FORD GT ENGINEERING TEAM - PERSONAL PROFILES AND WORK BIOGRAPHIES
Chris Theodore, Vice President, Advance Product Creation
Ask Chris Theodore about Ford’s product future and he grabs a pen and paper, sketching cars trucks, crossovers and various vehicle platforms. He annotates them with arrows and circles, interjecting with explanations of development cycles, manufacturing options and customer desires along the way.
Theodore is vice president, Advance Product Creation. His role includes: creating a strategic design vision for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products and brands; developing new products and features; bringing together technology, marketing and trends with concepts and show vehicles; and facilitating a stable cycle plan and platform selections. Theodore also leads the Ford Performance Group, including the Ford Special Vehicle Team, and Ford Motor Company’s advance product activities throughout North America.
Theodore, a life-long car enthusiast, has vast experience in the automotive industry, beginning as an engineer in the heavy truck group at Ford. He has been a researcher at Detroit Diesel, director of engineering at AMC, general manager for minivans and small cars and senior vice president of platform engineering at Chrysler.
Theodore returned to Ford as vice president, Ford North America Car in 1999, almost instantly conjuring plans for a Ford GT program as he re-energized the car market with the introduction of the Thunderbird. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and an MBA from Michigan State University.
Neil Ressler, Ford Motor Company Senior Technical Adviser
Two weeks after the Ford GT concept was unveiled at the 2002 North American International Auto Show, Bill Ford asked Neil Ressler to consult on the feasibility study to turn the concept into reality. Ressler – then in semi-retirement – was ideal for the task, as he was involved with two previous mid-engine programs: In the mid-1980s, Ressler worked on a Ferrari 308 competitor, code-named GN34; in the ’90s, Ressler spearheaded the Petunia project, another two-seat, mid-engine sports car that evolved into the Ford GT concept car.
Once the program was approved, Ressler assumed the role of con******t to the Ford GT team, identifying and recruiting the best engineers within Ford Motor Company and bringing years of real-world experience to the team. In addition, he serves as a liaison between the team and upper management.
Ressler joined Ford in 1967 as a senior research scientist and became principal design engineer for suspension and steering in 1971. Between 1981 and 1994, Ressler served as chief components engineer for the Climate Control Division, chief engineer of Small Car Design and Development, chief engineer of Chassis and Electrical Engineering and executive director of vehicle engineering, Car Product Development.
Ressler was elected a Ford vice president in 1994 as head of Core Product Development, Ford Automotive Operations and became head of Advanced Vehicle Technology later that year. In 1998 he added the chairmanship of Jaguar Racing and Cosworth Racing to his duties and became a board member of Stewart Grand Prix. From 1999 until his retirement in 2001, Ressler held the position of Ford Motor Company vice president and chief technical officer. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the General Motors Institute, a master's degree and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Michigan State University.
O. John Coletti, Director, Ford Special Vehicle Team Programs
John Coletti's engineering career started when he was 16 years old. In 1965, he purchased a scrapped 318-cubic-inch Plymouth engine for $5 and dismantled it in his parents’ garage just to see what made an engine tick. After studying the internal components, Coletti reassembled the parts, but never succeeded in starting the engine. Fortunately, his later exploits have been much more successful.
Today, Coletti has the enviable position of Ford Special Vehicle Team programs director. He oversees product development and engineering of all SVT vehicles, including the SVT Mustang Cobra, the SVT F-150 Lightning and the SVT Focus. Coletti also oversees the Ford GT engineering program, directing the ground-up development of Ford's Centennial Supercar.
Coletti holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University as well as a master's degree in business from Michigan State University. Coletti joined Ford Motor Company in 1972 as a product design engineer in the General Products Division and was named Mustang business planning manager in 1989. His efforts were integral in reviving the hallowed pony car for 1994 and led to his assignment as director of the Ford Special Vehicle Team in January 1994.
Neil Hannemann, Ford GT Chief Program Engineer
When the Ford GT swept first, second and third place at Le Mans in 1966, Neil Hannemann was an 8-year-old stationed with his family an air base outside Everaux, France. Although Hannemann didn't attend the race, he vividly remembers the excitement of an American car dominating the hallowed European race.
Today, Hannemann is developing the spiritual successor to the historic race car. As the chief program engineer for the new Ford GT team, Hannemann is responsible for the design, testing and certification of every aspect of the new Ford supercar, including the chassis, powertrain, body, interior and electrical systems.
Hannemann attended the Air Force Academy and received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the General Motors Institute. His automotive career started at Chrysler where he worked on the Dodge Viper road car, the Le Mans-winning Viper GTS-R race car and finally as program manager for the Dodge Intrepid Winston Cup program. In 2000, Hannemann moved to Saleen, Inc. as chief engineer for the Saleen S7, a mid-engine, high-performance car.
Fred Goodnow, Ford GT Design, Engineering and Launch Manager
When John Coletti was given approval to transform the Ford GT from concept to production, he asked Fred Goodnow to complete a feasibility study. Contained in an innocuous, half-inch black binder, that study served as the blueprint for the GT program. In it, Goodnow outlined the entire program, including the basic vehicle specifications, manufacturing proposal, business model, engineering structure and development timeline. Thus, many of the stunning accomplishments of the Ford GT team can be attributed to the vision of a single man, Fred Goodnow.
Once the feasibility study was approved, Goodnow assumed the role of design, engineering and launch manager for the Ford GT. He was intimately involved in the conceptual, design and prototype phases of development. Goodnow is also responsible for coordinating the production launch, including ramp-up of manufacturing facilities and supplier content.
Goodnow started with Ford Motor Company in 1971, working as a design engineer and product planner on light-truck programs. In 1978, he transferred to Small Car, where he worked on niche vehicles like the Ford Escort EXP and developmental vehicles including a mid-engine sports car code-named GN34. In 1991, Goodnow was appointed advanced concept program manager for Ford Special Vehicle Engineering.
There, he oversaw the creation of concept cars, including the mid-engine GT90 concept and the open-wheel Indigo concept. Goodnow holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the General Motors Institute and a master's degree in business from Wayne State University.
Bill Clarke, Ford GT Body Engineering Supervisor
Tacked to the wall above Bill Clarke's desk is a cut-away sketch of a vehicle, drawn when he was a fifth-grade student in Pittsburgh. The drawing of a mid-engine, V-8-powered, two-seat sports car was inspired by his most cherished model of the day: a Ford GT Mark II.
Today, that drawing seems rather prophetic, as Clarke is the body engineering supervisor for the Ford GT. He is responsible for the engineering, validation and release of all body panels, interior components and all electrical sub-systems not associated with powertrain.
Clarke holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University, as well as a master's degree in business from the University of Michigan. He joined Ford Motor Company in 1988 as a design and release engineer for Ford truck programs. In 1998, he was assigned to the Dearborn Assembly Plant as the vehicle-engineering supervisor overseeing the body and chassis assembly for the Mustang.
Curt Hill, Ford GT Powertrain Engineering Supervisor
Growing up in rural Illinois, Curt Hill's first exposure to powertrains was working on the family's farm equipment. At a young age, he developed a working knowledge of the diesel-powered combines, tractors and other equipment that kept the farm running. Little did Hill know that this experience would lead to an impressive career in powertrain development.
Today, Hill is responsible for the design, validation and release of all Ford GT powertrain systems. This includes the engine, transaxle and driveline components, as well as the fuel, calibration, cooling, air intake and exhaust subsystems.
Hill received a bachelor's degree in industrial technology from Illinois State University and a master's degree in business from Wayne State University. In 1979, he joined the Ford engine division where he worked in robotics, engine assembly and engine validation. He was promoted to component engineering supervisor in 1988 and to engine systems supervisor in 1994. Eventually, Hill was assigned to Advanced Powertrain Engineering, where he served as a technical leader specializing in artificially aspirated engines, intercooling and experimental transmissions.
Kip Ewing, Ford GT Packaging, Prototype and Launch Supervisor
Kip Ewing couldn't bear the thought of leaving the first Ford GT prototype flat black, even in the early stages of development. Ewing’s two-man team took the body panels from “Workhorse Number One" and painted them over a series of late nights at home. That hand-painted red livery – inspired by the Shelby American Ford GT that won Le Mans in 1967 – has become a symbol of the team's dedication and enthusiasm.
As the Ford GT packaging, prototype and launch supervisor, Ewing's oversight extends beyond the build-up – and painting – of the pre-production vehicles. He is also responsible for overall vehicle packaging, ensuring that the Ford GT design is compatible for mechanical systems, structure and occupant ergonomics, all within the constraints of the original concept car design.
Ewing's automotive career started with Aston Martin, working on the Virage design team. He also worked as a vehicle engineer with Callaway Cars, as a studio engineer for ASC and as a designer of coach-built vehicles for Bentley Motor Cars. Ewing joined the Advanced Programs division of Ford Motor Company in 1996.
There, he worked on the occupant package of the Lincoln LS, was awarded numerous patents for his work on adjustable pedals and led the early package development of the next-generation Ford Mustang. Ewing holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Oklahoma.
Tom Reichenbach, Vehicle Engineering Manager, Ford GT
Tom Reichenbach's first car was a wrecked 1959 Corvette, bought from a junkyard a year before he received his driver's license. Reichenbach, with his brother and father, spent three months restoring the car, from refinishing the body to repairing the engine, transmission, differential and brakes. That experience got Reichenbach interested in everything that makes a car go, stop and turn.
As the vehicle engineering manager for the Ford GT, Reichenbach is responsible for everything that makes the supercar go, stop and turn. Reichenbach reviews the impact each proposed design change has on the overall feel and performance of the Ford GT. To ensure the Ford GT meets all of its performance targets, Reichenbach also oversees aerodynamic, vehicle dynamics and chassis development.
Reichenbach holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University as well as a master's degree in mechanical engineering from University of Kentucky. Reichenbach started at the Ford Electronics Division, where he developed on-board electronic systems for Ford Racing and the first fuel-injection system on a Champ car. This led to his assignment as vehicle dynamics supervisor for Ford Racing, where Reichenbach provided technical support to Winston Cup, Trans Am and Formula 1 teams.
Huibert Mees, Ford GT Chassis Design Supervisor
Possibly the most impressive testament to Huibert Mees' technical expertise is not his resume, but his one-off 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo convertible. Armed with a reciprocating saw and a hand-drawn schematic, Mees removed the hard top, adapted a soft-top from a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass and reinforced the Monte Carlo's underbody to cope with the missing structural support. The finished product is seamless enough to convince even the most avid aficionados that at least one Monte Carlo convertible rolled off the assembly line.
Today, Mees is the chassis design supervisor for the Ford GT. A technical expert in chassis architectures, Mees is responsible for the engineering, validation and release of all chassis components. These include the space frame, suspension components, brake system and steering mechanism.
Mees holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He joined Ford Motor Company in 1990, in advanced vehicle engineering. As a design engineer, he was awarded a patent for his work on the Jaguar S-Type and Lincoln LS rear suspension geometry. Mees was designated a chassis architecture technical expert in 2001 and served as a design con******t on pre-program chassis development.
Kent Harrison, Ford GT Performance Development Supervisor
Early in the Ford GT program, the team decided to perform wind-tunnel testing on a 1968 Ford GT configured like the JWA Racing Team entry that won at Le Mans in 1969. As the drag and lift numbers came across the screen, Kent Harrison and the team fell into stunned silence, as modern testing showed the vintage cars exhibited significant front lift at speed. That meant the Ford GT race car had minimal steering control on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans, where the vintage cars crested 180 mph. Harrison's team quickly agreed that Le Mans winners Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver were very brave men.
As the Ford GT performance development supervisor, Harrison's primary role is the oversight of vehicle performance and aerodynamics. He is charged with optimizing aerodynamic performance, measured by coefficient of drag, lift and downforce, as well as managing internal airflow through the air intakes and heat extractors. Harrison also is responsible for meeting straight-line performance targets.
Harrison joined Ford Motor Company in 1989, beginning his career testing engines on the dynamometer. He became a vehicle development engineer in 1992, responsible for design and release of body and interior components and then a vehicle integration engineer in charge of overall performance on various truck programs, including the current Ford Escape. Harrison also spent two years at Ford Racing as the Craftsman Truck series program manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, as well as a master's degree in business from the University of Michigan.
Mark McGowan, Ford GT Vehicle Dynamics Supervisor
For Mark McGowan, a 1971 Lotus Europa S2 served as a test bed for his budding engineering career. To make his college commuter more competitive in autocross events, McGowan optimized every item the rules and his pocketbook would allow. Aided by a rebuilt engine, new bushings, updated suspension, new roll bars and larger brakes, McGowan won two regional autocross championships.
Today, McGowan has a similar role on the Ford GT program. As the vehicle dynamics supervisor, McGowan is responsible for the testing, optimization and tuning of all chassis systems, including the brakes, suspension rates and steering mechanisms. McGowan also leads the team's "test pilots” who evaluate vehicle behavior at the limits of performance.
McGowan started working for Jack Roush Performance in 1983 as a chassis design engineer. During that time, he worked on Ford SVO projects, as well as the design, build and testing of all Bob Bondurant school cars. In 1990, McGowan transferred to Ford Motor Company where he most recently served as the vehicle development supervisor for the Lincoln Aviator. McGowan holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toledo.
Camilo Pardo, Chief Designer, Ford GT
At the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Camilo Pardo debuted two works of art, in two very different media. In addition to the Ford GT concept he created, Pardo also designed the black-and-white leather go-go outfits, which he says are "influenced by 1960's style, updated with modern lines," worn by show models.
Now, as chief designer for the Ford GT, Pardo works with the engineering team to preserve as much of the concept's design in the production car.
Pardo started working at Ford Motor Company in 1985, in Advanced Design. Since then, Pardo has rotated through international design assignments in Dearborn, Ghia, Italy and Cologne, Germany. For the North American market, Pardo worked on the Ford Thunderbird and was chief designer for the current Ford SVT Mustang Cobra. Pardo holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the College of Creative Studies.