Horse Sense: Back in the day, Brian demonstrated his new Pro-shifted five-speed tranny by letting us take an easy run down the strip in his blue car. Sitting in the right seat, he said, "Yeah, it's so easy you can't miss a shift." Naturally that was our cue to immediately miss the next shift. Diplomatic as ever, Brian waved our faux pas aside, remarking on the difficulty of no-rhythm, slow runs such as the one we were on. A genuine gentleman, we've always appreciated Brian's accommodating manner and optimistic attitude.
From a business suit on the company plane, PDA in hand, to a plaid shirt in a backstreet machine shop schlepping around his own 302-that's Brian Wolfe, and now he's running Ford Racing. We're a lucky bunch for that turn of events.
We were doubly thrilled to learn Brian has been handed the Ford Racing steering wheel. Not only has Brian been a friend to this magazine for 18 years, starting in its Super Ford guise, but more importantly, Brian brings a rare authenticity to his office as head of Ford Racing Technology. After the variously skilled politicians and administrators who have occasionally had their run at Ford Racing, formerly Ford Special Vehicle Operations, we're excited to report this all-important position is held by someone who's the real deal.
It is important to note that Brian is a Ford man. Yes, it's a quaint notion in today's jaded world of instant e-allegiances, but it's an important indicator of the drive he brings to the job.
Brian grew up in Michigan, youngest of several sons in a household that held Henry Ford in high esteem. Working at Ford was a staple for Wolfe males, and Brian anticipated Blue Oval employment from his earliest thoughts. That employment came immediately out of college and is currently in its 26th uninterrupted year.
Starting in large trucks and moving to Engine Engineering, Brian has been able to track his way through Ford by sticking close to his first love: engines. First as a development and integration engineer and later through management in the electronics-intensive calibration field, his immersion in engine technology is encyclopedic.
To us at the magazine, the corporate side of Brian Wolfe has been the lesser seen part of his life. At the dragstrip, Brian is humble regarding his accomplishments, always one to brush aside any grandeur regarding his day job. He says, "Oh, just tell them I'm a dyno operator or something." Our view of Brian the company man is based on the collateral stuff accumulated by being around the company. Our first clue came when riding on the corporate plane with Brian: He was decked in an unfamiliar (to us) coat and tie, and attending to paper work and a meeting-filled schedule. At the company offices, we wandered past the Aston Martin V-12 in the lobby and through the cubicles in Advanced Engines to find his nearly corner office. We heard of his work in Europe from other Ford employees. Slowly we got the message that Brian was on his way up.
But really, to a magazine editor or a magazine-reading enthusiast in the '90s, Brian was a 5.0-liter pioneer and Pro 5.0 competitor. The first man in the 11s, 10s, and 9s with a naturally-aspirated injected 5.0, and later an 8-second dominator with nitrous in the days of iron cylinder heads, Brian's building, tuning, and driving credentials are solid gold. And yet the truth is, as important a role as Brian has played in Mustang drag racing, it is but a few lines on his still growing list of accomplishments.
Still, he and the electronically fuel-injected, 5.0-liter Mustang grew up together. For Brian, who thought he'd been born too late and missed the great '60s muscle-car era, the 5.0 provided the propulsion to an excitingly unforeseen performance renaissance. Ford-focused, powertrain-oriented, and with high-performance as his passion, Brian had the background, the drive and-through his Ford employment-the access to prototype parts and factory knowledge that helped make him a heavy-hitter in the developing 5.0 Mustang scene.