Ford Performance Motorsports on Wednesday held its season launch event that showcased how the Mustang will be racing around the world this year in several different racing series as it enters its 60th anniversary year.
Ford uses its motorsports team to test new technology and uses the findings to add innovations to its road cars for consumers. The Ford team will be racing versions of the Mustang in NASCAR, the SportsCar Championship and the World Endurance Championship, among others. Wednesday’s launch event marks the first time the different global racing versions of the Mustang will all be together in one place.
“When we knew we were going to do the seventh-generation Mustang, we knew we had to keep Mustang racing on the track,” Mark Rushbrook, the global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, said in an interview with FOX Business.
“It’s a great sports car, great road car. But it’s also been racing since it won the Tour de France in 1964. So, coming up on 60 years of racing as well.
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“We’ve updated our Mustang in NASCAR to reflect the seventh-generation Mustang. So, starting at the Daytona 500 in February, it will be the new Mustang Dark Horse body on the Cup car. We’ve updated our NHRA car in funny car with Bob Tasca. And there’s a new class there called Factory X, which is very close in shape, very representative of the road car.
“The real opportunity, in addition to those very high-level professional series where Mustang will race, is what we’ve been able to do with this new Mustang in SportsCar,” Rushbrook explained.
“So we’ve got an all-new Mustang GT3 that just finished a global homologation and that will debut and race at the 24 Hours of Daytona in just a week and a half, which is a big race, and going there as a factory team with Multimatic and going there as a factory team to race as a full pro team.
“What the new GT3 homologation allows is also racing in all other series around the world and also racing as customer teams.”
Rushbrook added, “We’re not just doing racing because it’s fun. We’re going racing for business reasons to make our products better, to engage with our customers and fans and help them understand more about our company, our people and our products, but also to bring them in to be a part of it with the experiences.
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“Everything that we learn through motorsports impacts and improves the road car products and some of that is through parts in terms of proving out the capability of the parts on the track or proving out improved parts on the track. Some of that is also in process,” Rushbrook said.
He noted that Ford uses the same driving simulators for developing racing and road cars.
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“By using the simulators in racing, you push those tools to be their absolute best because you need every competitive advantage to be successful on the racetrack,” Rushbrook explained. “And by making those engineering tools better, and then using those tools on developing the road car, you’re therefore making that road car better as well through the high skill of the engineers and the engineering tools that are used to develop it.
“That’s part of our responsibility in the motorsports team – to make sure we’ve got that endless cycle of two-way innovation and tech transfer, so you take a great road car like the Mustang, take it to the racetrack, learn, make it even better and take it back to make the road car even better.”
Rushbrook noted that Ford has been involved in racing since its inception. In 1901, founder Henry Ford was struggling to secure investors for his nascent car company and competed in a race with a car that became known as the Ford 1901 “Sweepstakes” car, named for the style of race, to help attract financing.
After Ford defeated the heavily favored Henry Winton, who was considered the leading automobile racer in the country at the time, he retired from racing and went on to found the Ford Motor Company two years later, in 1903.
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