Cup drivers like custom cars, too. And when you drive a Toyota Camry in NASCAR’s headlining Monster Energy Series, part of the job is customizing your own Camry every year for the SEMA show. This year four Cup stars – Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez – along with a minor TV star named Rutledge Wood, designed and had built for them customized versions of the Toyota Camry, America’s number-one-selling car.
We liked Hamlin’s car the best, though we’d give the TV dude a runner-up award if we had one.
Hamlin’s white Camry with flared fenders covering red wheels was by far the coolest of the three, and probably the closest to race-ready, something he says he wants to do as soon as he gets the car back from Toyota.
“I wanted the wide-body look: lighter, lower, with the biggest tires I could get on it,” Daytona 500-winner Hamlin said at the SEMA show after they pulled the cover off his car.
He even took the leather from the stock Camry seats and had it reupholstered onto the Recaro racing seats he had installed. Very nice. The wide-body kit was hand-molded and handmade by customizer Steven Klitsch, who did the car at Hamlin’s direction.
“Denny’s whole thing was, ‘Let’s make it racy, but let’s make it classy,” said Klitsch. “He said, ‘I want to take it to VIR (Virginia International Raceway) when it’s done.”
The Rutledge Wood Camry is done up in “blurple”
Second place, if we were handing out places, we’d give to NBC TV racing analyst and former Top Gear USA host Rutledge Wood, the only non-racer in the custom Camry competition. Wood wanted a color he described as Blurple, a mix of blue and purple, as near as we could tell. It looks better than it sounds. Setting off the blurple are what look like copper wheels, but they’re actually “candy rose gold,” according to Wood. Almost lost in all that blurple are numerous 3D-printed parts all over the car. Inside is a baseball-glove leather interior.
The wildly understated Daniel Suarez Camry
The rest of the Camrys, in no particular order, are:
Daniel Suarez’ barely breathed-on, black-over-white Camry. ”He wanted definitely more of an elegant look,” said the guy from Motorsports Technical Center, which did the build.
Martin Truex Jr. added matte black paint and matching Cup-like wheels.
Kyle Busch’s Rowdy Edition III has chrome accents galore to match the chrome he likes on his older American classics.
Look for perhaps another edition of Cup Starts Cars at next year’s SEMA show.