Toyota lands naming rights at famed Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. on Thursday became the first company to land a naming rights deal at the revamped Daytona International Speedway.

The Japanese automaker and International Speedway Corp., which owns the famous Florida track, announced the sponsorship deal at the Chicago Auto Show.

The 11-year agreement, which begins in 2015, will provide Toyota with naming rights to one of the five massive fan entrances at the redesigned speedway. Toyota will have more than 20,000 square feet with which to work, giving the company plenty of space to showcase its automotive lineup and promote affiliated race teams.

"This is a unique opportunity for Toyota to elevate our brand in the motorsports community," said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations of Toyota Motor Sales in the United States.

The deal contains no exclusivity clause, meaning a rival car manufacturer, like Chevrolet or Ford, could sponsor another fan entrance at Daytona.

It does, however, make Toyota an official partner of the Daytona 500 and gives the company pace-car privileges. The means a foreign manufacturer will lead the field under caution at "The Great American Race."

"Toyota has been a great partner for many years and we will continue to work together to enhance the fan experience at many of our facilities across the country," speedway CEO Lesa France Kennedy said.

Daytona is undergoing a $400 million renovation, dubbed "Daytona Rising."

The project will overhaul the front-stretch grandstands with new tiered concourses, wider seats and additional restrooms and concessions. It is scheduled for completion in 2016. The track will have 11 football field-sized "neighborhoods" that feature video screens as well as retail and dining areas.

"Daytona Rising represents our commitment to delivering engaging and innovative ways for our partners to showcase their brand," track president Joie Chitwood III said. "We're proud to integrate Toyota into this historic project. Our fans and guests will now enjoy more exciting, innovative and engaging experiences from the moment they enter the new facility to the time they reach their seats and beyond."

Toyota also announced Thursday that it was extending a multi-year partnership with Kansas Speedway that includes using the automakers line of vehicles as pace cars for its races. Toyota became the official pace car at Kansas in 2012.