UK race car maker taps into Martinsville talent
College students in Martinsville can get on the fast track to careers with British race car manufacturer Radical Sportscars.
In May, the Peterborough, England-based company opened its first U.S.-based sales office at Patrick & Henry Community College’s Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Complex, close to the school’s Racing College of Virginia. That will be followed in early 2022 with a facility to fabricate replacement panels for its vehicles, which resemble a hybrid between a kart racer and a Formula One car.
It’s a first step toward Radical eventually building race cars in Martinsville.
Virginia made a strong pitch when Radical began seeking a U.S. location, says CEO Joe Anwyll. About 60% of the 176 vehicles Radical will manufacture this year will be sent to America — a time-consuming process for connoisseurs accustomed to speed — and the company has had a U.S. presence for about a decade through a handful of authorized dealers, as well as hosting a Le Mans-style racing series at nearby Virginia International Raceway.
Radical was particularly attracted by the racing college, which has provided a talent pipeline for students in auto racing careers, including NASCAR, as well as for vehicle manufacturing and engineering.
Along with the instructors’ expertise and testing facilities available to Radical at Patrick & Henry’s Racing College, the company saw a “readymade” workforce with the skills it needs to be successful.
“They are A-listers for us,” Anwyll says of the college.
For students, Radical represents an additional opportunity for internships, apprenticeships and jobs. Fifty-four students are enrolled in the motorsports program.
Anwyll hopes fabrication of panels can begin by March, in time for the next racing season, with plans for kit assembly and, finally, manufacture of all parts in the future.
Radical will start with four employees in its sales office, set to open by the beginning of the second quarter of 2022, but Mark Heath, president and CEO of Martinsville Henry County Economic Development Corp., says the operation could grow to
Radical is a solid brand in an area of Virginia known for racing, Heath says. VIR and Martinsville Speedway combined bring a little more than $400 million in annual economic impact to Virginia. “In the racing world, it would have a lot of value for us.”