Why is Toyota Racing Called ‘Gazoo’?
When it comes to race team names, Gazoo certainly stands out. For one thing, it gives no clue that it is Toyota’s racing arm to those who don’t already know; it could be an independent outfit or a name of a toy company, for that matter. And it doesn’t sound very Japanese, since it departs from the common two-letter syllable structure. Nor does it sound like something that members of Toyota’s board came up with during a four-hour-long meeting regarding engine development.
So where does the name Gazoo come from?
It turns out that Gazoo does have roots in the Japanese language, but the name has evolved slightly since it was adopted, and it emerged quite by accident.
“Almost 20 years ago our president wanted to change the structure of our company and he introduced what at the time was a very new online system using images of cars for the reselling of used cars,” Saga added.
“They called this internet site gazoo.com, using the English spelling of the word.”
This explains the meaning behind the name of that particular website – one dedicated to used cars, but it doesn’t have anything to do with racing per se.
Another evolutionary step took place, and it had to do with Toyota engineers having a mental image, or gazo, of garages filled with unique cars, similar to the appearance of the cars’ side profiles on the company’s online used car website. Gazo, in effect, came to mean the same as “garage” for Toyota engineers, even though the actual word for garage is different in Japanese. (Garage is gareji in Japanese, one of a handful of modern words that came into the language just in the 20th century from English).
Toyota Gazoo Racing paced the first on-track session for the 2018 24 Hours of LeMans, finishing 1-2 with its TS050 Hybrids.Kamui Kobayashi was the fastest on the charts, setting a 3:18.718 in the No.
“So we combined those two images,” Saga told Autocar. “And the ultimate goal of the various garages, each with a different focus, is to create better cars.”
Of course, Toyota participated in motorsports lingo before the name Gazoo was adopted for the racing and tuning divisions within the company. There was Toyota Racing, Gazoo Racing and Lexus Racing, all used in their respective motorsports including Formula One, Nurburgring 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
“Of those, “GAZOO Racing” in particular first entered the Nurburgring 24 Hours race in 2007 with two used Altezzas, supported by a team of mechanics that comprised employees selected from various departments within Toyota, under the belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,'” Toyota says.
Toyota united all three divisions into Toyota Gazoo Racing relatively recently, in 2015, which explains why the name Gazoo was not that well known outside the racing fanbase. With Toyota Gazoo Racing now encompassing Toyota’s tuning efforts (and getting a Le Mans win under its belt), expect to see the name a lot more…and not just on the company’s race cars.