FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 October 19, 1999 North Carolina Speedway Last week it was announced that Dodge would be returning to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 2001.
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pop Secret 400 October 19, 1999 North Carolina Speedway
Last week it was announced that Dodge would be returning to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 2001. Representatives from all four manufacturers were guests on this week's Winston Teleconference, including Ford's Operations Manager for North America Greg Specht.
WINSTON TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
GREG SPECHT, Ford Racing Technology Operations Manager for North America -- IS FORD LOOKING TO GET MORE INVOLVED NEXT SEASON WITH THE BUSCH SERIES? "Yes we are. We started this season with taking a look at the Busch Series and recognizing the importance of that series in the big picture of things. We assigned a program manager this year who has been working full-time getting familiar with the series and the requirements and the challenges that we face in that area...doing some work and making sure that the equipment is competitive and working with the few teams that we do have in Busch to get their programs running better and, hopefully, attract some quality teams over to the Ford side."
HAVE YOU GOTTEN APPROVAL FOR TEMPLATES ON THE 2000 TAURUS? "Not all of them. We're in the process right now and we're getting pretty close to having everything approved. I'm hoping that in the very near future we'll have the entire car approved and we can get templates cut for our teams and get them going building the new car."
WHAT IS DODGE GOING TO FACE AS FAR AS THE APPROVAL PROCESS FOR THEIR NEW CAR? "I would say one thing, first of all, I think the process is being better defined by NASCAR and things are being approved. We were able to work fairly well with NASCAR. They gave us some guidelines to stay within and we were able to stay within those guidelines and I think we're all pretty happy with the way things are turning out in terms of timing and the race car that we're going to end up with. I think that's only going to improve over time. I think as each of us rolls out cars in the future, the process should be improved and should be easier to work with and to live with."
WHAT IS THE CONSUMER IMPACT OF BEING INVOLVED IN RACING? "When you look at the fan loyalty demographics, it's undeniable that there's a benefit to each manufacturer in participating in this very competitive, very high-profile part of the sport. We saw it in the Taurus. When we started racing the Taurus, the brand identification and the interest in the Taurus showed a definite up-tick, so that's why we're excited to be there and want to continue to be there in a competitive fashion."
DOES FORD HAVE ANY PLANS TO TEST THEIR NEW CAR AT TALLADEGA ANYTIME SOON? "We don't have a date yet from NASCAR. We talked to Gary (Nelson) about it and got agreement that we would have the same opportunity that the Monte Carlo did. We're awaiting the final approval of the car and then we can get an idea of when we would be ready to go out there and have a meaningful test."
IS FORD GOING TO LOSE RUSTY WALLACE AND ROGER PENSKE TO DODGE? "We haven't gotten any indications of that at this point in time."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO ROGER ABOUT IT? "Not recently."
WHO WOULD MAKE THE DECISION TO STAY WITH FORD OR SIGN WITH SOMEBODY ELSE? "That's the team owner's decision."
WHO DOES HE SIGN OFF WITH? "It depends on the duration of the contract that each team has with Ford Motor."
HOW LONG IS ROGER'S CONTRACT WITH FORD? "I'm not at liberty to say that, but, at any rate, at this point in time we haven't gotten any indication from the Penske Racing South team that they're interested in talking to us about making a move."
ARE YOU GOING TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT THAT OR ARE YOU GOING TO LEAVE IT UP TO THEM? "At this point I'd leave it up to them. The last conversation that we had is that there is no change in the future or on the horizon."
HOW DO YOU KEEP SOME OF YOUR TOP TEAMS FROM BEING SNATCHED AWAY FROM YOU? "What we do is what we always do and I'm sure what my colleagues do and that's to just try to provide the best level of support and make sure that we have competitive equipment out there to run and that we continue to work with the teams to improve their performance on the track. We certainly at Ford don't want to lose any of the teams that we have. I'm just so pleased with the performance of our teams that I'd hate to see anybody move, but we have to realize the reality of the situation and just do what we can to make it attractive for them to stay with the Taurus."
ARE WE GOING TO SEE NASCAR BECOME LIKE F-1 WITH ALL FACTORY SUPPORTED TEAMS? HOW DO YOU SEE THE SPORT EVOLVING? "With the growth in the sport and the popularity with new owners coming in as well as manufacturers, there's no question that there's a tremendous demand for talent and I think it is stretching the limit of quality drivers and teams and crew chiefs. I think it's a problem for NASCAR as well. How do you accommodate the demands of the fan? I think it's typical in professional sports when you see expansion -- where does the talent come from? I think one thing that is essential, and one of the reasons we're getting back into Busch, is to develop relationships with drivers and teams in other series to grow the sport and grow the pool from which the top teams can draw from. That's not going to happen overnight, but I think we're all involved in doing that and making sure that the competition at the lower levels is as good as it can be so it can continue to feed the top series which is Winston Cup."
SO YOU'RE SAYING YOU WANT TO IMPROVE THE FARM SYSTEM LIKE IN BUSCH AND BRING THAT TALENT UP TO WINSTON CUP? "That's part of it, definitely. And it's not only drivers, but crew chiefs and so forth -- people that are so integral to a successful team."