Q and A with the Wood Brothers/JTG team


January 25, 2006

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The Lowe’s Motor Speedway media tour continued on Wednesday with a stop at the new Wood Brothers/JTG Racing shop, where the team’s driver-crew chief lineup was present. The newly formed organization will run one full-time Nextel Cup Series team, two full-time Busch Series teams, and two full-time Craftsman Truck Series teams. A transcript of formal remarks, in addition to a brief Q&A session, follows:


Wood Brothers/JTG Racing shop
Pete McCole

EDDIE WOOD – co-owner, Wood Brothers Racing – “We started this project, Tad and I did, about in July. We started talking about it, kidding around about it on the spotters stand. Actually, Jon thought of it. We were at the point where we were chasing the money to compete this year, and struggling a little bit with it. Jon said, ‘Why don’t you talk to Tad, he could probably help you.’ So, that day I mentioned something to Tad about it, and we got to talking about it and, ‘How I can help you, and how you can help me.’ In August we made that announcement in Michigan about doing it and here we were.

“I’d like to introduce some people. This is Tad Geschickter, mine and Len’s partner. Of course everyone knows Fatback. This is Stacy Compton and he’s going to drive the 59 car. His crew chief is Ernie Cope. We’ve got Jon Wood, and his crew chief is Jay Guy. He’s going to be driving the 47 Busch car and some selective Cup races later on in the year. Probably mid-summer we’re going to have another Cup car, No. 47, and Fatback will probably crew chief it. We’re probably going to run seven races with that. Then we’ve got Kenny Schrader that’s going to drive the Cup car and his crew chief is David Hyder. We’ve got Bobby East here and he’s going to drive one of the trucks for us, the No. 21 truck. His crew chief is Gary Cogswell. Marcos Ambrose, I know most of you have heard of him, he’s a champion in Australia. He just got his visa fixed and he’s going to be here this afternoon. He was kind of a day late getting that done, but he did get it fixed, so he’ll be with us and his crew chief will be John Monsam; he’s going to be driving the No. 20 truck. Like I said, I’d like to welcome all of you guys here. I’m going to introduce Tad next and he’s going to talk about the sponsors and how things have lined up with all that. I just want to thank you again for being here.”

Tad Geschickter – co-owner, JTG Racing– “Hello. Thank you for coming. This is an exciting day for us. I just wanted to take a minute and introduce you to all of the sponsors and partners that we have and make sure we give a shout-out to them. I want to start out by talking about my most important partner, though. My wife, Jodi, is sitting over there, and Jodi has worked shoulder to shoulder with me for 12 years building our company. I was glad when we got to merge. We got to rename our company from ST Motorsports, and she got her name on the letterhead, or at least her initials, so I was excited about that. We’ve got quite a few sponsor folks here, and we’ve got quite a few sponsor partners to talk about. First, Ford Motorcraft has been with the Wood Brothers and a partner of theirs for a long time. They’ll be on the Cup car nine times this year and we’re excited that they’ve continued that relationship. We’re really proud that the U.S. Air Force continues to choose Wood Brothers, and now Wood Brothers/JTG Racing to help them with their recruiting efforts. It’s going to be fun. They’re going to be on the Cup car six times, as well as an associate on the Cup car throughout the year. We’ll also have them on our driver development program, so you’ll see them on our truck as an associate as well as on Jon Wood’s 47 car as an associate. So, that should be a pretty fun marketing campaign. Last but not least on the Cup side, we have the newest face in racing and we’re really excited that Little Debbie and McKee Foods has come on board. They’ve already become part of the family. They’ve been a lot of fun to work with already, and they’ll be our primary sponsor 19 times in the Cup Series. With Little Debbie on the hood, I think Ken Schrader is going to have one sweet ride. How about that? I can’t take credit for it.

We’re beginning our ninth season with some partners in the Busch Series. You’re accustomed to seeing the Kingsford Charcoal on the hood. Kingsford has some new news this year, the first time since 1988 that there has been any innovation in the charcoal category. Kingsford Sure Fire Grooves is the name of the new product, and we’re excited to help them launch that. They’ve been long-term partners along with Hidden Valley salad dressing, KC Masterpiece, Glad Food storage bags, so they’ve been with us a long time and they’re great partners. Stacy Compton, his nickname is Dixie, and you can ask him about that later. This will be his fifth season in partnership with us, and I don’t think any sponsor and driver have a longer-term relationship than Stacy and Kingsford. He’s just a great partner and we appreciate him being a big part of helping make this happen for ST Motorsports. Also on that car, we’ll have Bush’s Baked Beans and Ready-to-Eat chili, Bryan hot dogs and Bubba Burgers, so we’ve got your whole barbeque covered with that car. On the 47 with Jon Wood, Clorox will be his sponsor once again for all but 10 of the races, and for those 10 races we have a new partnership with Armor All, so you’ll see an Armor All car; it’s pretty flashy out there. We’re also going to be announcing shortly a neat partnership with the American Red Cross. Bleach is the best disinfecting product in the world and they do a lot with disaster relief, so we’re going to have some neat stuff going on with the American Red Cross as a marketing platform next year as well. But, Jon finished the season awful strong last year and we’re looking for big things with this new partnership and with him this year.

With the help of our friends at Ford Racing Technology, obviously, Ford is a big part of our lives. They’ve helped us put together a driver development program. I don’t think it’s any secret that you see a lot champions and people contending for championships being developed from within an organization. Part of that program, we have a long line of USAC midget champions who have taken NASCAR by storm and we expect Bobby East to be the next one. He’ll be driving the Craftsman Truck. NASCAR is going to make him sit down for a little until we get to a few of the smaller tracks, but you’ll see him in there every week from Atlanta on. His sponsor is a long-time partner of ours, Edy’s Dibs. We have several people here from the West Coast from Dreyer’s and Edy’s and they’re going to promote Dibs ice cream snacks. We’re going to let you all sample them today, and we’re excited to be with them. Also on Bobby’s truck will be State Fair Corn Dogs. They’re coming over to be another sponsor on that. Last but not least, our other driver development person is Marcos Ambrose. We call him ‘The Thunder from Down Under.’ He’s literally flying over to America with this two-month-old daughter and his wife and moving here today. We just couldn’t quite make it work out for you guys to meet him here today, but you’re going to be excited by him. We have some sponsorship announcements hopefully coming very shortly for him that we’ll be able to tell you about.

Eddie Wood – TO EXPAND LIKE THIS YOU’VE HAD TO ADD SOME MORE PEOPLE AND NEW EMPLOYEES. TALK ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE FROM A RACING STANDPOINT AS FAR AS BEING PREPARED FOR THE SEASON. “That’s going to be a question that I’m going to let Fatback answer. He’s the guy that’s got the load on him right now as to getting everything done. He’s hired all of the people and he and his engineering staff did all of the construction of the race cars and especially redoing what we had and redoing the Busch cars and building new trucks. He’s had a pretty big load on him, so I’m going to let him explain to you how we’re doing all that. It’s a little unique and it’s unlike anything that anybody else is doing, so here’s Fatback.”

Michael (Fatback) McSwain – director, Wood Brothers/JTG Racing – “We moved in here in late November. Prior to that we were already manufacturing cars in our Mooresville location before moving everything into here. So at the end of last year, the Cup team was pretty much put together, the two Busch teams were pretty much put together, but we had not a truck in sight. Our plan was to do some restructuring in the Busch cars and the way we did things there. Along with that, we moved in here at the same time. So, all of these new faces in the front row and the back row, and a lot of people back here in the shop have made all of this happen. I think you would have had to been here, we should have done some time-elapse photography to see what happened and the amount of time it’s happened and how productive it seems to have been so far. Like I said, at the end of last year we had no trucks and pretty much every car in here because of the body changes has been rebuilt and re-skinned and remanufactured in some way, shape or form.”

KEN SCHRADER – driver, No. 21 Fusion – THIS IS NEW TO YOU. YOU’VE BEEN WITH MULTI-CAR TEAMS AND SINGLE-TEAM OPERATIONS. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WOOD BROTHERS/JTG RACING OPERATION? “I’m definitely very excited about it. It’s like Fatback said, though, you just would not have believed this place two months ago. I talked Hyder into coming over here, which he was excited about. He met with Fatback and Eddie and I said, ‘He’ll be fine.’ So, he came over and he came to the shop and then he was concerned because there wasn’t shop really. It was just an empty building. But, I’m very excited. I’m excited about that it’s not six Cup teams. It’s two Cup, two Busch and two truck, so I think the platform is there for these guys to move right on up and go through it. There are just some many more different types of vehicles that we’re racing at different tracks that I think there’s going to be more information there. I’m very excited.”

STACY COMPTON – No. 59 Fusion – WHAT KIND OF CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN COMING INTO THIS ORGANIZTION. “It was actually a one-car Busch team when we first started. It’s amazing. We keep talking about the shop and what’s happened here. Literally two months ago we walked in the shop and there was nothing here. The floors had not been painted, the ceilings had not been painted, the lights weren’t up. There’s been a lot of changes. I’m probably as excited right now as I’ve ever been. With what Tad and Jodi have done on the Busch side and obviously with what the Wood Brothers and Fatback are doing, if you look around, I think we have the potential to be one of the best Busch teams out there. If you look at the success that they’ve had on the Cup side as well, it’s pretty exciting for me. After our test at Daytona with the trucks, I’m probably more excited about than I ever figured I would be as well. It’s been a lot of changes. It’s been a lot of changes from when I started with Tad and these guys five years ago, and it’s lot of new faces in here. I’m excited about the resources and the brainpower that we’ve got in here now. We’ve got some really smart people in here that I think is going to make this program a lot better. We’ve always known that Tad is the best in the business as far getting sponsors and keeping sponsors, and I think we’ve got the competitive end of it taken care of now with the group that we’ve got . It’s going to be a good year. I think it’s going to be the best year that we’ve ever had as far as ST Motorsports is concerned, and now with Wood Brothers and JTG I think it’s going to be the best year that hopefully all of us have had.”

JON WOOD – No. 47 Fusion – TALK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS THAT THE WOOD BROTHERS TEAM STARTED IN THE BACKYARD OF THE FAMILY HOME IN STUART, VA., AND HAS GROWN INTO WHAT IT IS TODAY. “I guess one interesting fact about it is one thing to drive your dad’s car on the street and it’s another to drive it on a race track. That definitely puts an interesting twist on it. The changes that have been made from the cars we had last year to the cars that we’re going to have this year, certainly point to competitiveness. I’m really looking forward to what everything it’s going to bring. Tad has done a great job securing money, so we don’t really have to worry about that. That’s what most teams face this day and era is no money, so we’ve got that locked up and ready to go, so all we’ve got to do is race.”

BOBBY EAST – No. 21 F-150 – TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR TRANSITION IS PROGRESSING FROM OPEN-WHEEL CARS TO STOCK CARS. “Right now I’m a little nervous, but other than that, I’m real excited about it. I think we’re going to have a really strong truck team. Not a lot of truck teams have a second team, and not a lot of truck teams have Cup knowledge, and I think that’s going to play a big part in our success that we’re going to have this year. I’m just going to try to learn as much as I can. I’m going to act like a sponge this year and just try and soak up all of the knowledge from all of the people that up here on the stage this year. Hopefully that will make my learning curve go a little quicker.”

LEN WOOD – co-owner, Wood Brothers Racing – WHERE DO YOU PLACE THE PROGRESS OF THE NEW ORGANIZATION ON WHERE YOU WANT TO BE? “We’ve got a lot to go yet. The paint booths are not done yet and the chassis dyno is not done yet, but we’ve come a long ways in two months. We’ve got a lot of good people behind us and hopefully we can turn this into something that can win in all three series.”

KEN SCHRADER – A LOT OF GUYS YOUNGER THAN YOU ARE RETIRING, BUT YOU APPEAR TO BE GOING STRONG. TALK ABOUT YOUR COMPETITIVE DRIVE. “You’ve just got to want to do it. I don’t have anything else I want to do. I have other things I want to do, but, man, I ran five times last week. I want to race, and I’m just thrilled to have this opportunity. But, when the day comes that one of these kids bumps me out, then I’m going to run the next best thing I can find at whatever level that is and this deal will end when I just can’t climb in the car anymore or my buddies aren’t strong enough to lift me anymore. This is what I want to do and that’s it.”

DO YOU SEE YOUR CAREER SHADOWING THAT OF TOM BIGELOW? “At this level, I’m already into the years. You can do anything you want to do if you want to do it bad enough. Like I said, I’m just going to keep racing. I told someone when this all first happened, ‘This is an unbelievable phone call to get at 50 years old.’ Then they reminded me that that was an unbelievable phone call to get at any age. We’re just ready to go. We had a good Daytona test, we’re going out to Vegas for three days and we’ve got a lot of new cars and they keep spitting them out back. Roush-Yates engines and the new Ford Fusion, I’m a pretty happy camper.”

EDDIE WOOD -- WAS THE DECISION TO MERGE MADE OUT OF COMPETITION OR BUSINESS? “I think it was a necessity. If you look around, the people that are successful are the multiple teams. For me, I was the guy that would make the phone call to try to secure some money from someone, and the first they would say is, ‘Do you have a teammate or do you have something other than the one car that we can advertise on?’ The answer was, ‘No, I don’t.’ That whole mindset, if you look at the world now, the world seems to be going to bigger things. I’m going to plug some competitive sponsors now, but like Home Depot and Lowe’s, if you want to go work on your house you need nails or you’re going to buy a new door or whatever you’re going to do, a lot of people just go to one of those two stores instead of the smaller places. When I was younger, you had the smaller hardware stores and stuff like that, and now there’s just not that many of them anymore. I view the racing thing the same way: bigger is better. It’s easier to secure the sponsorship of you have more options to offer the company. It gives them more to think about and more reasons to do it. Tad is the guy that chases down the money. His background is in marketing and mine isn’t. I grew up racing and that’s about all I know, so that’s my side of it and that’s where I was coming from. It was getting to the point where I understand marketing, I get it, but I don’t know how to do it. My background is not that and Tad’s is. You know how you go into a room and you run into somebody and think, ‘Man, I like that guy.’ This is the way it was with Tad. The first time I met him I knew I liked him. That’s the way it started and I’m just happy to be here, and I’m going to let Tad tell his side.”

TAD GESCHICKTER -- “To me, I think we’ve had several opportunities to do something like this with other Cup teams. I think finding sponsorship is an important piece of this, and I love the competition side, but I didn’t grow up racing, although Jodi and I owned a race car. That seemed to be our strength and there were a lot of big companies that came around and said, ‘Hey, we’ll merge with you guys and you can just find the money.’ Our company has always been a family, the Wood Brothers have always operated that way. You’ve got like who you’re working with, all the way from Glen Wood to Eddie Wood to Len Wood, they believe what we believe. To me, it was a lot easier choice and the reason I took advantage of this opportunity versus others is just because of the type of people they were and some people that we could really partner with.”

STACY COMPTON -- ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO DO ANY TRUCK OR CUP RACES FOR YOU THIS YEAR? “I’m going to get back in the truck for a few races. Bobby and I have joked, I hated it for him that they’re not going to let him run the first couple of races, but fortunately I’m going to get to sub for him. I will be in the truck for the first couple of races. I’m pretty excited about that. The truck series was good for us, and I feel like after the test that we’ve got as good of truck program as anybody out there. I love the Busch Series. Obviously, we’ve been in the Busch Series for a number of years with the same team, and I feel like the competitive end of it now should be a lot better. Seeing what the crew chiefs – Ernie and Fatback and all of the crew chiefs involved are doing – the cars are just unbelievable. The guys in the shop are doing some of the nicest and neatest work that I’ve seen on any race cars out there. As far as the Cup level is concerned, if that opportunity comes up with this team then I’d love to do it. If Jon is driving one and he gets sick or decides he doesn’t want to run that weekend, sure, I would. But, I’m pretty happy where I’m at. I’ve got a really good situation with a lot of good people, so I’m just enjoying it. I’m like Kenny, it’s a great opportunity for me and my family. If an opportunity comes up and we decide to run a Cup race with these guys I’d love to. If more truck races become available I’d love to do that, but our concern right now is the Busch program with Kingsford. They’re a great bunch of sponsors and they’ve been with us for a long time. We’re going to have fun this year; we’re going to be competitive and I’m looking forward to it.”

EDDIE WOOD -- WITH THE TREND IN THE SPORT LEANING TOWARDS YOUNGER DRIVERS YOU SIGNED A VETERAN. WHAT WERE THE QUALITIES THAT SOLD YOU ON KEN SCHRADER? “I’ve known Kenny since he drove his first Cup race and we’ve just always been friends. Kenny is a racer’s racer. The only thing that I do is racing. Just to back up what Kenny said, that’s all we’re about and that’s all my family is about. When we decided to call Kenny and see if he was interested, the program that we were trying to put together, we’ve got a lot of young kids, and Kenny is the type of fellow that is very giving and he would help and not be intimidated by kids, and kids are not going to be intimidated by him. Everybody can be friends and help each other, and not only that, he’s really a great race-car driver. Anybody that races five times last week, I think he’s won 100 races at Phoenix. We’ve almost been together twice in the past and things go behind the dark and they don’t happen. We almost got together a couple of times before now – not a lot of people know that – so they opportunity came around and it never left our mind that somewhere down the line get together, and when that one opportunity arose it was like, ‘Let’s call Schrader and see what he wants to do.’ I called him on his cell phone and I’m not where he was. I think he was leaving a race and was actually driving his hauler, and he said he was interested. As far as I was concerned, the deal was done right then and there. To that point, we talked about doing a contract and I had so much going on that I just never got around to it. He said he’d do it and we said we’d do it, and that’s really all I needed. I didn’t need a contract, just a handshake; I didn’t even need that. When I finally gave it to him I didn’t get it back for like a month, and I got worried about it. I said, ‘What’s wrong with the contract?’ He said, ‘Well, I haven’t read it yet.’ He said, ‘You’re not going to do anything wrong, are you?’ I said, ‘Nope,’ and he signed it. If he’s read it yet I don’t know it. That’s the kind of relationship that we have. Morgan Shepard told me a long time ago, I was kind of keeping up with the springs and shocks, and when Morgan Shepard came to drive for us, he said the first thing that you have to do to be successful is be friends. I said, ‘That sounds corny. I don’t know about that.’ Sure enough, we became really good friends and were really successful. That’s what I see in this whole group here form the drivers to the owners to the crew chiefs. There are 150 people and I probably know three-quarters of them. Every day I try to walk around and introduce myself to people, and I’m getting old and I can’t remember half of the people that I’ve already done it to. They’ll say to me, ‘You talked to me last week.’ I said, ‘Ok, I’m sorry.’ I’m going to keep doing it until I meet everybody, but this whole group here is one big family, and I didn’t know how it was going to be when we went from the one team that had 30 to 40 people involved, and now we have 150. This is the coolest thing that we’ve ever done, and I just appreciate you people coming over and being interested in it.”

JON WOOD -- THERE ARE A LOT OF CUP DRIVERS RUNNING THE FULL BUSCH SCHEDULE THIS YEAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU STACK UP TO THEM? “There are two key factors that influence what has been known today as Bucshwhackers. Number one, if you look at it, a minimum of a third of the guys in the Busch field are Cup guys to a half every week. They’re not in junk. They’re in the best equipment there is. Compound the fact that they’re getting two hours of extra practice, they’re in the best cars and they’ve been doing it before I was even a thought in my mom and dad’s mind, it’s tough to beat them. I think that with the merger that we’ve had and the fact that we have Cup-backed race cars now, so to speak, and an engineering staff that we have, I think we can keep up with them. We were at the end of the year last year, and if we can not make the mistakes that I made last year, which is knocking fenders off about three times a races I think we’ll be fine.”


JON WOOD -- “The truth of it is my grandma wouldn’t allow that (laughing). That’s the short of it.”

EDDIE WOOD -- “He’s about half right, I guess. The decision to move from Stuart to Mooresville to start with was a big decision. We’d been there for 52, 53 years, and everything you knew about anything was there. But it looked to survive it and get better we had to, so we did. The decision to move over here was easy. This was very easy because we feel like it’s the right thing to do. Like I said earlier, to me bigger is better and more is better, and that’s what we’ve done. Every day I come to work, I can’t wait to get here, and I hate to leave every night. That’s the way this whole group of people is. I usually get here between 6:30 or 6:45, and sometimes earlier than that and there’s always somebody already here. Not Jon Wood, I can promise you that (laughing). And when I leave at night, sometimes I’m here late, sometimes I’m here till nine or 10 o’clock and there’s always somebody still here, so there are a lot of dedicated people here to making this happen, and like I said, we’re going to do it.”

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