Ford Racing has come a long way since Henry Ford first reached a top speed of 20 mph in the Quadricycle. More than a century later the Detroit-based auto maker’s racing branch has seen a great amount of success on the racetrack with stock cars capable of reaching a top speed of over 200 mph. Ford first entered its vehicles into NASCAR in the sport’s inaugural 1949 season. Jim Roper drove his Lincoln to the first checkered flag NASCAR had seen and started Ford off on the right foot. Six decades later, Trevor Bayne delivered the Blue Oval boys their 600th win in NASCAR winning the 2011 Daytona 500 in a Ford Fusion.
Not long after the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford unveiled the racecar version today as part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. Sculpted by Ford designers to mirror the production version, the stock car variant was designed with many similar styling cues in an effort to bring back brand identity to NASCAR. Recently, Toyota introduced its stock car entrant into NASCAR which closely mirrors its full-size sedan, the Camry. Dodge also has a stock car in NASCAR that looks similar to the Charger.
“We wanted Fusion to be the car that helped return ‘stock car’ to NASCAR.” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. “I think fans, when they see the car, are just going to smile and cheer. It is going to reengage them with the sport and make the sport better because there is just something natural about seeing race cars that look like cars in their driveways.”
This will be the third time Ford will simultaneously launch a production and NASCAR version of a new model. This first time came in 1968 when Ford introduced the Torino and NASCAR legend David Pearson promptly drove it to back-to back championships in 1968 and 1969. The second time Ford released a redesigned stock car and production model at the same time was back in 2006 with the introduction of the first version of the Fusion. Ford approached the design of the latest Fusion stock car differently as Garen Nicoghosian, design manager of special vehicles and Bernie Marcus, an aerodynamicist spent the past year developing the latest Fusion.
“This is a seminal moment in the sport where we had a chance to get it right once again and make sure the race cars are race versions of street cars. And I am proud because I believe we have accomplished just that,” continued Allison. “The 2013 Fusion is a stunning car and the 2013 NASCAR Fusion is even more stunning and I can’t wait to see it perform on the track and connect with race fans.”
The 2013 Ford Fusion stock car will share similar design features as its production sibling like brand and design cues found on the side of the vehicle and a front-end grille. Overall proportions of the racecar and production Fusion will vary, and of course the stock car version is rear-wheel drive. The production version is a front-wheel, front-engine drive car. Designers sculpted a few 40-percent sized clay models with a full-size model used in the final stages of design.
“The challenge was to design a race car with the look and feel of the production car,” Nicoghosian said. “To do this, you have to rely on design identity. We paid close attention to the way we shaped the details on the racer, such as the headlight, grille, and foglight openings, as well as the bodyside sections, character lines, and overall surface language. When parked side by side, the racer and the street car ‘feel’ the same, even though the two share no common surfaces.”
The Fusion stock car will be put through its testing paces mandated by NASCAR this season in preparation for the 2013 season. The production Fusion is set to go on-sale to the public later this year.
Source: Ford Racing