By Mr. Mervin Brokke (RDECOM)May 7, 2009
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- After competing in the Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Talladega Superspeedway, Jack Roush, team owner and Chief Executive Officer of Roush-Fenway Racing, gracefully flew his P-51D Mustang onto the Redstone Army Airfield runway to meet with his technology partners at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center here. What followed was a very busy day that included meetings with scientists and engineers, lunch with Soldiers and an autograph session.
Even though this was Roush's first visit to Redstone, his work with AMRDEC has made him very familiar with the accomplishments and Warfighter support the Center carries out.
The Roush partnership with the Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability Engineering & System Assessment Division of the Engineering Directorate began in the fall of 2003 when Gen. Paul Kern, then Commanding General of the Army Materiel Command, directed the leveraging of racing technologies for use in the Army.
"General Kern learned of our qualification efforts with the windshield tear-offs, like those used in NASCAR, on UH-60s, and he directed RAM&SA to leverage other technologies from racing. The RAM division formed a partnership with the Roush-Fenway Racing Team to cheaply test and prove out new materials, coatings, processes and nanotechnology," said Kris Walker, RAM & SA Team Lead, Attack & Unmanned Aerial Systems.
The RAM and Roush partners are now sharing testing and test data on windshield multi-layer tear-offs and diamond coatings for wear resistance.
"Our relationship with Jack Roush has offered us a low-cost, cost sharing methodology to prove out, test, and learn of new processes, materials, and applications of technologies that improve the reliability of parts. Also, we have been able to bring in Roush expertise and have expanded the Army's prototyping capabilities through advanced materials and processes," Walker said.
In an effort to build other partnerships to more quickly meet Soldiers' needs, Jack Roush and his team from Roush-Fenway Racing toured the Software Engineering Directorate and the Prototype Integration Facility to get a hands-on feel for the latest technology, and to speak with AMRDEC employees who are focused on supporting the Warfighter.
"Mr. Roush was excited to visit Redstone and its facilities and said that he was humbled by the experience. He has always been a great supporter of our Soldiers.
"During his Redstone visit, he shared many of his experiences and ongoing projects with other government DoD organizations and even mentioned sharing some of Roush's green technologies like the propane fleet conversions that Roush Industries performs on trucks and vans and electric vehicle conversions," said Walker.
Brad Francis is another member of Roush-Fenway Racing on the visit. Francis plays a vital role and is instrumental in the continuation of the partnership through the facilitation of information exchange, technology sharing, and, on the day of the visit, serving as co-pilot.
"Brad Francis, head of Research and Development for Roush-Fenway, is the key reason we have such a great relationship with Roush Fenway Racing. He is a tireless worker who makes a big difference and helps to make things happen," said Walker.
After lunch with Soldiers at the Redstone Dining Facility, the visitors moved to a parking lot next to the post Recreation Center to sign autographs.
Redstone personnel came out by the hundreds to speak with Jack Roush, see his latest Mustang, and get an autograph. Some people brought their own Mustangs and the parking lot quickly became the center of pride and showmanship.
"Mr. Roush signed over 600 autographs during his visit to Redstone for both Soldiers and civilians. He signed everything from pictures, to T-shirts, to die-cast cars, and even dashboards.
"Mustang fans were so happy to hear he was there that an impromptu car show started in the parking lot with over 30 Mustangs showing up during the session," said Walker.
At the end of the day, under clear and sunny skies and after a few last-minute photographs and good-byes, the P-51D and its occupants took-off for the next week's race leaving Walker enthusiastically looking forward to what the future holds.
"Mr. Roush said that he looks forward to partnering with us on other future technology development like nanotechnologies and power storage to improve reliability and performance of weapon systems for our Warfighter. Given Jack Roush's many resources, vast aerospace capabilities, patriotism and love of Soldiers this is a very mutually beneficial partnership," said Walker.