Max McLaughlin (1) during the Casey's General Store 150 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Mac McLaughlin poses for a fun photo with his Japanese crew members for the weekend and team owner Shige Hattori in Iowa. (HRE/Daylon Barr Photography)

International Influence: Japanese Students Assist HRE At Iowa


It was all hands on deck for Hattori Racing Enterprises this past weekend in Iowa.

For the eighth year in a row, a handful of Japanese students attending Toyota Technical College in Japan crossed the Pacific and spent two weeks in the HRE shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. In addition, they also received instruction and training at the NASCAR Technical Institute.

They also got to travel to Iowa Speedway, where they helped crew chief Robert Huffman on Max McLaughlin’s No. 1 Yazaki/Toyota College Toyota all day.

The six students also pitted McLaughlin’s car under both breaks. With no prior pit stop experience, the group practiced at the HRE shop before jetting off to the Midwest.

Toyota Technical College Students Pit Stop Practice

5 off, 5 on!The Toyota Technical College students have put in plenty of work at NASCAR Technical Institute getting ready for Friday's #KNEast race at Iowa Speedway. They'll go over the wall to change tires on Max McLaughlin's No. 1 Yazaki North America Camry during the competition caution!

Posted by Hattori Racing Enterprises on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

And knocked it out of the park during the race, helping McLaughlin to a top 10 result.

"They did a great job," McLaughlin told NASCAR.com. "They work really hard, their work ethic shows a lot about the Toyota Technical College and what they teach out there in Japan. They really know what they’re doing, too. I was surprised with how much they knew about the cars already before even getting here. It was fun to work with them, they’re a fun group of guys. Even though I don’t speak Japanese at all, they were cool, fun to hang out with and I really had a lot of fun with them."

Team owner Shige Hattori, who has experienced a multitude of success in the sport, winning the Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship last season as well as the K&N Pro Series East race at Watkins Glen, was glad that another year of the program came and went successfully.

"I’m really proud of all the students’ effort the last two weeks," Hattori said in a press release. "It was very difficult for them to come to the U.S. for two weeks, but they did a very good job. I really appreciate their effort and all our partners for giving them the chance to be a part of the program. They did a great job with our team at the shop, learned a lot, and they did a great job at the racetrack doing the pit stop. We hope they enjoyed the experience as much as we enjoyed having them."

Hattori and McLaughlin will look to build upon their fifth top 10 finish in 2019 this weekend at Watkins Glen International for the Great Outdoors RV Superstore 100 on Friday evening.

#1: Max McLaughlin, Toyota Camry, Yazaki / Toyota Tech College
Max McLaughlin’s car was plastered with sponsors associated with Toyota Technical College in Japan this past weekend in Iowa. (Matthew T. Thacker, NKP/NASCAR)