At full throttle - Dublin Institute of Technology

At full throttle: Engineering firm taps into
keen market Independent 4/03/2015
Stephen Brady & Robert Thornton (Recent graduates of
Mechanical & Design Engineering)
Specialising in mechanical engineering for the motor
sport industry, has tapped into a very keen
international market for its engines and suspension
GALLERY 1Stephen Brady, Bob Stevens, Robert and Joanna Thornton, founders of, and
Chris Costello
BEFORE the recession hit in 2008, rallying was becoming a
very popular sport in Ireland, but it was heavily funded by
property developers spending on the back of a booming housing
market. By 2009, as the recession took a tight grasp, the sport
was virtually crushed on these shores, but one company saw
potential in a rapidly expanding worldwide industry.
Robert Thornton and his wife Joanna set up Trackday Performance - a highly
focused mechanical engineering company for the motor sport
industry - in the depths of the recession. Thornton used his experience managing
engineering projects for the likes of Boeing and Ariand to form a company that would
build and produce race engines, provide engine management systems and tune race
engines, and have a machine shop element where it would manufacture its own
suspension systems.
"We set about designing a suspension system in late 2010, and launched it in 2011. It
has gone on to win its first championship in Ireland and several other championships
around the world. That established us as a product manufacturer," says Thornton.
As the company's customer base of rallying and drifting enthusiasts grew, it noted
that customers were referring to Trackday Performance as TDP, so it took the lead
from its clients and rebranded to
After working with FormulaDIT, a team of manufacturing, design and mechanical
engineering students from Dublin Institute of Technology, the firm took on two
engineering graduates. Last year, it also took on a digital marketing manager through
the JobBridge scheme.
Albeit from a low base, the company grew by 30pc in the year ending 2013, and by
another 50pc last year. Thornton is optimistic it can maintain that growth in 2015.
The firm invested a lot of its resources in training and developing new products in
2014, and has entered 2015 with a much larger catalogue, introducing seven new
It now exports to every continent in the world, with its biggest market outside of
Ireland and the UK being New Zealand, where one of its customers is leading the
championship with a product.
"We have a mantra in the office that there is no limit to the amount of innovation we
do. We try and approach everything by the philosophy of 'if there is a way to do it, we
can do it better'," says Thornton.
"Our end goal is to be able to supply some of the manufacturers with our systems,
and we see that happening in time. The more vehicles we can add to our range the
greater our sales potential will be, because we are opening up our demographic
market exponentially," he adds.
Check out
Irish Independent
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