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Q and A with Jack Roush Jr. and Sr.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Jack Roush Sr.
Jack Roush Jr. and his father, Jack Roush, participated in a press conference in preparation for Friday’s Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series’ Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Roush Jr. will co-drive today’s race in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Mustang FR500C with Dean Martin. The father and son duo talk about their start as a team in go-kart racing to Roush Jr. now having his first start at Daytona, a track where his dad captured 10 wins in 10 attempts in the Rolex Series GT class.


JACK ROUSH JR. – 59 – Rehagen Racing Mustang – JACK ROUSH JR. WILL CO-DRIVE THE NO. 59 REHAGEN RACING MUSTANG WITH DEAN MARTIN AND START IN 11TH THIS AFTERNOON. JACK, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT QUALIFYING YESTERDAY AND WHAT YOU’RE EXPECTING FOR THE RACE.  “It’s a little strange to be a one of these things and have me talking instead of my dad. Qualifying was pretty much chaos with the rain. I think we’ll be in a pretty good position for the race. I suspect that there will be a lot of chaos with people this being the first race of the season and looking back at last year, the early races there were quite a few crashes early on. I think there’ll be first a matter of surviving and then just staying fast from there.” YOU RACED MOST OF THE SEASON LAST YEAR IN THE KONI CHALLENGE SERIES, BUT WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY IN RACING AND WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING UP UNTIL THIS POINT. “About 1979 it all started and my dad got me a go-kart and the racing kind of ensued from there. We did quite well. I didn’t do a lot of racing in my teen years, but a few years ago we did some drag racing and I still go-kart raced through the years, just not full seasons. As far as road-racing full-sized cars, VIR 2006 was my first race.”

JACK ROUSH SR. – THIS WILL BE THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE SEEN JACK JR. RACE IN A CAR AND IT’S HERE AT DAYTONA WHERE YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS HERE THROUGH THE YEARS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THAT IS FOR YOU. “When I took young Jack, one day, we live in urban Detroit, one day at six-and-a-half years old and I came home one day and had heard about this Thunderbird go-kart club. So I go in one day and I say to him, ‘Son, I understand from seven-nine years old, and you’ll be seven soon and if you wanted to go-kart racing.’ Actually when he was three years old, I was still drag racing and I had a pretty serious accident in my Pro Stock car and while I was getting pieced back together in St. Louis, Missouri my dad and my brother came and retrieved me, I had ordered a little gas-powered car for him. I came home after my wreck and this jeep was sitting on the front porch and she wouldn’t take it inside and I got my eyes red like tomatoes with chocolate drops in them and as I hobbled up the stairs inside and she said, ‘What is this?’ I told her that I had ordered it for him because he needed his first car. We enjoyed that until he was six-and-a-half. I asked him if he wanted to do this and he said yes and I went out and get him one new of everything, the best that you can get and the kids in the neighborhood were like, ‘What did you do to your dad, how did you get on the gravy train and get this go-kart?’ I got on of my drag race haulers leftover from my Pro Stock days and we rolled his go-kart up in there and we go to the tracks. We’d stop by the donut shop because everyone in his age group got donuts, because I sponsored them with donuts. He was a big hit for that.

“The first practice session he goes out and I explained to him that I had bought him a new engine and a new car and I was told that they aren’t doing anything to these things and are running them the way they come out of the box. I told him that he wasn’t going to be very fast coming out of the corners. I told him that if he got past the straightaway, they’re cheating and I’ll work on it and we’ll fix that. So he went and goes out in the first practice in two classes that are running. The older kids had much faster cars so he went around and he understood the green flag, didn’t understand the red or black flag, so they throw the checkered flag and he goes around and ‘round and he doesn’t stop, he continues to go. I get out in front of him and look to see if he was going to run me over. I finally get him to stop and he’s got his feet all the way down on the gas as far as it could go and all the way down on the brake as far as it would go. I turn the car off and pick him up at six-and-a-half years old and inside his leather I can feel his heart about to jump out of his chest he wants it so bad. I had really bad new on my first outing with him because he says, ‘Dad, some of them are cheating and I need more horsepower.’ And my whole stick then was building engines more than anything else. So here I am, six-and-a-half years old and I’ve created a driver scenario that he’s not going to be happy with his engine that he’s got, so we did that whole season and every year he raced he won the championship until he quit. At the end of the first year, he says dad the other kid’s dads are racing, and he said, ‘Why don’t you race? Are you scared?’ I told him I’d been working on his go-kart and moved his seat eight times the first year and I had an engine dynamometer and (inaudible) I’ve been working on your car until two o’clock in the morning and I didn’t have time to do a car for me. But at the end of the year when my customers slowed down with the drag racing engines that I was building at the time, I got a go-kart and I got passed the needing more horsepower and I got past the, are you afraid, and then he says, ‘Hey dad, I’m winning, why aren’t you?’ We went until he was at least 11 years old and he was dominate in the class he was in and was better than his dad and the other guys he raced with. He didn’t get upside down except one time when a guy stopped in front of him. I got the upside down trophy twice. Then Ford Motor Company came back and wanted to get back into racing, they had taken a hiatus from ’71 to around ’80, so they came to me and told me that they wanted to go road racing and that they’d like me to build motors and help them put their teams together for them. So I went to my son and told him that I’ve got something that I’ve got to go do and I couldn’t be at the track all the time. Somebody will go with you and they’ll buy the donuts and I won’t be there all the time. He looked at me and told me, ‘Dad, I really like to go racing with you.’ At that time he was engaged in music and the computer so he had all the right motivation to do other things than race and he said that he’d rather do things than go racing without me.

“A couple of years ago, him and my daughter and some of my engineers got together and said, ‘You’re doing this Roush Performance Parts thing with Mustangs and F-150s and we think that we can help you sell cars if we were on the race track,’ and they wanted to go drag racing. I said okay and built him a nice car and his sister a nice car, then all of a sudden we had four drag race cars going around and he went through half a year with that and he said that the drag racing was great but that he liked road racing better.

“I told him to go see if he could find a team and I said I’d try to help him find some sponsorship, but I’m not going to be a little league dad again, but here I stand today. This is the first race I’ve been to, he has done it on his own with Dean Martin and Rehagen [Racing]. They’ve got a good team and have about four or five Mustangs and I’m proud to be here and be with my son and watch it unfold. It’s not my deal, but his with Dean Martin’s.”

YOUR COMPANY HAS ALSO HAD SUCCESS HERE THIS WEEKEND WITH THE FRONT ROW FOR THE 24 HOUR RACE BEING POWERED BY ROUSH-YATES ENGINES. “That is really great. Doug Yates and Robert Yates and Ford Motor Company and all the support they’ve brought to the race and particularly the things that they’ve brought to me. I’ve been involved in racing products since 1966. I went to work at Ford in 1964 and by ’66 I was with a group of Fastbacks that were drag racing nationally and did that from ‘66 ’76 myself. Ford has been there and had an interest to come back and support the Rolex Series and the prototype cars and we’ve had a chance thanks to Ford’s encouragement and the engine factory and got the Roush-Yates Engine Shop to be able to build engines for that. I look forward to hopefully celebrating a victory on Sunday with the guys that can win. I had great success here with the GTO and GTS cars. I came here 10 times from ’85 to ’97 and the last time was with Paul Newman and we entered 10 times and won 10 times in our class. That’s a record that I’m really proud of. We didn’t quit because we wouldn’t be able to keep winning, we quit because I didn’t have sponsorship that would allow me to compete at the level that I needed to. One thing that we’ve always done is that our racing programs have always been viable and they’ve been businesses that were solvent and we weren’t able to do that with road racing and what it required, so we stepped away. The Ford initiative through the Rolex Series and the KONI Challenge Series is something that I certainly enjoy being a part of and hope that they can be successful here.”

JACK ROUSH JR. continued – JACK JR., CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT COMING HERE WITH YOUR DAD HAVING SO MUCH SUCCESS AND STARTING HERE TOWARDS THE FRONT OF A 100-CAR FIELD. DOES THE 10 FOR 10 PUT ANY PRESSURE ON YOU OR DO YOU JUST GO OUT AND RACE? “I think there’s a negative way to take pressure. It is a lot to live up to and I do expect a lot out of myself, but I think looking at that too much can make you make mistakes and I think that the driving or my learning curve from when I started with Rehagen, I did feel a lot of pressure to prove myself, but there was a lot to learn and over time I let go of that a little bit and just focused on learning and I think over the year last year I did learn a lot.”

JACK ROUSH SR. continued – JACK SR. THERE’S BEEN TALK ABOUT CHIP GANASSI COMING INTO RACING. DO YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN TAKING FORD INTO DRAG RACING? “Let me just say that I think race cars have doors. I’ve never raced the Funny Cars car or Top Fuel, I’ve always raced Pro Stock cars with Ford as the manufacturer affiliation and if Ford had an interest and there was a need for me to race a Pro Stock, I’d be interested in that. But I’ve got no interest in the Nitro cars or Funny Cars. That would be interesting. I’d also be interested in coming in and putting together another road-racing team for the Rolex 24 and Dean Martin might be a part of that if we can make it work. I think Jim France and the NASCAR family and the France family have done a great job with road racing and when I come back to the Rolex 24 and I remember what it was like in 1997, the last time I was here, and I see the proliferation of motor homes and realize how many people are going to be here and what the exposure is and the relevance is to motorsports enthusiasts throughout the country, they’ve done a great job getting it elevated. I’d enjoy getting on the train again, I think it’d be fun.”

DO YOU THINK THAT THERE WILL BE A TIME THAT JACK JR. WILL BE HIRED TO DRIVE FOR JACK SR.? “I think the window has closed for him at 34-years old on getting into stock car racing, but the idea of his road racing – one of the fellows racing on his team is Ray Mason and he’s 67 and driving in a Mustang down there and I’ll be 66 in April and so the idea at 34 that Jack can come back and have a very successful road racing career I think is a real possibility. I didn’t get to a race last year and I didn’t do anything to help them last year until they had a little bit of engine trouble out in Salt Lake City where they were racing and came to me and asked if I would help them a little bit, but here I am here as the little league parent, so who knows where it might lead.”

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