Driving an SUV at world-record speeds, and other scenes from life as a video game


Former NASCAR driver Carl Edwards recently got a Toyota Land Cruiser up to 230 mph in the kind of marketing stunt that proves very little but gets people talking.

Isn’t that the ad business in a nutshell?

FORT WORTH, TX – Carl Edwards, former driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, celebrates winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

The test run took place in California’s Mojave desert, where the blazing sun makes men do all sorts of crazy things.

Edwards, for instance, stepped away from racing in January, naming as one important reason a desire to maintain his health at the age of 37. Next thing you know he’s barreling toward what Toyota said is a world-record speed for a SUV, albeit one that was souped-up and turbocharged beyond the wildest extremes of any showroom model.

“The front end kind of wandered at about 225,” Edwards told Fox Sports, “and I thought, ‘Holy crap, I don’t know what’s coming next…Man, my heart was pounding. I’m not exaggerating. It was pretty exciting.”

Well, yeah. It’s like turning life into a video game, every teenager’s dream.

[60th anniversary remembrance of Herb Score’s brutal baseball injury]

[A clearer picture of challenge Brad Kaaya faces in Detroit]

[New draft class confirms Adam Gase has confidence to succeed in Miami]

Now why would Toyota find all of this necessary, considering the fastest lap ever turned by an actual NASCAR racing machine is 212 and change? I offer these promotional possibilities.

  • Because Speed Unlimited Vehicle allows for sexier marketing without having to pay some ad firm for a new acronym.
  • Because moviemakers have run out of sequel ideas, leaving only “The Fast and Luxurious” for future summer fare.
  • Because auto manufacturers are putting such emphasis on gas-sipping hybrids that a niche market is needed for the contrary appeal of the Super Big Gulp.
  • Because there are garden-variety hockey and soccer moms, and then there’s Sarah Palin.
  • Because there is money on the table until somebody earns a multi-year contract as Official Car of Stormchasers.
  • Because if there really does turn out to be a zombie apocalypse, and if the undead turn out to be a lot more sprightly than TV portrays them, this is the vehicle for you.