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PPI Motorsports:  A Racing Legacy

From 1979 through 2004, PPI Motorsports – then known as Precision Preparation, Inc., or PPI – compiled a diverse racing profile that included stadium and off-road trucks, multi-division open-wheel cars, and a two-car NASCAR program.  Owned by native Southern Californian Calvin (Cal) Wells III, the company’s rich, 25-year racing history includes multiple wins and championships in the most competitive and demanding racing arenas in the United States.

In 1983, PPI began a storied partnership with Toyota Motorsports – leading the way for the manufacturer by establishing a daunting stadium and off-road racing legacy and becoming one of its first factory teams in Indy Car racing. From 1983 to 1994, the Toyota/PPI team dominated the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Stadium Series with 11 Manufacturers Championships and nine Drivers Championships with Rod Millen, Steve Millen, Robby Gordon, and the legendary Ivan “Ironman” Stewart. In the SCORE Desert Series, the team accumulated 27 wins and seven championships with Stewart behind the wheel. This includes two Baja 1000 wins, 11 Baja 500 wins, and the famed “Desert Sweep” of 1998 in which the team won both the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 in the same year.

PPI entered the Indy car arena in 1994 (under the Arciero-Wells Racing banner) as one of Toyota’s first factory teams.  Working closely with Toyota on engine development over the next five years, the team captured Toyota’s first Indy car pole position at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on October 31, 1999.  On that day, the #24 Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota piloted by driver Scott Pruett clocked in at a record-setting 235.398 miles per hour. 

In 2000, the team’s last year of Indy car competition, driver Cristiano da Matta – behind the wheel of the #97 Pioneer Electronics/MCI WorldCom Toyota – earned Toyota’s and PPI’s first podium finish at Cleveland and garnered the team’s first Indy car win at Chicago Motor Speedway.

In conjunction with its Indy car program, PPI fielded two cars in the Toyota Atlantic Championship series – the longest-running open-wheel development series in North America.  In 1999, the team won multiple races en route to securing the series championship with driver Anthony Lazzarro and rookie-of-the-year honors with driver Andrew Bordin.

In 2000, PPI conquered a new racing arena:  NASCAR.  Over five years, the newly-renamed PPI Motorsports fielded full-time NASCAR Cup Series teams with sponsors Tide and McDonald’s, earning multiple pole positions and two historic wins at Martinsville Speedway in 2001 and at Darlington Raceway in 2002 (one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history).  Both wins came at the hands of driver Ricky Craven in the #32 Tide Ford.