Palmer came to racing late in life. He first competed around five years ago while at Nissan, after Ghosn gave him the responsibility to improve the cars' standings in magazine road tests.
"I figured out we weren't really assessing cars to the edges of what they're capable of, the edge of traction. The best way I could think of to assess that was to go racing," he says.
So he enrolled at race school at England's Silverstone track, driving first a Nissan 370Z then, to pass his advanced race license, a Caterham. It was in this bare-bones replica of the old Lotus Seven sports car that he properly learned how to race.
"That was horrifying. They put race tires on the front and bald road tires on the rear so you lose traction without any effort whatsoever," he says.
Then when he joined the Sunday morning marketability assessments at Nissan's proving ground in Tochigi, Japan, he was much more aggressive: "I did the normal assessment of noise, lane change and all that, but I also did my own inspection, which was much more extreme and that skill came from the racing."
Christian Horner, boss of the Aston-sponsored Red Bull Formula One team, once questioned of Palmer whether he had more enthusiasm than talent on the track. Palmer laughs at being reminded of it. "It's probably still true," he says.
But he hasn't crashed out of a race yet, and he taps Aston's lead pro driver, Darren Turner, for coaching on the track and at Turner's race simulator. When he's pushed for time, he heads upstairs at home and learns a new track on his son's PlayStation.
He's down for two big endurance races this year: the Spa 12 hours in October at Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps track, and the 24-hour race in November at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Both tracks are "bucket-list biggies" for Palmer, but ever the marketing man, he's thinking of the brand. Endurance racing fits with the Aston ethos of long-legged staying power.