LEXINGTON, Ohio — Jim Campbell remains calm, at least outwardly, even though one of General Motors' four factory-backed cars was involved in a minor mishap just prior to the final race on this busy Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"I've only been doing this for 20 years," Campbell says, smiling as he strides toward Cadillac's garages, where engineers are mending the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R Prototype racer's front nose and wing. "Believe me, this is not a relaxing moment right now."
GM's vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports is not one to wear his heart on his sleeve. He prefers brands instead. Today, Campbell, who has held the position since August 2010, has logos for Cadillac Racing on his left polo sleeve and Corvette Racing on his right sleeve. Both are competing here in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
On race days, the burly 53-year-old is GM's on-the-scene ambassador to its teams, drivers, sponsors and racing league officials. He's there to make sure all goes smoothly — or as smoothly as possible. Throughout the day, he is in conversation with officials from each GM team, including drivers, engineers and race strategists. The work is mostly done prior to races, allowing Campbell to be an omniscient observer when the green flag is waved, listening to all communications from his teams through a headset.
For Campbell, of course, it's not just a job. It's a flat-out passion — and the culmination of a lifelong dream. GM and race-car performance are in his blood.
His grandfather and father worked for the Detroit automaker and like many Motor City natives, Campbell grew up with posters of fire-breathing Chevrolet Camaros and Corvettes festooning his bedroom wall.
"I have not done racing, but I've always loved performance," he said. "I remember having these different posters in my room. My dream was to someday work on Corvette and Camaro."
Campbell isn't an engineer. He has a BA in economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Notre Dame. But he secured his racing DNA from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.