Friday, January 13, 2017

Two Cowboys: Making Fast Cars Go Faster at Dodson Motorsport in Auckland, New Zealand

When Fast Isn't Fast Enough

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Manufacturers spend millions to make sports cars look good and go fast. Sometimes fast just isn't fast enough. It definitely isn't for a team of innovative engineers on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand.



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When they got their hands on Nissan's GT-R in 2007, they knew that Nissan was onto something by making one of the most powerful production vehicles in the world. However, there were problems. It didn't last on the track. One of the key challenges was getting the power transferred onto the road, consistently and efficiently. Guess what? The Kiwis fixed it. They made it better. These folks have been doing it consistently now, for almost a decade. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Dodson Motorsport is a world leader in aftermarket dual clutch transmission components for high-end performance vehicles. We are talking about the Nissan GT-R, Audi R8, Lamborgini, and Porche to name just a few.

Their origins are in motorsport tuning, fabrication and development. The place where you come up with ideas, try new things, make something, push convention to the limits and "see what happens". Now they offer a broad range of products for transmission upgrades of high-performance and high-end vehicles.

It may sound like boring stuff, but they assure us that the little bits they innovate and engineer ends up making a massive difference when it comes to breaking speed and performance records. They should know. The vehicles with Dodson transmission components are some of the fastest on the road. Period.

Why transmissions, we asked? According to spokesperson Steven Parker, "It is one of the places where the manufacturers take a "good enough approach". It is good enough for the average driver on his Sunday afternoon Martini cruise. However, most of the people that buy these cars and spend from $300k upwards on a new toy, are not in the afternoon cruising game. They buy fast cars to go fast. Plain and Simple. Inevitably they want to go even faster, and that is when 'good enough' things break. That is when you need better. When you fit a Dodson engineered component, you get the best."

Dodson comprehensively road and track tests all their products using their fleet of vehicles. It includes high-performance offerings from Nissan, Mitsubishi, Porsche, VW, BMW and Audi. It means they make their cars go fast. If things break, they know where it happens, why it happens, and can innovate and build accordingly. What a life!

For example, their products for the Nissan’s GT-R are regularly tested in racing environments to ensure reliability and durability exceeding both manufacturer standards and the expectations of customers. Apparently, 1-in-3 GT-R's on the road wears a piece of Dodson.

Glenn Cupit, one of the principals of the company, mentioned that their specialised team also carries out custom transmission projects and special developments for clients around the world. It is almost unthinkable that a small engineering company in Auckland, New Zealand, at a location that doesn't even have a street sign, with 17 staff, is setting the standard for high-end transmission engineering in the world! Kiwi ingenuity is yet again helping to break records on the world stage.

Observations


We knew that telling the Dodson's story was going to be amazing. We've met and filmed a bit of it. They were one of the finalists for the Westpac Auckland Business Awards of 2016. We knew that we could focus on the technology and the products alone and it will be astonishing to show the world what Kiwi's have done, again.

However, technology moves forward. In some industries, it moves quite fast (pun intended). The Dodson products are amazing, but it is the focus on innovation and the dedication that Glenn and his team puts into it that is the heart of the Dodson Motorsport story. It is not only the products. It is how they keep coming up with something better that distinguishes this business again, and again.

When Glenn took me on the road for a little test drive, we couldn't get a feel for the performance of the Audi R8. I think every speed radar and laser tool on Auckland's motorways have a Dodson's homing device. They were all pointed at us every step of the way. What I did get a feel for, is Glenn's passion for what they do at Dodson. I've found a man in his happy place behind the steering wheel of his Audi. "It's like playing; only the toys are bigger."

I probed him on the future. Glenn acknowledged that "Electric cars are around the corner. They will go fast. If Dodson Motorsport has its way, they will go even faster with Dodson know-how." This is a given from what I've seen in Auckland this summer. Still, that is a story for another time.

Hendrik van Wyk
Fast Cowboy

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