Roller derby is hot. Two roller derby movies are slated to debut this year and leagues of skate-wearing elbow-slinging women are springing up all over the world. Chevrolet aerodynamic engineer Suzy Cody is one of those “derby girls.”
Suzy says the bumping and banging of roller derby “has given me the confidence I need to aggressively work toward my goals.” Her goal for the past year has been to improve the air flow around the upcoming 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and allow it to achieve outstanding fuel economy. Final EPA numbers are yet to come, but it looks like the new Malibu will get up to 2.5 additional miles per gallon on the highway.
Suzy is part of a team that worked on fine-tuning the new Malibu’s exterior to allow it to slip through the air with less drag. Sometimes the work in the wind tunnel took place in the middle night, but that’s fine with her. She’s dedicated to the GM team. She even dyed her hair to show her support for the company. She says, “I highlighted my hair blue a couple of years ago. It actually coincided with when the new GM came out. I went into the salon and asked them for GM Blue.” Suzy considers her hair highlights as indicative of her personality. “I’m a mom, I’m an engineer, I’m a woman, I’m tough, I’m fun. To see an engineer with blue hair it kind of sets me apart. It shows people not to judge a book by its cover.”
While the next-generation Malibu has been the focus of her work in recent months, a 2010 Camaro is her current ride. She says, “When all the other moms pull up to school in their minivans or crossovers, I arrive in my Inferno Orange, 426-horsepower Camaro Coupe with my blue hair and twin child seats in tow. I usually get a few laughs and some stares.”
Her car also inspired her roller derby persona. On the roller rink she is known as “Shovey Camaro,” a member of the Bath City Roller Girls derby team from Mt. Clemens, Mich. Her derby number of “6.2L” pays homage to the power and size of the V-8 engine in her Camaro SS.
Roller derby is a combative sport, but on the job Suzy works on finds a middle ground with a number of different areas to improve the aerodynamics of the Malibu. She says, “Negotiating the competing interests of design, manufacturing and vehicle engineers – all of whom have different goals for an individual part or the vehicle’s overall design – can be inspiring, We all have a common goal – to give Malibu customers around the world Chevrolet’s most fuel-efficient midsize car ever.”