John Iuga

A Petone-based maker of car seats is headed for the big time in Sweden, providing seats for a new racing car series.

Racetech will supply seats for all the entrants in the Swedish TTA, a new professional touring car series starting in April.

"They've heard about our product because of what it offers safety-wise and competitively priced and we were also able to deliver on time," said Racetech's managing director David Black.

While the deal would not earn millions, Black said it brought priceless publicity for the Wellington company, which is trying to break into the European and Scandinavian markets.

"This will give us a huge leg up in another category."

Six months ago, he told the Dominion Post that exchange rates were exacting a heavy toll on his business. The global financial crisis had made motorsport and its sponsorship something of a luxury, particularly in the United States, one of Racetech's major markets.

But Black said there were signs the market was now beginning to bounce back in the major US and British markets.

The Swedish deal resulted from Black hearing of the new series while at a trade show in Germany.

"I rang the person in Sweden and then, I was going back to the UK the following week and had some time I could rearrange and was able to fly to Gutenberg for a day and meet with the organisers of the series."

Early last month he was able to close the deal, and later encountered "unbelievable" interest from Scandinavians at a trade show in England.

Racetech also makes seats for raceboats and road cars but motorsport is its major focus.

The company is taking on more staff and had opened up distribution in Japan, Malaysia and South Africa last year.

One nice aspect of the Swedish deal was his introduction to Solution F, the French maker of the chassis which will be used in the Swedish series.

The company did "all sorts of cars and engines" for Renault, made its own suspension systems and was one of the largest rapid prototyping companies in southern France.

Black said the potential for collaboration between the two companies was unknown, "but the door wasn't open before and it is now".