April 27, 2010

Indy Racing League star explains the auto racing—supply chain connection

By DC Velocity Staff

What does Formula 1 auto racing have in common with supply chain management? Just like manufacturers, retailers, and distributors, racing teams need to have just the right products and parts arrive at the right time, said Indy Racing League star Justin Wilson. Wilson spoke at a press conference with executives from the consulting firm TranSystems, which sponsors his team. He also met fans and hosted a racecar driving simulation at TranSystems' booth.

Because racing is such a high-speed, risky sport, there is no tolerance for error or variability in supply, Wilson said. Driving teams rely on a network of suppliers of parts and components as well as delivery services to replenish tires, fuel, parts, and other consumables during each race. Drivers run through four sets of tires in a typical long-distance race, for example. The cars also return to their home base (Indianapolis, in Wilson's case) to be completely stripped and rebuilt after each race. Teams employ logistics managers who are responsible not only for shipping the cars but also for purchasing parts and components and arranging overnight delivery to the appropriate locations.

Both Wilson and TranSystems support Racing for Kids, a charity that arranges visits by drivers to children's hospitals at each city where they race. Patients are invited to see and sit in one of the racecars and visit with the drivers. Money raised by the charity helps families pay for treatments they cannot afford on their own.

More coverage from NA 2010