Ford Mustang to Enter NASCAR Cup Series for the first time in 2019
It’s finally happening! After competing for eight years in the Xfinity Series, the Ford Mustang is finally joining the Cup Series, the top tier of NASCAR. The Mustang will replace the Fusion, which the company has been racing in the premier series since 2006.
"We’re combining America’s favorite sports car with America’s top stock car racing series," said Mark Rushbrook, global director at Ford Performance Motorsports. "Mustang always has been about affordable performance, which can be traced to innovations we’ve made competing in racing, like NASCAR. Mustang is a perfect fit for our racing heritage today and tomorrow."
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Ford’s "The Return" Documentary Is Now Up On Amazon Prime
For those of you who are looking for something good to watch this weekend, Ford and Amazon Prime are here for your viewing pleasure. The two companies have been working for quite some time on a documentary about Ford’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year and the good news is that the documentary, titled The Return, is now available on Amazon Prime.
We’ve heard a lot about the process behind the creation of this documentary, which focuses on the Blue Oval’s return to the race that still stands as the company’s crowning achievement in motor racing. Ford’s return to Le Mans in 2016 after years of absence also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1-2-3 finish in the world famous endurance race back in 1966. The whole documentary lasts a good 78 minutes (one hour and 18 minutes) and it goes on a deep dive behind Ford’s history in Le Mans and the preparations that went into its dramatic and ultimately successful return to the race. There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes action in the documentary, as well as interviews with some of the world’s most prominent racing experts. Members of the Ford family are also in the documentary and if there are any questions on why Le Mans was so important to Ford founder Henry Ford, his family provided a lot of interesting answers in the documentary. If you count yourself as a Ford or Le Mans fan, or even a fan of both, The Return is undoubtedly going to be must-see TV. Good thing that the weekend’s coming up then.
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2017 Ford Fiesta WRC
Ford ushered in a new generation of the Fiesta for 2017, with a focus on new looks, lots of interior amenities, new drivetrain options, and a desire to be the absolute best hatchback out there. As is the usual case with sporty little hatchbacks that go through a generational change, the new model is also making its way into sporting events, and in this case, we’re talking about WRC. The model you see here is M-Sports fighter for the 2017 FIA WRC season, and it comes complete with all of the goodies afforded by new FIA regulations that allow more power, better performance, new technology, and a unique look for each car.
According to the accompanying press release, 95 percent of this WRC racer has been designed from scratch and, while it’s based on the road-going Fiesta, there is little about this car that is stock. It’s got 380 horsepower on tap, new fully adjustable suspension, and at least 35 liters or 1.23 cubic feet of energy-absorbing foam over the current model. M-Sport’s Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, Said, “Entering a new era in the FIA World Rally Championship, there is a real sense of excitement throughout the team, and rightly so as I believe we have created something extremely special in the new Ford Fiesta WRC. Having driven the car myself, I can honestly say that it is one of the most impressive we have ever produced. It’s exciting to drive; it sounds fantastic, and it looks absolutely sensational.”
With that said, M-Sport has clearly put a lot of work into its WRC racer for the 2017 season, so let’s dive on in a take a better look at it.
2017 Shelby Mustang FP350S
Unveiled for the 2015 model year, the sixth-generation Ford Mustang is the first of its kind to feature an independent rear suspension. It’s also the first ’Stang in more than two decades to feature a turbocharged four-cylinder engine after Ford added a 2.3-liter EcoBoost to the already familiar 3.7-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8. Additionally, the sixth-gen pony is the first-ever global Mustang, being sold in dealerships in Europe and Asia, as well as certain countries in Africa and Oceania. Much like its predecessors, the current Mustang also spawned a number of higher performance Shelby versions and race-spec models.
The Shelby FP350S is the latest to join the Mustang stable of track-only cars. Developed by Ford Performance, it’s the third race-spec version of the sixth-generation Mustang, alongside the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship-winning Shelby GT350R-C and the recently unveiled GT4. The new race car is heavily based on the Shelby GT350R-C and will help the new Mustang expand in other racing series’, including the Trans Am (TA3 and TA4 classes), the NASA (National Auto Sorts Association), and SCCA club racing (T1 and T2 categories).
“Our goal has always been to provide those who want to race with equipment that enables them to compete and win,” said Dave Pericak, global director of Ford Performance. “Shelby FP350S is our latest example.”
The new Shelby FP350S will go on sale in 2017 and will be made available through Ford dealerships throughout the United States.
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2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Placed Third At Baja 1000 In Stock Full Class Competition
Ford can mark another completed race in its Baja 1000 history book thanks to the 2017 F-150 Raptor. The 49th running of the SCORE Baja 1000 concluded on November 20 after a grueling 854-mile race from Ensenada, Mexico down through the unforgiving deserts in the Baja peninsula and back again. The Raptor team scored a third place victory in the stock full class competition, crossing the finish line with only 52 seconds to spare. The official time was 35:59:08.151.
For those unfamiliar, the Baja 1000 is a race against the clock, navigating the terrain, and to simply finish. The time to beat is 36 hours. Though the Raptor barely squeezed by, it still finished the race. What’s more, the truck when drove some seven hours and another 400 miles east to Phoenix, Arizona – the home base for the team from Foutz Motorsports.
“That’s why the new Ford F-150 Raptor is bad-ass!” said Greg Foutz, the team leader of Foutz Motorsports. “It’s a race-proven off-road monster that can race off-road an entire weekend, then take you and your friends on a road trip the next day.
Two of the five competitors in the stock full class didn’t finish. Second place with to a Toyota Land Cruiser with a time of 32:28:37.068 and first place with to the legendary Rod Hall and his Hummer H1 with a time of 32:13:58.914.
It’s a good thing the 2017 F-150 Raptor finished the race since Ford has hinged the Raptor’s marketing on the truck’s ability to tacked desert terrain at high speeds. Don’t forget, the Raptor even has a Baja mode performance setting. It would have been hard to patch that public relations image hole.
Anyway, congratulations, Ford and the guys from Foutz Motorsports on the Baja 1000 finish.
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2016 IMSA Northeast Grand Prix - Race Report
Lime Rock Park in Connecticut was again the host of the Northeast Grand Prix which gathered three of the four IMSA Weathertech Sportscar classes within the premises of the 1.4-mile circuit, and saw Corvette Racing reach some incredible milestones. Under scorching heat, the intense traffic made for contact aplenty, with prototypes and GTs scraping on a track that lacks the endless asphalt run-offs of modern “Tilkedromes” – and thank God it does!
The quickest overall lap time of the qualifying session was set by CORE Autosport’s Colin Braun, the No. 54 ORECA lapping Lime Rock in just 48:824 seconds, a slim margin of 0.016 seconds separating Braun’s time from Robert Alon’s best effort, the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsport car starting second. Kyle Marcelli was third quickest, a tenth off pole, sharing row two of Saturday’s grid with the No. 7 Starworks Motorsport entry. Peter Baron’s other car was at the bottom end of the top five, but had high hopes for race day as van der Zande and Popow had won two of the previous three rounds.
BMW’s Dirk Werner battled for pole with Ford’s Richard Westbrook, the latter sneaking through to post the quickest lap time and take the pole. The Briton’s 50:748 was less than a tenth quicker than the best that Werner could do. The second row of the GT-LM grid was in the 50-second bracket as well, with Tommy Milner starting from third alongside Toni Vilander. Dirk Mueller qualified sixth, two tenths back from Magnussen on seventh. Porsche was again at the back of the pack, the two 991 GTEs starting eight and tenth, although this time the gap from first to last was well under a second.
Change Racing’s Spencer Pumpelly stormed to pole thanks to a blistering 53:148, just 0.030 seconds quicker than Andrew Davis who locked a front-row position in the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsport Audi. The sister Stevenson Audi was third while Alessandro Balzan was fourth in the championship-leading Scuderia Corsa car.
2016 Ford Focus RS RX By Hoonigan Racing
At the end of Ken Block’s last Gymkhana video, Gymkhana 8, we were left hanging with a teaser of “Ken Blocks Ford Focus RS RX.” It featured an outrageously wide body kit with blacked out headlights and vents all over the place. But it raised an interesting question: Just what the hell is a Focus RS RX? Was it the “hardcore version” of the RX we talked about back in November of 2015? Well, it kind of is, but don’t expect it to show up in dealerships anytime soon.
We would love to see Ford produce a production version of the RS RX (you’ll see why later on in this review,) but for now, it looks like the only people lucky enough to get their hands on one will be none less than Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud – Block’s new teammate. As it turns out, Hoonigan Racing Division will have official factory support from Ford for the 2016 WRC racing season. And with such, comes the most extreme variants of the Focus we’ve seen to date.
As you would expect, the cars used by Block and Bakkerud won’t feature that boring gray livery we saw at the end of Gymkhana 8. Instead, the cars each feature a unique livery put together by international graffiti artist Felipe Pantone.
In a recent press release, Block was more than happy with what Ford Performance did with the RS, saying “I’m really happy to be expanding my relationship with Ford Performance. To have official factory support for my race season in 2016 and beyond as I enter the FIA World Rallycross Championship full-time is absolutely incredible. It opens up a ton of powerful resources that myself and my team will be able to benefit from in terms of engineering prowess, research, development and racing experience from different fields. Plus, have you seen the car that they’ve created for me to go race in? My mind was blown when they showed it to me in Dearborn a few months ago. I absolutely cannot wait to get behind the wheel and start testing.”
Of course, if Ford Performance dropped one of these babies in my lap, I’d be ecstatic too. So, let’s take a closer look at the most extreme Focus ever made. You won’t believe the kind of performance boasted by the Focus RS RX – it’s truly out of this world.
Updated 07/11/2016: Ford dropped a new video showing the new Focus RS RX scoring its second World Rallycross victory with Andreas Bakkerud behind the wheel. Hit "play" to watch the video!
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Ford GT Racing Program Extended Until 2019
After a hugely successful comeback at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford announced plans to extend its commitment to motor racing through the 2019 season, opening the door for the company’s racing division to compete in the World Endurance Championships and the IMSA for the next three years. Ford initially revealed plans to race the Ford GT in the 2016 and 2017 racing seasons only.
Ford executive vice president and chief Raj Nair commented on the automaker’s decision by emphasizing Ford’s commitment to motor racing in the wake of its dominant 1-3-4 performance in the GTE Pro class at Le Mans. The result not only proved that Ford’s GT racing program was a huge success, but it also showed the automaker that it has the potential to be a major player in the racing scene for the next few years.
Ford is currently competing in GTE Pro in the WEC and GT Le Mans in IMSA with two separate teams, both running under the Chip Ganassi banner. The two teams came together at Le Mans to post one of the most impressive results of any Ford-backed racing outfit in recent history.
Outside of the glory of being attached to motor racing, Ford is also capitalizing on the competitive landscape of the racing scene and using it as a platform to develop technologies that can be applied to its production lineup. A lot of automakers who venture the route of racing admit to that being a big part of their commitment. Ford is only doing the same, especially now when the Blue Oval is gearing up for advancements in its EcoBoost engines, as well as improvements in aerodynamics and lightweight materials that can be directly translated into production vehicles in the future.
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2016 Ford GT Le Mans
The 2017 Ford GT debuted with a bang at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, marking the Blue Oval’s return to the supercar world after nearly a decade. Developed as a spiritual successor to both the 2005-2006 Ford GT and the iconic 1964-1969 Ford GT40 race car of the 1960s, the new GT also spawned an endurance racer set to hit the track in 2016.
Developed together with Multimatic Motorsports, Roush Yates Engines, Michelin, Brembo and CGRFS, the GT race car will make its track debut in the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona before running the full schedules of both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. More importantly, it will mark Ford’s return to Le Mans exactly 50 years after the GT40 scored its famous 1-2-3 finish in 1966. Unlike its ancestor though, the new GT will compete in the LM GTE Pro class.
Development of the GT racing program began back in 2013, when Ford teamed up with Chip Ganassi Racing, which will also run the cars in the 2016 racing season. Having already won 17 major championships, including races at the Indy 500, 24 Hours of Daytona, and Sebring, Chip Ganassi aims to add the 24 Hours of Le Mans to his trophy room.
“We believe the Ford GT’s advances in aerodynamics, light-weighting (sic) and EcoBoost power will make for a compelling race car that can once again compete on a global stage," said FoMoCo chief technical officer Raj Nair.
Updated 06/20/2016: Ford dropped the fifth episode of its "The Return." This new episode focuses on the GT’s road to the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.
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2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Race Truck
Months before the all-new 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor hits showrooms, Ford Performance is entering a race-ready version into the 2016 Best in the Desert off-road racing series. The truck will compete in the Factory-Stock class, thanks to only a minor handful of modifications past the standard Raptor.
“The all-new Raptor has the DNA of a Baja race truck, with a purpose-built engine, chassis, and suspension that enables it to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes or crawl over rocky terrain,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer at Ford Performance.
Despite Hameedi’s accolades, this specially prepared Raptor utilizes the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, 10-speed automatic transmission, transfer case, and Torsen differentials. Even this race version of the Raptor rides on the same frame as the production version. This speaks volumes about the 2017 Raptor’s ruggedness right from the factory.
Modifications do exist, of course, but mostly deal with safety. A full roll cage and racing seats with harnesses line the interior, while LED light bars light the way at night. A fuel cell, Lowrance GPS, Racepak digital dash, and data logger allow the truck to pass inspection.
Ford Performance did upgrade the suspension, though not heavily. Race-optimized front and rear springs raise the ride height for extra ground clearance and increased suspension compression. The Raptor’s new Fox Racing shocks were swapped for Fox Racing’s race-specific three-inch diameter shocks with external bypasses, both up front and out back.
“This is the most stock truck I’ve ever seen in my time building Ford race trucks,” said Greg Foutz, owner of Foutz Motorsports, Ford’s truck builder and primary race truck driver. “Without custom technology or other modifications, this all-new Raptor is ready to prove the toughness and performance in the Best in the Desert series.”
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Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Race Truck.
A bucket of firsts, twice-around-the-clock excitement in three of the four classes and some breakthrough performances are what have already transformed this year’s Rolex Daytona 24hrs into a classic and the perfect way to remember that, precisely half a century ago, Daytona hosted its first 24-hour race.
It was no coincidence, then, that Ford decided to bring their new GT racing car to Daytona for its international debut, although few expected the going to be as rough as it proved to be for the two Ganassi-run GT-LM entries. At the complete other end of the spectrum, with a clean and trouble-free race, Scott Sharp’s Extreme Speed Motorsport has scored a historical first win for an LMP2 car at Daytona – the first win for an ACO prototype since 2002.
It’s also the Ligier’s most important international victory and, arguably, the biggest win in the team’s six-year history. And, all of it would not have been possible without the massive aid of Pipo Derani – the young Brazilian hot-shoe that proved instrumental in the Patron-liveried car crossing the line in P1.
While the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) cars were marred by issues across the board, the most important thing that needs to be put into perspective is the lack of overall pace displayed by these aging cars. The mere fact that the class winner was 20 laps behind the GT-LM Corvettes is one thing, but the fact that the ORECAs were also the slowest of all 54 starters is just as worrying.
Then there’s the GT-Daytona category that’s embraced the GT3 platform for 2016, and the 22-car strong grid proves IMSA right in its choice. Indeed, some pointed a finger toward Lamborghini’s massive top-end speed that is rumored to have been quicker than even the GT-LM cars but, at the end of the day, the Top 7 was comprised of seven different manufacturers. And, at least half of those could have won, given how tight it was at the end.
In a day and age where reliability is part of the status quo, to see two Corvettes battling it out for supremacy bumper-to-bumper after 24 hours of racing may not be that surprising. The fact that veterans Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin were given the green light to goose it out like they did is. Porsche was in close vicinity but the woes that sent out car #911 meant that only #912 was left standing and it was no match at the end for the two C7-Rs. Of the 100% brand-new cars, the Corvettes and Porsches being were new iterations based upon older designs, the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 came home fourth and BMW’s IMSA-only M6 GTLM scored fifth.
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Ford has had a predictable history when it comes to the debut of its Nascar race cars. Back in 1968, Ford launched the Production version of the Ford Torino, and right around the same time, it dropped the Nascar variant of the Torino. In 2006, it did the same dual launch with the Fusion. In 2013, Ford decided to repeat history again and release the 2013 Ford Fusion and the Nascar variant right around the same time. This year, at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford did it again with the 2017 Fusion, and it’s Nascar variant.
This new Nascar Fusion shares a lot of looks with the production model, but according to Ford, the interior has also been refined, bring a better and more comfortable interior to the driver. Dave Pericak, the global director of Ford Performance said, “Aerodynamics are more important than ever in this sport at the speeds these cars are running, so we used some of the best wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics technology available to help create this new Fusion, and, fortunately, the Ford design team gave us a great vehicle to work with from the start.”
The Fusion race car hasn’t had that long of a history in Nascar, as it became the brands flagship racing model back in 2006. Since then, however, the car has been upgraded to meet Nascar regulations. These upgrades include things like running on an ethanol blended fuel and switching over to electronic fuel injection. With this new model, the biggest change comes in the form of a new digital dashboard system, which is required by Nascar regulations for this year. We’ll talk more about that a little later, so let’s dive in and see what we’ve got here.
Updated 01/21/2016: Ford dropped a new video in which it highlights the development of its latest Fusion NASCAR race car which will make its track debut next month at Daytona Speedweeks. His "play" to watch how a 750 horsepower race car is being built.
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A variety of blue ovals will descend on New England next month as the perpetually sideways Ken Block and his Hoonigan Racing Division help launch the new M-Sport Fiesta R5. The rally car will see action for the first time in the mostly-wooded New England Forest Rally.
Taking the helm of the R5 will be American driver Ramana Lagemann, supported by Canadian co-driver Nathalie Richard. “I have followed the Fiesta R5 since its inception, and I have been impressed with how successful the platform has proven to be,” Lagemann said in a press release. “Now, with this 2000 cc version, M-Sport has developed a car that is well suited to North American stages. I had the opportunity to test it recently, and aside from the awesome chassis capability and balance inherent in all R5 Fiestas, I was amazed by the engine’s responsiveness and torque.”
A former factory driver for Subaru, Lagemann recently opted out of regular participation in the Rally America series, but maintains a quick pace, as is evident by his appearance in the 2WD class at the Olympus Rally last month, where he took a win in a BMW M3 with co-driver Chrissie Beavis.
“It’s been a few years since I competed in a proper AWD rally car, and I’m well aware of the time it will take to get fully up to speed,” Lagemann said. “My goal is to take everything step by step in a measured approach, and produce a solid result for the team.”
Meanwhile, Block will also participate in his “Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle,” which is designed to be adapted for either stage rally, rallycross, or the ever popular Gymkhana events. "I’m excited about partnering with M-Sport at NEFR this year," said Block. "I absolutely love my Ford Fiesta HFHV that we’ve built, but the idea of a car like the R5 that’s potentially just as quick, isn’t made up of one-off parts and features a lower operating cost is definitely an appealing prospect!”
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