There’s little argument that Lexus is an excellent car maker, having been lauded with awards for everything from reliability to resale value. Driving any one of the classic Lexus models, even a more experienced model like a used Lexus LS 460, offers an undeniably excellent ride thanks to top quality engineering and careful attention to detail.
For racing fans, however, Lexus has been disappointingly quiet in the field, having ended development on racing vehicles over eight years ago. Despite some notable success in the racing circuit from 2004-2007, Lexus shifted its attention away from high-performance racing vehicles in order to focus on developing excellent consumer models.
Luckily, that all changed at this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in early November when Lexus unveiled three additions to its ranks, thanks in part to the brand’s new partnership with veteran racer and Rocketsports Racing founder Paul Gentilozzi in creating the new F Performance racing brand.
Lexus premiered its new racing line with the RC F GT3, a bold leader in the brand’s return to the racing circuit. Boasting a 5.0–liter derived V8 engine and a 6-speed sequential transmission with paddle shifters, the RC F GT3 can pump out over 500 horsepower.
Lower, wider, and lighter than the standard RC F Lexus used as a model (2,866 lbs, as opposed to the RC F’s 3,958 lbs), the GT3 offers customized, superior racing power – all under a vivid electric blue and intensely detailed wrap.
Based on the high-performance RC F coupe, the RC F GT3 will be piloted by veteran driver Scott Pruett. Pruett will guide the GT3 through a limited campaign in the 2016 season, primarily focusing on developing the race organization while gathering data and track experience for further vehicle development.
“A core mission of F Performance Racing was to strengthen the Lexus’ F brand by applying lessons gleaned from racing while nurturing an engineering culture that transfers that knowledge to dynamic, high-performance passenger car development,” said said Jeff Bracken, group vice president and general manager, Lexus division in a press release on the RC F GT3. “We are very excited about what this partnership and race effort can mean for the brand in the years to come.”
Lexus, F Performance and Pruett plan on utilizing the RC F GT3 for the full 2017/18 racing season with a multi-vehicle effort.
“When Lexus left motorsports, I pledged to them that I would be there to help them return when that time came,” said Pruett in the release. “That time is now and I could not be more ecstatic to be representing Lexus as a performance brand ambassador and on the track in the F Performance RC F GT3.”
Also unveiled at SEMA was the custom 2015 GS F by Gordon Ting of Beyond Marketing. This model features a Daily Visual 3M Gloss Burnt Orange wrap, a Sumeru custom carbon fiber lip kit and 20-inch Gloss Black Advan GT Premium wheels with Falken Azenis FK453 performance racing tires – all of which come together to make the GS F pretty hard to miss on the road.
Although similar to the standard GS on the interior, this custom GS F has a few additions under the hood as well. Boasting a GReady Supreme SP dual exhaust system and an Advanced Flow Engineering Takeda retain intake system, the GS F should have greatly improved drivability over its standard predecessors. Combine that with its Brembo Performance braking system and TEIN suspension Prototype Street Advance damper kit and Lexus has made one mean racing machine.
With a 467 horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 engine carried over from the RC F coupe, 15-inch front rotors squeezed by six-piston calipers and 19 inch Micheline Pilot Super Sport tires, this GS F means business on the track. With the standard GS F starting at an MSRP of $85,380, this custom GS F by Ting and Beyond Marketing must have cost a pretty penny to put together – and the results are apparent by the look of it.
Matching the custom GS F as part of a set was another model born out of the partnership between Lexus and Gordon Ting/Beyond Marketing: a custom RC F, also in Daily Visual 3M Gloss Burnt Orange wrap and with the same Brembo Performance braking system, the same GReddy Supreme SP dual exhaust system and the same Advanced Flow Engineering Takeda retain intake system as the GS F.
As similar as they may look, however, the real differences end there.
Taking up just a bit more of the lane than the GS F, this custom RC F is outfitted with a Pandem Custom RC F widebody GT aero kit to maximize aerodynamics. The model’s 20-inch Volk Racing TE-37 Ultra, Matte Blue Gunmetal wheels and Bridgestone Potenza tires give Ting’s custom RS F both superior handling capability on the track as well as a flashy confidence on the road. And, most noticeably, the custom RC F has a sweet rear spoiler not present on the GS F.
The RC F is a highly protected cab for a driver too, with a custom Evasive Motorsports 6-point roll cage and rear cover panels and Sparco USA Grid Competition FIA approved race seats to keep the pilot protected in the event of a high-speed collision. And with a KW Suspension Varient 3 coilover kit, the ride should be as smooth as ever.
The custom RC F designed by Ting also features the basic interior elements of the standard RC F, including a 467 horsepower 5.0L V8 engine coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. It’s a pretty heavy model – around 4,048 lbs, 200 lbs more than the previous standard RS model – and with that, it can pick up some serious velocity once it gets going.
Alongside these founding members of the F Performance Series were introduced three other new racing models from Lexus:
The 2016 IS 200t by VIP Auto Salon, built using a Seibon Carbon Aero kit and Apexi N1 exhaust system and dampers, this carbon fiber beauty is sure to be a sight to behold on the racetrack.
The 2016 RC 200t by Guy S. De Alwis/360 Motorhawks, boasting a beautiful 3M Gloss Cosmic Blue trim and Stance SF01 Brushed Titanium finish wheels, is about as gorgeous as it is powerful.
The 2014 Lexus IS 350, also by VIP Auto Salon, is also a carbon fiber model wrapped in a striking Orafol shift effect cast wrap film with a lip spoiler, side step, under spoiler and Vossen VFS2 wheels with Yokohama S Drive tires. Although not a new model, this custom stood proudly by its racing brethren at this year’s SEMA.
These custom racing models from Lexus are, to say the least, impressive. With this kind of effort, it is apparent that Lexus has its sights set on reclaiming its once-held racing prowess.With options like these available, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear of a serious new contender on the racing circuit.
Of course, not all of us can afford such beautiful, delicately crafted custom racing models for our everyday driving. If, however, you’re sold on the time-honored quality and luxury of a Lexus, think about checking out your local Lexus dealer and taking a look at many of the great models available, ranging from the classic GS, IS, or an always reliable, always luxurious used Lexus LS 460.
Featuring a 4.6-liter V8 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all of the standard amenities like automatic wipers, a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, leather upholstery, wood trim, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and power/heated front seats, a used Lexus LS 460 is the perfect car for anyone looking to combine class, power, and total comfort. Check one out today, if you’re ready.