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Hyundai helps Hoyts finish one last triathlon

Trio of environmentally-friendly vehicles complete modified triathlon

Published: November 25, 2015, 9:00 AM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:27 PM

Hyundai Tucson FCEV driving on water

Through the wonders of viral video, many are now familiar with the exploits of Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father and handicapped-son athletes who have completed more than 1,000 races (including 6 Ironman triathlons and 32 Boston Marathons) with father Dick pushing wheelchair-bound Rick (who was born with cerebral palsy).

Rick and Dick Hoyt crossing the finish in Hyundai Tryathlon

Collectively referred to as Team Hoyt, and adding several team members since their first race together in 1977, the two are finding their abilities waning even though their spirit carries on. Hyundai decided to step up to help the two fulfil one of their wishes – to compete a triathlon side by side, as Dick usually pushes his son across the finish line and theoretically finishes behind him.

A triathlon is a race of varying distance, made up of a swimming start (during which Dick usually swims while pulling Rick in a raft), a cycling segment (with Dick pedalling and Rick in a front-loaded seat) and a footrace (with Dick pushing Rick in a racing wheelchair).

So how could Hyundai contribute in a non-motorized vehicle sport? Because Hyundai shares Team Hoyt’s belief that any challenge can be overcome, it created a special triathlon near the Hoyt family home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to challenge a trio of its eco-friendly models and allow Dick (who has retired from triathlon racing) to drive across the finish line beside son Rick, in the passenger seat.

“The history of Hyundai Motor’s environmental focus has always been about making better eco-friendly cars, regardless of the challenges – an ambition that draws parallels with the Hoyt family’s battle against prejudices towards people with disabilities,” explained Scott Noh, Head of Overseas Marketing Group at Hyundai Motor.

It started off in the water (on the water actually) with a specially-built pontoon boat propelled by the Tucson FCEV (fuel-cell electric vehicle), which made it look as if the zero-emissions vehicle was driving on top of the water at Lake Onota.

Hyundai Sonata Plug-In crosses the finish line in Boston

The Tucson handed the baton over to a pair of Sonatas. The “cycling” leg was handled by the Sonata Hybrid, which towed a water tank heavier than the car itself up a hill to demonstrate its hybrid powertrain’s torquability. To finish off the leg, it sprayed the eco-friendly message “when we heal the earth, we heal ourselves” on the pavement.

The final, marathon leg was entrusted to the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid to cover the 42.2-km distance on electric power alone (which theoretically would be tight, given the car’s 44 km EV range) – completing the Boston Marathon course with the Hoyts smiling as they crossed the finish line together yet again, as they had done 1,000 times before.