As a car-loving kid growing up in the depths of Cornwall, I hoovered up any motor racing that appeared on the cathode ray tube in the corner of our living room.

My favourite time of year was October and November, when BBC Grandstand showed highlights of the Formula Ford Festival and the Rallycross Superprix, and William Woollard's nightly reports on the RAC Rally were on.

I loved the fast and frantic format of the Rallycross Superprix at Brands Hatch, and although my favourite driver was an Audi Quattro-wielding Cypriot fruit importer named Dimi Mavropolous (surely one of the quickest-sounding names ever) I couldn't help but be impressed by the antics of Martin Schanche in his Xtrac Ford Escort G4.

Almost three decades later, I found myself visiting Xtrac, the transmission company founded by Mike Endean that played an integral part in the creation of Schanche's blindingly quick four-wheel-drive Escort Mk3.

Okay, so the organisation has grown up and relocated from its original bases in Wokingham to its current 88,000-square-foot facility in Thatcham, but there was still scope for me to briefly bask in nostalgia.

This week's issue of Autocar (dated 24 April) contains my feature on the Berkshire-based firm, specifically the way it is steadily expanding its scope from its core motor racing business into other industries, including road cars.

An Xtrac gearbox is installed in the back of the Pagani Huayra, and company chiefs are up for the challenge of more sports car projects, in particular when it comes to future 'clean emissions' technology.

There is so much to the Xtrac story that I couldn't fit into my article. In the same way that when you buy a brand new car you start spotting other examples on the roads, since my visit and chat with president Peter Digby, technical director Adrian Moore and automotive and engineering chief Clive Woolmer, the firm's name seems to be cropping up all over the place.

Since it was formed in 1984, Xtrac has focused primarily on motorsport, and it has tasted success in most categories of competition that you care to name, including Formula 1, WRC, IndyCar, touring cars, the Dakar Rally, plus several different flavours of prototype and sports car racing.

It's not just glory on the track that it savours, however; with about 70 per cent of Xtrac's business being in exports, the company is a global player in the motorsport industry and enjoyed its two most financially successful years ever in 2011 and 2012.

Xtrac is also part of a push to align the future goals of motorsport with those of the road car industry. One of the targets is to promote low carbon automotive technologies, and to bolster Britain's role in developing cars that are cleaner and more efficient.

It's significant that the Motorsport Industry Association, of which Xtrac is part, has recently been invited to join the Automotive Council's Technology Group, which exists to progress the interests of our country's car industry by pushing forward development. Xtrac's Adrian Moore will represent the MIA on the Automotive Council, which is chaired by Nissan's European technical chief, Jerry Hardcastle.

The move is a recognition by the Automotive Council that companies such as Xtrac can help accelerate the pace of road car development. With its instincts finely honed by the spirit of competition, motorsport firms are fast-moving and technologically innovative; they respond well to being set tough targets by coming up with ingenious solutions. The road car industry might have access to greater resources, but it can often be slower to effect changes and bring new ideas to market.

None of which I appreciated in 1984 when I was sitting cross-legged in front of the television watching Schanche powerslide the Xtrac Escort through Hoppy's Drop at Brands Hatch...