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Local News / Automotive

Wednesday, 18 May, 2011 7:21 PM

Jack Roush addresses the 10th Annual Detroit Science Center Gala


Roush Fenway Racing CEO Jack Roush speaks at the Detroit Science Center on May 13, 2011.

by Jason Rzucidlo



DETROIT -- Roush Fenway Racing Founder and CEO Jack Roush was the keynote speaker at the 10th Annual Detroit Science Center Gala last Friday. This year's theme was "Engineers in Motorsports." The gala was created to advance the understanding of science and technology education, to raise funds for all children to have access to the museum's exhibits and programs and to promote MIchigan's diverse array of advanced sciences and technology enterprises. Detroit Science Center President & CEO Kevin F. Prihod and Chairman Francois J. Castaing also spoke.

"Roush has grown to a staff of 3,000," said Jack Roush, Founder and CEO of Roush Fenway Racing. "Many of us pursued math and science in school. The first NASCAR cars were much less sophisticated. We had fewer cars than today. Engineers were also weekend warriors and were rare. Rick Hendrick was the first owner to have two teams. In 2011, many teams have budgets north of $40 million. Teams now produce a majority of race car components in-house."

The keynote speaker discussed how NASCAR got started, where it is today and what he thinks the future of the sport will be like.

"There are limitations from NASCAR," he added. "The center of mass is too high. It is a huge challenge.No engineer, tool or effort will produce the answer. In 2012, all NASCAR Sprint Cup cars will finally get a new fuel injector system. I am passionate in Detroit's economy. All of Detroit went through a horrible downturn. We lost one-third of our workforce. I'm happy to say the lights are back on in Detroit and at Roush Industries."

The gala's co-chairs included Scott Kunselman, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Chrysler Group, LLC; Thomas G. Stephens, Vice Chairman and Global Chief Technology Officer for General Motors Corporation; Sue Cischke, Group Vice President of Sustainability, Environment & Safety Engineering at Ford Motor Company.

"I had an opportunity today to fly back from Dallas where we're setting up our mummies exhibit," said Detroit Science Center President & CEO Kevin F. Prihod. "It's certainly and honor to stand up and thank all of you for your support. We filled up our museum with phenomenal content so you have to eat outside. There's much, much more to come and what you see tonight. This month, we'll complete the new Roads, Bridges and Tunnels gallery and open it with a special Careers in Construction Day with thousands of high school and middle school students. In July, we'll unveil an F/A-18 Blue Angels fighter jet."

Guests were treated to a cocktail reception, a full dinner and a strolling dessert. Mel Barr and Colours provided the after-dinner entertainment on the Chrysler Science Stage. Forte Belanger provided the dinner and Merchant's Fine Wine was responsible for the wines.

"This is the third year we've been able to attend and we enjoy coming here so much," said Susan Collet of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing. "We're happy to attend this year too. I love the exhibits, but I also love seeing the people that are here. We're all cleaned up, dressed up, it's a lot of fun to see. I'm still the past chair for the SAE Detroit Section, but I'm also now on the board of directors for SAE International. We overlook all of the Society of Automotive Engineer-type functions."

Attendees were able to view the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America exhibit on the main level of the museum and the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit on level four. The feature film, NASCAR, was shown in the Chrysler IMAX Theatre.

"I've been here a long time," said Retired U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg. "In fact, I help this organization get money from the federal government in 1999 to put some of this stuff on the ground and they did. The gentleman that runs this place is not me. I'm on their board and have been for three years. I don't know if they'll throw me off, but I'm enjoying it. I'm looking forward to the remarks of a whole lot of people."

Chrysler Group, LLC served as the lead founding sponsor for the 10th Annual Detroit Science Center Gala. Ford Motor Company and General Motors were founding sponsors for the evening. AVL North America, Dana Corporation, Dassault Systèmes, Siemens PLM and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing served as the gold sponsors of the event.

"It is my first time and I'm extremely impressed with everything that they're done here," said American LeMans Series Driver Johnny O'Connell. "Their association with the school, that's magnificent. I have been racing for Chevrolet and the Corvette for the last 10 years. This year, I'm racing the Cadillac CTS-V in world challenge. I'm really excited about it. It's a pretty amazing program.Jack is one of the legends in American racing. Most Americans just know him as a NASCAR guy. He was actually a sports car guy before he was a NASCAR guy. He was a drag racer before he was a sports car guy. An extremely well-rounded American success story."

Exclusive one-on-one interview with Mr. Jack Roush

How would you say your drivers are doing this season? (Question was asked before Matt Kenseth won the race on Sunday)

"My drivers are doing very well. You can always do better. We haven't won as many races as we might have. We've won enough to be satisfied with it. We've obviously made an improvement in our cars from what we had in 2010. I think we will have at least three cars that will be a factor in the championship at the end of the year."

We're coming up to racing at Michigan in a month. What do you think of racing in your hometown?

"Well, we've won 20 times with our trucks, our Nationwide cars and our Sprint Cup cars. I look forward to winning again. We won in 2002. We won on Henry Ford's 100 anniversary of starting the Ford Motor Company. I look forward to extending my win record at MIS. Racing at MIS is like being home for me."

MIS President Roger Curtis said you've done everything from waving the green flag to the flyover, but you haven't sang the national anthem. Would you consider it?

"Well, I don't sing much. But I'll do the flyover whenever he wants."

You've had drivers in all three series of NASCAR. Which is the most fun?

"The Sprint Cup is obviously the most challenging. We have more rookies in the Nationwide, that makes it more fun. For the time being, we're not involved in the truck series. Although, I think that the Ford F-150 is the heart of the Ford Motor Company and I'm disappointed I can't race Ford trucks. Right now, we're racing Nationwide and Sprint Cup. Sprint Cup is where everybody grows up to be. Working with the rookies is a lot of fun where they get their experience in Nationwide as well."

What are your thoughts on the recovery of the Big Three automakers?

"Three years ago, they said the last person out of Detroit should turn off the lights. That was a joke nationally, but the Detroit economy has improved. We're above our pre-recession employment level and we've diversified. We've got a lot of really bright things coming in the future. I think as the automobile companies gain some of their prominence, the luster is off some of the Japanese cars and we've got a real opportunity to pick up market share. I'm trying to help them do that."

Any other comments here at the Detroit Science Center Gala?

"I'm just glad to be here at the Detroit Science Center. I'm amazed to see all of the things they're doing to stimulate interest in young people for science, engineering, mathematics and technology. We're going to use it at Roush Industries as a source to encourage people to go for training."

For more information on the Detroit Science Center, visit

Related Story: 'Dinosaurs Unearthed' is now open at the Detroit Science Center



WDIV-TV Local 4 Anchor Devin Scillian was the emcee for the night.



Detroit Science Center Chairman Francois J. Castaing



Chrysler Senior Vice President of Engineering Scott Kunselman



Jack Roush is also the Chairman of the Board for Roush Enterprises.



A close-up of Roush as he speaks.


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Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.