NASCAR News

Ford & Robin Pemberton Press Conference

January 30
, 2003

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Ford Racing announced the hiring of Robin Pemberton as its new NASCAR Field Manager during a teleconference earlier today. Pemberton, along with Ford Racing Manager of Performance Operations Greg Specht, participated in the teleconference and spoke about what brought both parties together and how they will work together in the future.

GREG SPECHT - Manager, Performance Operations, Ford Racing Technology - "Obviously, we're very excited about bringing Robin on board. He brings a capability to our program that we just haven't had in the past. We've been looking for somebody with those capabilities for a long time and there aren't very many people out there that fit the bill and, of course, Robin fits the bill to a "T". So we're just over the top in terms of the excitement around here. All of our engineers are so happy to have somebody with his background and experience on board because he complements the people we have in place already. Most of our people are Ford Motor Company employees and they spend a lot of time within the company doing a lot of good work. They're very technically capable people, but they clearly don't have the kind of experience that Robin has, and you can only get that experience by being on, what I would call, the inside of the racing activity within the teams. It's a tremendous boost to our program. It's boosted our morale and boosted our technical capability. We can't wait until February 1 comes around and then we're going to hit the ground running."

ROBIN PEMBERTON - NASCAR Field Manager, Ford Racing Technology - "I'm just thrilled to death. I've had my best relationship with Ford Motor Company and their motorsports program for as long as I can remember - starting with Roush Racing in '87 and spending five years with Jack and his bunch, and then spending seven years at Penske with Ford cars. I've got a lot of good friends and good teammates at the Roush camp and the Yates camp and I'm excited. Every day that goes by I look at things I can do to help and by just being there and having good relationships with the crew chiefs and the team owners. Trying to clear some of the muddy waters on the technology side and getting it handled better between Ford and the race teams and vice versa will be important, so I can't tell you how excited I am about it. It's a great opportunity for myself and my family and I can't wait to get started."

WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT DODGE LAST YEAR THAT YOU CAN HELP BRING TO FORD? "The way the cars and the rules are right now, basically, everybody starts from a clean sheet of paper. I think being involved with some different projects over the past few years and surrounding ourselves with the good engineering that we have at the various teams in the Ford camp will help. I think the important thing and the goal is to monitor our progress through the first five or six races and be able to react to problems that we may have or capitalize on some of the things that we've already got going. Basically, it's a clean sheet of paper. You've got to look at it that way because of all the rules and regulations, but I think everybody is ready for the game now."


TONY STEWART SAID THE TEMPLATES HAVE TAKEN THE MANUFACTURER OUT OF THE GAME. WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR GAINS NOW TO MAKE THE FORDS STRONGER? "It's more important now that you have to look in other areas that aren't being monitored or critiqued quite as hard by the sanctioning body. So you take the templates that aren't the same and you use them to your advantage. You've got to be smarter on your springs and shocks and your handling package. It's a time for good multi-car teams to pull together and use what they have to make the cars handle better. From a manufacturer's standpoint, we've got to be there and we've got to be ready to react and give the resources to the teams when they need it and not drag our feet on it."

WHERE DO YOU SEE MOST OF YOUR PRESENCE BEING? DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AWAY FROM THE TRACK MORE? "Not really. I'll probably be there for at least three-quarters of the races. You have to be there to evaluate the competition and make sure that we're getting a true evaluation. A lot of times I think we may make mistakes because we'll get ranting and raving as groups or manufacturers that our cars aren't as good, but maybe our teams aren't doing as well as they need to be doing. Maybe our teams are working way too hard or maybe our cars aren't as good as they need to be from the manufacturer. So being involved in trying to evaluate that and not going in trying to beat up NASCAR every two seconds for something we may or may not need is important. We have to use those times and chances to talk to NASCAR as wisely as we can."

IS THIS POTENTIALLY MORE STRESSFUL HAVING TO WORK WITH THREE DIFFERENT SERIES? "I don't know (laughing). I haven't been too smart here lately on some of my choices, but I'm really excited about this. Yeah, it's more teams and more personalities, but not having the day-to-day, head-to-head conversations with the crew chiefs and drivers - being able to do it in a different form or something like that - I think that will be better. The bright side is that you really have a lot more opportunities to go to Victory Lane this way, so that excites me also."

HOW DIFFICULT WILL THIS BE TO PUT YOURSELF IN SITUATIONS WHERE YOU'RE ASKED TO KEEP SOME SECRETS? "It's important from the team's standpoint and for their confidence that the manufacturer rep, or whoever it might be, is not going to take their proprietary information to another team. It's important for the manufacturer to develop things that they can hand out to all the teams and it's probably gonna be hard for me at first to keep that extra distance. It'll be difficult. I don't need to get right in there and get in the mix. That's really not my job. My job is with Ford, so it's gonna take some adjustment. It's along the same lines as I think myself and a lot of other crew chiefs have gone through over the years, where you go from a mechanic to a crew chief, a crew chief to a manager and what not. It's hard to go to that next level and understand that you need to step back just a little bit and observe a little bit more. Once I get that down, I think that will be the best situation for everybody. Generally, it's not the easiest thing to do for someone right off the bat."

WHAT WILL YOUR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES BE? "We'll have to adjust it as we go along, but the day-to-day things will probably be interfacing with the teams - the crew chiefs in particular - to make sure that they're getting the parts and pieces that they need. From time to time the manufacturer will have trouble with stamping the sheet metal and different things, so trying to get across and let the crew chiefs know that there is a large group of people at Ford Motor Company that are waiting and trying to help and improve the situation is part of it. From engine development, chassis dynamics, aerodynamics, there are a lot of programs going on in parallel. Every week the crew chiefs and drivers are out at the race track working as hard as they can and a lot of times you'll lose sight of the fact that the manufacturer has programs going on that need to be utilized by the teams because it can help them. I think from my background and having needed some of that help in the past, it's important to find out and understand that manufacturers can provide those services. I think being a constant reminder to the teams and letting them know to utilize these things is important because it will be to their advantage. I know how hard the teams work and sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees."

GREG SPECHT CONTINUED - CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT? "What we're looking for from Robin, and I think in one of the areas where he'll be able to help, is just what he said. We've got engineers back here pounding away on things that we think can help a race team and he can help guide that effort. He can say, 'Here's an area where the teams in general can really use some help,' and that will help us get ahead of the curve from a development standpoint so then we can deploy that technology with all the teams. That's something that's been a little difficult for us to do in the past because we haven't been in the type of position to know or be able to understand the specific problem that the race teams are facing. So, we're looking for Robin to give us that guidance and interpret for our engineers what they need to be working on."

HOW DID YOU GET TOGETHER WITH ROBIN? "We've had this need for a long time, number one. This wasn't the first time that we approached Robin, but this was the first time the timing was right to have him come on board. It was not a new idea on our part by any stretch of the imagination. The opportunity was right where we had the opening and Robin was available. When we knew that, we jumped all over it."

WHEN DID YOU FIRST START TALKING WITH EACH OTHER? "We've been thinking about this for more than a year. For a couple of years we realized we had a gap in our program that needed to be filled with somebody that was really a NASCAR insider, so to speak. We spoke to Robin after he left Penske, but it was too late. He had already made another commitment. This time we got a phone call from one of our sources that gave us a heads-up that Robin was gonna be available, so we got his home phone number and gave him a call in late December. From that point, things came together very quickly."

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