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US Ford Racing Director Dan Davis is out


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#1 ColdHeart

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 17:44

Brian Wolfe, a 26-year Ford veteran who has held a series of management positions within Ford’s powertrain operations, has been named the new director of Ford Racing Technology, the company announced today.

Wolfe will replace Dan Davis, who has overseen the company’s racing efforts the past 11 years. Davis will retire after 32 years with the company on Aug. 1.

"Dan has done a great job for the company and its racing program, and he’s going to be a tough act to follow," said Wolfe. "I look forward to the challenge of taking the program forward and continuing the record of success he brought to us."

Wolfe, 47, has been director, Powertrain Calibration and Controls, Product Development, since 2002.

In his most recent job, Wolfe had global responsibility for all powertrain computer control software applications and powertrain calibration, including drivability and emissions.

He began his career at Ford Motor Company in 1982 and has held various positions within Ford’s powertrain development area, including a stint as manager of Ford’s Advanced Engine Group for North America, where he helped oversee the development of the Aston Martin V-12 engine.

Wolfe received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from University of Michigan-Dearborn.

He’s an avid amateur drag racer and still owns the 1969 Fairlane CobraJet he bought at age 15.

Wolfe lives in Plymouth, Mich. He and his wife, Nancy, have two daughters and a son.

"For me, a kid from Michigan whose father idolized Henry Ford, there was never any doubt where I was going to work," Wolfe said. "To have this opportunity now to take the racing program forward is a dream come true."

Under Davis’ leadership of Ford Racing Technology, the company captured three NASCAR Sprint Cup driver’s titles and four manufacturer’s titles. In addition, he helped with the formation of Roush-Yates Engines, the premier engine supplier to Ford NASCAR, sports car and USAC racing programs.

In NHRA, the company captured eight consecutive Funny Car championships, and Davis led development of the new Ford BOSS 500 nitro engine, the first new nitro engine in drag racing the past 40 years.

Davis also led major safety initiatives in both Champ Car racing and NHRA, where use of Ford Blue Box data recorders is now mandatory.

He also led a resurgence of Ford customer programs in road racing, where the Ford Mustang FR500GT, Mustang FR500C and now Mustang FR500S race cars are sold through Ford and compete in road racing circuits in North American and Europe.

Davis also will be known for starting the Clorox/Ford Women’s Driver Development Program in USAC, the first partnership of a consumer sponsor and auto manufacturer to try and develop women for professional racing.

He also expanded Ford’s grassroots racing programs, helping start the USAC Ford Focus Midget Series, which has grown nationally as a cost-effective way for youths to enter racing.



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#2 ColdHeart

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 17:54

Why?

While people can debate the value of racing for an automaker — any automaker — one thing that can’t be debated is Davis’s unshakable belief that Ford absolutely needed to successfully compete at the highest levels of NASCAR racing.

“From a marketing standpoint, any manufacturer is going to put money where you get your best return,” Davis said during an automakers’ summit last year at Daytona International Speedway. “In a marketing sense, we get tremendous return on racing in NASCAR. We’ve seen that in the past and it’s still there. These days, for a company like Ford that is struggling, you really have to maximize that return, so you put your money where you can really make a difference and you can do that in NASCAR. It helps us sell product and we know it, so as long as we’re able to see good returns on where we spend our money, we’ll keep doing this and we’ll keep doing it with vigor because you have to win and you have to do a good job. If there is ever a day where the return is not there, then we’ll look elsewhere, but, right now, it’s a really good return. You’ve got a fan base out there that’shuge and growing and helps us sell product, so as long as we can do that, we’re here and we’re here with vigor.”

Still, even Davis understood that economic pressures Ford Motor Co. has experienced — most notably a $12 billion loss in 2007 — meant racing operations would be closely watched by the corporate finance people.

“Nobody has a buffer. If you’re a company like Ford, which has been losing money the last few years, they turn over every rock to figure out, ‘Are we wasting any money anywhere?’ Racing is a big program,” Davis said earlier this season. “The marketing side of it is a big project with a lot of money, so we get scrutinized just like anybody gets scrutinized. We ask ourselves those hard questions every year, so when a corporation comes in and asks us questions, we already have a lot of data and answers. But it’s always hard. For me, I would like the questions to be hard whether the conditions are good or the conditions are bad. If we’re wasting money, then we should be called on the carpet. If we’re not delivering value, then we ought to quit doing what we’re doing.”



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#3 Bumper

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 18:29

Can you clarify your point of debate here Coldheart, what do you want to discuss?

#4 McGuire

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 18:48

I get it -- Coldheart is wondering what effects the resignation of Davis and the selection of Brian Wolfe are going to have on the focus of Ford Racing.

Good question. The interesting thing here is that Brian is not a Ford Racing guy who was working under Davis. He comes from the Powertrain side and he is a heavyweight. However, he is also a longtime drag racer and knows racing at the grassroots level.

http://www.hotrod.co...tang/index.html

#5 whitewaterMkII

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 20:17

Clarke is out at Honda but no post about that?
Oh, I'm sorry, CH doesn't conjecture about anything affecting the irl, only anything that affects NASCAR.
WTF, is it news when someone retires, or are they not allowed to?

#6 ColdHeart

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 20:51

Clarke announced his retirement from Honda over 6 months ago and since that time, Tony George engineered the Merfication between the IRL and CC. Following that, Honda announced they were staying in the IRL for years to come, with or without any change in formula or additional competitors coming on board.

OTOH, Davis' "retirement" was not voluntary and may well be tied to his decision to tie the fate of the sporting arm of the company to NASCAR. Wolfe may well cut back the hundreds of millions pumped into NASCAR and may signal a change of focus by that company.

#7 Bumper

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 21:00

Would Brian Wolfe consider adding and/or refocusing to an IndyCar program, what do you think?

#8 whitewaterMkII

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 21:26

Originally posted by ColdHeart
OTOH, Davis' "retirement" was not voluntary and may well be tied to his decision to tie the fate of the sporting arm of the company to NASCAR.


Where do you come up with that stretch?
The press release you kick off with says he's retiring after 32 years with the company and 11 years as head of the race division.
The rest of your conjecture, is just that, conjecture. In more impolite terms it's called utter bullshit. That you are trying to somehow smear him here, with absolutely nothing to back it up is contemptible.
He's led the race division to big successes in USAC, NHRA and NASCAR, anyone who follows him is going to a hard time to match what he's accomplished. He's done a huge job for Ford. And a good one.


#9 whitewaterMkII

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 21:26

Originally posted by Bumper
Would Brian Wolfe consider adding and/or refocusing to an IndyCar program, what do you think?

They sold Cosworth, who is going to build their engines?
Rousch?

#10 McGuire

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 23:41

Originally posted by whitewaterMkII
Clarke is out at Honda but no post about that?



Robert Clarke stepped down last year, effective Jan. 1. Sorry we didn't get the memo to you. You seem to get most of your info being corrected on message boards. :D

Originally posted by whitewaterMkII
WTF?
Where do you come up with that stretch?
The press release you kick off with says he's retiring after 32 years with the company and 11 years as head of the race division.
The rest of your conjecture, is just that, conjecture. In more impolite terms it's called utter bullshit. That you are trying to somehow smear him here, with absolutely nothing to back it up is contemptible.


Well, you can call it forced out, or that he chose to step down rather than preside over the next round of cuts.

#11 McGuire

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 23:49

Originally posted by whitewaterMkII

They sold Cosworth, who is going to build their engines?
Rousch?


No reason Cosworth couldn't still do it. Ford and Cosworth were frequent partners long before Ford purchased the company. Or there are any number of companies that could do an Indy engine for Ford, should Ford choose not to do it in-house. Ford bought Cosworth in an acquisition phase.

Not that I believe Ford is going Indy Car Racing. The Detroit Three are in worse shape than race fans realize. I believe Chrysler would already be out of NASCAR if not for the fact that Bob Nardelli is a big fan. Former CEO of Home Depot, you will recall.

#12 Locai

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 12:52

There are multiple possibilities for why he is leaving:

1) Ford wants to cut way back on their racing budget and they feared he would be an obstacle.

2) He can see major cutbacks coming and doesn't want to be a part of it.

3) He got an offer from somebody else who is in better financial shape.

4) He's made his money and wants to do something else...or nothing at all.

5) Ford appreciates all that he's done and offered him a "golden parachute".

The Ford family is still heavily involved in the Ford Motor Company. I've always had the impression that Ford isn't quite the coldhearted corporation that many other companies appear to be. I don't get the feeling that they just dumped him on the curb.