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October 4, 2023

Leidos and NASCAR talk vehicle innovation with students

Students getting up close to the Lunar Terrain Vehicle.

As the NASCAR Cup Series’ Next Gen cars reached speeds of 180 mph at Talladega Superspeedway, Leidos displayed its own vehicle innovation for race fans this past weekend in the midway at one of the circuit’s fastest tracks.

The cutting-edge Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV), designed and developed by Leidos in nearby Huntsville, Alabama, may soon be traversing the Moon’s surface as Leidos continues its bid to participate in the next phase of NASA’s Artemis program.

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From Sept. 27 to the Talladega race weekend, executives from NASCAR and Leidos met with nearly 300 students at the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering (ASCTE) in Huntsville to share their respective innovations, the LTV and Next Gen car.

The students learned about the innovative design of the LTV and the safety components designed that allow astronauts to drive across the lunar landscape. Afterward, the LTV made a special pit stop outside where students could get up close and take pictures.

“The event at the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering serves as a reminder of the inspirational power of exploration — be it on the moon or in the realm of cyber technology,” said Steve Cook, Leidos Dynetics group president. “I believe that the power of combining Leidos and NASCAR technology and spirit, the sky’s not the limit; it’s just the beginning for what they can achieve with their education.”

NASCAR driver and “chief hype officer” Mamba Smith joined NASCAR Vice President of Vehicle Performance Eric Jacuzzi to discuss the design process for the Next Gen program, including many features and enhancements that made Next Gen the sport’s most innovative race car in its 75-year history.

The race-week appearance — concluded with a highly competitive, Jeopardy-style trivia game and No. 23 Leidos die-cast cars for winning students — was reflective of both companies’ ongoing commitment to STEM education and creating fun and engaging experiences for young people.

“As there’s tremendous excitement in partnering with Leidos to bring the LTV to the Moon, we also believe in the importance of connecting our respective fields to students who are passionate about STEM,” said Pete Stuart, managing director of impact strategy and development for NASCAR.

“These are the young minds who one day will be pioneering the next space exploration mission or designing NASCAR’s newest race car.”

In 2021, Leidos made a $1 million donation toward the construction of the state-of-the-art academic facility that houses ASCTE. The NASCAR partner remains as a prominent donor for one of three public magnet schools serving high school students in Alabama.

The NASCAR Cup Series season continues at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 8 in the final race of the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 — the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The action will air live on NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and the NBC Sports App.