EyesOn Design Symposium sharing GM’s covert racing support during the AMA ban.
GM Design Dome, Warren, MI
Saturday, June 17, 2023
$100 per person
Owners of early Corvettes found themselves totally outperformed when competing with purpose built sports cars built by companies including Jaguar, Porsche, Alfa-Romeo, MG, or Ferrari.
Hoping to create a car that could compete successfully at this level, Harley Earl and other high-level managers initiated efforts to create a lightweight, aerodynamic Corvette - the XP-64 (later dubbed Corvette SS) for competition at Sebring, and then at Le Mans.
Zora Duntov and a select group of designers and craftsmen were working feverishly on this project when GM signed the decree issued by the Automobile Manufacturers Association placing a ban on participation in and promotion of auto racing, bringing the whole effort to a screeching halt.
While this ban shut down all "above board" corporate racing efforts, unsanctioned support of privateer racers was going on behind the scenes. Plenty of experimental and heavy-duty parts were quietly loaned or donated to racers for "testing" or "field evaluation" purposes. Teams selected to evaluate these performance parts often became dominant due to the advantages that the components provided.
EyesOn Design has assembled a panel of racers, engineers, and designers who will trace the colorful evolution of Corvette racing support from the days of the AMA ban to today's corporate-sponsored efforts and explain how these efforts refined and improved the Corvette to its current level of excellence.
Early Corvette Racing History (Werner Meier)
AMA Ban & Corporate Policy (Fishel)
Panel Discussion (moderated by John McElroy)
Hear from the designers and engineers who brought the Viper to life.
Stellantis North America Design Center, Auburn Hills, MI
Saturday, June 17, 2023
$100 per person
Tom Gale joined Chrysler in 1967. He became Vice President of Design in 1985 and maintained that role as well as serving in a series of executive management positions, including President International Operations, Executive Vice President Engineering and Product Strategy, and General Manager platform operations for minivan, Jeep, and the Chrysler rear wheel drive models before retiring from the Board of Management in 2000.
Throughout his career Mr. Gale has maintained an active role with design. He was responsible for the creation of over 50 concept and show vehicles, along with a multitude of production vehicles like Viper, Ram Truck, Minivan, and Chrysler 300 to name a few.
Mr. Gale currently is active with automotive design, aftermarket products, Car of the Year Award jury, and a private client consulting and design business.
Director of Advanced Product Design Strategy, Chrysler Corp., Retired.
Ernie Barry attended the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with an MFA and MA, majoring in Industrial Design.
He was hired by the Ford Motor Company and after 3 years joined the Chrysler Design Staff, where his career spanned 32 years, retiring as Director of Advanced Product Design Strategy.
In retirement his involvement with the Northport, Mi. community includes 9 years on the Northport Planning Commission, participation in the creation of a new Municipal Marina, designing way- finding signage for the village & marina, a founding member of a village sponsored youth sailing school, and chairman of a Public Art Committee, culminating in a 100' long mural located on the marina park grounds.
Recreation and hobbies include automobiles, sailing, model railroading, and travel.
Herb grew up in Plainview, N.Y., on Long Island, got his driver’s license early and spent a fair amount of time drag racing both on and off tracks. Based on his love for all things automotive, Herb knew early on he wanted to be in the auto industry and needed an engineering degree as his ticket to Detroit. With his BSME from Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University) In hand, Herb started with Chrysler Corporation in 1972. His first position was in the Rear Axle Lab as a development engineer and moved through various roles including research, shock absorber development and steering and suspension design.
In 1974, Herb was selected for the Chrysler Institute of Engineering (CIE) program. As a member of the CIE program, Herb earned an MSME from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in automotive engineering from The Chrysler Institute of Engineering. Prior to joining Team Viper, Herb was a development supervisor in the Transmission Lab.
When the Viper team was first created, Herb called Roy Sjoberg (Team Leader and Chief Engineer) to set up a 30-minute interview. Instead, they talked for two hours. At the end of the interview, Herb asked when he would know if he made the team. Roy replied, “Oh you made the team after the first 15 mins; I just wanted to pick your brain for ideas!” When Herb joined the team, he commented “I was so stoked, I didn’t sleep for 3 nights”.
On the team, Herb was responsible for several chassis and powertrain systems. After formal program approval and as the team grew, Herb was promoted to Manager of Vehicle Synthesis. In Herb’s words, “Vehicle Synthesis meant I was responsible for making sure the Viper met or exceeded all customer objectives and expectations. I had to make sure the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. I knew things were going to be different when in 1996 I got the nickname “Grail Keeper” after the knight guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
The nickname came about as Herb held off many internal and external forces that wanted to “enhance and civilize” the Viper beyond its original intent. He is also known for racing the F-16 Air force jet, whose development name was also Viper, and beating it in a 1/4 mile drag race only to lose at the half mile by a fascia. The race made on to Ripley's Believe It or Not.
Herb retired from the team at the beginning of 2008 and lives near CTC with his wife Debbie.
Chief Design Officer, Stellantis
Ralph Gilles was appointed chief design officer for the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram, Maserati and Fiat (Latin America) brands in January 2021. He is also a member of Stellantis’ Top Executive Team. He is responsible for shaping and directing design across the brand’s portfolio as it moves toward electrification.
He is extremely active inside and outside of the company. Gilles serves as the executive sponsor of the Stellantis African Ancestry Network Diaspora (STAAND) in addition to playing a supporting role with the Stellantis Global Diversity Council. At his alma mater, College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Gilles serves as a member of the CCS board of trustees.
An avid car enthusiast who enjoys spending time at the track, go-karting and watching Formula 1 auto racing, Gilles has participated in the Targa Newfoundland Rally, the Car and Driver One Lap of America and the SRT Viper Cup Series. In addition, he frequently serves as a judge at various Concours d’Elegance events across the country, including Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, as well as the EyesOn Design car show.
Gilles has earned numerous academic and industry awards, including the Michigan State University Eli Broad Graduate School of Management Young Alumni Achievement Award, Automotive Hall of Fame Young Leadership & Excellence Award, NV Magazine Innovation Award, Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award and N’Digo Foundation N’Design Award.
Since first joining the company in 1992 as a designer, Gilles has put his extensive academic background in industrial design and business administration to use, holding various positions within the company, including:
Gilles holds a Master of Business Administration from Michigan State University (2002) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in industrial design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit (1992).
Ralph Gilles will be honored with the 2023 EyesOn Design Lifetime Design Achievement Award at the Vision Honored ceremony.
Advanced Engineering Manager, Stellantis
Mike has worked on Viper and SRT performance products for 20 years. He began working at Team Viper in the year 2000 as a body engineer and performed various roles at SRT including Viper Program Manager and SRT Advanced Concepts Manager.
Mike’s specialties also include engineering with advanced materials and aerodynamics.
He lives in Oxford, Michigan, and holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University.
Chief Engineer – Viper Powertrain, Retired
Dick Winkles graduated from Davison High School in Davison, Michigan, and attended Lawrence Tech University and the University of Michigan, earning a BSME in Mechanical Engineering.
He is a muscle car enthusiast from a GM family. In fact, his father, grandfather & great-grandfather all retired from GM!