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Leading the way ...

By Dan Teuton
21 May 2019

Xtrac was founded in 1984 and is the world leader in the production of transmissions for top level motorsport, including F1, Le Mans, Indianapolis 500 and a host of rally and GT sports cars, writes Peter Digby, president, Xtrac.

Today Xtrac has a purpose-built factory of 115,000 sq ft following the recent opening of a new extension by prime minister Theresa May, that almost doubles the factory floor space. This space is quickly being filled with new machinery to enhance Xtrac’s growth in motorsport and specialised automotive markets. At present the company employs over 365 staff with 100 employed in research and development and design. It also has facilities in Indianapolis and Mooresville, North Carolina.

Xtrac designs, manufactures, assembles, tests and overhauls high-performance motorsport transmissions for most of the world’s top racing series. More recently demand has also grown for our specialist electric, hybrid and supercar transmissions.

The worldwide motorsport industry has realised its collective responsibility, and opportunity to help develop new fuel saving technologies, which Xtrac has fully embraced. Motorsport is leading the way in creating smaller, lighter, more efficient engines and gearboxes, with a rapid rise in the introduction of Energy Recovery Systems and advanced electronics. Many race formula regulations now actively reward efficient fuel consumption. Xtrac has placed itself at the forefront of this new energy efficient technology by using advanced lightweight materials and revolutionary gearbox/electric motor installations.

Xtrac’s success is based on its people, who are the company’s biggest asset. In 1997, when the founder retired, there was a management buyout which included all the employees. In 2015, as part of a long-term succession plan, another MBO took place to reinforce the commitment and long-term stability of the senior managers who between them possessed well over 100 years of experience of working at Xtrac.

Xtrac recently partnered with Inflexion Private Equity which has embraced the long-standing ethos of employee ownership to ensure that everyone is totally dedicated to providing the highest quality product and customer service. Inflexion’s investment is helping to fund Xtrac’s expansion, including the many hybrid and electric vehicle transmissions. To renew and expand our workforce, Xtrac has award-winning apprenticeship and under-graduate 

schemes which are massively oversubscribed each year. Xtrac maintains very close links to the local schools and Newbury College who provide the courses for our apprentices.

Our investment in excellent, well recognised programmes has been essential to our growth. We have honed and developed our skills in selecting and training young, enthusiastic and extremely talented individuals. Through our programmes, they attend colleges and universities collecting ONC, HNC, Degrees and PhD’s, with Xtrac’s full support and financial backing.

Many of these graduate engineers move onto our USA or European Secondment programme, where they get a fast track lesson in delivering front line engineering solutions and customer support attending major race events.

Xtrac’s very first apprentice who started 29 years ago still works for the company and has been progressively promoted so that he now heads up the US service operation.

Our products are manufactured to the highest quality and to achieve this we are constantly investing in the latest computer-aided engineering and machinery which helps us to deliver the very best products that the motorsport and automotive industries demand. We are very proud to export nearly 80% of our turnover, primarily to Western Europe, North/South America and Japan, with total exports since Xtrac started exceeding £600 million.

In recent years, in addition to the visit by the prime minister, significant milestones include a visit from Jeremy Clarkson and being featured on Top Gear as part of the extraordinary contribution made by the UK motorsport and automotive sectors. We have also received visits from HRH The Duke of Kent and Sajid Javid , when minister of state for business, innovation and skills, both of whom praised Xtrac’s apprentices, employee shareholding and the work we are doing towards innovation in the automotive industry.

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