Even behind the wheel of his...
Even behind the wheel of his '11 GT ragtop, there's no containing the frenetic energy of Jamie Allison, the new man-in-charge at Ford Racing. Everything Jamie does, he does with enthusiasm.
What are your primary duties now at Ford Racing?
Jamie Allison: I oversee all things related to Ford Racing. There are three primary elements: the parts business, the marketing of our motorsports program, and the operation of our motorsports program, primarily around supporting our sponsored teams, which are in NASCAR, NHRA, Rally, and Grand-Am.
5.0&SF: Have you seen the corporate role of Ford Racing evolve during your time with the division?
Jamie Allison: You know, the role of motorsports within a big company ebbs and flows with key strategic initiatives or personalities within the company. Ford's going through a transformation from a company that once only made great trucks and Mustangs to a company that also has to build exciting fun-to-drive, cool, fuel-efficient small cars. It is so clear to me-and I get a lot of support from senior management. They all understand the role of motorsports in its connection to the history of the company, and its ability to reach enthusiasts and compel them to see how much fun our new products are. Racing, when done right and done prudently, can indeed help companies, especially in this business.
We are very fortunate when it comes to the NHRA to have the sport's king [John Force] to showcase our product; Ken Block is now doing the same thing with Fiesta. We're taking a car whose roots are European and showing American consumers through Ken that this car is fun to drive. So, yeah, motorsports now is fully entrenched at Ford as a formal and acknowledged and appreciated role to help the company showcase its exciting, fun-to-drive brand image, and to help sell cars and trucks to people who either love Ford or want to be affiliated with Ford.
It works. Look at Mustang. Look what we did with Mustang in the '60s: Put it in the hands of Carroll [Shelby] and look what it became. History is paved with examples of the effective use of motorsport, and my job is to make sure that we continue to support the company in this mission.
5.0&SF: Does the relatively new sport of drifting [in which Ford Racing sponsors Vaughn Gittin Jr.] seem to have an effect on the demographic of Mustang buyers, or is that chartable at this point?
Already recalibrated to Jamie's...
Already recalibrated to Jamie's liking and festooned with the new Daytona 500 pace car graphics, his '11 GT will soon be a rolling showcase of everything Ford Racing will offer for the new 5.0.
We don't do anything at Ford Racing that isn't measured or tracked as to effectiveness. Ford goes out and samples and collects data every quarter from the buying public. "Are you a motorsports fan?" is one of the questions we ask, and about 40 percent of all new vehicle intenders are motorsports fans. We can't pinpoint drifting, but a car like Mustang that appeals to different people at different life stages, whether women or men, young or old, in all these pockets, you'll find that they have interest in different motorsports, so to us, Mustang is America's musclecar, and to make it America's musclecar, you gotta make sure that it competes in all forms of motorsports-drifting, road-racing, drag racing, and pretty soon, NASCAR...
5.0&SF: Have you the time or the inclination to do hands-on wrenching of your own?
Jamie Allison: I have a lot of inclination; I don't have the time. Because we sponsor four different series, every weekend I'm either at an NHRA, NASCAR, Rally, or Grand-Am race.
5.0&SF: Have you ever done any racing of your own?
Jamie Allison: I did a little bit-SCCA autocross in a Probe-and found out that I have a lot of desire but not much skill. It's something you hone, but I didn't have the time or patience to hone it. I have a notorious bad habit whenever I go on a track-I am fast in [to the corner], meaning I'm slow out. I don't do anything slow, so I can't do slow in... But there is one racing discipline where you can be fast in-rallying. Because of our participation in the sport, I went to a rally school. In autocross, you have to slow down, brake in a straight line, and take the turn. Not so in rally, where you go in full out, crank it, and then put the car in oversteer by putting on the e-brake, then come out full blast. Oh, I love rally!