Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

So Army Special Forces want faster, better Humvees? Maybe time to call 1-800-RobbyGordon...

  When it comes to rocky terrain, or Dakar deserts, or Baja ridge-running, Robby Gordon knows just what it takes, and he can build it fast. So maybe there's a sponsorship somewhere for him in this new NASCAR-Army deal. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   A 'collaboration' between U.S. Army Special Forces and NASCAR stock car teams might sound pretty ominous.
   But then that's just what's planned.
   Think better Humvees: faster, safer.

   However, that's just part of this fledgling deal, officially described in a Saturday press conference here as "a strategic partnership" between the North Carolina-based NASCAR motorsports industry and the Special Forces, based in the Fort Bragg/Camp Lejeune area – barely three hours apart.
   And it was a full-blown presentation at Daytona International Speedway, with live TV, and not only NASCAR pres Mike Helton but also N.C. governor Bev Perdue and Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, head of Army Special Forces, a dozen Special Forces men, and several key Sprint Cup crewmen, like Ford's Doug Yates and Toyota's Jimmy Makar.
   But, curiously perhaps, no Robby Gordon, who nearly won the grueling two-week Dakar Rally through Argentina, Chile and Peru, and who runs the Baja every chance he gets.
   If the Special Forces want better Humvees for the Afghan mountains and deserts, they couldn't find a better off-road specialist.
   Bev Perdue?
   Yes, politicians are here.
   Wouldn't be a big NASCAR race week during election year without politicians showing up.
   Presidential contender Mitt Romney is due in town in a couple of days for a soirée with the Frances, who own this track.
   Not to be outdone, there will be a similar fund-raising dinner for President Obama in a couple of days too, hosted by NBA star and Daytona native Vince Carter, in the area for next weekend's NBA All-Star game.
   And there's a lot more racing this season between now and the November elections….
   At least Perdue's appearance here wasn't in pursuit of votes; she's decided not to run for reelection.
   But Saturday's NASCAR-Special Forces announcement, while not long on any specifics or economics, is intriguing on the non-political level.
   Now NASCAR and the military have had a very long-running relationship, not just in sponsorships like Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s National Guard and Ryan Newman's U.S. Army deals, but in technical aspects too, like the fuel cell (an Army helicopter design) and aircraft-strength driver safety harnesses and engine fittings. In fact a number of NASCAR teams have even hit up NASA for technology over the years.
   But with the North Carolina unemployment rate stubbornly high at 9.9 percent (Florida's unemployment rate is also 9.9), the collaboration could be a good vehicle for adding a few dollars to the state's economy.
   The collaboration is being brokered by the N.C. Military Foundation, a privately-funded operation created a few years ago to help deal with the national economic crisis.
   Lance DeSpain, executive director of the foundation, likes the potential synergies, and certainly the publicity that any NASCAR alliance can bring.
   No word on decals for any of the Daytona 500 cars, or sponsorships, though.
   And it's a bit unclear just who made the big push for this particular deal.
   But it's hard to ignore political overtones.
   Michelle Obama, the president's wife, made an appearance at last fall's NASCAR series finale at Homestead-Miami, promoting military families.
   Romney is expected to attend next Friday's Truck race here.
   Obama himself has not yet attended any NASCAR race.
   Of course the politics of it all weren't addressed Saturday.
   It was all about the new 'strategic partnership designed to enhance soldier safety and ability through improved vehicle performance."
   DeSpain concedes "These deals are very difficult to broker, because they involve Congress, the state, the military, the private sector…
   "So we're thinking of this project as 'crawl, walk, run.' We're not starting with Big Army; we're starting with Special Forces, who are 'early adopters.'
   "The things we're working on are how Big Army will be looking at vehicles in the future.
    "The concept of 'turnaround time' can't be overemphasized. You heard Secretary (of Defense Leon) Panetta and the budget that just got released: he said 'We're not seeing enough innovation from industry. It takes too long to get things to our troops.'
   "And a big part of this collaboration is the ability to do rapid prototypes, to respond to challenging questions, to innovate. That's what makes this thing make a whole lot of sense.
   "Certainly there have been a lot of successful 'one-offs' (between the military and NASCAR teams), but this sets up a routine where we meet on a regular basis.
   "There are the teams, which are 'content aggregators,' who do everything from soup to nuts. And there are the specialists, who do one thing really well, be it composite materials or modeling and simulations….
   "We've been exposing them to both.
   "And another thing that's hard for people to get their heads around is the proximately of all these people to each other. It's staggering – all of Army Specials Forces is in North Carolina, all of Marine Corp specials forces is in North Carolina…and the special forces within the special forces are in North Carolina.
   "So North Carolina has the largest concentration of special forces in the world.
   "And we've got the largest concentration of motorsports.
   "It really is a natural to take advantage of this location."



Special Operations boss Lt. Gen. John Mulholland Jr. (L, flanked by Lance DeSpain) is looking faster, safer jeeps, and he's hooking up with NASCAR for innovations (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Yes, there should be some

Yes, there should be some connection or most of it with Robby Gordon. He also races Hummers in Dakar. The major problem I see is Na$cars involvement & politicians, All lining their own pockets first! A politician Robby is not!! There is NO ONE in Na$car that knows anything near or could build anything workable like Robby Can. Sure, Hendrick, Roush, maybe others could build from plans. Robby Knows what would work. Please follow this more, for the sake of honesty if nothing more.

i'm right here on it, dude.

i'm right here on it, dude. and i talked with Chevrolet's Jim Campbell about Robby and this Special Forces project. Let's see what Jim and GM decide to do.

So Army Special Forces want faster, better Humvees?

There maybe other drivers in NASCAR that can drive on the desert...Robby Gordon is the only one with experience building vehicles to run on the desert...rock...ect.

i've been to robby's orange

i've been to robby's orange county off-road shop, and it's not very big at all, but he's got the techniques and talent to do whatever needs to be done. if there were a salary cap in nascar, robby might be winning championships....

Make Perfect Sense

And there lies the problem. Robby Gordon isn't part of NASCAR's "inner circle." Whatever ideas the Boys Club come up with are just that, ideas. Ideas with little to no real world application experience.

Robby Gordon has more in the field knowledge and real world experience in off-road design and application in the tip of his little finger than Roush, Hendrick et al, have in their operations - combined.

Then again, we can't let common sense get in the way of another $700 toilet seat or $435 hammer can we? Especially if there's the potential to have a Officially Licensed NASCAR logo on it.

on a roll here, aren't we

on a roll here, aren't we lol. but you're right. this sport is too much 'the old boys club.' here's hoping Richard Childress gets angry and quick about it all.

Don't get me started, Mike

Don't get me started, Mike ;-)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com