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GM breaks the bounds of bankruptcy. And next for NASCAR?

Meet the new boss: same as the old boss? Fritz Henderson, who points to "intensity, decisiveness and speed" as benchmarks for the new GM (Photo: GM)


   By Mike Mulhern



   JOLIET, Ill.
   General Motors bounced out of bankruptcy Friday, amazingly quickly – just 39 days after falling in the legal hole.
   But what happens next to GM's NASCAR racing operations – including the Rick Hendrick mega-empire (with Sprint Cup tour leader Tony Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman and their new satellite team) and Richard Childress' huge operation, and the up-in-the-air Chip Ganassi-Teresa Earnhardt camp, and the talked-about possible switch by Toyota's Team Red Bull to Chevrolets in 2010 – is still seemingly up in the air.
   GM racing officials offered no comment on the 'new' GM and its meaning for NASCAR, but said more information could be coming out next week.
   GM is now primarily owned by the U.S. government and a trust fund for medical benefits to retirees. The U.S. Treasury Department owns 60.8 percent, the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust owns 17.5 percent, the Canadian government owns 11.7 percent, and the 'old GM' owns 10 percent.


Fritz (L) and Ed Whitacre Jr., the ex-ATT guy now head of the GM's new board (Photo:GM)

GM president and CEO Fritz Henderson will host a webchat Friday July 10 from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT to answer questions about what the future holds for the New GM. Immediately following the Webchat, Henderson will respond to more questions via Twitter from 4:30 – 5:00 p.m., from the @gmblogs account. Please add #Fritz to your question.
  In an open letter, Henderson talked this way about what he called Day One for the 'new' GM:
   "Today marks a new beginning for GM. The last 100 days have shown us that a company not known for quick action can move very fast, indeed. Starting today, we take the intensity, the decisiveness and the speed of these last several weeks and transfer them from the battlefield triage of the bankruptcy process to the day-to-day operation of the new company. This will allow everyone at GM, including me, to return to the business of designing, building and selling great cars and trucks, and serving our customers. And there is nothing we want to do more than that!
   "Going forward, I have three priorities for the new GM: customers, cars and culture. I list “customers” first because they are our top priority. For some time now, we haven’t been as focused on this simple point as we should have been. Now, we’re going to be obsessed with it - because if we don’t get this right, we don’t get to do anything else. It’s that simple.
   "Our second major focus is “cars.” To win, we need to stabilize and grow our business around the globe, and particularly in the U.S. - and that means building more of the cars, trucks and crossovers consumers want. To do that, we’re dropping the word “competitive” from our vocabulary. From here on, every product we make has to be judged by consumers as best in class. Anything less is unacceptable.
   "And third, we’re working to change the “culture” at GM, with a big focus on customers, speed, accountability and risk taking. We’re changing the structure of the company - flattening the organization, removing layers of management, driving broader spans of control and pushing decision-making authority to those closest to the customer. Business as usual is over at GM, and everyone associated with the company must realize this and be prepared to change… fast.
  "We’ve been given a rare second chance at GM, and we are very grateful for that. Going forward, our promise is simple: we will be profitable, we will repay our loans as soon as possible and our cars and trucks will be among the best in the world. We know we have to back these promises with results - and we will."
      Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., formerly of ATT, will be chairman of the GM board. Henderson will be president and CEO, with responsibility for GM’s North American operations.
      Bob Lutz, the former Chrysler whiz kid designer, will be GM's vice-chairman for all "creative elements" of products and customer relationships --and will direct all marketing, advertising, and communications.

GM's Bob Lutz: new boss of racing bosses for the company, among his other jobs? (Photo: GM)


The sooner GM gets out of

The sooner GM gets out of ownership by the US Treasury, the better - government has no business or competence in owning businesses. Right now I expect Chevy to stick with Hendrick/Stewart and maybe Mateschitz - I think RCR and Ganassi are in trouble.

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