Speed matters on the racetrack, and one Seguin business is helping some of America’s fastest cars move.
Rave Gears is this season’s primary supplier of ring and pinions to most NASCAR teams.
“Working in the fast paced racing market requires constant improvement in design and efficiencies in order to maintain our competitive edge against our competition,” Rave Gears President Thomas Alaniva said. “Rave Gears is in a race of its own to make sure to provide the best, most efficient gears to the teams.”
The local manufacturer produces high-quality, precision computer numerical control machining, prototyping, reverse engineering and supply of gears and gear shafts, according to their website.
“We’re into aerospace,” Alaniva said. “We do all machining and all different kinds of high-end automotive racing. We do dabble in the oil field work. That’s kind of down right now with the market the way it is.”
Rave Gears Chief operating officer Vinay Shah said the interest in the NASCAR market began with the purchase of another company several years ago.
“They used to supply ring and pinions to NASCAR teams,” he said. “NASCAR likes proven suppliers, so to speak. So we bought his company and got access to that market, but it took two-and-a-half years to break into the market because we had to prove our gears are good and better than others.”
The company supplied ring and pinions to approximately 75 percent of cars in the Dayton 500 in February.
“A ring and pinion is the gear that is in the rear end of your car,” Alaniva said. “It’s in the center section of the differential. It basically allows the car to go forward. You have the pinion gears off the drive shaft and the ring gear is attached basically to the axles. The motor turns the drive shaft, which turns the pinion, which turns the ring gear, which turns the wheels.”
Supervisor of gear grinding Patrick Baldridge said a single ring and pinion can take about five weeks to make from start to finish.
“We bring it in as a forging, and it goes through lathes and mills,” he said. “It gets put on our Klingelnberg machine, and deep grind them, send them to heat treating. They come back, we ID/OD grind, finish grind them and then put a rim finish on them.”
Having a high-value client such as NASCAR is very important for the company, especially with the unit in Seguin being its only manufacturing plant, Shah said.
“Their requirements are very tough. Processing the efficiency they need is very challenging,” he said. “The only way they allow us to become suppliers for them is if we prove ourselves with what we make here in Seguin, whether it’s horsepower or efficiency. After two and a half years, we’ve proven that we can do a better job than a billion-dollar company.”
The company started getting into the market of high-end racing about three years ago, Alaniva said.
“We met with NASCAR and did some initial designs for them to test,” he said. “It’s evolved now where we’re providing a majority of the cars with the ring and pinions ... To have recognition of top-end racing, you have to prove you’re the best of the best, because everyone is shooting for that market. To be able to establish that market is a big thing.”
Seeing their products used on racing’s top stage gives the company employees a sense of pride.
“We see the output that our stuff can do, the performance our gears can put on,” he said. “You see someone win a race that has our ring and pinions in, it’s pretty prideful.”