Ford Performance NASCAR: Michigan 2 Paul Menard Press Conf. Transcript

Ford PR

Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Consumers Energy 400 (Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Paul Menard, driver of the No. 21 Ford was joined by team owners Eddie and Len Wood as well as Matt Bradley to discuss the Ford Earn While You Learn and programs that will adorn the legendary No. 21 this weekend at Michigan.

MATT BRADLEY, sales and marketing director, Ford Customer Service Division:

CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH SOME OF THE PROGRAMS THROUGH NEWFORDTECH.COM AND HAVING THAT PROGRAM AS THE PAINT SCHEME HERE AT MICHIGAN THIS WEEKEND? “Let me start by saying that technicians are such a critical part of our business. There are 38,000 Ford technicians across our dealer network throughout the United States alone. They are a big piece of our business. Technicians are the lifeblood of our business. They are the ones that fix the cars and get the customers back in their cars and are critical to making sure our customers stay satisfied. So, we are doing a lot as it relates to technician environment and career track. On a reward and recognition side, I will tell you about that in a minute. There is a lot of recognition through NASCAR. On a recruitment side, we have the new website which proudly will be on the 21 car this weekend for the first time and that is I can’t thank Paul and the Wood Brothers enough for putting that on the car and having the millions of eyeballs on it this weekend. On the recognition side, we have called this the year of the technician at Ford. We are intending recognize them like they should be recognized. It is a series of NASCAR events over the past year where we have brought technicians in on race day, 50-100 technicians and Sunday we will have 50-100 of them here in our hospitality village. We bring them down to the 21 car garage and have an opportunity to meet Paul and the Wood Brothers. It is a big deal. These technicians are so excited to be a part of it. That is just one element of the recognition side of it but we are certainly using our NASCAR assets and elements. Paul and the Wood Brothers have been so nice to spend some quality time with these technicians.”

“On the attract and recruit side, there is a lot going on. It is our intent and purpose to cultivate the 38,000 techs that are with us today, but we also need to attract more technicians and demonstrate how great of a career the technical space can be. We have a number of programs where students can earn money and work as a tech and earn a two-year degree, all the way down to some quick fast track programs that allow them to earn training and get into the maintenance and light repair space. We have affiliations with community colleges and technical schools but also high schools and middle schools to show these kids how healthy and lucrative a career in the technical space can be. It truly is a career path. These technicians can start and just progress from a maintenance and oil change type technician all the way up to a certified master technician fixing diesel engines. Maybe someday they can even work in NASCAR. These guys can certainly talk about that. These technicians are so important to us. They are the lifeblood of our business and we want more to come in and also cultivate and maintain our current workforce. is the entry point. Anyone that is interested in a career path, any technician or dealership can use that as a work place to find technicians and techs can go on there and post their resumes and let dealers know they are very interested in working for Ford. I thank Paul and the Wood Brothers for putting on the car and we are excited for the weekend.”

PAUL MENARD, driver, No. 21 Earn While You Learn/ Ford Fusion

WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ABOUT FORD OFFERING THIS TYPE OF SERVICE? “A couple things come to mind. The sheer number is what really struck me. The sheer number of technicians, 38,000 and I heard a number where they are looking to hire thousands and thousands more. I think I hear somewhere around 40,000 more people. Huge numbers. Where do you draw from? We have low unemployment right now and it is hard to hire people. Earn While You Learn is a great way to go about that. You can get your education while also doing some internship type work and getting paid for your work. You learn in a classroom and also at a dealership or Quick Lane and it is a neat deal. My history, I am 37 years old. I worked on my old cars when I was a kid, my own cars. It is hard to change your oil in your truck these days. You open up the hood and you don’t know where the oil pan or oil filter are. These technicians aren’t grease monkeys. They are engineers and they are getting their education for that. This is a program that will help with the evolution with the automotive technician industry.

EDDIE WOOD, co-owner, No. 21 Earn While You Learn/ Ford Fusion

YOU GUYS GREW UP WORKING ON CARS GROWIN UP, HOW DO YOU SEE A PROGRAM LIKE THIS HELPING NOW? “Len and I worked on race cars when we were very young but we weren’t allowed to do much of anything. We would wash up and clean things and disassemble things but they didn’t trust us enough to do ball joints and things like that. As we got older, all of a sudden, they start trusting you with things a little at a time. It took us years to get from sweeping the floor to actually working on the race car. Now this program, Earn While You Learn, it like puts everything in fast forward to where you get this education really quickly. I think one of them is a two-year program and if you are doing that and get a paid internship plus when you get out of college you get to go straight to a dealership or Quick Lane or a Lincoln or Ford dealership. Things like that I don’t think really happens in the industry. You take a kid that is going through that and if he has notions to work in the racing industry, he already has a head start over a lot of other people. As you all know, the garage is now full of engineers. 20-25 years ago there were two engineers in the garage. One of them was Jack Roush and the other was Brett Bodine. Brett drivers the pace car for NASCAR now and is a former driver but most of the guys that worked on cars, including us, were just guys that had picked it up and had a passion for it. Now if you have that passion there is no limit to where you can go.”

LEN WOOD, co-owner, No. 21 Earn While You Learn/ Ford Fusion

“Several years ago when we had carburetors and then when fuel injection came along and we were going to run fuel injection, we wondered how this thing was even going to crank. You have electronic ignition now that we didn’t have before. Once we got an engineer to help crank the car it was like it was no big deal anymore. There again, you need more educated people to work on race cars as well as street cars.”


DOES FORD HAVE A TECHNOLOGY CENTER WHERE THESE TECHNICIANS CAN GET TRAINING ON THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES? “Yes. We have an affiliation with a number of technical colleges across the U.S., about 38 schools in total and we also have Ford training facilities in 11 markets around the country. The combination of the schools and with us providing the schools hard assets like transmissions, engines and even full cars to work on. We have good relationships with the schools to increase their footprint and we also have our own Ford training centers across the country as well.”

AT SOME POINT THERE WAS A FORD TECHNICAL COLLEGE IN NORTH CAROLINA IF I AM NOT MISTAKEN, IS THERE A RELATIONSHIP THERE STILL? “Not that I am aware of, but as the guys spoke about, the career advancement of these technicians coming in and out of dealerships certainly I think a lot of them would strive to work in NASCAR. I will ask these guys if there is any affiliation or pull from that side of the business.”

IS THERE ANY EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION BETWEEN FORD TECHNICIANS IN AMERICA AND IN FOREGIN COUNTRIES? “Absolutely. The organization that Ford provides the technicians, all the materials, is a global organization. It is called the Service Engineering Organization and they are responsible for making sure the technical information on fixing a vehicle in the U.S. and that same vehicle that may be sold in Germany would be to the same technical specifications. It is of a global nature and a lot of the cars we sell across the world have a lot of the same technology in them and it is standardized and consistent repair approach.”


IF I MAY STRAY AND ASK ABOUT YOUR QUEST TO SOLIDIFY A PLAYOFF SPOT AS WE HEAD DOWN THE HOME STRETCH HERE: “We are in a hole right now. We are 60-some points out but I feel really good about these races coming up. I feel like even the last couple of races we have had some things go wrong and have lost some points but we have strong races for us coming up and have closed the gap pretty close after Kentucky but then two bad races puts you further back. I feel good about Bristol and Darlington. We did the tire test in Darlington and I felt we had really good speed on both the short run and long run. I was pleased with that. We just have to swing for the fences a little bit. We need to make some strategy calls and make some decisions during the race that might put you in jeopardy for a tore up fender or staying out on tires or something like that but it is go time and time to take some risks.”


Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.