PAT SUHY, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER FOR GM RACING participated in a Manufacturers' Panel in the infield media center at Daytona International Speedway and discussed the '08 season, the return on investment on the new race car, the Nationwide Series,...
PAT SUHY, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER FOR GM RACING participated in a Manufacturers' Panel in the infield media center at Daytona International Speedway and discussed the '08 season, the return on investment on the new race car, the Nationwide Series, and more.
ON LOOKING AHEAD TO '08 SEASON IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES COMPETITION: "I am really excited for this year. As you know, at Chevy, we have a pretty hard act to follow after last year. I am hoping we can back it up with a strong performance again this year. I think with the Car of Tomorrow being across the board for this year giving our teams an opportunity to focus on a single type of car and really hone the mile-and-a-half stuff as we go through the year. I think it is going to be an exciting and telling year. We are going to see who the strong teams are and who the strong organizations are that can support those teams and they are going to be the ones that shine, just like the guys that started to focus on the car back in 2006, before it ever raced. I hope that those same teams can surge ahead this year and make it happen in 2008 for us."
ON ENCOURAGING TEAMMATES AND DRIVERS FOR SAME MANUFACTURER TO WORK TOGETHER TO WIN: "As much as we like to think we can influence what our teams do between teams, it is a pretty hard thing to tackle. The team work here, with the car being as maneuverable as it is and able to drive up through traffic, they can get together easier maybe than they could in the past and work together. But, when the fast guys float to the front, I think that is really going to be where it is at is trying to hook up with those guys and try to get up there yourself."
ON HOW MARKETING FEELS ABOUT GETTING RETURN ON INVESTMENT WITH DESIGN OF SPRINT SERIES CAR: "We learned by doing the Impala SS last year. As we get in to the Nationwide project, we certainly said, we would like to have a little more freedom, can you help us out. NASCAR, to their credit, gave us a little more freedom. They have learned a little bit more about what attributes they need to control to keep the parody they have got, that we all like. But, our marketing guys, I am an engineer so marketing is a little foreign to me, but I know they would always like to the thing to be exactly what you run on the street if you could. We all know that can't happen, we couldn't have the quality of racing we are going to have this year and that we had last year if you did that. I just think that we keep working with NASCAR, working with our teams trying to get as much identity in them as we can."
ON MODEL TO BE RUN IN THE NEW CONFIGURATION OF THE NATIONWIDE SERIES CAR AND IF WANTS TO SEE IT ROLL OUT COMPLETELY IN 2009: "At this point, we are really not ready to announce what we are going to run as far as the model, name or designation. But as far as rolling it out, I think, we learned in Cup last year that once it got going, the teams got on board and decided it would be better to focus on one.
"I really think that with the resources that the Nationwide teams have, if they are going to do it at all, they might as well just do it and be done with it and let those guys focus on one package for a year, in all reality. I think some of them would disagree with me and some of these guys up here might disagree with me, but I just think to divide their efforts between two very distinct packages and two distinct sets of requirements would be very difficult and might hurt more than it will help.
ON DIFFICULTIES FROM THE MANUFACTURERS' SIDE: "This is still the best job I have ever had at General Motors and I enjoy going to work every day. As far as difficulties, we struggle with trying to figure out ways we can constructively help our teams go faster. We are pretty good at doing science projects, even a lot of teams get in to the same trap. They can do science projects all day long. But taking that and turning it in to something that makes the cars go faster is not always an easy thing to do. So, we struggle, probably the biggest thing we struggle with, is trying to identify things we can do that we and our teams all think will add to their performance on the track."
ON DETERMINATION PROCESS OF DETERMINING WHAT BRANDING TO USE ON RACE CARS: "Our marketing group has struggled for months now, we knew this was going to happen, I don't know when exactly, but we brought it up that there is going to be a new car, a new opportunity to do something branding wise. They are trying to do, like was said, kind of a scientific job of understanding what do we need to go and do. Does it need to be a Camaro? Or Malibu? Or Impala or whatever? And what is the return on investment in that band name when you go and do that? At this point, we aren't ready to announce what it is going to be, I guarantee that a lot of thought has gone in to it. It is more than the simplistic 'Hey, we have the 18-34 market that we are going after.' Frankly, I don't know if an18-34 year-old is going to be able to afford a Camaro. I am excited for just the opportunity to do another new car like we did the Impala SS last year. Our marketing guys will tell us what it is going to be and that how we are going to operate."
ON IF CAMARO IS A CONSIDERATION: "I think I can safely say that the Camaro will be racing somewhere. From the nostalgia perspective, it is going to race against its peers I think. We are going to have a lot of fun racing it where our leadership thinks it should race."
ON IF THE BALL FOR NEW NATIONWIDE CAR IS IN OUR COURT: "I think again, it comes down to analyzing the market. Who are we going to sell to, how do we help the image of the particular product we are racing. How do we help the image of Chevrolet? What is the right thing to do? You don't want to dilute a brand. You wouldn't want to have Camaro, necessarily. I think you pick your spots strategically and see this is what we are going to do with it.
"Thereare limits what we can do. Chevrolet is our NASCAR brand. So it will be a Chevrolet, it is going to be a passenger car, but what it is, it is not irrelevant, but the fact of the matter is that NASCAR, again, what they learned with the Cup last year in managing the hard points and managing the body details like they do. From a technical standpoint, you can have a lot of variation on that theme and still be very close competitively.
"We have looked at a lot of different noses on the Nationwide cars as you can imagine. I think once you figure out how to manage the hard points and do all that stuff, there is remarkably little difference among them."
ON IDENTITY OF NATIONWIDE SERIES: "I think as long as the races are like they are, companion races, I don't stop the Cup guys from wanting to get laps and wanting to learn something from being a part of it. So there is always going to be the argument that it is Cup Light? Or is it a learn on Saturday; win on Sunday kind of thing? I don't see how you stop that. I don't think whether we run a Malibu or Impala; a Camaro isn't going to change any of that."
ON IF THEY LET MANUFACTURERS JUST BUILD RACE CARS LIKE BACK TO BASICS: "That would be cool and there are race series you can do that in. But, we are here in NASCAR and we are playing by their rules. It is their baseball diamond, their bat, their ball?
"It gets back to the return on investment question. How much can you invest and how much can you reap from your investment. Where we are at, is where we are at."
-credit: gm racing