Roof racks for race cars? No. Well, not yet, anyway...
LAKEVILLE, Conn. - You know those really trick Thule ski racks, aerodynamic roof carriers and zoomy bike racks that you see mounted on everything from Pintos to Pininfarinas?
Yes? Okay, so how cool is this...
From now on, those Thule products, and others, will have been tested at Lime Rock Park before you head off to the store to buy them.
Management at Thule’s U.S. research and development facility in Seymour, Conn., has signed an agreement to conduct its rigorous field testing of existing and future products at Lime Rock Park, beginning this month.
Thule (“TOO – lee”) Inc., the Sweden-based makers of a wide range of vehicle carrying and towing accessories, including its instantly recognizable roof, bike, kayak and ski racks for cars, trucks and SUVs, will have near year-round access to the track’s test facilities. Until now, Thule’s non-laboratory product testing was conducted at its Seymour factory and parking lot.
Karl Wiedemann, channel marketing and PR manager for Thule, Inc., said, “We have a lot of racing and driving enthusiasts here at the factory who are already fans of Lime Rock Park, which is a bit more than an hour’s drive. When our test engineer insisted that we could improve our testing protocols and procedures at a dedicated track... well, it just made perfect sense to pick up the phone to talk to Lime Rock.”
Lime Rock Park and Thule also expect to take advantage of numerous marketing and promotion synergies as the partnership develops.
Even before this test-facility agreement with Lime Rock Park was finalized, since 1999 Thule has required its field test engineers to graduate from a two-day Skip Barber driving school.
Reed Frick, one of Thule’s test engineers and driver, says, “Testing at Lime Rock is a tremendous advantage – it gives us a whole new level of repeatability. And in such a strictly controlled environment, we can be even more aggressive with our protocols.”
The Seymour, Conn., plant, along with a facility in Chicago, manufactures 80 percent of the Thule products sold in North America.
The Thule Group is a world leader in products and brands designed to transport lifestyle equipment securely, safely and in style. Under the motto “Active Life, Simplified,” the Thule Group offers products within four areas: Vehicle Solutions (roof racks, bike racks, ski boxes, snow chains, etc.), Towing Solutions (towbars and trailers), Carry Solutions (laptop and camera bags, backpacks, etc.) and Work Solutions (ladder racks, tool boxes, etc.).
The Thule Group has 3,100 employees at more than 50 production facilities and sales offices worldwide. In 2010 sales amounted to SEK 5.7 billion (US 700 million).