Hattori Racing’s K&N team to use Japanese pit crew at Iowa Speedway

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Tonight’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway (airs 7 p.m. ET July 31 on NBCSN) will provide a major first in the lives of a handful of crew members on pit road.

It will mark the first time the six pit crew members for Hattori Racing Enterprises will ever take part in a pit stop.

Also, it’ll be the first time they’ve ever been to a NASCAR race.

The reason?

Hattori will be using six Japanese students to crew Max McLaughlin‘s No. 1 Toyota when the race is paused for pit stops under a competition caution.

The six students were chosen from three Toyota Technical College campuses in Japan – located in Kobe, Nagoya, and Tokyo – based on merit and performance to come to the U.S. for a two-week NASCAR immersion program with Hattori Racing Enterprises.

The NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina, offered both classrooms and hands-on instruction in multiple areas of NASCAR racing. The classroom training also covered cultural topics to help the students acclimate to American society as most have never even been to the United States of America.

Most of the student’s studies and training in Japan focused on production vehicles.

“It’s exciting for our team to host these students and offer them firsthand experience of NASCAR racing,” team owner Shige Hattori said in a statement. “Our team has enjoyed this program with Toyota Technical College for several years and NASCAR Technical Institute is a big part of it. Most of the students that have participated in the program aren’t familiar with NASCAR racing, so it’s a big help for them to get the training and instruction at NTI before heading to the track.”

“This is the eighth year of this program, and none of the students or teachers from Japan have ever been to the United States. The classes and training really help them understand life in the U.S. and the culture here. It’s a big transition for students to be here for two weeks, but NTI’s program is a huge help for them during their time here and is something that sticks with them for the rest of their life.”

Pit crew members

Furamu Hori

Chikashi Ichino

Tatsunori Suda

Takumi Tanihira

Yusuke Shuto

Masato Ksaminaga