by Michael V. Freeze
Managing Editor, Counterman
Ray Evernham, president and CEO of Evernham Motorsports, recently spoke at the Ashland/Valvoline New Product Development Laboratory in Lexington, KY, as part of Valvoline’s “Valvapalooza 2006: FutureTech” event. The company has joined forces with Evernham to form Valvoline Evernham Racing.
The press gathering showcased not only Valvoline’s relationship with Evernham, but the work and research that goes into its products such as motor oil, coolant and other lubricants.
Evernham has enjoyed ample success in NASCAR competition. With Jeff Gordon as his driver, Evernham’s team won 47 Winston Cup Series races and three Winston Cup championships. Currently, his race team includes an all-star list of drivers like Scott Riggs, who drives the No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger.
One of the traits that makes Evernham so successful is his attention to detail and quality, something he feels Valvoline possesses as well.
“[Valvoline] cares about its bottom line, but their bottom line is that they want their products to be good,” said Evernham. “They care about their product and their reputation. I needed a good technical partner to work hand in hand in the development of engines.”
Valvoline works very closely with its racing team, making sure the preparation for the next upcoming race is close to perfection. In this fast-paced environment, it’s definitely to a team’s advantage to sweat the small details. Evernham explained one instance at Bristol Motor Speedway where he glanced at a practice sheet, which proved to be an eye-opener for him.
“I [had] never seen the cars so close, so competitive,” recalled Evernham. “I saw that 21 cars were within a tenth of second apart from each other.”
It’s no wonder why NASCAR documents track times down to the thousandth of a second. It’s that type of detail that puts Evernham, along with Valvoline, on a quest to find the tiniest technical edge.
“Through the years, we have made a lot of great products together [and] that has enabled us to go to race tracks like Talladega and ‘pour horsepower out of a bottle,’” said Evernham. “In a place like Talladega, it’s very restrictive. They take away about half of your horsepower. If you can get back more horsepower using qualifying oil, you can pick up a tenth or two of a second and that is very important.”
Evernham also explained that Valvoline uses racing as its laboratory for the cars in the real world. Most of the work done for the upcoming race day, such as the road tests of running higher temperatures and taking in less air, is the same research applied to enhance various aspects of real-world motorist performance. He also mentioned one of the reasons he enjoys the relationship with Valvoline is that they both share the same passion for the technical side of vehicles and improving on that.
“Valvoline is always pushing to get a little bit better and they are not afraid to try things,” said Evernham. “The best part of it is that I can legitimately say to my Dodge dealers, manufacturers and fans that some of the things that are going on in NASCAR racing is making it to the production world and making it a better place, whether it be fuel efficiency, environmental things or basic driver safety. It’s good to do that in a job that you love and be able to make a difference.”