Yukio Taira is a true friend to the automotive industry.  Personally, I’ve known him for maybe four years now, and each time I get a chance to chat with him, he’s always been encouraging of my projects, helpful with information and resources, and just a good guy, in general.  He jumped on board with our first Pikes Peak car.  We went through the entire sponsorship process and were all ready to have the parts sent out to us, and then our entire operation changed.  He was one of the only guys who told us, “No problem – we’ll help out however we can”.  That’s Yukio.  He wants to help.  He wants to help you reach your goals.

Thursday, Yukio was heading to Atlanta from his home in Los Angeles for yet another of the dozens of grassroots and professional events he attends each year.  Mid flight, he sent a text to his girlfriend, Emma, that something was wrong.  Yukio was having what appears to have been a massive stroke (tests are still being done).  The plane made an emergency landing in Memphis, Tennessee, and Yukio was rushed to the local hospital.  He’s only 32 years old.  Yukio is tough, though, and has survived the initial brunt of it, but now faces a long and difficult road to recovery and this is where we need your help.

Deep in thought - FD Irwindale 2014
Deep in thought – FD Irwindale 2014

He’s definitely the type of guy that the industry needs more of, and when you hear what the industry has had to say about him since hearing of his sudden and shocking condition, that fact becomes overwhelmingly apparent.

To really get a sense of what kind of person Yukio is, you just need to listen to what his friends and people in the industry who know him are saying.

Last night I spoke to his good friend Kyle Lewis –

“Taylor Wilson from snail performance saw what was going on through social media and called to see if I knew what was going on.  I hadn’t heard yet, and my heart sank.  A feeling of helplessness washed over me.  I called Emma to see if there was anything I could do, but being so far away, as I said, I just have this feeling of helplessness.  We’ve been friends for several years.  He’s one of the most caring and kind individuals I’ve ever met.  Always putting others first, both professionally and personally.  He works incredibly hard to be the best father, friend, and partner he can be.  He works hard to be really good at his job and it clearly takes a toll on him, both physically and on his personal life…but he keeps going.

Photo by Kyle Lewis
Photo by Kyle Lewis

He’s one of the most revered people in the industry.  And it’s funny to see the two sides to him – when we go out on party nights he’s so fun to be around, but then he can turn on the professional at events very easily.  He worked for a few other companies that didn’t see his potential, and when he went to work for Honeywell, he believed he’d found a home.  Now, there’s not many in the industry that don’t know who he is.  He’s done a great deal to bring the Garrett brand to the forefront.  When you think about turbos, you think about Garrett in large part because of the work that Yukio has been doing with different racing organizations, both large and small, and the time he puts in traveling to the track, events, etc.

Fun at the track.  Photo by Emma
Fun at the track. Photo by Emma

He really understands the value of sponsorships on the business and has always been willing to lend a hand when it came to helping both professionals and grass roots guys make sure they understand how the relationship works and whats required.  Where many would have just dismissed a sponsorship app, he would take the time to reach out and help the applicant refine the proposal or the approach so that it would make sense for both parties.  He’s always fun to be around – Always thinking of others at the events.  Always making sure people have water, a quick snack, sunscreen, or what ever might be needed.  That’s just how he is.  He’s helpful and caring.  Can’t say that about many in the industry.”

Yukio at the track, manning the Garrett booth, educating people on Turbochargers
Yukio at the track, manning the Garrett booth, educating people on Turbochargers

Here are some of the messages I received yesterday from friends and people in the industry that have known and worked with Yukio:

Adam Kennedy (National Speed): “I was really surprised to hear what happened to Yukio.  I’ve known him for several years now and he has always been one of my favorite people in the industry.  Yukio and Team Garrett are some of the best sponsors and representatives a racer could ask for. I hope that this campaign will help to cover the necessary expenses while Yukio recovers and I hope to see him soon at a track near me.”

PPIHC tech inspection day, 2013
PPIHC tech inspection day, 2013

Larry Chen (Speedhunters): “I met Yukio while he was driving Time Attack and while I was just starting my career as a photographer.  He has always been friendly to me and he has always supported my efforts which helped me get where I am today.  I have no doubt that he will make a full recovery and I can’t wait to see him in the paddock again.”

Lars Wolfe (Lars Wolfe Racing): “He has been an integral part of the racing community that I hold very close to my heart.  He has stayed true to who he is, always a person I felt I could call anytime to get his HONEST perspective on the industry, what it’s doing now and where it is going. He has stayed a integral part of not only professional racing but Grassroots racing, as well.”

Andrew Bohan (Lifeblasters): “Yukio is the kind of guy we need more of.  He’s some kind of big shot marketing guy but you’ll still find him getting his hands dirty helping his crew set up and take down their booth at events. Everyone wants free turbos, so his job is basically to say ‘no’ to a million entitled fanboys and ‘yes’ to a handful of drivers and teams who know what they’re doing. You can bet if he’s said ‘yes’ to you, you’ll have a lifelong friendship. He takes care of his people. The day before his stroke we were talking about going to Japan. He told me one time he was there with no place to sleep and ended up sleeping in the living room at Dai Yoshihara’s parents’ house. I suppose he could have billed Garrett for a hotel room, but he didn’t, and that says a lot.”

Yukio and Kyle at FD Long Beach, 2015 - Photo by Andrew Bohan
Yukio and Kyle at FD Long Beach, 2015 – Photo by Andrew Bohan

David Kern (RaceKern): “I met Yukio a few years ago up in the pits at Pikes Peak and have had the opportunity to work with him and his team at Garrett in the years since.  Even with the crazy hours on the hill, I’m hard pressed to think of a time he didn’t have a huge smile on his face.  Rest up and get well soon!”

This is clearly just a small sample of the hundreds of people that appreciate his friendship and kindness.

ALWAYS with a smile.
ALWAYS with a smile.

We need more people like Yukio.  Please, please make your way over to the Go Fund Me page set up to help with his recovery and donate what you can.  Hopefully, with your support, we’ll see Yukio back out at the track where he belongs, sooner rather than later.

Stay Strong Yukio!  We’re all here to help!