Three Former Motorsports Team Members Making Their Mark in Racing

Posted on Friday, October 12, 2018


UNOH Grad Kaylynn Simmons works as a Clutch Specialist for Terry McMillen in NHRA

Written by Contributing Columnist: Brooke Raines

After graduation, many UNOH students head straight to the workforce, with a good portion of the High Performance graduates heading into the racing world. As a university, we take pride in knowing that so many of our graduates head to the motorsports industry. From NHRA, to NASCAR and Indy Car, UNOH is proud to call each one of them distinguished members of the UNOH family. There are hundreds of student in the racing industry, but we wanted to highlight a few of the more recent grads that are leaving there mark in the racing field. 

First up is Kaylynn Simmons. She currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana where she works as a clutch specialist for NHRA driver Terry McMillen. We caught up with Kaylynn and asked her about her experiences so far. “As the Clutch Specialist I work with the crew chief in setting up the clutch for the Top Fuel Dragster that Terry McMillen drives. In basic terms my crew chief gives me the set up and I install the clutch in the car according to the setup. We race within the NHRA and follow the series through a 24 race schedule across the country”, says Kaylynn.

Simmons has been on Terry McMillen’s NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Dragster since she graduated UNOH in 2016. We asked Kaylynn how it feels to be the only female on the team as we know she probably gets that question a lot. “For the longest time I always answered this question the same way. I always said that I was just one of the guys and that the racecar or car knew no different. To an extent that is all very true. But the people around you that you may work with, or in my case racing fans very much so notice the difference. At the end of the day I still have to be able to carry around the heavy parts and pull the torque wrenches no different than the guys. That might mean finding a unique way to make things work for you. You have a job to do and in order to be treated equally you need to complete the same tasks without a problem,” says Simmons. Kaylynn and her team have had many success since she has been on the team but the biggest was Terry’s first NHRA National Event win in Las Vegas last fall. This one was special not only because it was Terry’s first win but also everyone on the team’s first win.

UNOH Graduate Kyle Pettyjohn working for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Next we have Kyle Pettyjohn. Kyle graduated March of 2017 from UNOH. Before Kyle graduated, he already obtained his current job and was driving back and forth from Lima to Indianapolis on the weekends to work. Kyle now lives permanently in Indianapolis, Indiana. He works for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Indy Car Team. Kyle specializes in setting up the wing and body configurations to specifications given by the engineers. We spoke with Kyle about his experiences thus far, “the opportunity to work side by side with some of the best race engineers and race mechanics in the country, all within months of graduating from college is really special,” says Kyle.

Tom Gagliano works for Stewart-Haas Racing

Last but certainly not least we have Tom Gagliano. He graduated from UNOH in 2016. Tom lives in Mooresville, North Carolina where he works for Stewart-Haas Racing as an interior mechanic and tire specialist on the #98 car driven by Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.  In his position, he is responsible for assembling everything inside the car such as building carbon fiber dash boards, installing wiring harnesses, installing seats, steering components, seat belts, driver safety systems and driver comfort systems. At the race track it’s all about taking care of driver comfort needs. When we spoke with Gagliano he said, “Being a part of the UNOH Motorsports team was a great transition into this career. It definitely gave me a step up. It is run just like any professional team would be run and certainly has the top notch equipment like a professional team”. While speaking with Tom we asked him if he had any big highlights that he would like to share and he said, “The biggest highlight so far was winning the Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February 2018 with Kevin Harvick behind the wheel.”

All three of these former Racers were members of the UNOH Motorsports Team and all three said that their experience on the team helped them get to where they are today. Three former Racers in three different racing industries. The university couldn’t be more proud of these three graduates along with the rest of our former Racers as they begin to leave their marks in the motorsports world.

Category: Applied Technologies

Keywords: High Performance Motorsports, College of Applied Technologies, Alumni, NASCAR

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Last updated: 10/12/2018