DEARBORN, Mich. – November 3, 2009 – For a self-proclaimed, lifelong car guy, Brian Wolfe is living a dream. As director of North America Motorsports, Wolfe oversees Ford Motor Company’s activities in NASCAR, NHRA and the Since he took the leadership of Ford Racing in mid-2008, Wolfe has seen Ford win the Daytona 500, the X Games 15 Rally Competition, back-to-back team, drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships in the Grand-Am Series KONI Challenge, and the development and debut of a new NASCAR engine (FR9).
But a renewed emphasis on grassroots and sportsman outreach remains what Wolfe is most proud of.
Born and raised in the Detroit area, Wolfe has been competing at drag strips across the country for years, racing his beloved 1969 428 Cobra Jet Fairlane and his ’86 Fox body Mustang.
For Wolfe, his tenure as the head of Ford Racing provided an opportunity to make the program more racer-friendly and to deliver to this influential customer base products that they want.
“In sportsman competition, you have guys who, instead of golfing on the weekend, they’re racing. The more ‘friendly’ we are to those people, and the more parts we make usable for them. These racers have two ways to help Ford. They are the car guys in their social circles, who influence their social circles and influence purchase decisions. Many of the them are small business owners, and if we can get them racing Fords, then perhaps they will switch their fleets to Fords. They may also convince their family and friends to switch to Fords, so there is a little marketing perspective in terms of what we do with them.
“The sportsman racer is known to be an ‘automotive expert’ to his circle of influence. One of the first things we decided when I came to this role was that we wanted to reach out to these groups, so we have developed programs that target drag racing and short track oval racing. There are over 1,200 tracks throughout the country and thousands of people watching during the weekend. If you start doing the math, there is a lot of outreach potential there, and one of our underlying principles is we want to support those racers out there.”
Ford Racing has taken a leadership role in providing production-based, turnkey, ready to race cars.
This week at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Ford Racing will unveil the 2010 Cobra Jet Mustang, Ford Racing’s latest offering for NHRA sportsman racers.
Ford began the ready-to-race turnkey concept with the Mustang FR500C in 2005, which was delivered on a Wednesday, and won the KONI Challenge season opener on Friday.
A year ago at SEMA, the 2008 40th Anniversary Cobra Jet Mustang was unveiled. The car had a momentous debut at the NHRA Winternationals last February, winning its debut and duplicating the success of the original CJ at the 1968 Winternationals.
“The first version of the Cobra Jet was a great car, it did everything we wanted it to do,” said Wolfe. “We’re really proud of the car, but then again we’re always trying to make the next one better. What we’ve found was most of the competitors were putting a certified 8.50 roll cage in the car, so the first thing they did when they got their new turnkey race car was take it apart and have the roll cage updated.
“Again, our theme come race day, is that you’re ready to race. If people are changing some of the stuff we did, then maybe we can make it a little more user friendly. With the 2010 Cobra Jet Mustang, we took the racer's feedback to make this version of the even more appealing to them."
The outreach to the sportsman racer and the grassroots programs is a growing initiative for Ford Racing. The program is expanding and additional offering are already being developed.
“We are aggressively going after the sportsman racer,” said Wolfe. “This is about getting all those Ford loyalist excited again and converting those Chevy guys over. Nothing would make me happier if you look back years from now in every motorsport series that the most of the new entries coming in were Fords. Again, these are all working guys without sponsors in these sportsman areas, and to buy a new car is a very expensive proposition for most people so what you want to do is say you may not switch this year, but if you stay there and stick with it when they’re ready to make that new car entry we want to go after them and make sure they’re all buying Fords.”
# # #
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 200,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.