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DATE News (chronologically)
11/20/06
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Champ Car may sanction Ford Mustang series  As befits the fastest, most powerful Ford Mustang ever to be sold by the company, almost everything on the Mustang FR500GT that doesn’t make it go faster has been eliminated. That carbon-fiber and aluminum rear wing — 15 possible positions — is there for a reason, as is the carbon-fiber front splitter. They help hold the car down at top speed, which, we learned, is 172 mph, engine screaming at the 7200-rpm redline in sixth. Geared for top speed, this is certainly an over-200-mph car. As it is, performance numbers are pretty respectable for a car built not for acceleration but for road-course racing: 0 to 60 mph comes in 3.9 seconds, the quarter-mile in 12.1 seconds at 123 mph. The skidpad number is 1.15 g, with a full tank of 100 octane.

Typically, an automaker’s motive for building a car like this is slightly masturbatory, conceived, then achieved, with little more of a long-term goal than making yourself feel good while showing off. Not so with the King of All Mustangs: Ford, which is expected to lose upwards of $5 billion this year, really isn’t in a position to engage too much in self-gratification. Dan Davis figures he can build two of these cars a week and already has orders for them, despite minimal publicity.

The car’s formal name is the FR500GT. Insiders refer to it as the “Man Racer.” The $125,000, 420-hp FR500C Mustang, having just wrapped up it its second year racing in the Grand-Am Cup Series, was originally called the Boy Racer by Ford executives. So this new Mustang, with 130 more horses, has been referred to as the Man Racer.

In every sense, it’s a step up from the FR500C, but that program has been an excellent template for what Ford hopes to do with the Man Racer. The Boy Racer won at Daytona in 2005, its first race. The car was delivered to its owners just three days before the 200-mile race. That program, says Davis, “proved that we can build a turn-key race car that can win and not cost a fortune. And it proved we can make money at it.”

So what Davis wants to do now is make money on another, all-new racing series that, at first anyway, would feature FR500GT spec cars. Several sanctioning bodies are interested, but Davis’s first choice would be to have the Champ Car World Series sanction it and run the races on Saturday afternoons in conjunction with Champ Car’s Sunday shows in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Looking at the 2007 Champ Car schedule, that would be 13 possible races. Since Ford is the engine supplier for Champ Car, it makes sense, and Davis says the owners and management of the open-wheel series “are really enthusiastic about it.” It’s too late for a full 2007 series — at present, only three cars exist — but Davis would like to start the series midway through 2007. More at Car and Driver

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