Q&A with NASCAR Sprint Cup OEMs

(L-R) U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell, Director of Ford Performance Dave Pericak and Toyota Vice President of Marketing and Media, Incentives & Motorsports Edward Laukes speak with the media
(L-R) U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell, Director of Ford Performance Dave Pericak and Toyota Vice President of Marketing and Media, Incentives & Motorsports Edward Laukes speak with the media
Getty Images for NASCAR

OEM Reps:
Jim Campbell (Chevrolet, U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports)
Ed Laukes (Toyota, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A.)
Dave Pericak (Ford Performance, Global Director)

THE MODERATOR
: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to Homesteadâ€'Miami Speedway. Looking forward to the weekend.

We have Jim Campbell, vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for GM, Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance, and Ed Laukes, vice president of integrated marketing operations for Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Obviously, unlike any other time in history, we've had great collaboration around the OEMs. You see the image hopefully you've seen a lot over the last 10 weeks in terms of a campaign that they've done, a great fan engagement in which the three of them all came together to work on one that ultimately drove sweepstakes that had 1.6 million entries, which far exceeded our expectations and hopes. Great engagement across the board through our digital channel.

I'll start with Jim. Obviously another strong season for Chevy. You had eight Chase contenders. Obviously it's an important one for you with Jimmie Johnson. Just wondering if you can provide perhaps some perspective on what Jimmie has accomplished for the sport and for Chevrolet in particular.

JIM CAMPBELL: No question. First of all, it's great to be back with you in this forum. We do this about once a year, so it's great to be here at Homestead for the championship weekend.
This one is special for all the manufacturers. For us, having eight drivers into the Chase was exciting. We're down to one with Jimmie Johnson. He's a guy that knows how to get it done. He's going for his seventh. We're really proud of that. Been working closely with Rick Hendrick, everybody at HMS preparing for this weekend. We're looking forward to a great race.

THE MODERATOR: Dave, Sunday was probably one of the most memorable race finishes I've seen in a while. Your driver seemed pretty excited. Tell us, how did you feel?

DAVE PERICAK: Thanks for having me here today. Yeah, it was obviously some of the best racing I think we've seen in a long time. He was extremely focused. Man, it was a nailâ€'biter right to the end.

Yeah, he crossed the finish line. I think when he got out of the car, he let out a scream that can't be matched by anybody. It's just exciting to be here Ford Championship Weekend, have a Ford driver in it. I think it's great that all three manufacturers are being represented, quite honestly. Of course, I think our guy is going to go across the finish line.

ED LAUKES: Just where he's going to go across.

DAVE PERICAK: In front of you, Ed (laughter).

THE MODERATOR: Ed, obviously Toyota has had an amazing season coming off a championship season last year with Kyle Busch, who will be back. Do you feel good about going in? You have Kyle, and then Carl in the championship. How are you feeling today heading into not only tomorrowbut this race today?

ED LAUKES: Thanks for everybody joining us today. This is a magical season for us with 16 wins, five cars entering the Chase, getting two out of four as we come to the final race.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]We're very, very excited. It's so great to see Kyle back, especially after everything that he went through last year, then winning the championship. He and Carl, as well as all the other drivers for Toyota, are just strong diplomats for us and do great things. We think it's going to be obviously a great day tomorrow, and hopefully we'll eclipse this season with a championship as well as a manufacturers championship. Right now we're leading the points. That would be the first time for us to do that, so it's a big deal for us.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for our illustrious trio here.

Q: The marketing for all the cars, with the industry bouncing back seemingly as it has, is it still as good a marketing tool for your street cars as it always was? Is it better, the same? Your take on the marketing side of things for the passenger cars.

JIM CAMPBELL: I'll take it first. I would just say, first of all, we're a car company. So being in a sport where the car and the drivers are the stars is straight right on the money for us. What we have found in this series, we get skill and reach in terms of audience. We know, because we measure closely, that our involvement in NASCAR, we see a lift in brand. We see key image ratings for Chevrolet lifted as well.

When those two things happen, good things happen in the showroom. More people put you on their shopping list. That's a fact. We see that for sure.

In addition, we display at many, many races. We have these massive displays of our parts, cars, trucks, accessories. We have kind of our experts on hand to help our current customers and prospective customers learn about our products.

In addition to everything that is happening online, which is exploding, all the digital interactions, all the social platforms, it's exploding.

For sure for us it's a strong platform. We're a car company, the car and the driver are a star, and that's why we love being in racing and NASCAR.

DAVE PERICAK: In addition to what Jim said, there's no secret there's a heck of an investment we all make in this sport. We wouldn't be doing that if we weren't getting a return on our investment.

Having said that, it is the enthusiasts that are here. We are talking to them. We are giving them what they want. At the end of the day those are the people that go out and be the ambassadors for our companies. When somebody wants to know what they should buy, what Ford is doing, Chevy, that's who they go talk to, they talk to enthusiasts. We're really talking to the people that are going to help us carry our message forward.

ED LAUKES: That's been a big deal for us since 2007, coming into Cup. Just getting our brand on the shopping list with NASCAR fans has been our goal. We are doing a great job of that. I think everything that Dave and Jim mentioned is right on.
I think that the access to the drivers is unparalleled in any sport. I think that's a huge, huge bonus not only for NASCAR fans but it's also an internal rallying cry within our company and really gets people fired up.

Q: You've all been involved in the sport, some a lot longer than the other ones. When you look down the road, do you see each of your groups maintaining what you have now, increasing involvement or decreasing involvement?

JIM CAMPBELL: Talking about specifically NASCAR?

Q: NASCAR.

JIM CAMPBELL: Yeah, our history is long in NASCAR and it's long in racing. As the economy has gone up and down, as our company has had its peaks and valleys, we have stayed strong in terms of investing in motorsports because of really four key reasons.

One, we do get learnings on the track that helps us build better cars and power trains for the showroom. In many cases it's the tools we use and apply in racing, whether it's a simulator, simulation tools.

Secondly, we bring production engineers over to racing. You work in this environment, you guys know it, you live it every week. It's fastâ€'paced. You got to decide quickly, solve problems. You see an opportunity, you got to seize it immediately.

Our engineers, they hone their engineering skills, then they rotate back over to production. That's a value to us.

Then earlier what I just said, we see a lift in image rating that result in good things in our business. Then really getting just a hard lead that we can follow up on to sell a car, truck or part.

We've been in it for decades. We see a bright future for motorsports and NASCAR. So I see a bright future.

DAVE PERICAK: We're extremely committed to racing in not just NASCAR, but across the board. We have been participating globally. That's where Ford Performance actually came from, is reorganizing as a company to actually approach it and do it right.

I agree with what Jim said, using the racetrack as a testbed for technology, for people and development. Specifically to your question around NASCAR, I think we've shown you earlier in the year when we made an announcement we're adding another team to the Ford family that we are committed to NASCAR and we are definitely going to grow our presence here.

ED LAUKES: Our continuing support of NASCAR has been unwavering since 2004 when we joined Truck Series, moved over to Cup Series in 2007.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Really in the words of our president, chairman, Akio Toyoda, his main goal with racing, not only within NASCAR, but racing around the world, is to make sure that cars don't turn into appliances. He doesn't want it to be a toaster, an oven or a mixer. The passion that comes in, I don't think there's any better platform than racing to do that. You'll see our continued commitment.

Q: Yesterday we had Joe Gibbs and Rick Hendrick and Roger Penske. Outside of commercial reasons to race, motivation was competition, beating each other. You gentlemen are the tip of the spear of your corporations. Tell me a little bit about personal reasons to compete.

ED LAUKES: You can start this one, Dave. The chief engineer can start this one.

DAVE PERICAK: Thank you. Look, for us, I mean, the competition and what it represents for our company, for us to go to the racetrack, for us to show what we've got, our latest technology, to be able to prove it, it uplifts the entire company, right? As you walk through the halls of Ford Motor Company, people are smiling and saying thank you, go make us proud, go get 'em. It's huge for our company. Our company was founded on racing. It's a part of our DNA.

So for us to go racing, it's great to beat these two guys on a weekend, but I think it's also great to work with them when we're off the track on some of the great initiatives that we've already talked about today and really pushing this sport forward.

For us, it's about part of who we are.

ED LAUKES: I've said it before many times. We compete not only on the racetrack, but in the showrooms, auto shows. We also have great relationships because we're car guys. We compete every single day. That doesn't mean we can't have great relationships, because we do.

JIM CAMPBELL: The competition in the showroom is fierce and on the track is fierce. We do see each other at industry events. It's an opportunity to talk about common challenges in the industry.

I would say for us the passion around racing and performance, it goes back to the beginning of the company. I'll just tell you in my particular instance, I worked for both the North American commercial side of our business, where we sell the cars and trucks and parts, and I also work directly for the part development side of the house.

Every Monday, without fail, we talk about the results on the track in both of those areas of the business. Then all weekend long, for those that are not at the track, we're communicating our progress.

So it's a point of pride. We love it. I'll tell you what, when you win, there's nothing better. It's hard to win in this sport, in these races. When you lose, in racing, it is completely about how you respond. If you basically do not respond, you're not on the right path.

We don't win, it's about how you respond. When you win, it's hardâ€'fought, hardâ€'earned, and you celebrate it.

ED LAUKES: Jim, let me apologize for those 16 Monday mornings you had.

JIM CAMPBELL: I apologize about last night, too (laughter).

DAVE PERICAK: I always say I'm not going to get in the middle of you, but I am (laughter).

Q: Jim, you talk about responding. How do you talk about responding to losing a team like Stewart Haas.

JIM CAMPBELL: We've had an incredible run with Stewart Haas. It's been eight years. Think about what Tony and Gene and those guys have done. They've won two championships in essentially eight years. Many race teams will not win a championship in their entire existence. We've been so proud of what we've accomplished, not to mention an incredible run with Tony Stewart. 48 of his 49 wins have been with Chevrolet. I couldn't be prouder of that. If he gets another one, put him at the 50 mark here, that would be pretty special. We really value what Tony has done for our company, as well.

What you find in motorsports, we're involved in five series in North America, our company is involved in Europe and Australia and other places. Teams do kind of come and go from time to time for reasons that work for them and sometimes for us.

We're going to celebrate the success we've had with them, 36 wins together with Stewart Haas, we got one more with Tony.

Tony, by the way, one more moment here. This guy has been incredible for Chevrolet and our company. He won an IndyCar champion with Oldsmobile. He won a championship with Pontiac. Two championships with Chevrolet. I think many of us watched that show the other night, the 2011 championship. I've seen, like these guys, a lot of racing, a lot of runs for championships across many different series. That was the most incredible run I ever saw in terms of championship races and results. Always going to value that.

Finally, Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Chip Ganassi, are on our roster. Those guys are great partners, too.

Q: Electrification and hybrids are big in the production car. We're seeing it creep into racing. How do your brands feel about seeing that type of technology being implemented into racing? Do you think you'll ever see it someday in NASCAR?

DAVE PERICAK: I think we're all in some way looking at it and seeing how it does apply.

As far as Formula E, I think we have to watch it and see where it's going to go, how applicable it's going to be to what we already said earlier as far as building better cars and trucks for the showroom.

At the end of the day, I think anytime you leverage racing for what it's supposed to be leveraged for, you learn and you develop, and you go forward.

I think putting it into racing is probably the right thing to do as we start to figure out electrification and how it's going to ultimately affect passenger vehicles.

Will it ever make it into NASCAR? I don't know. I think it's good it's introduced into the racing format because I think it's going to push all of us at OEMs and the entire automotive industry to figure things that are question marks about electrification.

ED LAUKES: I couldn't agree with Dave more. It's really becoming part of the automotive culture. We'd be foolish not to look at it and see if it's going to fit down the road. So many racing series have evolved and have come from different types of cultural changes. I think we'd be foolish not to look at it.

It's got some potential, it's probably down the road a ways, but something to look at.

JIM CAMPBELL: I agree with what these guys said. All of our companies have invested in some form of electrification. For us, it started with the Volt, which is an electric vehicle with extended range capability. We are on round two of that.

We have our Bolt, 238 miles nominal range on one charge for about 30,000. We have hybrids and EVs, as well as at SEMA we introduced a hydrogen fuel cell Colorado, fourâ€'wheel drive. It's evolving very quickly.

What the solution is down the road is yet to be determined. We just have to look for the right opportunities, what we bring in in terms of technology to the various race series.

It's something we look at very closely in Chevrolet. We look at all the emerging series and say what is going on in racing around the world, look at it during the offâ€'season, and during the season. Something to keep an eye on, for sure.

Q: Ed, what would an owners championship mean for Toyota? Chevy has had such a stranglehold for years now. When it comes to you and Toyota, what would it mean to you guys?

ED LAUKES: Manufacturers championship you're talking about. I think we've had a lot of success in the manufacturers championship in XFINITY and in the Truck Series. These guys have done a great job of keeping us out of that one that we really have looked at wholeheartedly as an organization as one of the reasons why we actually came to participate in NASCAR.

I think NASCAR has done a great job of also amplifying it within the NASCAR community of having to be a big deal to everybody.

If we're fortunate enough tomorrow night to be able to get the manufacturers championship, there will be a celebration that not only will just be in the NASCAR community, but it will be all across the globe in Toyota because it really represents everything that we do from a technology perspective and a teamwork perspective within our company.

Q: The idea about additional manufacturers in this sport has been floated on and off the last couple years. Do you think you could benefit from a fourth person sitting there on stage next to you? Would you welcome the opportunity to work with additional manufacturers getting involved in NASCAR?

DAVE PERICAK: Look, I think it would be great for the sport, right? I'm definitely not afraid of competition. So I say bring it on.

JIM CAMPBELL: Agreed.

ED LAUKES: Yeah, I'm in the same boat. We're not afraid of each other. We're not afraid of anybody that would come into the sport. We'd welcome everybody to come in and push everybody to be better.
JIM CAMPBELL: We do it every day in the market against like 35 competitors in the showroom. Competition is something we deal with, and you all do as well in your business. So, yeah, another manufacturer would be good.

Q: Your mottos in the past have been, Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. NASCAR has been trying to bring youth into this sport. How as manufacturers can you play into that? How important is it for your overall goal into selling cars and to build this sport and make it successful further down the road?

JIM CAMPBELL: First of all, I'd say the social media, the digital side of what's happening just in general in the marketplace is a key way we can connect with young fans and create new fans.

I think we need to continue to evolve quickly. NASCAR has been very aggressive in really promoting strongly on a lot of social platforms. NASCAR.com is actually the number one visited site when you look at all the sports platforms. They're showing growth. That's really important.

The other thing is just continuing to make it easy for not only young people but all people that are interested in this sport to be able to access it quickly on digital formats. That's evolving because we have a lot of different partners we have to consider. I think that's an important thing for us.

So we see the opportunity here in NASCAR to attract younger fans. The digital platform is a way to begin that journey.

Also young drivers, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Kyle Larson. We signed a couple new drivers that are upâ€'andâ€'coming. That's another way to do it in terms of drivers they can relate more to because they're more their age bracket. There's a lot of different ways to do it. Those are a couple of my thoughts.

DAVE PERICAK: I think it's important for us to get our brand messages out through social media. There's power in numbers. As we work with NASCAR and with each other, we can touch more people. If you look at the sweepstakes that we just talked about, it used to be a Fordâ€'only event. Now all three of us are participating in that. We've done a much better job this year of touching more people as a result of working together.

I think as we talk about social media, it is going to take all of us working together to really maximize the potential of all of that.

ED LAUKES: Yeah, we've grown collectively with NASCAR and recognizing the value of social media. We spend collectively millions and millions of dollars independently at our own organizations. To come together to be able to build something that is actually going to continue to promote the sport, it's great for all of us.

Q: Dave, you're already in the middle. Who do you think takes the XFINITY Series, Chevy or…

DAVE PERICAK: You really want me to answer that?

ED LAUKES: Dave.

JIM CAMPBELL: Come over this way, buddy (laughter).

DAVE PERICAK: I'm not going to do that (laughter). It will be great whichever one does it. How is that?

THE MODERATOR: Who is going to win the race on Sunday, Jim?

ED LAUKES: That's Joey Logano.

THE MODERATOR: I asked Jim Campbell.

ED LAUKES
: That’s ventriloquism.

JIM CAMPBELL: The 48.

DAVE PERICAK: 42.

ED LAUKES: A Camry with a Toyota logo on the front.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us today. Appreciate it. Good luck today and tomorrow.

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