NASCAR fans who tuned in early to Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway saw a vehicle of a completely different type leading the pack of 43 racers around the track. It was the NASCAR Sprint Cup series’ Toyota Owners 400, and a 2016 Toyota Mirai sedan became the first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to serve as a pace car for an event by the racing body. This was another NASCAR first for Toyota, as in 2009 the first hybrid vehicle to act as a pace car was a Camry Hybrid.
Apparently pace cars need to undergo testing by NASCAR, as Toyota says the 2016 Mirai had to be checked to meet certain requirements. It wasn’t revealed what NASCAR’s requirements are, but they can’t be too stringent for a car that only needs to drive slowly for one lap around a track. Either way, the Mirai was approved for pace car duties the day before the race.
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