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DATE News (chronologically)
02/05/08
nascar
Ford to consolidate chassis manufacturing too
Back in the day, stock car racing was a family affair. The Chevrolet family and the Ford family got together every Sunday to see who was better, and that rivalry still exists today.

Add in Chrysler, the other GM brands, Mercury and now Toyota and you've got a long history of "factory" presence in NASCAR.

In the day of high-tech solutions, Ford is taking a bit of a step back to that earlier time by channeling development, engineering and other work into more of a factory-type of organization, even if the powers that be at Ford don't refer to it as such.

Two Ford teams, Roush Fenway Racing and Yates Racing, combined engine shops several years ago to develop a common engine program for all seven cars in its combined fleet. That move touched off similar alliances between long-standing Chevy teams, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007.

Now there's a similar plan afoot to combine engineering on chassis.

"I don't know if it's going to be a factory [effort], it's a collaborative effort," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "To me, the way the engine program worked is you had the best of what Jack [Roush] was doing, the best of what Robert Yates was doing and you combined the two. One-plus-one equaled four in that case, in my opinion.

"So what we're going to try to do is the same thing. Let's take the best ideas everyone has, combine them, and let's let one-and-one equal four one more time. The way we're looking at it is we want the best. It doesn't really matter where it comes from. It makes sense financially, performance-wise, let's take the best, let's be adults about really what is the best and move forward with it. We've shown that in the engine program and it's really worked out. We can do it."

Based on the model of the engine program, which saved both teams money over the long haul, the chassis program should provide equal savings. The streamlining of the program allows the rising tide to float all Blue Oval boats.

"There are some economies of scale from a manufacturing point of view that can be brought to bear to give the teams individually a better price and a better result for their cars than they could if everybody built their own cars," said team owner Jack Roush.

At the same time, Roush was realistic that the market would determine which teams used which chassis.

"At the same time, Hutcherson-Pagan is still out there, Loughlin is still out there, Ronnie Hopkins is still out there," Roush said, naming the prominent customer chassis companies in the sport. "I know that we'll be getting some chassis to benchmark what we're doing against other manufacturers. I know that the Wood Brothers and Robert Yates both had some of our cars last year that they benchmarked against other folks' cars, so we're going to be one consideration that the teams can have for their cars and we hope that what we'll have and be able to provide is something that's coordinated and competitive, but it's not a requirement that everybody use the Roush cars." More at NASCAR.com

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