Ford Performance will be under new leadership in 2018
Dave Pericak is leaving the director’s role at Ford Performance as of Dec. 1.
Pericak was instrumental in integrating Ford Racing, Ford Team RS and the Special Vehicle Team (SVT) under the Ford Performance banner nearly three years ago.
After his departure from the director's job at Ford Performance, his duties will be split between Motorsports Engineering Manager Mark Rushbrook, who will oversee Ford’s racing arm, and former SVT Director Hermann Salenbauch, who will handle production. Rushbrook and Salenbach's new titles are Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports and Global Director, Ford Performance Vehicle Programs, respectively.
Pericak is returning to the production side of Ford as the Engineering Director for Unibody — but first, he wants to win a NASCAR title or three.
“We’re laser-focused on the championship,” Pericak told motorsport.com. “We have a strategy in place and we’re working that strategy. I won't even be slightly distracted until the end of this season.
“But why make the move now? When you look at what we said Ford Performance would be, it was going to be the place where we develop our people, our tools, and our technologies — that’s at all levels, including my level. Given that I’ve been here for three years, I’ve set the program up, we’ve been able to make it operate globally and we’ve had so many successes on the production side of things with all of the products we released — the 350, the Raptor, the RS. Or whether it’s our success in racing. We’re winning more now than we have ever before. We won Le Mans with the Ford GT.
“All the stuff we’ve been doing for the past three years has been pretty impressive, I think, personally, and I’m proud of it. Now, it’s time for me to go and take this global approach and bring it to the mainstream, where we can start affecting the way that we do production cars and trucks on a larger scale.”
Le Mans triumph
Certainly, Pericak’s greatest achievement from a competition standpoint was winning the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro class on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 victory. Ford entered four cars and finished first, third, fourth and 10th.
“Le Mans was a pretty significant accomplishment, not just from winning the race — obviously, that was important--but it was the way in which we were able to attack a task like that which everyone said was an impossible thing to go do,” Pericak said. “But because of the way we organized this team and the skill sets that we brought in and everything we did enabled us to do what everyone said was impossible — which was Le Mans.”
Bringing SHR into the fold
Pericak also recruited Stewart-Haas Racing prior to the 2017 season in an effort to bolster Ford’s presence in NASCAR. He developed Ford Performance’s technical center in Concord, N.C., which not only benefits the Blue Oval’s racing program but has been valuable to the production development side as well.
“Obviously, I’m very proud of bringing Stewart-Haas in and some of the additional changes we made to the teams that are going to further strengthen where we go in the future of NASCAR. I think we continue to get better and better. This year was better than last. We’re still focussed on the championship this year and next year we’ve got more in play — and the next year more. So it’s just going to continue to build.
“But if you take a step back and look at the accomplishment of what was fragmented parts of Ford — the racing stuff, the performance vehicles and the parts and accessories and bringing everybody under one roof, learning together and working together and supporting one another to the point where now we are doing things that are now off-the-charts awesome, is a huge accomplishment. We went from 80-some people when I got here to 170 Ford Performance heads now. We’ve more than doubled our workforce here which has enabled us to build some awesome products and you’ll continue to see that in the years to come.”
As Engineering Director for Unibody, Pericak’s responsibilities have grown exponentially. He will oversee the interior, exterior and engineering of Ford’s cars on a global scale.
“It’s really a place where I can have a significant effect on how we approach our products and the development of them,” Pericak said. “It’s great for me personally. And more importantly, I think it will be great for the company. We’ve been sending engineers back and forth between Ford Performance and the core as they come here and learn for a while and understand how to operate in this environment and then go back and teach the teacher if you will, then they go back and proliferate that through the rest company. So I’ll be able to go back and do that at a much higher level and a more important level.
“I’ve got several hundred people that report to me here, and there’s going to be several thousand people that report to me at the new job. I think it’s an acknowledgment of the company that they like what they see and how we’re operating and they’d like to see it throughout the rest of the company.”
Daniel Hemric cuts vacation short for first chance in Cup car
Roundtable: Will the NASCAR Cup Series ever go international?