Mike Stevens | Jul 1, 2009

NEW TOYOTA PRESIDENT Akio Toyodo, the 53 year-old grandson of the company's founder, has something of a speeding problem. Thankfully, he keeps his need for speed to the race tracks, with his most recent outing being behind the wheel of one of two Lexus LF-A test cars during the Nurburgring 24 Hour Race.

However, unlike many of his opponents in the legendary Nurburgring race, Toyoda has no professional racing experience, and this fact has senior management at Toyota fearful for their chief's well-being.

"The folks here are pleading with me to stop," Toyoda told Automotive News.

"But there's a reason why I participate in these races. First, it's because it's Nurburgring. Second, it's 24 hours. And third, it has a lot to do with the development of cars."

"Put another way, you can say that I'm staking my life to come up with a better product," he said.

Toyoda, who only last week was elected to the top spot at the world's number one carmaker, has made a point of working towards a new, more efficient, streamlined and region-focused Toyota.

Toyota's new President wants to see the company make a return to cars that its customers can connect with on an emotional level, like the Celica and Corolla Levin of the 70s and the MR2 and Supra models of the 80s and 90s.

As evidence of Toyoda's commitment to rejuvenating his company's passion, he was a strong force behind the development and production approval of the upcoming Lexus LF-A supercar, and has been a proponent of the 'O86A' entry-level rear-wheel-drive sports car expected to debut at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show in October.

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