Q&A with Ford motorsport boss Allison Ford Racing has kicked off the 2011 season with great momentum after season-opening wins in the World Rally Championship, RallyCar’s Rally America Series, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and, this past weekend, in the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Series. Jamie Allison, director of Ford North America Motorsports, talks about what these wins mean for the company and how the One Ford concept is working in motorsports.
JAMIE ALLISON – Director, Ford North America Motorsports – POMONA, DAYTONA, RALLY SWEDEN AND SNO*DRIFT. 2011 IS OFF TO A GOOD START FOR FORD. “To be a Ford fan, to be a Ford employee, to be a Ford team, anywhere in the world, this is a wonderful start. We just hope that we can take this and carry season-long momentum. This is a momentum carrier for us at Ford Motor Company.”
TRULY ‘ONE FORD’ IS AT WORK HERE WITH THE WIN IN THE NHRA, THE WIN IN NASCAR. ONE FORD IS THE KEY. “The spirit of Ford is really relayed in everything we do in motorsports because the spirit of Henry Ford really is to reach out and make something affordable to the masses. But in this case it’s to reach out and connect and have kind of a family approach to everything we do. You talk about the Wood Brothers inspiring the team here [in Pomona] and Robert [Hight] winning. He’s carrying their coin. Something about family connections is really what the spirit of Ford is all about. We saw it today. We saw it last week in Daytona. It runs deep and it runs through everybody and it’s good for Ford.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WRC? IT WAS A 1-2-3 SWEEP FOR FIESTA IN ITS FIRST EVENT. “You have the 1-2-3 sweep in Sweden, and also, we’re bringing these cars to the States. They’re exciting, fun to drive, small, fuel-efficient, high-quality cars. It’s best exemplified when you see it in motorsports and winning against some pretty competent competition. We also have the seedling from that into Rally America, in the front-wheel drive entry and we won the first race up in Sno*Drift. The Rally platform is a marketing platform for us and we’re succeeding in competition.”
THE GREAT THING ABOUT SNO*DRIFT IS THE FIESTA THAT WON WAS BASICALLY RIGHT OFF THE SHOWROOM FLOOR WITH A ROLL CAGE ADDED TO IT. “They’re exciting, they’re fun to drive. What better way to show it than with a front-wheel drive entry where all you did was put a roll cage on the car and go out and run against some pretty good teams. The platform is ready.”
WITH THE WIN IN DAYTONA, IT CAME FROM THE TEAM YOU WOULD LEAST EXPECT, YOUR YOUNGEST DRIVER PAIRED WITH FORD’S OLDEST NASCAR TEAM. “Sometimes when you have divine intervention come in, you just got to take it. We have milestones: 110 years of Ford Racing, we’re knocking on the door of our 600th victory. Trevor, our youngest driver, is with our oldest team that has run Fords for 61 years. When you put all of that together it just speaks to the great spirit and the great foundation of Ford. In this case I think luck intervened with a lot of skill and a competent engine. The engines really carried the day, but also it took some circumstances to make this magical moment happen. We’ll take it all and move forward.”
AGAIN, IT WAS A 1-2-3 FORD FINISH. “Yes, another 1-2-3, and this speaks to the depth of the Ford teams. Yes there were circumstances during the race where you wondered, but at Daytona it always comes down to the finish. At the finish there we were with Carl [Edwards], David [Gilliland] and Trevor [Bayne]. “
THEN YOU CAME TO POMONA WHERE JOHN FORCE RACING DOES IT AGAIN. “Here we were in elimination where Fords were racing other Fords. You don’t like to see that because it’s like brothers against brothers, but that’s the nature of the sport when you have that many teams. At the end of the day, Robert Hight carried the day and it was a pretty strong run. It was a hole-shot, and a strong finish for the Ford team.
“I would like to just reflect that here we are, the season openers in Rally, the season opener in NASCAR, and the season opener in NHRA. What a great way to start the racing season. It’s a long season. It will come down to championships, but what a better way to start off with these openers and put the momentum in our racing program. Go Ford.”