12 MAR 2020
Ride of a lifetime for Holden employee
Long-time Holden employee Chee Liong Lee enjoyed the ride of a lifetime when he was strapped in for a hot lap with Penrite Racing's David Reynolds at Albert Park today.
Lee – who was given the opportunity as a special thank you for 44 years of service – jumped into the 2017 Bathurst winner's Penrite coloured Commodore this morning at the 5.3-kilometre Melbourne circuit.
The Melbourne-based engineer, who is the longest-term employee affected by the closure of Holden that was announced last month, said it was something he will never forget.
"I feel privileged! It was a great opportunity, I've never had the opportunity to go so hard on the road," Lee said.
"I've never been to the Supercars, I've never been in a race car. I've seen the cars and they obviously go very fast, but I've never been in the position where I could sit inside one and experience the vehicle at that sort of speed."
Beginning at the drawing office - when cars were drawn on paper - Lee worked over several divisions at the iconic Australian company, through engine & fuel systems development and mission control and has spent the past 30 years at theLang Lang providing ground, which has been instrumental in the local development of local and imported Holden models.
A Holden man through and through, Lee has driven various company cars over the years including the Kingswood, Monaro, Torana, GT's and most recently the ZB Commodore.
"I'm a test engineer, but more on the fuel consumption, fuel economy testing so cars like these are very different," he said.
"It's like a work horse, you can feel it working. It's just rumbling away. The greatest thing was the braking and how fast it was."
It's a bittersweet time for Lee who has shown great loyalty to a company that has reciprocated, and he will take great memories with him.
"It was a great team of people to work with, very friendly and helpful, it was like a little family," Lee said.
"The thing I'll probably miss is the cars, I'm going to miss doing the jobs I've been doing in the past. Holden gave me the chance to see other countries and to travel overseas to different testing facilities, things that unfortunately you can't get from other companies."
Reynolds, who recently signed a ten-year contract with Erebus Motorsport understands the magnitude of Chee's term with Holden and was proud to have played a part in giving him a day he won't ever forget.
"It's awesome that we were able to give a ride experience to someone who is so deserving of being made special for a day," Reynolds said.
"I thought ten years was big, 44 years is epic!"Loyalty is so important in the workplace and Chee is a great example of why Holden holds such a great place in the Australian automotive and motorsport industries."
Penrite Racing's CEO Barry Ryan, who originated the idea, also commented: "It's such a shame for so many people and families, so if we have, in some small way had an impact of making Chee feel good today then that's awesome. Hopefully he will take it away as one of his great memories in his time with Holden."
The team are on track today for two 30-minute practice sessions followed by two 10-minute qualifying outings that set the grid for Race 3 and 4.