That’s Alina Aubakirova and the magenta 1997 Chevy S-10 pickup built by the Naperville North High School Girls Auto Club. Since the start of the school year, the all-female team has been preparing the vehicle to race.
They rebuilt a junkyard-find 350 cubic inch LT1 V8 and added a nitrous system to get the power output up to 600 HP. The truck is now a proper racing machine with a custom chassis, roll cage and fuel cell. The team’s goal was to compete in the Texas Mile and set a new record in the standing mile for the Modified Mini Pickup Trucks category.
This really is a feel-good story about a group of young women, an under-represented group in the automotive world, who showed what their hard work and skills could achieve. The picture below, from the March 24 – 26 event, makes it clear that the crew achieved their goal, made it to Texas, and ran a 160+ MPH run.
But look closely at that picture, and you’ll see the front bumper of a Toyota Supra has snuck into the picture. That’s because during the 1,200 mile journey from Naperville, Illinois to Beeville, Texas, a last minute failure sidelined the Chevy. The Girls Auto Club that worked all year, and came so far to compete, was not even going to get a chance to run!
Well, that wasn’t OK with teacher Greg Ditch. This crew chief wasn’t going to let his team go home empty-handed. So, he did what any other gearhead would do; rented a 2021 Toyota Supra GR 3.0 off the TURO app, and omitted mentioning to the owner that he was going to take the car on a top-speed run. Now the car’s owner is claiming $4,000 in “issues” with the vehicle including worn out tires and burned out brakes.
We sure hope that Greg Ditch doesn’t lose his job over this. He should be in the running for Teacher of the Year for his creative problem solving. It’s tough to say who is telling the truth; Ditch says in an interview that he didn’t rent the vehicle from TURO (but pictures from the event tell a different tale), and it’s hard to see how brakes and tires could be destroyed by a standing mile run to 160 MPH (ok…maybe the brakes).
But if the Naperville North High School Girls Auto Club needs to raise money to pay for Ditch’s decision to race a rental car, Demaras Racing will be the first to throw $100 into the hat.