of the family vehicle to topple the land speed record of 211 mph that currently belonged to a Bentley Bentayga sports utility vehicle. In impressive fashion, the automotive giant was able to keep the appearance of a stock SUV to embody the SEMA spirit of imagination and innovation. With a slight drop in chassis height, the development team was able to improve the aerodynamics so the vehicle's stability would match the Toyota's new top-end speed.

Before turning the wheel over to Edwards, long-time Toyota test driver Craig Stanton warmed up the 2000 horsepower engine and scuffed a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The Technical team's target was to attain a speed of 220 mph over the 2.5 mile active runway. Even though the Land Speed Cruiser wandered a bit above the double-century mark and there was an unidentified pop in the engine compartment, Edwards bettered the target number by ten miles per hour by keeping his foot pegged to the floorboard.  The retired NASCAR driver radioed that "2-3-0" is what he saw on the display and would later admit that it was crazy speed. No worries for replacement driver Daniel Suarez as Edwards plans to stay retired. Well at least for the most part that is!

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