February '17

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FEBRUARY 2017 THE SHOP 23 2. Developing engineers who spend time in motorsports and then take what they've learned back to the consumer side; 3. Lifting the opinion of the brand; 4. Creating relationships with new and current customers. "We have to get a return," he notes, adding that the competitive nature of the business is another area that shouldn't be dismissed. "In motorsports, when you don't win, it's how you respond." Toyota Racing Development is now 37 years old, notes David Wilson, president and general manager of TRD USA, and continues to step up its game, from the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship with Joe Gibbs Racing to Lexus' return to sports car racing with IMSA in 2017. Motorsports involvement allows TRD to compete on and off the track, he believes. "The love of the automobile is rooted in Americana. We participate where we race and sell cars. It allows us to connect with passionate sports fans." The company also views competition as a way to improve engineering and design. "We bring race technology to the way we build cars and trucks." TRACK CHANGES While series such as NASCAR, IndyCar and NHRA defend their places at the top of America's motorsports food chain, plenty of other organizations are working to attract particularly younger race fans and carve out niches to accommodate the newest cars, technology and entertainment preferences. With its WeatherTech SportsCar Cham- pionship, IMSA is poised to serve as a link to the latest vehicle innovations for tradi- tional motorsports fans, according to Scott Atherton, IMSA president and COO. Prototype racing allows manufacturers to "push the envelope" of design and inno- vation while preserving the "emotional, visceral experience" at the heart of motor- sports' desirability. Atherton warns the proliferation of ride- sharing services such as Lyft and Uber and talk of future autonomous vehicle fleets pose a serious threat to the industry as it stands today. "We run the risk that we're about to take the emotional attachment out of the automobile," he says. "The trend is toward homogenization and commoditization" of the driving experience. He also believes that racing has an obli- gation to take environmental impacts into account. "We do need to address climate change, and finite petroleum availability." Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula Drift, calls his series a "bridge" to the next generation of race enthusiasts. Boasting an audience of more than 2 million on Facebook, the series recently concluded its 13th season in front of an audience that "grew up on social media" and is "building a passion for cars and car Moderated by John Waraniak, SEMA vice president of vehicle technology, the 2016 Racing & Performance Forum featured a panel of experts ranging from OEM representatives to race series executives discussing the future of motorsports and performance. Dave Pericak, global director of Ford Perfor- mance, says an involvement in racing direct- ly affects the vehicles that consumers drive home. From technological innovations to brand building, OEMs have a vested interest in motorsports. PERFORMANCE

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