DRO: How closely
does GM Racing work with its race teams to promote
success on the track?
Taylor: The interesting
aspect of this sport to me is that in Pro Stock,
and really up and down the classes in NHRA,
the driver, typically, is also the team owner.
It's a sport of individuals who want to compete
and put together the package themselves to do
that. In working with our race teams, we're
directly in touch with the driver, who is also
the person that worries about the budget, getting
the engine tuned and getting the whole package
down the road. They let us know what they're
thinking and what they're looking for. We work
closely with a number of the GM teams. Of course,
they're competing against each other, so we're
careful not to do more for one team than another.
When you look at the
you see how closely these cars race from week
to week. You are just as likely to see a Cavalier
as a Grand Am take the win. And the winning
driver's advantage will come from something
he has done, not us.
DRO: What are
some of the ways GM Racing brings its safety
message to drag racing?
of all, let me say with innovations like the
Safety Safari, NHRA has a great safety record.
They have been thinking about safety since their
founding over 50 years ago. The sanctioning
body has a great set of rules governing how
they run the sport and for the cars themselves.
We started a safety program over 10 years ago
at GM Racing when we first put crash-recorder
boxes into Indy cars. Since then, we've gone
on to learn a lot about driver compartment safety,
centering around seatbelts, seats, HANS, padding,
roll cages and whatever surrounds the driver.
Working with NHRA over the last couple of years,
we've found them to be very open minded to some
of the things we've learned from our own laboratory
testing. They've been open to looking at refinements
to belts and seats, and fine tuning things they
already have in place. We're very pleased to
be able to work with NHRA and discuss safety
issues. We want to keep evolving the safety
for these drivers to be better and better.
DRO: Is there
a fluid transfer of information between the
different racing Series' where GM is a participant?
Taylor: GM Racing
is a fairly small group and we all work under
the same roof. This is really an advantage from
the standpoint that the people working on the
IRL program or our NASCAR program are nearby.
We can borrow their talents, look over their
shoulders to see what kind of things they're
doing, and vice versa. In my case, I came to
drag racing after working in NASCAR for seven
years. I've seen how that business works, how
teams approach problems and I'm able to bring
some of that thinking over to our drag racing
DRO: Are there
technological transfers that take place between
production and racecar?
Taylor: We often
find that there are things like the SC/T Ram
Air Grand Am front end that you'll see in production
and on our racecars. While the rules don't allow
it to direct air into the race engine, it still
plays a role in smoothing airflow over the front
of the car. I think the real transfer you find
is in the approach to solving problems by our
engineers. Racing is such a fast-paced demanding
environment that it requires you to resolve
problems immediately. When our engineers go
back into the production side of the business,
they are prepared to create better cars and
trucks for the street.
DRO: What are
some of the new technologies being utilized
at GM Racing?
Taylor: In racing
we're seeing more and more use of computer analysis
in terms of recording what a car does on the
track, simulating vehicle dynamics and simulating
engine kinetics. These are the latest tools
being developed for production car design and
they are finding many applications in racing.
For aerodynamic analysis, Computational Fluid
Dynamics is a way to show on a computer screen
how air flows over the vehicle or through the
engine. These tools are being used more and
more at GM Racing.
DRO: Who are some
of the contributors to GM Racing's success on
Taylor: At GM
Racing we have a well-balanced team. Fred Simmonds
does a great job of taking care of the marketing
and promotional side of our involvement. My
group is responsible for providing tech support
and information to the race teams. We have experts
in engine design like Ron Sperry and Russ O'Blenes
who contribute to our program. Josh Peterson,
program manager for our NHRA Summit Sport Compact
team, also contributes to our aerodynamic research
on our Pro Stock teams. We were also fortunate
to have the services of Shane Smith for two
years and now he's gone back into powertrain
production. Dan Engle will continue our efforts
to get the GM DRCE III into production. Dan
comes from the fast-paced world of the IRL and
will be a tremendous addition to our drag racing
team. Toby Graham assists teams at the track
with electronics and data acquisition issues
and Tom Gideon is our racing safety manager,
working across all of GM's programs. We bring
all of these skills together and that enables
us to provide comprehensive coverage when it
comes to helping our GM Pro-Stock racing teams.
Taylor: When I
look at NHRA I see great potential for the future.
The thing about drag racing is that it's pure
sport - pure racing to the finish line; there
are no pit stops, no yellow flags and no restarts.
Our goal at GM Racing is to make it easier for
people to race. This means making parts available
through GM Performance Parts that are fully
competitive, reasonably priced and have the
quality and durability to withstand the rigors
of racing. They must perform to the racer's
expectations. Looking at the overwhelming number
of GM products winning in NHRA through the years,
we see our job as continuing this heritage.
With our newest venture in the rapidly growing
Summit Sport-Compact series, we have a younger
demographic who have smaller budgets. Our Cavalier
Pro FWD and Sunfire Hot Rod program intends
to show them that GM has the cars and the engines
that are easily modified, readily available
and we can help them compete. Even though we're
racing 850-1000 horsepower Ecotec-powered cars,
the lessons learned there will trickle down
with parts and technology for the other Sport-Compact