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REVVED UP: Laz Till (foreground) and developers Tim (left), Marko Lapic, and Shawn Rego are looking to develop a product range around the Hot Torque app. Photo: Annaliese Frank

App all the torque of NASCAR paddock

THREE years ago Laz Till was a website developer by day, car enthusiast by night. In some respects not much has changed.

What has changed, however, is that Perth-based Mr Till has merged his technical knowledge with his passion for cars to create a new business that has thrust him into the supercharged world of US motor racing.

Mr Till is the developer of the Hot Torque iPhone application and integrated social networking site for motoring enthusiasts - a product NASCAR teams Circle Sport and Hillman Racing have endorsed and set aside valuable sponsorship space on their cars to increase its exposure.

“I was working on my car and doing stuff on my phone at the same time and then it dawned on me,” Mr Till told WA Business News of the night when the idea for Hot Torque came to him.

“I got a scrap of paper and started writing down these ideas - so there were bits of oil and dirt and all the rest of it.”

The result of that first night working on scrap paper and napkins was an iPhone app that allows members to create a profile, upload photos and interact with other like-minded car enthusiasts.

The first version was launched at the Perth Motor Show in 2011 to significant acclaim.

The overall platform now has more than 18,000 members, with about 170 joining each week.

Much of its popularity is due to endorsement from the NASCAR racing teams, which Mr Till said he had persistently pursued even before the app was formally released.

“Their response was ‘no-one is doing this’; with the app and the integration with the website,” he said.

“They want to see me successful with the app and with the future plans of the app ... they believe holistically in what I’m trying to create and connecting people through the product.”

But while the Hot Torque product is gaining international recognition, Mr Till is yet to receive any commercial benefit (aside from initial income made over a short period when members were charged for the app); now, everything provided through the Hot Torque platform is free of charge.

That means Mr Till and three other developers are still working their day jobs at Mr Till’s core business Baseline Systems, which specialises in website and point-of-sale developments.

“We would all be doing our normal stuff by day and then we would all hook online after hours to nut out the Hot Torque programming,” Mr Till said.

After about three years of working well into the early hours of the morning, however, Mr Till said the release of a subsequent paid-for app in the coming weeks could turn things around.

The team of four developers is also seeking investment to develop other products around the app to establish Hot Torque as an entire brand.

Aside from connecting motoring enthusiasts and giving them the ability to share advice, there’s also a safety aspect to the app.

Mr Till loaded all the speed camera locations in Perth to give drivers a 500-metre warning of when they’re approaching a camera.

It’s not about dodging fines, he said, but improving safety.

“Typically when a driver sees a speed camera or a box they slam on the brakes ... this gives them a warning so they can slow down safely,” Mr Till said.

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