LAS VEGAS—A race car driver sponsored by Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. has set an all-time speed record for the quarter mile using production radial street tires. Eddie Bello, 34, of Mt. Vernon, N.Y., clocked a time of 9.178 seconds and reached a speed of 161.02 mph on a quarter-mile run on Sept. 4 at Old Bridge Township Raceway in Englishtown, N.J. Mr. Bello was driving a Porsche 911 C2 equipped with Toyo Proxes RA-1 tires on the rear and Proxes T1-S tires on the front.
"It was a perfect run," Mr. Bello said, "and the car was a foot off the ground in all three gears."
The run will not be considered an official record by any sanctioning body because it occurred while Mr. Bello was testing his car and not during a sanctioned race. However, Mr. Bello thinks he can run even faster and break into the 8-second range.
Jim Stobie, Toyo's manager of ultra-high performance events, said Mr. Bello is the first driver to be sponsored by the firm in an agreement that began in 1997.Toyo began sponsoring events in 1996, Mr. Stobie said, "as a way to generate brand awareness and image."
"We are here (in racing) to build business and create sales," he said.
Mr. Stobie said there are two reasons Toyo feels it's important to support lesser-known racing series like the National Import Racers Association that Mr. Bello competes in.
"It's a good way for Toyo Corp. to get face-to-face with customers," Mr. Stobie said, especially 16- to 24-year olds who are the biggest fans of NIRA and other circuits. Toyo hopes these young race fans will become lifelong Toyo tire buyers.
The second reason, Mr. Stobie said, is to provide "safe and legal venues" for young drivers to race cars and satisfy their cravings for speed. Toyo has sponsored 47 events, he said, and many tracks use that money for improvements that make them safer.
Mr. Bello, who competed in 20 events this year, owns and operates his own performance auto shop in Mt. Vernon. "I like to make them go faster," he said of his customers' cars.
The 5,000-sq.-ft. shop opened in July, he said, and caters to customers who are "serious about racers."
Toyo hopes to increase its level of sponsorship for Mr. Bello, Mr. Stobie said, and set up a racing team in the next three years. Mr. Bello said he plans to compete in the more prestigious National Hot Rod Association circuit.