Daytona24: Jim Campbell - Team Chevy interview 2011-01-28

Jim Campbell Press Conference
January 28, 2011

Earlier this week, Chevrolet announced a promotional partnership with GRAND-AM Road Racing. Chevy will supply the official pace vehicle and have a major at-track presence for GRAND-AM races at Elkhart Lake and Watkins Glen. Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's U.S. Vice-President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, met with the media at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday and discussed the new agreement. Here are highlights from the press conference.

JIM CAMPBELL -- U.S. VICE-PRESIDENT FOR PERFORMANCE VEHICLES AND MOTORSPORTS

"Good morning, everybody. It's great to be here. This is a special day. I couldn't wait to get here this weekend -- we're back racing -- and Chevrolet has just an amazing tradition at this race. This is the 49th year of the race, so it's very special for us to be here. We're getting ready to celebrate our 100th anniversary at Chevrolet, and we're really looking forward to racing in the Prototype Class, GT, and, obviously, yesterday in GS. This promotional partnership, we're very proud to put this together with Tom [Bledsoe, GRAND-AM President] and his team. This, really, just formalizes something that we've been working on in an informal basis, and this really gives us an opportunity to put Chevrolet and our products front and center as we can expose our lineup to this amazing fan base that attends these races on the circuit all year long. We're very proud to do this, and looking forward to pacing a couple of races, as well, and I can't wait for the race to start today."

"What's really exciting for us is to be racing, obviously, in the GS and GT categories, the Camaros, allows us to accomplish one of our key goals in any race series: To connect the car we race with the car we sell. Camaro, in the market, it was number one in the regular sports segment for the first time since 1985, and that was done with a Camaro coupe. And, obviously, when you look at the car we're racing on the track, the connection is absolutely right there. That's important for us in any series in which we race, and we accomplish that right here. And, in the Prototype category, the power powered by the Chevy small block V-8 is really the connection point for us. We have a very robust business in the crate engine side of the business, our performance parts, so that is a great connection point for us, so we're looking forward to the race today, and also we're very proud to take part in a great tradition here as we prepare to celebrate our 100th anniversary at Chevrolet in November of 2011. What a great way to kick off the race season."

IS THIS A WORLDWIDE PROGRAM YOU'RE STARTING? YOU'VE GOT FIA WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP (WTCC) IN EUROPE OR MAYBE WORLDWIDE, AND INDYCARS NEXT YEAR, NOW THE GRAND-AM SERIES. "We sell Chevrolets in 138 countries. Camaro is going to be sold in our Chevrolet dealer network in Europe as well as a number other locations around the world. So, whenever we do enter a race series, we look at it not only for the local market but also the ability to extend the exposure to markets worldwide. We'll be doing that here, with GRAND-AM, but also we have investments in other race series where it allows us to extend the Chevrolet presence -- basically improve our awareness of the brand, especially in a lot of markets that we're just entering, we're a very young brand in other emerging markets around the world. To, number one, improve the image and awareness of Chevrolet and its brands. Number two, whenever we're involved in racing we want to drive leads. So what you'll see here today, we have a very significant display in the infield here where we're displaying ll of our production vehicles, all of our race car entries, including a Camaro GS and a Camaro GT that race in the series here. And, we're interested in gaining a lead from a customer and beginning a relationship with a customer, or perspective customer, to convert to sales."

"And finally, the third thing we want to do in all of the race series, is get technical learning from racing to production. It's an easy thing to say, it takes hard work to do it. We know we can do it. We have other examples -- you look at our Corvette program, what we've learned on the track. And by the way, our first race with Corvette, when we started in 1999, our first race was right here, at this race. We led for 18 hours. I was so excited, and then you realize what it takes to win in a 24-hour race, and it takes every single minute, every lap. It takes incredible effort by the team, by the mechanics of the vehicle. We ended up getting a podium finish right here at this race. It was a very exciting day. But, the bottom line is what we learn on the track we drive into the production car. Vehicles like ZR1, the Z06, the carbon edition are really learnings that are true valid learnings from racing into the production to make it better. And, we're going to do that in every series, including this one with Camaro."

"Huge learnings in aerodynamics that we get in every race program that we can take right over to production. Obviously, Camaro and Corvette are great examples of racing to production, but even in vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, which is an electric vehicle with an extended range capability, the amount of aero testing we do and how we do aero testing in racing, the same principles do apply to what we do on the production side in vehicles all the way to the Volt."

"We love this style of racing. We love road racing. We love this connection between racing and production, and the way you get the learning is you've got to field a team that's big enough, so you get the learning, and drive it over to production."

-source: team chevy

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jim Campbell