Dodge Then & Now 2001-05-30

One-Team Concept Continues to Grow at Dodge DOVER DOWNS, Del., May 29, 2001 - Using the one-team concept to breed extra horsepower for race tracks like Dover Downs is not a new idea for Dodge, but it is part of what has always made the brand ...

One-Team Concept Continues to Grow at Dodge

DOVER DOWNS, Del., May 29, 2001 - Using the one-team concept to breed extra horsepower for race tracks like Dover Downs is not a new idea for Dodge, but it is part of what has always made the brand different.

One of the people involved in the first Dodge heyday in stock car racing cites an early example to prove the point. The main stage for the story is in Detroit, Mich., but Dodge engineers, suppliers and race team personnel were in local suburbs and as far away as North Carolina. The scene took place shortly after NASCAR introduced the carburetor restrictor plate.

"Back in the early 1970s, we didn't have telephone equipment that could link everyone in conference calls like we do today," says John Wehrly, an engineer and truck engine specialist with Dodge Motorsports. "The Engineering Department had phones on every other desk that the engineers shared. The Special Vehicles Department (code name for racing program) took over the place one Saturday and called teams and suppliers on several of the phones.

"We had Holley Carburetor on one line, Petty Enterprises on another, and Harry Hyde of the K&K Insurance Dodge on a third. And there were others participating as well," continued Wehrly. "With the advent of the restrictor plate, we were trying to determine the ideal shape for the exit of the carburetor, and the ideal shape for the entrance of the manifold.

"We made parts with stacks of gaskets and tested the air flow," said Wehrly. "We put the parts on engines and tested them on our dynamometers. When we found something that worked well, the race shops would make similar parts based on verbal specifications, and they would test them on their own engines. By the end of the day, we were able to get back to almost the same performance we had before the restrictor plate. Unfortunately, within a few races, NASCAR outlawed that system."

Although the Dodge approach to stock car racing was not known at the time as the "one-team concept," driver Buddy Baker says it functioned the same way.

"We did a lot of testing together," said Baker. "It was not unusual for any of us to let another driver try our car. We would simply ask if they wanted to give the car a try and see what it was doing."

Today, the one-team concept is very much alive and used by Dodge for both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. The hardware side of communication, of course, has been updated with e-mail, facsimile machines, multi-port audio and video conference calls and even T-1 lines linking computers at the race shops and DaimlerChrysler Technical Center.

A feature of the one-team concept in the modern era is regular weekly conference calls. For the truck series, the calls take place every Tuesdays. Crew chiefs are the main participants, but others participate as desired or needed, including team owners, drivers, and Dodge motorsports and engineering personnel.

For Winston Cup, there are separate conference calls for owners and the technical staff. Bob Wildberger, Dodge liaison with NASCAR and the teams, chairs the owners' calls. Ted Flack, Dodge leader for race engine development, or Tim Culbertson, Dodge Winston Cup program leader, organizes the technical calls.

Flack says the one-team approach has been a constant since his first days in the Dodge racing program. "We have always operated like one giant team, from the highest levels down to the people at the bottom," says Flack. "Everyone was working together with a single focus," he continued. "No one talked about, 'Those guys,' it was always, 'Us.' I felt just as involved as a mechanic running the dynamometer as I do now managing the engine department."

According to Flack, the unified approach did not return by accident. "It was a strength of ours in the heyday of Dodge racing in stock car and drag racing, and we wanted to get back to it," he said. "It is absolutely, for sure, one of the things that made our racing program great in the 1960s and 1970s. "It's the same today. It may even be better now.

"The teams are not telling every detail of what they're doing to make the car go fast, but for the big picture stuff they are together. During the development stage (for the new Dodge engine), one shop had a problem and the guys from another shop came over to help," said Flack. "When we go to the wind tunnel, it is not unusual for all the teams to send a representative. Everyone talks about the results and makes suggestions for improvement. We do the same with the engineering track tests.

"We want more sets of eyes focusing on the problem," explained Flack. "Group mentality is always stronger than what one person can do alone."

The Dodge one-team concept will be seen in action again this weekend as seven race teams bring 10 cars and six trucks to Dover Downs International Speedway. Using their collective knowledge, the cars and drivers have led a lot of laps this season. Maybe this weekend one of them will lead the most important lap - the last one.

This week in Dodge history:

* 5/30/54 - John Soares won a 500-lap, 250-mile race at Carrell Speedway in Gardena, Calif. He was driving a Charles Vance-prepared 1954 Dodge. Staged on the same day as the Indianapolis 500 and dubbed the "Poor Man's 500," the race was the swan song for the track. The winner actually covered only 496 laps because scorers had difficulty keeping up with everything for 500 laps on the half-mile dirt track. Soares averaged 53.438 mph and the race lasted more than four-and-a-half hours.

* 6/2/66 - David Pearson's throttle hung open with 120 laps to go but he still managed to win the Asheville 300 at New Asheville Speedway in North Carolina. Pearson pressed on using a trick credited to the late Joe Weatherly - he cut the ignition switch entering each turn of the one-third mile track, then flipped it back on to pick up speed on the straightaways. "I'm about wore out," said Pearson after the race. It was Pearson's seventh win of the season in his Cotton Owens-prepared Dodge.

* 6/1/69 - Bobby Isaac drove his K&K Insurance Dodge around pole winner David Pearson and motored on to victory in the Macon 300 at Middle Georgia Raceway in Macon, Ga. The 150-mile win was Isaac's seventh of the 1969 Grand National (now Winston Cup) season. Isaac averaged 73.717 mph in front of a crowd of 6,500.

* 6/5/69 - Four days later, Bobby Isaac beat David Pearson again to register his 12th career win in the Maryville 300 at Smoky Mountain Raceway in Maryville, Tenn. Isaac's K&K Insurance Dodge was six laps ahead of Pearson when the 150-lap race ended on the half-mile track.

* 5/31/70 - Bobby Isaac and his K&K Insurance Dodge dominated the day and won a rain-shortened Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The race was red flagged after 262.5 miles when rain reached the half-mile track for a third time. Bobby Allison finished second in a Dodge.

-Dodge Motorsports-

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About this article
Series History , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Allison , Buddy Baker , David Pearson