November 17, 2012
Nov. 18 – Kumamoto, Japan – Just months ago they were high school students, now they’re working in a racing team. Trainee mechanics at Nissan’s technical college are getting a chance to live the high-speed dream by practicing the skills they’ll use on customers’ cars in dealerships across Japan on a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racer. The aim of the program – to fire up young people to join the automotive industry.
Atsushi Tanaka, Principal, Nissan Automobile Technical College Yokohama
“It is said that young people in Japan are less interested in cars recently. Through this race program we want to tell the excitement of automobiles and teach them how be professional. Another goal is to teach teamwork by working in an actual racing team.”
The scheme has been running six months. Hundreds of trainee mechanics have experienced life in the fast lane. The seasoned professionals, like driver Tomonobu Fujii, are amazed how quickly they pick up skills.
Tomonobu Fujii, Racing Driver
“In the beginning, the students seemed to be nervous and didn’t know how to behave because they weren’t used to the race, the circuit, and the racing cars. Then, they quickly got to know the race cars, the team, and the race. Each individual learned their roles race by race. Today was the last race of the season, and I was impressed to see the students grow and their ‘possession rate’ of the car was longer than the professional crew!”
Masahiko Kondo, Kondo Racing Team Director
“The students have done a really good job, so much that even younger mechanics at Kondo Racing felt pressured. I was surprised that they knew what to do already, and they learned quickly since the (race) shakedown at Motegi. I was especially impressed by their serious attitude towards race and mechanic work. We learned a lot from them. Through these lessons in a real racing environment, we have taught the students that one small mistake can lead to critical trouble, so, no matter how hard the work is, I hope they become good mechanics, either for racing or at the dealership.”
So, how does working for a racing team compare to being a mechanic at the dealership?
Seiji Komori, Student
Giving the students that sense of pride is the aim of the program, to make sure they’ll devote as much care to customers cars as to the race cars. The team clinched its first victory in August, but in the final race, mechanical trouble forced the car to go off course during qualifying.
Supported by the students, the car was repaired by morning and the GT-R finished 3rd, a thrilling recovery and punctuating a tremendous season of pit learning and achievement.
Norio Ota, Nissan CVP
Nissan hopes that by using skills learned in the pit lane the mechanics will deliver better service to customers in dealerships around Japan.