Baja Wins This Round, But Team Says It's Not Finished Yet

We’ve been following Team Valvoline’s bid for Baja all year. See how it turned out as employees from Valvoline and Cummins took a break from their regular jobs to test themselves at this iconic endurance race. Final in a series. 

Battling steering problems for much of the race, Cummins engineer Aaron Quinton understandably kept his eyes fixed on the narrow mountain road ahead as he drove Team Valvoline’s red truck at the 49th annual SCORE Baja 1000 endurance race in Baja California, Mexico.

So it was up to navigator Adam Sworski, Global Field Test Manager at Valvoline, to tell Quinton what he could see just beyond his passenger-side window as they made their way down the mountain.

“It’s probably about a 200-foot drop,” Sworski said calmly into the intercom connecting their helmets so they could communicate during the race.

“Don’t tell me that,” responded Quinton, Chief Engineer for the Cummins G Series Engines, perhaps only half in jest.

While they successfully navigated the mountain switch-backs, by that time in the iconic race it was easy to think that a dark cloud had been following the truck dubbed “El Tropico.” By the first pit stop just over 70 miles into the race, both mirrors were broken and the light bar on top was torn off after Quinton and Sworski rounded a turn and hit a tree branch protruding into the course.

The frame of the truck was also broken but no one was quite sure where that happened. With 3½-foot ruts, 2-feet or more of loose sand in places, rocks, boulders, washouts – it could have happened almost anywhere on the course.

A team of Cummins and Valvoline employees fixed the damage in less than an hour only to have many of their repairs break a second time farther into the race because of the rugged terrain. At that point, Team Valvoline decided to park the red truck around the 170-mile mark, about 12 hours into the race.



The team’s other truck, known as the blue truck or “El Arctico,” had even worse racing luck. Driven by professional drift drivers Chris Forsberg and Ryan Tuerck, it was knocked out at about the 96-mile mark with transmission problems.


The good news? The Cummins 2003 vintage ISB 5.9 diesel engines in El Tropico and El Arctico performed well. So did the Valvoline oil used in both trucks. In fact, the oil in El Tropico was the same oil the team used during test runs up Pikes Peak, Colorado (U.S.A.) in June. And El Arctico managed to pull El Tropico out of deep sand during the race before it succumbed to its transmission troubles.

Neither Quinton nor El Tropico co-driver Roger England, a fellow Cummins engineer, had a lot of off-road racing experience so the plan was to take it easy, figuring if they could just average 29 miles per hour they would finish in the 36 hours allotted each vehicle to complete the race.

“But the terrain was just incredibly rough, head and shoulders above anything we expected,” said England, who didn’t get a chance to drive in the actual race because El Tropico broke down before it was his turn.

“It was so rough in places you could only go 15 or 20 miles-per-hour.  And then you had to stop frequently to make repairs.”

Valvoline, one of the world’s foremost producers of motor oils, entered two 1989 Dodge Short Bed Regular Cab trucks in the Baja race to celebrate its 150th anniversary and the company’s extensive research and development history with Cummins, the lead partner on the project.

The initiative was designed to provide Valvoline employees with the chance to test their own automotive skills and learn more about their product under the harsh conditions of an endurance race. The second truck was added so Cummins employees could have the same opportunity.

Their skills were tested and then some. A trailer on one of the team’s chase trucks, for example, got stuck in deep desert sand during practice. A chase truck’s transmission broke in the desert so it couldn’t go into reverse. A dune buggy the team borrowed to explore the course sunk trying to cross a stream after a veteran driver told them he thought it would clear without a problem. And those were only some of the challenges.


Valvoline worked on both trucks in the early phases of the project, with Cummins providing the engines and expertise on their installation. Closer to the race, the red truck headed to the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.A.) while the blue truck remained at Valvoline headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, providing each group time to make final adjustments.

The larger team was back together in Ensenada, Mexico, where the race started and finished, for race prep and it was there that employees from the two companies began working pretty much as one. They turned their hotel courtyard into an open air garage of sorts.

cummins-valvoline-baja-race-prep-3 El Tropico makes its way down the course at the 49th annual Score Baja 1000 in Baja California, Mexico. The race starts and stops in Ensenada, Mexico.



Michael Wedding, Valvoline’s Lead Build Engineer, described the team’s efforts as “amazing… I was so glad to see the collaboration between Cummins and Valvoline.”

“That was one of the highlights for me,” said England, Director – Materials Science & Technology at the Cummins Technical Center.

There was at least one other highlight. The two trucks were a big hit with fans at the race.  They were so different from the highly customized dune buggies and trucks that dominate Baja that crowds seemed to gather wherever the trucks went. Crew members answered questions and passed out stickers to fans clamoring to learn more. Team Valvoline arguably received the loudest roar at the starting line.

But while the truck got plenty of points for nostalgia, it probably didn’t have the frame and suspension necessary for the unforgiving Baja terrain, even with the work the team did before leaving for Mexico and then at the hotel in Ensenada.

England, Quinton and Sworski all say they learned a tremendous amount and would love to race again next year.

“You’d be hard pressed to keep me away,” England said. “The way I look at it, we have not finished – yet.”


Check out a multi-part video series on Team Valvoline’s bid for Baja. Valvoline will be posting additional episodes in the weeks to come.

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

Meet RMEP: We are Rocky Mount Engine Plant

Rocky Mount Engine Plant was established in 1979 and has since produced over 4 million engines. We took a deeper dive to learn more about our North Carolina plant. Learn more:

Plant Location: Whitakers, North Carolina
Year opened: 1981 (the first engine was produced and shipped in 1983)
Plant size: 1.2 million square feet
Business Unit: Engine Business Unit
Plant manager: John Judd
Employee count: 1,800
Products: On-highway (automotive) and off-highway diesel engines (65-600 brake horsepower)
Customers: RMEP has more than 530 customers, including: Daimler, Freightliner, Navistar, Blue Bird, Komatsu, Kenworth, Peterbilt, New Flyer and International.
Product applications (including, but not limited to): 
On-highway – semi cabs, pick-up trucks, school and public buses, RVs, fire trucks
Off-highway – marine, military vehicles, construction equipment
Technologies: Computer integrated machining, new engineering technology center, introduction of marine engines and alternative fuels


  • In March 2017, RMEP celebrated the build of its 4 millionth engine.
  • April 2018 was the highest monthly production in its history.
  • Forecasting shows 2018 will be the highest engine and components demand ever.
  • Projected investments will top $23 million in capital throughout 2018.
  • RMEP is a top three employer in the area and projected to fill more than 400 additional jobs over the next 10 years.


1979    RMEP was originally established in 1979 as a joint venture between JI Case and Cummins Engine Company and was named Consolidated Diesel Company (CDC). 

1983    The first engine was produced at CDC for North America and European markets.

1993    CDC added 11 megawatts of on-site generating power using Cummins/Onan technology. The 1 millionth engine was produced at CDC in June.

1996    CDC introduced the 4-valve head technology to improve emissions.

2001    The 2 millionth engine was produced at CDC in October.

2008    After 25 years, Cummins purchased the full share of CDC and was renamed Rocky Mount Engine Plant (RMEP). 

2010    The 3 millionth engine was produced at RMEP in June.

2013    Marine engine assembly moved to RMEP.

2017    The 4 millionth engine was produced at RMEP in March.

2018    April was the highest production month in RMEP’s history.


  • 10 education partners in surrounding districts, including community colleges, public school systems, libraries and community partners
  • Recorded more than 20,000 EEEC hours with education and community partners over the last 2 years (with more than 70 percent employee participation)
  • Established The Strategic Twin Counties Education Partnership (STEP) to improve the educational opportunities for students from early childhood to career readiness.
  • 10 equality of opportunity partners and three environmental partners
  • 2017 United Way campaign raised $503,448 after a Cummins Foundation match for the local agency branch


Technological advances in manufacturing and the increase in demand make RMEP and Cummins Manufacturing an exciting place to work. RMEP offers career opportunities in a number of fields, including: 

  • Manufacturing Operations
  • Quality Roles and Analytics
  • Industrial Technology
  • Material Handling
  • Engineering (multiple disciplines)
  • Supply Chain – Planning and Logistics
  • Information Technology
  • Administrative Services
  • Finance Technicians
  • Future Cummins Leaders
Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Cummins Employees Help Saudi Women Get Their Turn to Drive

A participant in one of the workshops sponsored by the Cummins and its joint venture partner Olayan learns about driving by using a simulator provided by the program.
A participant uses a driving simulator at one of the workshops sponsored by Cummins and its joint venture partner Olayan.

As the days drew near to the end of a decades-long ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia this week, Cummins employees knew they had to act.


Many drivers’ education classes had long waiting lists and surveys showed a significant number of Saudi women were reluctant to exercise their new right. So the Cummins Community Involvement Team in Saudi Arabia, and Olayan, the company’s partner in a three-country distribution joint venture, organized driver safety workshops in three locations around Saudi Arabia this month.

More than 100 Saudi women participated in the workshops, learning the rules of the road using driving simulators. Cummins employees also provided guidance on the process for obtaining a license in Saudi Arabia, another impediment many women cited for not learning to drive. And a life coach was available at the sessions, working with participants to overcome any fear they might have about driving.

“As a Saudi woman, I am proud of the men and women I work with at Cummins,” said Hawazen Nazieh Nassief, the Corporate Responsibility Manager for Cummins in Saudi Arabia, who was among the first women driving after the ban expired at midnight Sunday (June 24).

“Our efforts helped many women and advocated for road safety during a crucial moment in Saudi Arabia’s history.”

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced the ban would be lifted in September 2017 as part of a package of reforms designed to promote economic growth in the country, the last nation in the world where women could not legally drive.

The king’s son and successor, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has promoted the change as a means to get more women in the workforce. Officials say the change should be especially helpful to lower income women, who frequently have been forced to pay for drivers if they wanted to work.


A life coach at the Saudi Arabian workshops co-sponsored by Cummins and Olayan.
A life skills coach guides women participants at the workshop through an exercise asking them to identify pictures showing courage and fear. The women were then asked to relate their feelings about the pictures to their concerns about driving.

Community Involvement Teams (CITs) at Cummins serve as liaisons to their communities and are the primary onsite coordinators for community involvement initiatives. Nassief said supporting the workshops was an easy decision for the Cummins Arabia CIT. It aligned well with one of Cummins’ three global priority areas critical to healthy communities: Equality of Opportunity.

“Lifting the ban will economically empower millions of women in Saudi Arabia and ensure freedom of movement and dignity,” she said. “In addition, driving rules will apply equally to men and women, setting a regulatory precedent that further promotes equality and justice in the Kingdom.”

The change is also consistent with the recently announced Cummins Powers Women program, the company’s most ambitious community initiative ever. It is designed to create large scale impact in the lives of women and girls globally. The company is investing more than $10 million in a range of effective programs, partnering with a network of global nonprofit organizations working to advance women and girls in communities around the world.

Nassief said she talked with one woman participating in the workshops who said she was a single mother and wanted to learn to drive so she could take her daughter to school and drive herself to work.

“She said that when she decided to drive, everyone made fun of her and discouraged her, including her family, and questioned her abilities,” Nassief said. “However, she decided to challenge herself and drive despite her fears because she wants independence and dignity for herself and her daughter.”

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

Five Ways Cummins is Supporting STEM Opportunities for Women

Cummins is working to improve awareness of engineering career opportunities globally and to support technical women throughout their careers. 

Group for International Women in Engineering Day
Global CWiT Conference 2018 group photo

1. Global Cummins Women in Technology Conference

During this three day event, Cummins technical women from around the world gather to network, develop new skills, and share their experiences. Cummins has organized women in technology conferences since 2007, and the most recent conference was held this past March in Columbus, Indiana (USA).

Cummins Technical Center India

2. Cummins Technical Center India opened this year

On March 1, 2018, leaders from Cummins inaugurated the Cummins Technical Center India (CTCI), the new home of the India Technical Organization. Located at the Kothrud campus in Pune, Maharashtra, CTCI is a leading center in India, equipped with world-class laboratories, engine test cells and engineering facilities. The four-story building is impressive with seating capacity for 2,500 professional engineering staff.  The center has been designed to promote employee well-being and safety through the use of light, art and design and productivity by employing suitable amenities like a childcare center and nursing mothers’ rooms. The office space includes a flexible learning center to support education, training and team building. 


Return to work program

3. Return to Work Program “RePower”

Cummins has created the RePower (aka return-to-work) Program for engineers through a partnership with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and iRelaunch. This program provides opportunities to re-engage returners’ skills and repower careers with a paid six month returnship. The first RePower Program took place in Southern Indiana, running August 2016 through February 2017 with four candidates, and each of these individuals has since joined the company in a full-time role. The objective of the program is to match candidates with projects that fit their expertise, interests and abilities. The program is focused on training, coaching and development, as well as networking.

STEM Careers Awareness in Latin America

4. STEM Careers Awareness in Latin America

Cummins Latin America is working with 10 universities in 2018 to provide students with an opportunity to visit Cummins locations in San Luis Potosi, Mexico to learn more about career opportunities within Cummins. During the visits, Cummins employees share background on the company’s history, values, products, innovation, resource groups like the Women’s Affinity Group and Technical Women’s Initiative, and tips to create an effective resume. 

5. STEM Education and Awareness

Globally, Cummins employees are involved in multiple STEM events and educational opportunities to encourage girls and boys to think about a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Cummins supports collaborative classrooms to grow youth employment in Australia, math mentoring to enhance student skills in Africa, education coalitions that improve academics in Cummins’ headquarter community, and vocational education toolkits that can be used by Cummins employees to support their local communities. These are just a few examples of how Cummins provides awareness and support of STEM education throughout the world.  

Taking place annually on June 23, International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the career opportunities available to girls in this industry. It celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world. In 2018, the INWED 2018 theme is 'Raising The Bar.’ For additional information, please see the INWED website at


Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Meet Lulu Lopez - Director of New and ReCon Parts Global Manufacturing Operation, San Luis Potosi

Lulu Lopez, Director of New and ReCon Parts Global Manufacturing Operations, has 23 years experience in Manufacturing. We recently sat down with Lulu to ask about her career at Cummins. Here's what she had to say. 

Role: Director of New and ReCon Parts Global Manufacturing Operations
Location: San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Years of Service: 12 years at Cummins, 23 years in Manufacturing
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, San Luis Potosí, México; Master’s Degree in Administration, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México
Cummins Career Journey: Quality and Manufacturing Manager, Plant Manager, Director of Global Manufacturing Engineering & Strategy, Director of New and ReCon Parts Global Manufacturing Operations

Q: How has your career journey progressed at Cummins?

“I joined Cummins Generator Technologies in San Luis Potosí, México, as a Quality and Manufacturing Manager in 2006. However, as soon as I joined Cummins, I also had to take on manager responsibilities in Supplier Quality, Operations Excellence (lean manufacturing) and, for several years, Product Engineering. I was then given the opportunity to become a Plant Manager for Cummins Generator Technologies in 2010, also in San Luis Potosí, and enjoyed that role for 4.5 years. 

“In November 2014, I joined New and ReCon Parts in Columbus, IN, as the Director of Global Manufacturing Engineering and Strategy. I then returned to San Luis Potosí to run the New and ReCon Parts site in April 2016 and was able to run this site for 2 years. Currently, I am transitioning into the Director of Global Manufacturing Operations role for New and ReCon Parts and very happy and enthusiastic for this great next step in my professional career.”

Q: What attracted you to Manufacturing as a career? 

“I like it a lot! I really enjoy the teamwork and cross-functional efforts used to build products that help our customers be successful in operating their own businesses. I find developing people and interacting with different functions within Manufacturing fascinating. We drive continuous improvement every day to be more efficient, cost competitive and the best option for our customers, and that’s a great feeling.”

Q: Why have you chosen to remain dedicated to Manufacturing? In other words, what’s kept you going? 

“Within Manufacturing, we have different functions that are very exciting in areas of engineering, technology and innovation. All of these functions are focused on the definition, development, implementation, validation, control, operation and continuous improvement of the processes that build the products we sell every day.”

Q: Is Manufacturing at Cummins exciting for you? 

“Yes, working in a Manufacturing site is a diverse environment – we have a variety of functions and people with different professional backgrounds, capabilities and skills working together every day. Collaborating as a team makes it exciting, as all functions align to the same objectives and challenge each other to be excellent each and every day.”

Q: In your eyes, what would you list as your top 2-3 achievements in your career at Cummins?  

“Becoming a plant manager was very much a key achievement in my professional career. That role really exposed me to being a business owner, lead cross-functional efforts and represents the Cummins leadership in the community. 

“Also, for more than 5 years, I aspired to be in my current role, which I just entered into a few weeks ago. This opportunity will allow me to influence the global operations of a complete business and allow me the opportunity to lead a vast and diverse team experiencing different challenges due to the conditions of the markets and regions.”

Q: Which one of Cummins’ core values resonates with you most and why? 

“All corporate values are great framework, and for me it is very critical to live all of them in my role as a leader. However, if I have to select one that resonates with me most, it would be Caring."

"By caring about our people, our environment, our customers and our community; being inclusive; following the regulations and laws that dictate our company practices; and knowing the impact of my decisions, I am better able to contribute to powering a most prosperous world.”

Q: Cummins is a global company, and you bring global perspective. What does being a global company mean to you?

“For me, it is very simple. We should be able to support our customers with the right solution for their needs across the globe, and that support should come from people who work in the optimal regions and processes and who live out our values each and every day.”

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to get into Manufacturing today?

“Take the challenge, and join our team. We have varying career paths, different functions and very exciting positions that will provide you the opportunity to develop yourself and gain vast capabilities and skills that will help you continue your professional development within Manufacturing or other roles within the Global Supply Chain.”

I Am Manufacturing is a recurring campaign featuring the people and teams who make up Cummins Manufacturing.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

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