Roush Fenway Racing - Ford interview

Roush Racing and the Fenway Sports Group announced this evening the culmination of negotiations that has resulted in Roush Fenway Racing. Under terms of the agreement, both entities will have 50 percent ownership. Jack Roush and John Henry, along ...

Roush Fenway Racing - Ford interview

Roush Racing and the Fenway Sports Group announced this evening the culmination of negotiations that has resulted in Roush Fenway Racing. Under terms of the agreement, both entities will have 50 percent ownership. Jack Roush and John Henry, along with representatives from their respective organizations, were on hand at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Daytona Beach, FL, to announce the agreement.


JACK ROUSH, Co-Owner -- Roush Fenway Racing

HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS IS FINALLY OFFICIAL? "I'm glad it's official. There was some doubt that we would be able to make everything work for both interests, but as the winter has progressed, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel and, of course, were able to make an agreement that everybody is happy with."

WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS MAKING A DIFFERENCE? "It's going to help us, I think, with our ability to attract and to keep the absolute best sponsors in the business, based on the reach of the two organizations combined. I expect there to be more of an impact in the sponsor relationship than anything else."

WILL THERE BE A RE-STRUCTURING? "There will be, over a period of time, a greater involvement in the Fenway Sports Group in our marketing activities. They'll take baby steps for a while, but they certainly have got experience and perspective that will be useful to us and as soon as we're able to ground them, they'll have an impact on what we do. We're going to be more active from a management point of view with our board of directors activities. There will be three members from each organization that will meet regularly and discuss not only financial matters, but strategic and planning matters. I really look forward to that because there are just so many occasions when the questions that we have to make decisions on strategically are so important in terms of laying out the potential for what might happen in the future that's good and bad, I look forward to having advice and to seeking counsel in areas where I really didn't have anybody to go to."

IN A 50-50 DEAL, WHO HAS VETO POWER AND FINAL SAY? "It's only going to work if we respect one another's experience and the priorities that go with that. I certainly will cede and yield on areas that relate to human relationships -- how you build a team and how you keep a team together and how you go to recruit the right kind of talent. Certainly, John has got great experience with that and had great success with it. They've obviously been able to fill up their ball field with all the sponsors that cover every imaginable thing that goes into the ball field that's associated with baseball, and we're anxious to apply some of those trend-breaking, paradigm-breaking ideas into our sport. The initiative that Mike Dee (CEO of the Boston Red Sox and president of FSG) spoke to regarding what baseball has done with children in terms of involving them in meaningful ways. There is some opportunity to take the interest that the youngsters have in our sport and to formalize it and to present it in such ways that would get them recognition and more of them feel great involvement and participation than they have today as they stand behind their fathers and mothers recognized to be the fans."

WAS THAT $50 MILLION FIGURE ACCURATE? "I won't comment on the economics of the deal."

HOW DID THIS ALL COME ABOUT? "Some 36 months or so again gave me a call -- a cold call -- and said that he wanted to have discussions with us about our racing activities and share some ideas that he had about some of his activities in stick and ball sports. I didn't actually engage with him right away. I had Geoff Smith engage, so they had get to know one another conversations and the invitations were made for visits to our facilities in North Carolina, and we attended a number of ball games in Boston that were certainly means that facilitated our getting to know one another. I wasn't in all the meetings that occurred when they toured our shops and I didn't go to the first of the baseball games, but as the thing built momentum and it appeared that there was some synergism and some mutual interest that could be satisfied through an arrangement of some sort, I got involved and became engaged really in the last year."


JOHN HENRY, Co-Owner -- Roush Fenway Racing

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU OWNED A FORD? "That's a good question. I haven't owned a Toyota in a long time. Ford is a sponsor at Fenway Park. There's a huge Ford sign, so we have Ford cars available to us without having to pay for them, so ownership is a little difference."

SO IT'S BEEN A WHILE? "No, I think it was last week."

WHY DID THIS TAKE SO LONG TO GET COMPLETED? "You have to understand that Jack has built his own business and been in business 40 years. He has the resources. He doesn't need a partner and we have plenty of things going on in addition to the Red Sox. We have a lot going on, so the deal really had to make sense. You don't enter into this kind of transaction, in fact, when was the last time you saw a transaction like this in sports. You don't enter into a transaction like this unless you -- Roush is a very complex organization. There's Roush Industries. There's Roush everything with like 3,000 employees, so there were 50 separate contracts that had to be negotiated here. It's one thing to agree on what you should do, it's another thing to be able to get the lawyers on both sides to agree to everything. There were many times where Jack and I would just say to the lawyers, 'Look this is what we want to have happen. Find a way to make it happen.' There was a lot of that."

IS THE $50 MILLION FIGURE ACCURATE? "No, it's not accurate. I think they picked that up from 50 percent or something like that. People tend to sometimes get things mixed up, but the $50 million is an inaccurate number."

WERE YOU A FAN OF THIS SPORT AND WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO MAKE A BUSINESS VENTURE OUT OF IT? "What happened was I was a huge Formula One racing fan for a lot of years. I loved road racing, and then I met some people with a company called Papyrus. They had the NASCAR license for what was called sim racing or video game racing and I went to their offices and they had such an incredible setup. I ended up getting the setup with three television screens and it was just incredible simulation. Eventually, the founder sold to Vivendi -- he and I went together to buy back what he had sold and to forma company called iracing, and through that, through the NASCAR license and through actually myself getting online and racing, I began to understand why NASCAR is such a fascinating and such a terrific sport. If you're a casual fan or you're not a fan of NASCAR, sometimes you don't understand. It's like they say in golf, 'Why are you trying to hit the ball in this little hole? They're just running around in circles.' If you actually get into a simulator and try to run in traffic at 200 miles an hour, you say, 'Wow, this is quite a sport.' So that started my process of starting to watch races and becoming a NASCAR fan."

WAS WATKINS GLEN THE PLACE FOR F-1 WHERE YOU GOT INTERESTED? "No, I used to go overseas to Monte Carlo and places like that."

WILL YOU BE VISIBLE AT THE TRACK ON A REGULAR BASIS? "I'm going to try to be as invisible as I can. I'll try to make my way in between trailers, but my main business is the Red Sox and I have an investment business. This is really a Fenway Sports Group-Roush Racing deal, but anything Jack needs, I'm going to be there for him."

WILL YOU BE THERE SUNDAY? "If it's not too cold and windy (laughing)."

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO CALL JACK OUT OF THE BLUE THREE YEARS AGO? "We were thinking at that point about creating Fenway Sports Group and finding ways to diversify because of the revenue sharing in baseball has been going up, up, up and up to the point where now we're at 48 percent. We started looking at how do we best go after revenues. 'We're a New England Sports Venture Company, that's the name of our company, let's see what kind of ventures we can find outside of baseball.' We did golf. We've done Boston College. We've done things with the Boston Celtics, a number of things, but I kept pressing Mike to go for something national and, eventually, I came up with the idea of calling three or four owners of race teams because I realized what we could bring to a race team. I didn't know at the time what they could bring to us, but I realized a race team could essentially annex an entire part of the country as just one way to get started, so that's what sort of led to it."


CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion --

"I'm not much of a baseball player. I can field balls pretty well, but I haven't played enough to know if I can hit well or not, but I definitely enjoy playing some softball. We have a softball league that I used to play on for the race teams and I played left field and had a lot of fun with it."

NOW YOU CAN VISIT FENWAY PARK. "Yeah, that will be a blast. They said they have a home game Thursday night before the Loudon race, so we may be able to go to that. That would be cool."

YOUR THOUGHTS ON A DEAL LIKE THIS? "This is definitely different and I think it's going to be pretty neat to say the least. As I listened to Mr. Henry speak up there I realized that this really is a huge opportunity for all of us involved to learn from one another. Maybe we can do some things that we haven't done before to help us be faster. That's the key."

WERE YOU A ROYALS OR CARDINALS FAN GROWING UP? "I was a Cardinals fan. I had a chance to hang out with them a little bit a few years ago at an event and I met Albert Pujols. I had no clue who Albert Pujols was, but I thought, 'Man, that's a nice guy.' I've really enjoyed watching them since then just from meeting them that one time. Greg Biffle and I were just talking that now we're going to be watching these guys and get hooked on it. It's going to be a lot of fun."


JOSH BECKETT, Pitcher, Boston Red Sox

YOU'VE FACED SOME OF THE MOST FEARED HITTERS IN BASEBALL, BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE GOING 200 MILES AN HOUR IN A STOCK CAR? "I can't even imagine being in this car going 200 miles an hour, especially with other people inches from you going 200 miles an hour also. I really can't even fathom it. I think I'd like to do it, but I think I'd rather be in the passenger seat, although I don't know if I could trust anybody else to go 200 miles an hour with me in the car, so, I don't know, maybe I'll just stay out of them altogether."

YOU'VE BEEN TO THE TRACK BEFORE. WHAT STRIKES YOU THE MOST ABOUT THE WHOLE SCENE? "I think it's just the number of people that are here and the noise that the cars make. It really almost takes your breath away. It's an unbelievable experience. If I do ever end up having kids, I will definitely bring them to at least one race just because I think it's something that everybody should experience at least one time. People need to know that if you go, you'll have a whole new respect for it. It's an unbelievable deal."


DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion

YOU WERE A BAT BOY AT ONE TIME, SO YOU MUST BE PRETTY EXCITED ABOUT THIS. "A lot of my family growing up in the southeast were big sports fans and some of the Braves players got to come out to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and drive the Legend cars. Bobby Cox, Terry Pendleton and Mark Lemke, when he played for them, so we got to have a pretty good relationship with those guys. So my brother and I got to be a bat boy for the Cincinnati Reds when they were in town for like a three-game stint one time. We had a great time and it was really cool for us getting autographs and bats and stuff. My second team has always been the Boston Red Sox just because I hated the Yankees, so it's pretty cool for us at Roush to be able to hang out with some of the Red Sox. I can't wait to go to a game and it speaks a lot for both John Henry and Jack Roush. They're both great businessmen, champions in their own sports, and to be able to hook up together can only mean good things."

-credit: ford racing

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