Wood Brothers Racing and ST Motorsports announced a partnership at a press conference this morning at Michigan International Speedway. Eddie Wood and Tad Geschickter outlined the framework of how this new operation will work. EDDIE WOOD,...
Wood Brothers Racing and ST Motorsports announced a partnership at a press conference this morning at Michigan International Speedway. Eddie Wood and Tad Geschickter outlined the framework of how this new operation will work.
EDDIE WOOD, Co-Owner - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus
"We've been working on a plan for the last couple of months to improve the Wood Brothers Racing team, along with Tad Geschickter and his racing team. To make a long story short, the concept in Cup racing now, of course, is multiple teams. You hear it everyday. Somebody asks us the question every weekend - 'What's the advantage and disadvantage of being a single team?'
"That being said, we're creating a new partnership - not an alliance but a partnership - that will enable Wood Brothers Racing to expand to two Cup teams, along with Tad's two Busch teams. We're not sure how long all of this is going to take, but we'll have two Truck teams also. That's when we get it all up and running and everything is all done.
"We took this idea to Ford Motor Company and Greg Specht to get their blessing and, of course, they're help, and they took us in with open arms - that they would help us and make it all work. We're really excited about it."
"This really just came together and, actually, we just signed off on it this morning. To give you a little bit of a preview of what we're gonna do - all of the race cars and trucks will be under one umbrella, and all of the construction, setup - everything involved with getting a race car to the track will be under Fatback's (Michael McSwain) supervision, along with Ford Motor Company and Bernie Marcus. He's the Ford aero person and he'll be involved in this quite heavily, so we've got a really good group of helpers. We're gonna have a lot of sponsors lined up to complete this off, so when we're all done with it we'll have two, two and two. "We want to do it that way to instill in the garage that if, say you're a guy fresh out of college or high school and you want to go racing, it's hard to get to Cup right now. But if you get a program started where you can start in trucks and then work your way all the way up to the Cup level - whether you're a mechanic or a driver or a fabricator - that's kind of the concept we're working on.
"I'm sure you guys already know about the driver development program that Tad and Ford Motor Company are working on, so all of that will be in on all of this.
"The other reason we want to do this is that the points where Wood Brothers is weak is the marketing side and putting together the deals and chasing the money. In the environment that we're in, chasing the money is really one of the hardest things to do and we're not very good at that. We're racers. That's what we do. We race. That's all we do. We don't have any other outside activities. We race. Tad, on the other hand, that's his expertise is the marketing side of it. So it was a perfect match. He can help us with what we're weak at and we can help him with what he's weak at."
IS THE PLAN TO PUT JON WOOD IN A CUP CAR? "I'm gonna answer this question before we get any further. I knew the first question would be, 'What's Ricky's plan?' We still have not gotten to that. We haven't talked about that, so that's out of the way. We're not talking about drivers today. We're not talking about sponsors, we're just talking about all of us working together to create something better for all of us."
WILL YOU HAVE TWO CUP TEAMS AT DAYTONA IN FEBRUARY AND IS THIS A PROMOTION FOR MICHAEL? "I don't know. We'll for sure have the 21 and race the 21, and Tad will of course race the 47 and the 59. Hopefully, we'll have one truck for sure next year. The second Cup car or the second truck, that may not come next year. It may be the following year, but if the right dominos fell that could happen. We'll just have to wait and see on that. As far as Fatback, he can do anything he wants to do. Call it whatever you want. This whole deal with us, he's a big major part of it. If you've paid attention to what my race team has done in the last year versus the year before and the year before that, when he walked in the door it was like a big light came on and things got better. We've got a lot of good things ahead."
MICHAEL MCSWAIN , Crew Chief - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus
DO YOU STILL WANT TO BE A CREW CHIEF? "Yeah, I want to for a few more years anyway. I've got some unfinished goals that I've been close to a couple times and I haven't completed yet. But it's gonna take a strong group and a strong group of people to make this happen because I want to keep crew chiefing. With the staff I have now and the people I have in place on the 21, that's gonna ease some of the challenges coming up. It's gonna be hard, but I have to look toward my future as well, just like these guys are trying to do, and I feel like that's a step towards my future. But, to answer it shorter, I don't want to quit crew chiefing yet."
EDDIE WOOD: HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE REST OF THIS SEASON? "This thing started in the spotter's stand. Actually my son, Jon, kind of thought of it one day. We were just riding down the road and he said, 'You and Tad ought to get together and do this together." Then we just got to talking about it, just like you guys talking to one of your friends and deciding to go into business together. That's how it started. We're already trying to do some stuff together. It's gonna be hard to get up and running until you actually get started. If you're Fatback, it's hard for Fatback to help the Busch team without a car that he's built or supervised building because the recipe to build that car may be different than what he would recommend. But we are trying to work together now with things as simple as tire pressures and race strategy and shocks and stuff like that. It's not quite as in depth as the actual geometry of the front ends and stuff like that, which takes quite a while to incorporate."
GREG SPECHT , North American Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology
"First off just let me say that Ford Motor Company and Ford Racing supports this move. When Eddie and Tad came and presented it to us it didn't take long for us to agree. We think it's the right thing for them to do and we also think it's going to strengthen Ford's program. As Eddie said, with the success of the multi-car teams, you can see that there's an advantage there, and then it also gives us the opportunity to leverage the resources that Ford puts into our racing program. For example, we are integrating our technical support amongst the Cup, Busch and Truck teams in order to use the technology that we develop in truck, for example, to use in Cup and vice versa.
"As we said a little bit earlier, it's difficult to do that when everybody is running different equipment. What this consolidation is gonna do is help to commonize the equipment in the Truck, Busch and Cup Series for this team. So when one of our engineers is working with the Wood Brothers Cup team, it'll make it that much easier for them to work with the Busch team and the Truck team as well. That will make our overall program stronger.
"The other thing that was important to Ford is that we field the fewest numbers of cars and trucks in the series right now and we wanted to expand that. But we wanted the teams to be competitive and also wanted them to be compatible. Certainly, there are folks no more compatible than the Wood Brothers and ST Motorsports. By putting them together, we kind of keep it within the family. We now have Roush, which is a fully integrated team that has Cup, Busch and Trucks. We're going to have this consolidation now, so we'll have a second team with that structure, and Robert Yates Racing is, of course, has now added the Busch Series and are planning a full-time Busch effort next year. So I think it lends itself to that structure very nicely and it keeps us working with folks that we know are compatible and competitive and very capable, and who are also in racing for the long term the way Ford Motor Company is. That's why it was very easy to support this plan when it was presented to us."
TAD GESCHICKTER , Owner - No. 47 and 59 Busch Series Ford Tauruses
"Any partnership that's going to work everyone has to win. The way I look at this, multi-car Cup teams are who are dominating. Truck and Busch teams that are affiliated with Cup programs are dominating. We've already proved that we can deliver sponsor value. Our sponsors have been with ST Motorsports for nine years. We're going to take our marketing savvy and make sure all the sponsors are happy, but we're going to be able to take Fatback's leadership, the help of Ford Motor Company, create a large engineering department, a good base of operations where we have good, solid cars, and make sure we're competing where we want to on the race track. I like to call this the number 21 for the 21st century. I think this is an obvious move for both companies. I just really look for us to take what we're doing for the sponsors, which is very value added, and create the same kind of value for them on the race track over the next two years."
WAS THIS IN RESPONSE TO SOME MULTI-CAR TEAMS ADDING TO THEIR OPERATION? "This kind of started before all of that really had happened. Everybody in this room at one point or another has probably asked Len or myself or Fatback that very question - like how do you make it with one team? Having one team is not all bad. You can turn things around quickly. You can change quickly. You don't have to have a lot of lead time as far as making a major change. As you all know, every week something changes in this business and I'm talking about the race cars. But we decided to do one, of course. Who knows, we may have more than that five years from now. I can't answer that question. But our format, what we're trying to do, is two, two and two. That way we're represented in every series and we've got a format to go from the young, inexperienced people that want to get into racing - if they can cut it - all the way up to Cup. That's just the approach we're taking. It's just a little different. But having the two teams to pull from, with all the resources with Ford Motor Company and all that, I think will add to it."
"I want to add something to that. To me, it's about the future of an organization. It's hard to get good, quality people in today's world. Like you said, the bigger teams are getting bigger and all the good, quality guys are getting swallowed up. So a lot of our thought process behind this whole thing was, if you can develop a work atmosphere and a corporation where people can be invested in for their entire careers - they can come in on the ground level, they can work their way up all the way up to Cup and what we hope will be a championship team. I think that holds true for the drivers, the tire guys, the crew chiefs, the car chiefs. I mean, car chiefs now - you've got a car chief that for instance works at Rick Hendrick's. He may or may not get a shot at being a crew chief. The only way he'll probably get a shot is to be able to move on. What we want to try to do is develop an atmosphere to where they don't have to move on to make that next step. They can do it within the same organization and make the organization stronger and stronger for many years to come."
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT YOUR ALLIANCE WITH ROUSH? "We haven't had Roush ties for the last year."
IF RICKY DECIDES TO RETIRE AND YOU HAVE ONLY ONE CUP TEAM, WILL JON BE YOUR DRIVER? "I don't know. That would be a better question for Jon, I guess. We're not sure yet. Like I said, Ricky is gonna make his decision. If he makes it today or makes it three months from now, that's Ricky's call. We'll just deal with that as time marches on and, hopefully, we'll have another press conference where we'll sit down and announce drivers and all the sponsors and how we're gonna do it."
WHAT ABOUT THE CAR BUILDING. WILL FATBACK OVERSEE THAT NOW? "Yes. That's gonna start now. Everything that happens, as far as our race cars, is gonna be because he wanted it to or he did not want it to. He'll supervise the whole complete process from a bare frame all the way to the finished product. We're not sure how the logistics are gonna work. We're working on that now, but we'll let you know when we get all of that worked out. It's not gonna be a really hard thing to do, it's just a matter of putting it all together."
THERE'S NO OWNERSHIP CHANGE? "It's just a big umbrella. We do have a partnership. It's not an alliance, it's a partnership."
HOW WOULD IT WORK WITH ROUSH-YATES FOR ENGINES? "If you put all that together, that's just a matter of going to Doug and Robert and Jack and saying we need another Cup program. You asked about the Roush ties and I wasn't really clear about that. We do run the Roush-Yates motors and will continue to do that, but in so far as when we moved south to do what we do, we were associated with Roush Racing pretty deep in. All of that kind of went by the wayside later on, but since Fatback has been with us we really have not been working with them. Jack and Len and myself are really good friends, but that part of the deal just didn't work out."
SO ARE YOU SAYING YOU WON'T HAVE A SECOND CUP TEAM AT ALL NEXT YEAR? "We might."
"Sponsorship is on the way. That's all my pressure. We're working diligently. It's taken us about two months to get our business structure put together, our corporate structure, our business documents, operating agreements, and now it's coming on me to deliver those dollars to the table. Making this announcement formally is a critical piece to a lot of the sponsors that we have waiting in the wings were waiting for. We're excited to say we've got the alliance put together, the partnership put together, the corporation put together, the business structure is put together and we're announcing it today. I believe that will help us close some of these sponsorships that we're in the works on."
IS CUP A PRIORITY? "We're working on Cup and Truck sponsorships currently. I think it's important to note that a lot of the sponsors we speak to believe that Motorcraft is Motorcraft and the Wood Brothers have Motorcraft. That's a partial season deal next year, so we've had to put together additional dollars for the 21 next year, as well as the Cup dollars for the second team. That's why we're not all the way finished yet. We still have a little bit of work to do on the 21."
RANK THE PRIORITIES? "The 21 needs to be fully funded, number one. Number two, it's critical that Ford's driver development effort and what we're gonna provide for young drivers as they develop their career to have the Truck team ready to go, and that's almost finished. So I think the first priority is finish the 21. The second priority is finish the truck, and the third priority would be to finish the second Cup."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO SEE THIS SUCCEED? "We certainly support what went on and we certainly want the Wood Brothers Racing team to thrive and survive. It was a couple of years ago where we sat and talked about the five-year contracts that we had signed with our three major teams, and it started back then when we started talking to our teams about how to be structured for the future and how we felt it was important to have what I call a fully integrated program, where you have entrants in all three series. This isn't something, like Eddie said, that happened overnight. We've been thinking about it and talking about it for a long time, and I really thing the genesis of the thought process on Ford's part was when we signed the five-year contract with Wood Brothers Racing. Since then we've been working with them as well as Roush and Yates with what we need to do as manufacturers to ensure our team's success and, of course, that translates into success for Ford Motor Company. We gave them our perspective on what we think the teams need to do to be successful long term, so this fits in nicely with that plan."
WILL JON BE YOUR DRIVER REGARDLESS NEXT YEAR? "We haven't seen the Busch schedule yet. I think that's gonna be a critical piece. I think there's no secret that it's helped Carl Edwards to do double duty this year. I think the seat time has helped his learning curve, so I would fully support it. If Jon is gonna go in a Cup car, I would fully support him doing double duty - assuming that the schedule allows that. I've heard a lot of rumors about the Busch schedule for next year, and I think we really can't make that decision until we see how well the two schedules match up."
WHAT RUMORS HAVE YOU HEARD? "I've heard everything from Trucks being combined with Cup more next year, to Toronto, Canada. I mean, I have no idea what the schedule is gonna look like at this point."
IF YOU GET A SECOND CAR, WHAT WILL THE NUMBER BE? "I did make a phone call to Daytona Beach to see what was available and I haven't got that information back yet. We certainly would like to have a number that probably our family has had in the past. We've had several numbers. Most of them are taken in Cup right now, but there are some that are not. Obviously, 20 is not available and 22 is not available, so you wouldn't have the natural succession of it, but a number that, to me, has been kind of special - and you've got to be an old guy like me to remember it - but we ran number 47 for a little while in the mid-sixties with Curtis Turner. But I don't know. That's as far as it's gotten."
HOW HARD HAS IT BEEN THE LAST FEW YEARS BECAUSE YOU GUYS HAVE NOT HAD CONSISTENT SUCCESS? "Len and I have been racing since we were old enough to go to our dad's shop and not get thrown out for being in the way. We were there in the Pearson days. We know what it's like to be on top of it. We know what it's like to be on the very, very bottom. We've lived it all. Just the fact that we want to get back to where we used to be. It can be done. That's part of the reason for this and mostly the reason for it. It's hard to do this stuff by yourself and now by partnering up with Tad and ST Motorsports that gives us the piece we're missing and, hopefully, we can give him the piece he's missing and we can both just go right on forward and get us back to where we need to be and get Tad where he wants to be. We've been on both ends of it. We're kind of in the upper-middle right now and headed in the right direction, and so is Tad so, hopefully, we can pull it off."
WHERE ARE YOU IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF FUSION? "The Fusion was actually built at our shop. We did the test for NASCAR - the submission - and right now NASCAR has it. Greg probably knows more about how far along it is. I think it's approved or close to it."
"For all intense and purposes we've kicked off the production tooling for the new car and we expect bits and pieces showing up at our distribution center in North Carolina within a week or two. So those will be turned over to the teams and then they can start production of their cars. Then at the same time we're going to continue our development work on the aero side, led by Bernie (Marcus), continue our scale model testing and then also our full-scale testing."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SETUP FOR THIS OPERATION? "Neither one of us has a building or facilities large enough to house all of this, so we're gonna choose to in some way, shape or form, split up within a couple of locations with the primary function and our plan being to have the prep and maintenance and the setup in one facility and all the construction and build in another facility. That's our plan at this time."
YOUR ROLL? "It gets bigger everyday. My role is to do whatever is possible and whatever I need to do to make sure that ST Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing and this whole plan is successful and does our job for our sponsors and our manufacturer, Ford."