Ford Racing recently hired Bernie Marcus as its new head of aerodynamics for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Marcus, a native of Germany with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, has worked in a number of different racing series worldwide over...
Ford Racing recently hired Bernie Marcus as its new head of aerodynamics for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Marcus, a native of Germany with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, has worked in a number of different racing series worldwide over the past 24 years, including World Rally, Formula One and CART. Marcus had been running the wind tunnel development program for Pac West in the CART Fed Ex Championship Series before accepting his new position with Ford.
BERNIE MARCUS, Head of Aerodynamics, Ford Racing Technology
YOU'VE WORKED IN MANY DIFFERENT FORMS OF RACING. IS THERE ONE SPECIFIC THING FROM AN AERO STANDPOINT THAT SEEMS TO WORK EVERYWHERE? "Yeah, I think a lot of the things I've learned in the past from sports cars to sedan cars to rally cars will apply here. It's the same thing. Usually, you want to make as much downforce as you can and it doesn't really matter if it's a single seat or a sedan, that's always the goal."
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST PRIORITY? "The first priority is really sort of a fact-finding mission. That's why I'm here this week and why I'll be back next week because I want to talk to the teams and find out where they are and where they feel they need the biggest help. It's clear from looking at the wind tunnel data that we are behind and we have a little bit of catching up to do. The thing is, we don't want to just catch up, we want to move ahead and bring all the Ford teams to a higher level."
ARE THERE THINGS YOU CAN DO NOW WITH THE CURRENT RULES TO GET MORE OUT OF THE CAR? "I think the new rules change where we have the one-and-a-half-inch kickout on the nose is going to be a big help, but, beyond that, I think there are other things we need to do. We can't keep running back to the NASCAR trailer and requesting rules changes. I think we need to concentrate on the car itself. I have identified a couple of areas that I want to work on, and I think those will give us some gains, but some of them will be small. It's a question of chipping away at the details and making it work. The way the rules are written, you're not going to go into the wind tunnel and find 100 pounds of downforce. You're going to have to chip away at the details."
AERODYNAMICS HAVE BECOME SUCH A BIG PART OF THIS SPORT. DO YOU FEEL ANY ADDED PRESSURE BEING THE GUY IN CHARGE OF THAT DEPARTMENT? "In any job where you want to perform there is a certain amount of pressure, but I think in this case it works two ways. The teams have to be receptive to input because you can only advise to a point. We as Ford don't really have direct control over these teams. If you had a team like in Formula One where you controlled the whole deal, that would be one thing, but here in NASCAR it's a link with several teams. It takes the willingness of each individual team to be receptive to input and work with us and that's really the key to making it work. It's the old story -- it takes two people to dance."
THE WIND TUNNEL REALLY HAS BECOME A PRIORITY HASN'T IT? "It really has and it doesn't matter the form of racing. Look at Formula One, I mean, they're wind tunneling every day of the year and they are building wind tunnels galore in Europe. Champ Car has gone that was too and I think this series is going in that direction as well. I think in order for it to really work, though, we need to get into the model wind tunnel scenario because there is only so much you can do with a static full-size car and static floor tunnels. I mean, having the rotating wheels is a major, major help in taking this thing to the next level."
IS THIS A TEDIOUS TYPE OF PROCESS? "It's really just a question of fiddling with the different areas of the car and chipping away at it. You try to find 10 pounds here or five there. That's what you've got to do, but it's really no different than any other car. From where I just came from in CHAMP cars, it's the same deal. You keep going around the car and keep working away at it. If you can find five areas where you gain 20 pounds, that might make a big difference on the track."