The arrival of the 2015 Ford Mustang not only brought many changes to America’s iconic muscle car, but also gave rise to several questions as to what high-performance models would be built around it. There’s been a lot of talk about several Shelby nameplates being dropped with the new generation, but although the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 has yet to receive a successor, Ford did roll out a 2016 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350 model and a more track-focused 2016 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R that promises to become the most potent Mustang on the race track. Now, Ford has also unveiled the GT350R-C, which replaces the previous-generation 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

The new muscle racer is set to make its first official track debut at Watkins Glen on June 27th and will continue to race in the remaining six events of the 2015 season through September. The race team will be managed by longtime Ford partner Multimatic Motorsports, while the cars will be driven by Billy Johnson, Scott Maxwell, Austin Cindric, and Jade Buford.

“Ford is committed to the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and we’re very happy to be campaigning its product here,” said Larry Holt, team principal, Multimatic Motorsports. “We like the endurance format, and the racing is always intense. The cars must be fast and reliable, and there are always at least 10 contenders running door-to-door for two and a half hours. It is the perfect home for the GT350R-C.”

Updated 06/29/2015: The new Shelby GT350R-C made its racing debut this weekend during the qualifying session for the 2015 IMSA. With a lap-time of 2 minutes, 1.358 seconds - the new GT350R-C grabbed itself a pole position for its first race!

Continue reading to learn more about the Shelby GT350R-C.

Rendering

2016 Ford Shelby GT350R-C Mustang Race Car Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Exterior

2016 Ford Shelby GT350R-C Mustang Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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As expected, the IMSA version of the GT350R didn’t change much on the outside. Up front, there’s only a slightly revised carbon-fiber splitter, while everything else remained basically unchanged. Though I expected too see a vented hood and reshaped bumper air intakes, Ford kept these parts as seen on the road-going GT350R. The same can be seen on the sides and around back.

Though I expected too see a vented hood and reshaped bumper air intakes, Ford kept these parts as seen on the road-going GT350R.

The side skirts and the rear wing are identical to the standard car’s. The diffuser might be different, but Ford’s only photo of the GT350R-C only shows the muscle car’s front end. But judging by the fact that the racing version is pretty much a road-going model with a livery, I wouldn’t be surprised if the GT350R-C came with the standard diffuser.

There is something different about it though. The lightweight, race-spec wheels and the slightly lowered ride height.

The fact that the race car is nearly identical to the GT350R is actually good news, as it speaks volumes about the standard model’s capability on the track. Much like the new Mustang is to its predecessor, the GT350R-S is probably significantly lighter and more aerodynamic than the 2014 Ford Mustang Boss 302S it replaces.

Interior

Ford didn’t release photos of the interior, but the only shot we have so far shows a Recaro racing seat, a full roll cage, and race-spec door panels. I also expect it to feature a simpler instrument panel, a quick-release steering wheel, and a fire-suppression system. As with most race cars, it should also have a stripped-out floor.

Drivetrain

Shelby GT350's New 5.2-liter V-8 Delivers 100 HP Per Liter High Resolution Drivetrain
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Note: 5.2-liter flat-plane V-8 shown.

Now that the track-exclusive Mustang will no longer use the Boss 302 name, which had to come with a 5.0-liter V-8, Ford has dropped the GT350’s 5.2-liter, flat-plane crank mill under the hood of its IMSA racer. As a brief reminder, it is Ford’s first-ever production V-8 with a flat-plane crankshaft and the most powerful naturally aspirated engine the Blue Oval has ever built. The latter statement is of course only true when the engine cranks out 520 horsepower in GT350 specifications. For the race-only GT350S, that figure is likely to change to meet racing regulations. Unfortunately, there’s no word on output yet.

The mill likely matse to the GT350R’s lightweight, six-speed manual transmission and a bespoke Torsen limited-slip differential optimized for increased cornering grip and straight-line traction. A custom-tuned independent suspension with revised spring rates, Brembo brakes, bespoke antiroll bars, custom track-tuned alignment settings, revised bushings, and cross-axis ball joints in the front round off the chassis updates.

Competition

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28R

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28R High Resolution Exterior
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Of all the competitors the GT350R-C will have to face in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Camaro Z/28R is the most similar, as it’s the only full-fledged muscle car competing in the series. Based on the road-legal 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 launched for the 2014 model year, the Z/28R also sports an aggressive aerodynamic kit that includes a new front splitter, a hood extractor vent, and rocker extensions, among many others.

Motivation is provided by the same 7.0-liter V-8 powering the standard car, but output has been detuned from 505 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque to 425 horses and 450 pound-feet. A six-speed manual does the shifting.

The Z/28R debuted in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in 2014, winning five races and the Grand Sport class.

Find our more about the Camaro Z/28R here.

Conclusion

The fact that the Boss 302 is still being raced almost a year after the fifth-gen Mustang has been replaced speaks volumes for its reliability and popularity in both the Pirelli World Challenge and the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. So the GT350R-C has a large pair of shoes to fill and a strong pack of competitors to race against on its way to glory. Developing a muscle car that’s better than the Boss 302S isn’t easy, but the significantly improved sixth-gen Mustang and the racing technology already developed for the GT350R might just do the trick. Of course, we won’t find out whether the GT350R-C is able to best its predecessor until it hits the track, but Ford’s new muscle racer looks darn good on paper.

  • Leave it
    • Has big shoes to fill
    • Stiff competition
    • Some official details still under wraps

Updated History

Updated 06/24/2015: Ford dropped the first official details on the race version of its new Shelby GT350R. The new GT350R-C will compete in the remainder of the 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge with Multimatic Motorsports.

Press Release

There’s no mistaking the wicked sound or aggressive looks of the all-new Shelby® GT350R-C that Ford announced today would see its first official track time at Watkins Glen this weekend.

2016 Ford Shelby GT350R-C Mustang Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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Ford Shelby GT350R-C, the competition version of the reincarnated icon, will compete in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, a showdown of the most popular – and accessible – performance cars from around the world.

The GT350R production car was unveiled in January, and is one of more than 12 new vehicles Ford Performance will bring to market through 2020. Since its introduction, sports car enthusiasts have eagerly awaited the debut of a racing version.

"Like so many Mustangs before it, the Shelby GT350R is a car born to race,” said Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance. “We’re taking it to the track as the GT350R-C and we’re ready to see what it can do against the best competition in the world.”

Both production and race car versions feature the first-ever production car V8 from Ford with a flat-plane crankshaft. This unique layout – typically reserved for the world’s most exotic sports cars – helped create the most powerful naturally aspirated engine Ford has ever produced.

The race car features an adapted version of the advanced, fully independent suspension from GT350R – fitted with revised spring rates and antiroll bars, lower ride height, unique track-tuned alignment settings, revised bushings and cross-axis ball joints in the front.

Longtime Ford partner Multimatic Motorsports, which will manage the race team, returned to the blue oval in the series’ Grand Sport division in 2014, piloting the Mustang Boss 302R with some of the most popular and talented drivers on its roster. The squad will field drivers Billy Johnson, Scott Maxwell, Austin Cindric and Jade Buford for the GT350R-C debut at Watkins Glen.

“Ford is committed to the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and we’re very happy to be campaigning its product here,” said Larry Holt, team principal, Multimatic Motorsports. “We like the endurance format, and the racing is always intense. Strategy plays a big role; the cars must be fast and reliable, and there are always at least 10 contenders running door-to-door for two and a half hours. It is the perfect home for the GT350R-C.”

“American muscle cars have a storied history in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and we eagerly anticipate the start of a new chapter with introduction of the Shelby GT350R-C,” said Scott Atherton, president of IMSA. “Mustang has earned icon status through its racing heritage going back to the competition Mustangs of the 1960s, and this new race car will undoubtedly add to the legend.”

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