Xtrac’s Matt Smith has been with the company since 2008, when he started out as an Undergraduate Production Engineer. From 2010 – 2015 he worked as a Production Engineer, and now spends his time at Xtrac Inc as a Senior Design and Track Support Engineer. Let’s find out more about Matt’s Xtrac journey…
How long have you been with the company?
12 years full time (plus undergraduate year). In 2012 I took part in the Xtrac engineering secondment program, spending 3 months at Xtrac Inc, Indianapolis where I met my (now) wife and hence moved to the States permanently in 2015. Xtrac were gracious enough to offer me the opportunity to continue working for the company ‘on the other side of the pond’!
What does your job entail?
I design and develop transmissions for our American motorsports markets, including Indycar and Trophy Trucks (desert racing). Once the transmissions are supplied to the customers, I then go on to support their installation, testing and racing in person. I will attend Indycar events around North America, as well as off road races in the western USA and Baja California, Mexico. In addition, I manage the quality and manufacturing requirements in the Indianapolis office, utilizing the knowledge gained and relationships built during my time in Thatcham.
What qualifications do you have?
BEng (Hons) Motorsport Engineering from Oxford Brookes University.
Who / what inspired you to pursue the career you have today?
I made my start with Xtrac in the UK as an undergraduate student through my studies at Oxford Brookes University. Given my interest in motorsports and manufacturing, I was offered a role in the Production Engineering department and returned as a Graduate Engineer in the same role. It was that undergraduate year that really solidified that Xtrac offered a unique opportunity to combine my passions of racing, engineering and manufacture.
What do you like most about your job?
I’ve always enjoyed the ability to see a product make its way all the way from concept, to drawing, through manufacture and, now even more so, out on track (or in the desert). Chasing Trophy Trucks across the vast desert alongside the race teams themselves is especially thrilling and inexplicably unique for someone from The Midlands!
Which of your career achievements are you most proud of?
Seeing the transmission I helped develop take Xtrac’s first Trophy Truck win in Baja, followed by Xtrac’s first Baja 1000 overall win, and recently the full Trophy Truck podium sweep at the San Felipe 250! Taking our technology & expertise, applying it and succeeding in this most ‘brutally beautiful’ of racing disciplines is something I’m very proud and grateful to be involved in.
While I worked in the UK, I also production engineered the P1011 Indycar transmission, for which I now provide race support 11 years later, where it continues to perform with impeccable reliability and durability. Last month I was present for its 11th consecutive Indy 500 victory.
Anything else to add about your time at Xtrac?
From day 1, Xtrac has offered a very open and nurturing environment, encouraging collaboration across all levels and departments. This results in a great culture of teamwork and a ‘can do’ attitude that ensures everyone is directly involved in the successes within the business and on the track. As well as these successes at work, I’ve made some great friends with whom I’ve enjoyed great experiences outside of work (I’m looking at you, Muddy Funsters…) Working at Xtrac has always supported my personal and professional development, provided opportunities and taken me places I never imagined when I first walked through the door as a student!