Partners in Performance: Okuma

Partners in Performance: Okuma

The biggest misconception in stock car racing is right there in the name of the sport itself: our race cars aren’t stock at all. Although drivers in the earliest days of NASCAR raced cars they bought off the showroom floor, the machines driven on the track today have been custom-built from the ground up.

In order to build these custom cars and ensure they perform at the highest possible level, RCR can’t exactly just shop at the nearest auto parts store. That’s why we create most of the parts ourselves in-house, essentially operating as a vertical manufacturing company.

We’re able to do this through our close partnership with Okuma, a maker of CNC machines, which gives us the ability to churn out exactly what we need to build our cars and engines, and also to quickly and efficiently turn prototypes into reality.

An in-house manufacturing center

On the RCR campus sits the Okuma Technology Center (OTC), where RCR’s manufacturing activities take place. The 22,000-square-foot facility houses 15 Okuma CNC machines, some of which operate 24 hours a day to meet the demand of supplying the components used by our teams and by ECR, the engine-building arm of RCR.

The scope of what’s produced in the OTC is mind boggling. Within this one facility, RCR creates 3,500 different types of parts, half which are put into our race cars, with the other half being used for ECR’s engines. When a single race car requires more than 4,000 different components, you can only imagine the staggering amount of manufacturing output required to keep up with the demand from RCR’s three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and four XFINITY Series teams, in addition to other customers in motorsports.

Staying nimble in manufacturing

We operate in a sport where change is the only constant. Our teams of engineers are continuously refining and redesigning car and engine components in a quest to find an incremental competitive edge, even from one event weekend to the next. Therefore, turnaround time is critical in meeting the demand of our constantly evolving cars.

That’s where the OTC gives us a distinct advantage: the ability to take a newly-designed component from idea to reality in a week, a day or even a few hours.

How the partnership helps Okuma connect with their customers

The manufacturing prowess of the Okuma Technology Center is impressive. In fact, Okuma uses the OTC as its North American showcase and hosts current and future customers with biweekly visits to the facility. Some prospective customers want to learn about the Technology Center in general, while others come to review a specific Okuma CNC model in action before purchasing a similar one. These OTC visits are combined with tours of the larger RCR campus – including our main facilities and museum – to create a memorable experience for our guests.

Okuma also further strengthens its customer relationships by hosting guests at race events, where they get to see how Okuma’s partnership with RCR literally comes to life on the track.

“Okuma’s partnership with Richard Childress Racing allows us to showcase our technologies used to create components that stand up to the tough conditions of NASCAR competition,” said Jim King, President & Chief Operating Officer for Okuma Corporation of America. “We’ve found that current and potential Okuma customers relate RCR’s manufacturing challenges to their own, which has influenced them to make Okuma a top choice when purchasing a new machine tool.”

Like a number of our partners, Okuma is critical in helping RCR control how we build our cars and engines. In turn, Okuma can offer unique ways in which to showcase its products and engage with and build relationships with their customers.