One Lap of America - Pittsburgh International Race Complex
May 1, 2016
One Lap of America - 2016
May 23, 2016
LeMons team flexes muscles, makes best finish in five years
August 1, 2015
Nearly two dozen Toyota engineers from four North American locations came together to flex their gearhead muscles at the 24 Hours of LeMons race in Joliet, Ill. July 24-26. The race was the first 24-hour race the team entered in nearly five years. That meant extra preparation to ensure the 30-year-old MR2 and 28-year-old Corolla FX-16 would complete the race.
Armed with every tool you could need, back up engines and a hoist, the team made its way north. They added team members and made sure their detailed plan had them covered all night long, with folks sleeping in shifts. All the packing and planning was needed; on the test track day, the Corolla’s engine blew and had to be replaced. It’s all part of racing a car worth no more than $500.
“Our previous record was four hours for an engine change,” Aaron Hoff, production engineer at Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, North America (TEMA), said with a laugh. “This time it took about three hours to get it switched out, so our time is improving. It takes a lot of teamwork and perseverance to overcome these challenges.”
The MR2 also got a few tweaks on testing day to better prepare for the race. Both cars passed inspection with flying colors and were able to start the race on time. 24 hours later, they made the best finish in five years with the MR2 placing third and the Corolla in 23rd.
“Just finishing a 24 hour race in one of these vehicles is an achievement,” said Tom Duesing, MR2 Crew Chief and TEMA production engineer. The drivers were greeted with cheers as they exited the track after completing the race.
Another milestone, student Co-op Luke Brophy took the wheel of the Corolla for part of the race. Brophy, a student from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), participated in two previous LeMons races with the Toyota team working on the pit crew.
“I was determined to prove that I was capable of driving,” Brophy said. “I worked hard, went to driver training, and spent many hours prepping the cars. Driving was so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again!”
“We had a great group of student Co-ops at this race,” said Matthew Mudge, TEMA production engineer. “We really enjoy giving them the opportunity to learn driver skills and car maintenance.”
But it’s more than just cars; it’s a chance for Co-ops to form relationships with team members.
“This was definitely one of the highlights of my Co-op experience with Toyota,” said Lisa Chiffolo, student Co-op from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TEMA). “The guys are fantastic mentors. They teach you so much.”
Toyota engineers from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. (TMMI) and Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Mich. also participated in the race.
The team is planning for more LeMons races in 2016.