Lear Corp. learned of Brock Walker's work last year after CEO Ken Way saw an article in AutoWeek, a sister publication of Automotive News.
The article described how Walker built a seat for driver Buddy Lazier, winner of the 1996 Indianapolis 500. The seat allowed Lazier to drive at Indy only two months after he suffered five broken vertebrae and a fractured sacrum in another race.
Way sent the AutoWeek article to Dan Jannette, vice president of the Lear Technology Division, with the note: 'Anything here for us?' Jannette then teamed up with Jim Masters, Lear's director of advanced product development, to find out if Walker was interested in working with Lear.
Both Jannette and Masters are avid motor sports fans. But they are also looking for commercial applications for Lear in their work with Walker. 'What we hope to get out of that is technology transfer in a true sense,' Jannette said.
Walker has been working with Lear since January. The supplier's expertise in materials and manufacturing, and its ability to do computer crash simulations, will help him design safer seats, he said.
Said Walker: 'Sooner or later I would've banged on their door if they hadn't banged on mine.'