Read More

Toyota Arizona Engineering Motorsports Team Competes in 25 Hours of Thunderhill

WILLOWSCalif. (December 10, 2019) – Engineers and technicians from Toyota’s Arizona Proving Grounds (TAPG) brought their Toyota 86 to Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California for the second year in a row this past weekend. With heavy rains in the forecast, the team, including racing legend Randy Pobstwho was brought onboard for the eventset out to conquer the NASA 25 Hours of Thunder Hill endurance race. The team, which has been continuously improving since they were formed just a few years ago, has been championing NASA endurance races across the Western United States for the past two seasons.   

While winning their class at Thunderhill was the ultimate goal, the experience and challenge of completing the grueling 25-hour endurance race was high on the minds of the engineersA year ago, during their inaugural attempt at Thunderhill, illness and a catastrophic mechanical failure resulted in a DNF. It was something they didn’t intend to repeat. 

One of our goals when we originally put this team together was to eventually be competitive at Thunderhill,” said driver and team captain D.J. Quint, a senior performance development engineer at Toyota’s Arizona proving grounds. “We were ready last year, but things just didn’t go our way. We’ve gained a lot of experience and learned a lot of lessons since then, and we plan apply that to this year’s competition.” 

Tackling the 25 hours of racing in rotating two– and three-hour stints, the Toyota team drivers overcame the heavy rains, mud, and mechanical challenges to lead much of the raceThe timing and execution of routine pit stops for fuel, tires, and driver changes had been honed to a science by the group, who often would be leading by ten laps or more 

Frontend damage, and the ensuing repair time, set them back into a neck-and-neck race with their closest competition, with both teams trading the lead several times. Wheel damage late in the race brought the 86 back into the pits for repairs. While quick work by the crew had the car back on track for the final segment of the race, they ceded their first-place positionWhile disappointed to not place first, the team was more than happy with their strong showing and incredible teamwork. 

Randy Stephens, group vice president for vehicle performance engineering joined the crew for the race saying, “the most impressive thing to me is the teamwork. Someone is always ready to step in and do their part to support the overall mission.” 

Senior engineering manager and driver Mike Donick echoed Stephens’ sentiments. “The teamwork and the bond we build competing in these types of events, directly translates into the office. The relationships we build at the track make us a better engineering team,” adding, “Not only that, but the passion these engineers and technicians have for racing and for cars it’s reflected in the way we design and develop cars for our customers. That’s why we do things like this.”  

The endurance team at the Arizona proving grounds is part of a larger group of grassroots motorsports efforts across Toyota’s North American R&D facilities. Toyota engineers and technicians from Michigan, California and Kentucky also compete in several series across the U.S. including ARA stage rally, SCCA, Drift, NASA, and 24 Hours of Lemons.  

About Toyota 

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 38 million cars and trucks in North America, where we have 14 manufacturing plants, 15 including our joint venture in Alabama (10 in the U.S.), and directly employ more than 47,000 people (over 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold 2.8 million cars and trucks (2.4 million in the U.S.) in 2018. 

Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit  

Toyota Motor North America Research & Development (TMNA R&D) aims to redefine next-generation cars as not simply a form of transportation, but as a fully connected vehicle. In fact, since 1984, Toyota has been awarded more patents than any other automaker, including autonomous vehicle patents (more than 1,400). Centered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Toyota puts the brightest thinkers from all across America together to focus on letting people live more safely and comfortably. Globally, Toyota spends approximately $1 million per hour on R&D to ensure that Toyota rapidly and continuously develops cutting-edge, high-quality, and appealing vehicles. 

Brian Watkins
[email protected]

Related Images

Add to Cart


Engineers and Technicians from Toyota’s Arizona proving Grounds (TAPG) compete at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunder Hill endurance race December 7-8, 2019.

Related Videos

Add to Cart


Email Sign Up

Enter your email address below to sign up for email alerts.

*Indicates Required