MTAQ Racing Support Crew Announced

Queensland’s automotive peak industry body, the Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTA Queensland) is excited for the MTAQ Racing Team to line up for the second year in a row in the fast and furious world of motorsport.

Led by director and driver David Wood, the MTAQ Racing Team sadly ended 2017 in a smoke storm (in the form of a blown-up engine on the final lap of the series) while sitting up the front of the pack. But, after a full engine rebuild, the team continues their battle at the grassroots level of the sport, contesting the 2018 Hyundai X3 Series Championships.

Racing wouldn’t be possible without the support of a crew of young, passionate apprentices who have volunteered their time and skills to prepare the car and work in the pits for all the rounds of racing. Guided by a wealth of experience and knowledge from MTA Institute trainers, the MTAQ Racing Team is back in 2018 and is gunning for the checkered flag.

The crew consists of:

Elliott Lemmon, who is completing his fourth and final year in a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology at Greg Tunstall Mechanical in Ormiston.  Elliott who was part of the MTAQ Racing Team in 2017 also won the 2017 MTA Institute Apprentice of the Year and completed a two-week placement at Triple Eight Race Engineering satisfying his love of motorsport with from grassroots level right to the high-end.

Gerard Field, who is a first-year Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology apprentice at Southport’s Sunshine Volvo. Gerard who was part of the MTAQ Racing Team in 2017 said, “I jumped straight in when I heard the MTA Institute was putting together a support team. This can open doors for me and I’m very excited to be a part of it for a second year running.”

Cameron Howieson, who is completing a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology at Mercedes-Benz Toowong. Cameron said, “I have had a passion for motorsport since before I can remember. I grew up attending car shows and track days with my father and I always knew that I wanted a career in the automotive industry. I first heard about this opportunity last year through my trainer, and I set a personal goal for myself to join the crew for the 2018 season.”

St George mechanic, William Salmon, who is dual qualified in Light Vehicle and Heavy Vehicle Mechanical Technology at Maranoa Mechanical. William offers a great deal of experience and insight into the team and joins the crew for the second year in a row.

Marcello Riotto, Operations Manager for the MTA Institute said, “The enthusiasm and passion that these young men have shown has exceeded all expectations. They are an incredibly reliable, dedicated team and their ability and desire to get involved in all aspects of the car’s preparation is really admirable.”

Their hard work will pay off when racing commences at Morgan Park Raceway in Warwick and the boys hope to see the car finish at the front of the group. This year’s calendar also includes a special exhibition event, Hi-TEC OILS Bathurst, on 30 March – 1 April  2018.

“Their love of motorsport is evident, and this venture is a perfect stepping stone into the racing world. These boys deserved to be recognised for their contribution and this racing team wouldn’t exist without them.”

MTA Institute February 2018 Apprentice of the Month – Reed Lennox

REED LENNOX IS the MTA Institute Apprentice of the Month for February 2018.

The 18-year-old heavy vehicle apprentice is in his third year and has been working at T&G Spares and Repairs in Ayr, north Queensland, since 2015.

A young man who enjoys everything about his job, Reed’s enthusiastic approach to his work will see him become a tradesman before he turns 20 and he has, said his MTA Institute trainer
Neville Donaldson, been an excellent student.

“Reed is very diligent and puts in a lot of work,” said Neville.

“He’s well-liked by all the other guys he works with, and his boss Troy speaks very highly of him. He’s one of those guys who loves what he is doing and the enthusiasm and effort he puts in is proof of that.”

Working in the automotive industry is something of a tradition in Reed’s family and at aged 16, he took the opportunity of an apprenticeship with T & G Spares and Repairs after completing some work experience while at school.

“My family has always been involved in the industry – my grandparents are mechanics – and it always interested me,” said Reed.

“We have a lot of sugar cane up here, so we do a lot of work and maintenance on machinery like trucks and cane haulers and so on. And I enjoy every
part of the work and the training.”

With perhaps just another year to go before qualifying as a tradesman, Reed said he hadn’t thought too far ahead regarding where his career might lead, wanting to concentrate instead on finishing his training and getting some solid experience.

“There’s still a bit to learn and I enjoy what I am doing,” he said.

“This is what I always wanted to do and it is going well, so I’ll definitely stick around, get some experience and then see what happens.”


MTA Institute January 2018 Apprentice of the Month – Tim Ward

TIM WARD IS the MTA Institute Apprentice of the Month for January 2018.

The 36-year-old light vehicle apprentice is no stranger to the automotive trade – he is already a qualified engine reconditioner and has worked in the industry with Repco as well as for the the past 11 years at current employer Yatala Headworx and Automotive Service – a family business founded by his father and at which his two brothers also work.

So, why, after years of work in the industry trade, would a well-qualified and experienced tradesman take it upon himself to go through training again?

“We are a small family business and I thought it would be a good thing to have another ticket under my belt,” said Tim. “I am pretty experienced at what I do, but it’s nice to have something on paper.”

While his experience means his understanding of the training requirements is very high, it is, he said, a really useful exercise.

“I do quite enjoy the training. Although there is a lot of stuff that I have to go through again, there are always new things that you learn and pick up along the way.

“I’ve been around for a long time so that does make it easier!”

And gaining the light vehicle ticket won’t be the last bit of training Tim does either, as he has his eye set on further qualifications down the track. And that is not surprising, as Yatala Headworx offers a wide range of services from general servicing to EFI diagnostics to dyno tuning and a fair bit in between, including installing ECUs, and doing wiring and tuning, for circuit and drag racing cars.

“We are a one-stop shop,” said Tim.

“So getting that extra training is a good thing. And once I have completed this course, I will be looking at an auto-electic qualification too. It’s the way the industry is heading.”

Corby Marshall’s drive for Motor Sport takes him to Triple Eight Race Engineering

Corby Marshall has skidded into 2018 with a supercar bang.

In February, Corby began a two-week work experience placement at Triple Eight Race Engineering in Banyo. His placement, taking place the immediate weeks before the first supercar race of the season (Adelaide 500) meant the headquarters was a hive of activity and the frenzied atmosphere was palpable. Corby found himself in the thick of the action and experiencing first hand, the effort and skills that go into prepping a crew for an elite motorsport event.

A fourth-year panel beater apprentice at ACM Autobody in Mansfield, Corby was nominated as MTA Institute Apprentice of the Year after winning the April 2017 Apprentice of the Month due to his outstanding drive and commitment. This unique opportunity came about thanks to the collaborative partnership between MTAA Super, MTA Institute and Triple Eight Race Engineering.

“I was so excited to find out I’d won the MTA Institute Apprentice of the Month and was nominated for the 2017 Apprentice of the Year. I thought my lucky streak has ended, but finding out I was going to have the opportunity to work at Triple Eight Race Engineering felt like I’d won the lotto,” Corby said. “I have no words and I still can’t believe it.”

Although he might not have believed it, it didn’t take long for Corby to look quite at home amongst the Triple Eight Race Engineering Team.

“I’ve been really privileged to be able to work with so many crew members having been paired with someone new every day,” Corby said.

“I’ve learnt heaps of great facts and insights into the how the team operates, and it’s been amazing being given jobs that actually help the crew. The work is very different from my day-to-day job and I’ve seen and done heaps of cool things including assisting in making custom LED lights for Jamie Whincup’s car and working with fibreglass. These things are worlds away from my normal job, pulling apart and repairing smashed cars for customers.”

The opportunity which couldn’t have been possible without the support and understanding of Corby’s employer, ACM Autobody, certainly isn’t lost on his work mates, family and friends.

“Everyone is quite jealous. I keep getting hit up for signatures,” Corby said with a laugh. “I’ve gotten to meet Jamie Whincup already, and I met Craig Lowndes at the MTA Queensland President’s Ball, but I’m yet to meet Shane Van Gisbergen, so fingers crossed I get that opportunity. It’s quite a surreal thing working on such famous vehicles and getting to meet drivers I’ve looked up to and admired for so long; it blows me away.”

“I’ve always had an interest in motorsport – I love everything about it, but I never thought panel beating could lead into it. This work experience has been quite eye-opening being able to see the different roles and opportunities available. There’s a whole range of skills and expertise from all sectors of automotive needed and if I could, I’d love to do something like this for a career.”

Corby’s advice to future apprentices offered this opportunity is simple. “Work as hard as you can and enjoy it. Opportunities like this don’t come around often so make the most of it!”


The MTA Institute held its first graduation ceremony in February, acknowledging the effort of apprentices who completed their studies between July and December 2017, as well as students who recently finished the institute’s five-week automotive pre-vocational program.

Held at the MTAiQ Innovation Hub at MTA Queensland’s head office in Brisbane, some 40 apprentices and students, plus family members and guests, attended the event and received their graduation certificates from Mr Paul Kulpa, General Manager of MTA Institute.

Also on hand were Anna Ibbotson, Executive Officer of Queensland Overseas Foundation (QOF), and guest speaker Joshua Stemm, a former automotive apprentice who, thanks to the assistance of QOF, has worked across the world and is now a senior engineer for Tesla in Australia. MTA Queensland is a sponsor of QOF and its program that provides up to $7500 to vocational education and training graduates and professionals to broaden their horizons and improve their career prospects by working overseas.

During his opening address, Mr Kulpa acknowledged the challenging road the graduates had travelled to complete their apprenticeships and thanked their families and Institute administrative and training staff for the support they had given the students.

“Completing your apprenticeship is a tremendous result,” he said. “This industry still suffers from a 50 per cent apprentice drop-out rate, and I mention that because it shows what a phenomenal effort you have put in to completing the journey you started four years ago.

“So, now is a time to reflect on those four years and the rewarding and challenging experience it was. And I acknowledge your families and friends who have gone on this journey with you. Getting through the apprenticeship is a group effort and they’ve been there with you for both the highs and lows.

“You have grown considerably since you began your training and the decision you made to start your apprenticeship is a life-changing one. I hope you will look back on this time and see that MTA Institute provided a great platform for you as you start your career. We are proud to have played our part. Congratulations.”

Following Mr Kulpa’s introduction, Anna Ibbotson from QOF gave a short address about her organisation before introducing Joshua Stemm.

Mr Stemm’s career is a great example of the amazing opportunities on offer for those working in the automotive industry. Following the completion of his Queensland automotive apprenticeship in 2007, and with the help of QOF, Mr Stemm moved to the Middle East to work, completed a Masters of Strategic Automotive Dealership Management at Loughborough University in the UK, and became part of a team responsible for business planning, forecasting and strategy for General Motors in the Middle East and Africa. Aged just 32, Mr Stemm moved back to Australia this year to work with Tesla.

For the graduates in attendance, it was an inspiring story and something to aspire to as they shift from student to tradesperson.

For 20-year-old Tahné Fishpool, from JC Automotive in Morningside, graduating was a great feeling.

“It has taken a while to get my head around it, but It’s a real accomplishment and I am very proud,” she said.

“It’s also a huge relief to have graduated, as I am not a fan of the theory stuff,” she added with a laugh. “Obviously I am going to continue my education but I’m immensely glad the book work is over!”

Starting her automotive career as a school-based apprentice, Tahné trained with, and works for, her father at JC Automotive. His support, she said, was very important and the journey from novice to tradesperson was immensely satisfying.

“At first, my dad asked, ‘Do you really want to do this?’,” she said. “He knew I would be making a big commitment, but he made sure I stayed on top of my schoolwork and apprenticeship work and, obviously, he was very supportive.

“On the very first day as an apprentice, watching a qualified mechanic take an engine apart, you think, ‘Wow, how do they remember where all these bolts and seals go!’. Now, you are the person taking apart and rebuilding that engine, and that is the ultimate satisfaction.”

MTA Queensland and MTA Institute congratulates all apprentices who completed their training in the period July 1 – Dec 31, 2017. Graduation ceremonies will be held twice each year, with the next to be held in August and acknowledging those apprentices graduating in the period of January 1 – June 30, 2018.

HEV/EV Newsletter (February 2018 Edition)

Whats happening at the MTA Institute?

We’ve reached March already and I’m back in Australia after a fantastic two months away in the United Kingdom (UK).

Although the visit was primarily to visit family, I took the opportunity to make this a learning experience designed to increase my knowledge about the advanced EV technology and laws, the much higher acceptance rate to changing industry and to get firsthand evidence on how far behind Australia really is.

To begin, I started with researching the current and future methods that educators use to respond to the influx of HEV/EV technology.

It went very well.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Professor, Raj K Aggarwal (BEng, PHD, Deng, FIET, SenMIEEE, FRSA) from Bath University. Professor Aggarwal is brilliant in his field with extensive experience in power systems planning, operation, control and protection at all voltage levels. He is the author of over 400 technical papers and has kindly agreed to correspond with me to help get MTA Institute and myself training in the latest and greatest HEV/EV technology.

This will be invaluable in our ongoing effort of keeping MTA Institute as the leader in HEV/EV training.

Professor Aggarwal has also introduced me to Surendra Kaushik of Bath University who has a background in electronics, communication and control. He is currently working on in-vehicle OBD11/LIN/CANbus connectivity to telecoms networks with the goal of faster in-vehicle bus hardware systems.

Surendra will also be vital to our training program in understanding the technology in autonomous vehicle driving. I believe the combined knowledge of Professor Aggarwal and Surendra Kawshi mixed with my ongoing passion for all things EV will take MTA Institute’s EV training program to the next level.

Whilst in the UK, I found that Bath University is part of a consortium of academic and industry partners awarded Government funding to conduct research aimed at overcoming battery challenges to accelerate the EV revolution and I am very excited to share this, and other findings in future newsletters.

Until next month…


Nominate you star apprentice! Capricorn Rising Stars is a new initiative enabling Capricorn Members recognise, reward and retain high performing apprentices.

These are apprentices who show initiative in the workshop, eagerness to learn and commitment to the auto industry. There are prizes, training and ‘money can’t buy experiences’ up for grabs for the winner, the Capricorn Member that nominates them and entry finalists.

By recognising the contribution of automotive apprentices and the bright careers they have ahead of them, both Capricorn and MTA Queensland hope to continue to attract the best talent and keep more young mechanics working in the industry.

Any manager or supervisor from a Capricorn Member workshop can nominate an employed apprentice with rising star qualities!


Nominate your star apprentice by completing the online entry form. From there we will contact your apprentice by email to complete their entry for judging.


  • All Expenses paid trip to the 2018 Vodafone Gold Coast 600 for the rising star apprentice, their workshop boss plus two friends
  • Workshop whisperer customer service course for the member and apprentice


  • A Repco tool kit and tools valued at $1,000
  • Access to Automate’s online training program
  • Two tickets to the Capricorn Gala Dinner & Tradeshow
  • A profile published in Capricorn’s Member magazine, Ignition

PLUS invaluable Mentoring Experiences from industry leaders

Nominate your apprentice now or to find out more visit





School-based apprenticeship puts Australian Apprentice of the Year on path to success

Gemma Hartwig’s earliest recollections are of tinkering away on machinery at the family farm in Dalby. With her uncle, grandfather and great grandfather all working in mechanical trades, becoming a diesel fitter wasn’t just a career choice, it was in her blood.

Ms Hartwig secured an apprenticeship with a local company and was able to finish school and fast track her career.

“I am not particularly academic and I was ready to leave school at the end of year 10, but when the opportunity of doing an Australian school-based apprenticeship in diesel fitting came up, I jumped at the chance,” she said.

“The school-based apprenticeship allowed me to do something I really loved and begin a qualification all while I finished school.

“In fact, in Year 12 I was happy that I had my career all mapped out while many of my friends were struggling over making career plans and figuring out university preferences.

“Doing the school-based apprenticeship meant I spent about one week a month in my workplace and the other three or four weeks going to school. Having that week away doing something hands-on and practical was really beneficial for me and also kept me interested in school. I learnt a lot of really great skills in teamwork, communication and leadership in my first year, which I was able to bring back to the school environment. This led me to becoming College Captain in Year 12.

“Being a female in a male-dominated profession has given me the opportunity to make a difference.

“I am starting my own business, called ‘She Can’, which offers advice and support to women who are thinking becoming an apprentice in a male-dominated profession. I would have found a service like this really valuable when I was doing my apprenticeship.”

Gemma’s passion for her trade has already netted her some significant wins, including the Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year Award at the 2014 Queensland Training Awards and the coveted Australian Apprentice of the Year Award at the 2017 Australian Training Awards.

Nominations for the 2018 Queensland Training Awards close on 16 March, so if your passions have been ignited through your experience in vocational education and training (VET), submit your nomination now.


MTA Institute December Apprentice of the Month – Joel Travers

Joel Travers is the MTA Institute Apprentice of the Month for December.

The 21-year-old automotive refinishing technology apprentice is in his third year of training and has been working at Extreme Dents in Geebung since 2015.

An enthusiastic apprentice, Joel’s success is a direct result of his conscientious approach to both training and work.

“Joel is well-mannered, interested, has a mature outlook and always has questions,” said Scott Gehrke, Joel’s MTA Institute trainer. “He wants to learn, wants to succeed and is proud of the work he is doing.”

Always interested in the automotive industry, Joel started his career by completing an automotive pre-apprenticeship course.

“I’ve always liked cars, and when I left school I did a Cert II course for mechanics,” he said. “However, I didn’t feel that area was for me. I never had it in mind to be a panel beater but I seem to be good at it and really enjoy it!”

Joel works with a team of seven at the Extreme Dents Geebung shop, one of several that the company operates across Queensland and Victoria. And he has reached a level of skill that he works on pretty much everything that comes in for repair and has even been sent to Melbourne to work in the shops there.

An outstanding Apprentice of the Month recipient – an accolade that puts him in the running for the Apprentice of the Year award to be announced at the end of this year – the award did come as a surprise to Joel.

“It was unexpected,” he said. “I’ve just been working hard and trying to do well. It is very exciting.”

With perhaps another 18 months until he completes his apprenticeship, Joel said he was looking forward to qualifying and continuing his career with Extreme Dents.

“My main goal is to finish my apprenticeship as early as possible and I am working hard to do that,” he said. “Then I’ll stick with Extreme Dents for a few years. I really appreciate the company, so I give them 100 per cent.”

Applications OPEN for the 2018 MTAQ Racing Team Support Crew!

Following an incredibly eventful and action-packed year, the MTAQ Racing Team is gearing up for a second year and are looking for Support Crew members!

Led by driver and program director David Wood, the successful applicants will be an integral component to the success of the MTAQ Racing Team and will have the opportunity to work at MTA Institute’s $10 million, state-of-the-art training facility, take part in the behind-the-scene preparation and be there for all the action on race days.

This opportunity has the potential to open doors into the world of motorsport with significant opportunities presented along the way including media coverage.


If chosen, the support crew will need to be available for preliminary preparation of the vehicle (at dates to be determined, but usually outside work hours) as well as attend racing dates listed below and up to two days prior to each event for vehicle maintenance and preparation. You do not need to be available for all dates, and attendance is flexible within the team.

Preference will be given to:

  • present and past apprentices of the MTA Institute or
  • qualified mechanics and auto electricians

Key dates:

·         CAMS QLD Circuit Racing State Championship – March 17/18, 2018
Morgan Park Raceway, Warwick

·         Exhibition Event, Bathurst – 30 March to 1 April 2018
Mount Panorama, Bathurst, NSW

·         Exhibition Event, Bathurst – 30 March to 1 April 2018
Mount Panorama, Bathurst, NSW

·         CAMS QLD Circuit Racing State Championship – April 14/15, 2018
Morgan Park Raceway, Warwick

·         Federal Tyres Invitational Cup – July 28-29, 2018
Queensland Raceway, Ipswich

·         CAMS QLD Circuit Racing State Championship – September 8/9, 2018
Morgan Park Raceway, Warwick

·         CAMS QLD Circuit Racing State Championship – November 17/18, 2018
Morgan Park Raceway, Warwick


The Support crew will be involved in:

  • Vehicle preparation
  • Mechanical work on vehicle
  • Repairs
  • Paint / panel repairs as required
  • Race Day crew work
  • Tuning and other maintenance

Support crew will be provided with safety gear and team shirts. This is a non-paid volunteer opportunity and food/accommodation will be covered for event days that require travel.

How to apply: 
This is a fantastic opportunity to join the MTAQ Racing Team Support Crew. You will gain experience, knowledge and hands-on experience in Australian motorsport.

If you are interested in joining the support crew, please provide your contact details and tell us in 150 words or less why you should be chosen for this opportunity.

Email expressions of interest by 23 February 2018 to

Successful support crew applicants will be notified early March.
Decisions are final, and no appeals will be entered into.