Report: Teacher Rents Toyota, Races It

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

In a story coming to you out of your author's hometown, we have a teacher who rented a Toyota Supra on Turo ... to set a land-speed record.


Here's the skinny, according to Fox 32 Chicago. A teacher at Naperville North High School (NOT my alma mater, if you're wondering. I was a Redhawk thank you very much.) was leading an all-female group of auto-shop students on a project to build a truck that could set a land-speed record.

But as they drove to Beeville, Texas, to attempt to set the record in the Texas Mile, the truck broke down, according to teacher Gregory Ditch. This is when Ditch requested to rent a 2021 Toyota Supra GR 3.0 from San Antonio resident Giovanni Morales via the Turo app.

I'll pause here to note that Fox lists the Supra as "rare." While Supras sell in relatively small numbers, "rare" seems a stretch -- we're not talking about a Bugatti here.

This is where the story devolves into he said/he said -- Morales claims he didn't know his car would be raced, while Ditch says he made it clear he'd be racing the car. Ditch further says he got the car from a dealer, not Turo or Morales.

Morales says he noticed his car was raced because of tire and brake wear, and claims that $4,000 in damage was done. He also claims he saw social media posts of the car, and the vehicle had the same paint color and non-stock wheels as his ride. It also had the same license plate number.

Turo is investigating and apparently sent Morales a letter suggesting that the company had determined the rental violated its terms of service because the car was raced.

Turo told Fox 32 it's simply investigating. So, too, is Naperville Community Unit School District 203 (which, for better or worse, provided this author's public education from kindergarten through high school).

I won't adjudicate who is telling the truth or not -- it's obviously possible Ditch is lying, but also possible that Turo somehow represented the car as belonging to a dealer and Ditch had no idea it belonged to a private individual -- but a few other things stand out.

A note on disclosure here -- I don't know Ditch or anyone involved in the story, nor do I really care that it happened at a rival school to my alma mater. This story was already on my radar to cover today, and only when I started researching did I learn that it's connected to my hometown.

One is the relative hyperventilation by Fox (a common reaction among local news stations) over the claimed 160 miles per hour the car reached. That's fast, yes, but not unusual for today's hi-po sports cars.

Then there's this: The record they were aiming at was 207 mph. Did this teacher really think a Supra, even one that might have been modified -- we know the wheels aren't stock -- could reach more than 207 mph?

There's also the fact that the Supra is speed limited to 155 mph, though it's not hard to imagine the car getting 5 mph more, or the owner disabling the limiter.

More to the point, regardless of whether the car was rented properly or not, how is it within the rules of whatever unnamed event the students were attending to just rent a car when the vehicle built for the event broke down?

I am also skeptical about Morales' damage claims. Yes, attempting to set a land-speed record would lead to tire and brake wear, but four grand worth? Especially if we're talking about straight-line attempts as opposed to lapping a road course. According to the track map, the cars launch from a standing start and then run in a straight line for a mile. They then use an extended braking area -- the distance isn't clear -- to slow down.

Obviously, I have many questions, and perhaps we'll dig into this further next week.

Some of my questions: Let's assume the teacher is telling the truth and the Supra rental was on the up and up and within event rules. Was it a smart move or an underhanded way to win? Why would someone rent a Supra for an event in which the aimed-for speed is over 200 mph? Is it cool to use Turo for this? How did the lines of communication possibly break down here?

[Image: Toyota]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Ecl65707135 Ecl65707135 on Apr 17, 2023

    Hertz Mustangs have entered the conversation...

  • Gregory Gregory on Apr 24, 2023

    Tim, feel free to reach out. Texasracer21@yahoo.com You're missing a bunch of key points in the article.

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Apr 24, 2023

      @Gregory, If you want to share your side of the story, you might just want to jump in and do that. (You might be waiting awhile for the other approach to work.)

      Is your daughter a Senior? Her last chance to participate, first time as driver? (This is the story my brain built to explain your motivation, purely speculation on my part.)

  • TheEndlessEnigma The Mitsubishi hate and snark in many of these comments is expected. I really do need to challenge anyone here who bristles at the mention of Mitsu and immediately begins a Tourette's inspired flow of vitriol. Before you rant on about how bad Mitsu's are, get into one and drive it. Surprise surprise, they are good vehicles, it's just kewl and hip to be a lemming and blindly follow the "Mitsubishi Sucks Because Doug DeMuro Told Me So" crowd.
  • EBFlex Remember when they introduced legislation to take natural gas stoves away? Now they want to charge electric trucks with it? If liberals didn’t have double standards they wouldn’t have any at all.
  • Glennbk First, Cadillac no longer has brand cache. And as such, the prices need to drop. Second, reliability. Cadillac doesn't have that either. Dedicate GM funds to re-design the High Value Engines. Third, interiors are too gimmicky. Take a step back and bring back more buttons and less black plasti-chrome. Forth, noise isolation. These are supposed to be luxury cars, but sound like a Malibu inside.
  • Dave M. Mitsubishi for many years built stout vehicles for whatever market they were in (specifically citing Mighty Max and Montero). In the '90s they became the LCD for high-risk borrowers; coupled on top of mediocre and stale product, interest in them waned. Aim for the niches (hybrids, small pickup, base CUVs). I find it interesting that they have a plug-in CUV based on/made by Nissan, but Nissan doesn't.
  • Glennbk Please Mitsubishi, no more rebranded Nissan products.
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