Maybe it’s the fact that he once aspired to replace race car legend Richard Petty. Or maybe it’s just that he’s the type of guy willing to talk a friend through a race car tuneup while fishing in knee-deep water – and stay on the phone long enough to know that friend went on to lap the field.
Whatever the reason, Eric Zinkosky is a perfect fit for his job at Ford SVT.
The technical specialist for vehicle dynamics and suspension design has been involved with racing since the age of 12, when he began racing go-karts. When he turned 18 – the legal age in Michigan to race a stock car – he was driving one three days later at a Midwest racetrack.
He also spent five years touring the Midwest, working on cars and living out of a motor home in an attempt to be a professional race car driver. After realizing race car engineering was a more profitable path, Zinkosky attended Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in automotive engineering.
After graduating, Zinkosky worked at Lear Siegler, General Motors and Roush before coming to Ford in 1994. His job here keeps him involved with the car in the most ways imaginable – right down to the smallest details.
“Vehicle dynamics owns everything the customers experience – from the way the seats feel when they sit down, to how the car rides and steers, to how stiff the clutch pedal feels,” he says.
Taking it up a notch
Zinkosky and his team have very high aspirations for the 2011 Shelby GT500®, and those goals keep the motivation for this newest Shelby in high gear.
“I want to create very special vehicles for the knowledgeable driving enthusiasts,” he explained. “I love the challenge of making world-class sports cars out of platforms that have broader appeal. That’s what keeps me coming into work every day. We want everyone to know you can take this car anywhere, and it will compare favorably with the best in the world.”
For 2011, an all-new aluminum-block engine is just one of those steps that propels the GT500 to new heights, Zinkosky believes.
“That shows this company’s commitment to performance vehicles,” he says. “Ford believes performance vehicles are a core business. They’re willing to step up and do an all-new engine, just for the Shelby. That’s kind of cool.”
Even away from work, Zinkosky can’t keep his hands off cars. He just completed building a street-legal vehicle from scratch, a process that had him sketching, designing and fabricating for nearly two-and-a-half years. Next on his list is a two-seat, mid-engine sports car.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
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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 198,000 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.
Feb. 8, 2010