The former driver and current NASCAR team owner started a program several years ago hosting six students and three instructors from Japan’s Toyota Technical College for five days in the U.S. The students spend most of the week in Charlotte, North Carolina at the NASCAR Technical Institute, but their last two days are here in Newton at the Iowa Speedway, where they’ll put their education to the test.
“This has been a great opportunity for the students to not only become immersed in NASCAR, but to visit the United States and experience a different culture,” Hattori said. “This is the fourth year of this program where we’ve had college students from Toyota Technical College come to North Carolina and I’m really happy that we can provide these students with this unique opportunity and learning experience. It’s exciting for me to be able to share what I’m doing in NASCAR as a team owner with students from Japan, where I began my racing career.”
Hattori’s driver, Jessie Little, says the cross-cultural experience has been a valuable learning opportunity for everyone involved.
“We’ve been working together in the race shop all week getting the No. 01 Yazaki Toyota Camry ready for Friday night’s race,” he said. “Even though we may not speak the same language, we’ve been able to work well together because we all have racing in common. They’ve been practicing pit stops and we’ve been talking strategy – so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together as a team this weekend.”
After the races this weekend, the students will fly back to Japan to continue their education.