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Patrick Henry Community College's Racing College gets Radical new partner
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Patrick Henry Community College's Racing College gets Radical new partner

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A sportscar manufacturer will be moving into the Patrick Henry Community College facilities, a partnership PHCC officials believe will be a big benefit for students in the college’s motorsports program.

Radical Sportscars will be establishing its North American Sales Office in the Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology Complex at PHCC, with a lease that is set to begin on May 1.

Based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in the United Kingdom, Radical Sportscars produces and exports its own designed and manufactured racing cars and track cars sold to markets around the world, according to a release from the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation.

With the PHCC partnership, students in the school’s Racing College of Virginia will have the opportunity for “some work-based learning and for some project-based learning,” Rhonda Hodges, PHCC’s vice president for Work Force, Economic, and Community Development, said by phone Thursday.

“We do believe this will be a good opportunity for our students to be able to interact with and possibly get employment with and training opportunities with an actual company that is building and selling sports cars. It’s just an amazing opportunity for the students to have this experience right here just across the parking lot and this type of access.”

Hodges and Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville Henry County Economic Development Corporation, said the partnership with Radical has been in the works for about three or four years, and they both recently traveled to the U.K. to visit the company’s home facility and also took Radical officials on a tour of PHCC.

“We want to sell that aspect of training and future labor force for them,” Heath said by phone. “The goal is, once they get sales going here, to ultimate assemble cars here and sell cars in the U.S. So they see PH as a potential seamless flow of labor from the motorsports program to their program. It fits very well. Obviously that was very attractive to them, and that was a good selling point for us.”

Heath said Radical officials are going through the VISA process now, and once that is in place the company will start operating in Martinsville and getting sales and factory reps in the area to serve the market.

The company will start with four employees—the CEO, CFO, sales and factory representatives—with the possibility to grow to “upwards of 20” in the coming years, Heath said.

Joe Anwyll, Radical Sportscars’ CEO, said in a release that the U.S. is the company’s largest market, accounting for over 50% of all of their new vehicle sales worldwide.

“In order to properly service their needs and the needs of our customers it was vital to be present in the USA,” Anwyll said. “And with the immense help, support, and guidance we have received in Martinsville-Henry County, we are delighted that this long held strategic ambition has become a reality that will over time develop into a manufacturing, distribution, technical, and marketing center for all Radical Sportscars activities throughout North America.”

Said Larry Ryder, board chair for the EDC: “We are excited they have chosen to partner with the Racing College, and we are hopeful the sales operations are the first of many exciting developments here,”

PHCC’s Racing College of Virginia trains students to do everything on a racecar, “except drive,” Hodges said. Students build cars, do chassis work, learn welding and machining, build engines, test and tune cars. The school has a late model program that races at South Boston Speedway, and students serve on the pit crew during races.

“We’re graduating students who have outstanding skills,” Hodges said. “We have so many working in NASCAR. So I think that attracted them [Radical)]to the area.”

Radical anticipates working with the Racing College faculty to provide training to their U.S. staff as needed, a release from the EDC stated.

Heath said signs at PHCC will be going up in the next week or so, and the school hopes to have a Radical car on display on campus.

“Martinsville-Henry County has a rich history of motorsports and today’s announcement continues that tradition,” says Jim Adams, chair of the Henry County Board of Supervisors. “From Martinsville Speedway to the PHCC motorsports program and now to Radical, we continue to set the pace for high performance. Whether it’s racing, engineering, building cars or training the workforce, Henry County truly has it all.”

PHCC is working to renovate the MET II building where Radical Sportscars will be locating its new office, a release read. When the renovations are complete, the building will house PHCC’s welding program, precision machining program, and more. The MET I building was the first building in the Complex to be renovated and it houses the college’s Motorsports, engineering, and mechatronics programs.

“This partnership really just makes sense for everyone involved, but I especially see this as beneficial for our students,” PHCC President Angeline Godwin said. “In the past, our Racing College faculty have worked exceptionally hard to ensure their students have opportunities to meet employers and make connections with people in the industry. I cannot express how valuable it will be for our students and our program to have one of these partners located just across the parking lot.”

Said Hodges: “For Radical to be able to be that close and working with our students, it just comes together very, very well. It’s a great opportunity for every one.”

Cara Cooper is a sports writer for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at cara.cooper@martinsvillebulletin.com

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