Tralee firm at the centre of motorsport’s future
Tralee’s connection with the history and heritage of the motor industry and motorsport in Ireland looks set to continue thanks to US multinational Tillotsen which has two plants in the town.
Back in the late 1950s the county town was earmarked as one of the locations to manufacture Shamrock Cars thanks to US businessman and company founder William Curtis who was married to a Tralee woman. History of the car’s time in Tralee is sketchy but Curtis did build a factory in the town before moving the whole operation to County Monaghan.
Nearly 60 years before that, Charles Rolls of Rolls Royce fame won the second-ever closed road motorsport event in Ireland when he took victory on the Ballyfinnane Hillclimb in 1903.
These two historical events are part of the reason why Kerry enjoys such a huge car culture and it is only fitting that a Tralee firm looks set to continue that heritage.
Tillotson is better known for manufacturing carburettors for small engines at its Tralee plant but its global concerns and sister operations make several other different components.
This partially led to the formation of Tillotson Racing. The Tralee based subsidiary manufactures karts that are used in competitions across the world. Karting is considered the entry-level for motor racing and while many Formula One World Champions, including current champion Lewis Hamilton, started their careers in karting, it is also possible for a driver to spend his entire career in karts.
The last four CIK World and European karting champions used Tillotson Racing products that were manufactured in Tralee in their championship success.
Since its foundation little over a year ago, Tillotson Racing has sold over 100 racing karts from its Tralee base.
The firm exhibited at last weekend’s Autosport International, Europe’s biggest motorsport trade fair, in Birmingham, England, where a new one-make Tillotson kart racing championship was launched for UK-based drivers.
“All the engine parts on display at the show are manufactured in Tralee,” engineer Mark Ffrench said. “The karts on display are assembled in Tralee with parts from other Tillotson factories all over the world. Look where we are – we are at the biggest motorsport show in Europe, we have the biggest kart display here and it all came from Tralee.”
As well as launching the new UK championship Ffrench confirmed that Tillotson Racing was active in several other countries including The Netherlands, Belgium and the USA and plans for 2020 include expanding its Irish racing operations and cracking the Australian market.
“Tralee is the central hub for all of this,” he added.
This article originally appeared in The Kerryman newspaper on January 15 – Kerry Motorsport News is the motorsport content provider to The Kerryman