New GM Racing Director Addresses Media
Mark Kent answers media questions as new director of GM Racing
MICHAEL GARDNER, MANAGER, MOTORSPORTS, HERITAGE AND PERFORMANCE COMMUNICATIONS:
"Mark is not a stranger to the motorsports scene. In the late eighties and
early nineties he held engineering and program management positions for our IMSA
GTU and SCCA Trans-Am programs. He spent the bulk of his 25-year career in
powertrain engineering and recently led the engineering design team that was
responsible for GM's Northstar V8 engines. As you'll see, he has a strong
technical background and a true passion for the sport. I'll turn this over to Mark
MARK KENT, DIRECTOR, GM RACING:
"Good afternoon, I'm excited to be here. It's a great time to be here in
racing at General Motors and I'm really looking forward to the challenge. With
that, I'll take your questions."
DETROIT FREE PRESS: JUST WONDERING, WE TRUST YOU WON'T BE JOINING ANY NASCAR
"No, I don't plan on that. I'm GM to the bone and I plan on staying here for
DETROIT FREE PRESS: UNDER YOUR REIGN, WHERE WILL GM RACING HEAD? I KNOW THAT
THERE IS A LOT OF DIVERSITY THERE WITH NASCAR, ROAD RACING, OVAL RACING, DRAG
RACING, GRASSROOTS RACING, ETC. WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE RACING PROGRAM GO?
"Right now we're focusing our efforts on production-based vehicles and we
have a lot of new and exciting products coming out like the Pontiac GTO that we
want to showcase in the Grand American series. You'll see us get into more
production-based racing in the near future that will get us closer to the vehicles
DETROIT FREE PRESS: FOLLOWING UP ON MY LAST QUESTION, DOES THAT MEAN LESS FOCUS
ON IRL AND OVAL RACING AND MORE FOCUS ON STREET RACING AND PERHAPS SOME OF THE
OTHER DRAG RACING CLASSES?
"Right. As you are probably aware, we're actively involved in sport compact
drag racing, a really great venue for us to showcase the Chevy Cobalt. Like I said,
the GTO and CTS-V in road racing series and the Corvette in the ALMS series are
some wonderful venues for us to showcase our vehicles. Right now, that's the
direction we're heading."
MONTEREY COUNTY HERALD: HI MARK, BACK ON THE IRL PORTION, GM ANNOUNCED THE
PULLOUT AND THEN YOU HAD A VERY STRONG SHOWING IN THE OPENER THIS PAST WEEKEND.
IS THE INTENTION OF CHEVROLET TO PULL OUT ALL TOGETHER OR IS THERE A POSSIBILITY
OF A RETURN IN THE FUTURE ONCE THE SPECS ARE KNOWN FOR THE NEW ENGINE
CONFIGURATION THAT THE IRL WANTS?
"Right now the performance that we saw last weekend really wasn't that big of
a surprise. As you may recall, late in the year last year, the engine was quite
competitive. You know, the team was quite competitive. So, we weren't surprised,
we are cautiously optimistic. But even with a great performance this year, which
we're looking forward to, in fact, we're committed to going out strong here. We
have not pulled back any resources and we're working very hard to make that effort
this year a winning effort. But our focus, like I mentioned earlier, is to get
more into production-based racing. But, you can never say never. If you look back
over the history of open-wheel racing, manufacturers have come and gone. You may
recall Chevrolet getting out in the nineties and then we're back in IRL. We've
been with IRL the entire time, which is a remarkable accomplishment in itself. So,
right now we're going to plan on going out on top here and if things change down
the road, you know, we're definitely not ruling that out."
MONTEREY COUNTY HERALD: FOLLOWING UP ON THE GRAND AM PORTION OF PRODUCTION-BASED
RACING, ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE A STRONGER PRESENCE NOW IN GRAND AMERICAN? PONTIAC
IS WHAT'S COMING TO MIND; PONTIAC SWEPT THE TOP FOUR PLACES LAST WEEKEND AT
HOMESTEAD. IS THE GRAND AM SERIES AND AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES. ARE THOSE TWO SERIES
ONES YOU'RE GOING TO GET BEHIND EVEN STRONGER?
"We do have some really good teams out there running GM products. We plan to
continue that. We're also going into the Grand American venue there with the GTO.
We're going to expand our road racing presence as we move forward here."
MONTEREY COUNTY HERALD: THANK YOU.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: MARK, JUST IN VIEW OF YOUR COMMITMENT TO ROAD RACING AND
PRODUCTION-BASED VEHICLES, WOULD YOU LIKE, PERSONALLY, TO SEE SOME SORT OF RACE
BACK HERE IN DETROIT AND THE DETROIT METRO AREA? I MEAN A DOWNTOWN RACE WITH A
PRODUCTION-BASED SERIES WOULD BE PRETTY SPECTACULAR AROUND THE CITY IF A VENUE
COULD BE FOUND AND AGREED UPON.
"That's a really good question. Mike (Gardner) mentioned earlier that my
roots go back to road racing. So I do remember the Trans Am races we had down
through the downtown Detroit area, actually running around the Renaissance Center
where we are today. I think it would be a great opportunity and I know there's a
great appetite in the Detroit area for motorsports. So, I think that would be a
great thing to have happen."
DETROIT FREE PRESS: JUST A FOLLOW UP, WHAT WOULD HAVE TO HAPPEN? OBVIOUSLY, THE
BIG THREE WOULD NEED TO GET TOGETHER. HOW WOULD YOU LOBBY FOR SUCH AN EVENT TO
COME TO DETROIT? I KNOW THERE ARE SOME TEAMS THAT WOULD PROBABLY LOVE TO COME HERE.
IT'S AN OBVIOUS SITE, BUT WHAT HAS TO BE DONE?
"I guess, in all honesty, I'm so fresh in this job that I don't have an
answer for that for you today. I'd be glad to look into that and get back to you."
DETROIT FREE PRESS: OKAY, MARK, I APPRECIATE THAT. THANK YOU.
"We appreciate it. As Mark indicated, or I don't know if you did indicate in
the beginning that you will be at Sebring."
"Right, I'll be down at Sebring. I'm trying my best to get out to as many
races as I can. But with as many venues that we race in, it's hard to get back to
the same venue very frequently. I was down in Daytona a couple of weeks ago. I was
at Miami last weekend. I'll be at Sebring-not this weekend but the following
weekend and at Bristol a little bit after Easter. So, I'm looking forward to
getting out to the races and like I said, looking forward to seeing more of you
face to face and get to know you better."
"Thanks everyone for joining us."
Release Date: March 10, 2005