5.0 Mustang & Super FordsEvents
Ford's Mustang Challenge - Fight Cup
The Only Rule Of The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge For The Miller Cup Is To Race An FR500S
Late last year, I was one of the first media types to visit and experience the exquisite facilities of Miller Motorsports Park in Toele, Utah, and drive several super-cool Mustangs, including a little red Mustang they liked to call the Challenge car ("Dream Park," Oct. '07, p. 44). Of course, I'd driven the school's Mustang for students, as well as the famed Boy Racer, the FR500C. However, it was the Challenge Mustang that stood out in my mind. The basic Ford Racing Performance Parts bolt-on approach was taken, as the car was put on a 340-pound diet and sticky BFGoodrich RI rubber added some grip.
I had great fun lapping around the MMP road course in the Challenge Mustang; it was pretty much the ideal car for me. While taking a lunch break with former Ford Racing director Dan Davis, Ford Racing manager Jamie Allison, and MMP CEO and general manager Alan Wilson, I witnessed the group discussing the feasibility of a new racing series that would take Ford Racing-prepped Mustangs on a cross-country racing series. It was off-the-record stuff at the time, but I thought it was just a "what-if" type of conversation and went blissfully back to driving Mustangs and taking pictures.
Mere months later, Ford Racing announced the development of the FR500S, a new turnkey race car constructed there at the Auto Alliance International plant. It's not a surprise that the FR500S bears more than a passing resemblance to the Challenge car I drove, but it takes things a bit further. These cars are built without all the heavy extras and upgraded with a litany of high-performance gear, sourced primarily from the the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog. From safety and handling upgrades to exhaust and intake improvements, the result is a well-balanced Mustang ready to roll off the trailer and take on the track.
Better yet, the Mustang Challenge series is a spec series, so you can't keep adding parts to make your Mustang faster; you have to get out there and drive the same car as your competitors-may the best man win. Such was the case when I attended the inaugural Mustang Challenge race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, May 1-3, 2008, where 22 FR500S Mustangs qualified and 20 took the starting grid for Saturday's race. It was an amazing sight to see all those Mustangs round the corner and barrel down the front straight at Road Atlanta.
I was embedded with the Dex Racing team to get a feel for just how things work at a Mustang Challenge race. The team, led by driver Pratt Cole, had plenty of experience running in several SCCA classes, including the Escort Endurance series, which predated World Challenge. Most recently Pratt and teammate Brad Adams had run in the similar MX-5 Cup series racing Mazdas. In fact, Brad had the grueling duty of running in both classes at Road Atlanta. The Dex team has a passion not only for racing, but also for helping others. Their racing efforts are geared in part toward raising money for the U-SA Cares For Life (www.sa caresforlife.com) charity, which helps support sick and needy kids in South Africa.
Once he's on the track, Pratt is anything but charitable. His experience and skill showed as he qualified in the third spot, just ticks behind 50mustangandsuperfords.com celebrity blogger Jamie Slone, who was just behind wunderkind Andrew Caddell. That's pretty much how it played out in the race, with that trio finishing 3, 2,1, respectively. As I write this, those three are near the top in the points chase.
By the time you read this, the season will have just wrapped up at Miller Motorsports Park where it all began, but here we cover the cars and top teams from this season. This series is destined to grow in popularity, so now's the time to learn all about it.
Special thanks to the Dex team for its hospitality at the Road Atlanta race. From left to right, they are crewman Travis James, crew chief Ron Baker, Pratt's wife Brenda Cole, assistant crew chief Paula Baker, and driver Pratt Cole. The Dex crew runs like an experienced racing family, and Ron and Pratt work in concert to make the most of the FR500S. If things are close at the end of the season, the Dex team could have a definite advantage running the last two races at its home track, Miller Motorsports Park.
A Ride With Dorsey
You'd never know that Dorsey Schroeder stepped away from the racing game for a while. Not only was he on hand to announce the race at Road Atlanta, he was elected to show the media just what the FR500S can do with a pro behind the wheel. I thought Dorsey might take it easy on the first lap, but he came barreling out of the pits and gave it a go right away. I'm never really scared when I ride with a talented driver, but I do get a little seasick from time to time; Dorsey was so smooth that I had no issues. Besides feeling just how good a factory Mustang can be, it was great seeing Dorsey's competitive juices boil over as he rode inches off a slower car's bumper, ready to make his passing move when the time was right-that didn't take long. Thanks for the ride, Dorsey. It was a blast.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
Cracked powdered metal with floating wristpins
Composite shell-welded single runner, charge motion control valves
55mm dual-bore electronic
Ford Racing/Borla stainless-steel long-tube headers
Ford Racing/Borla X-shape crossover and mufflers
Ford Racing SVT six-speed transmission with upgraded clutch
Spanish Oak PCM
Coil on plug
AIM data acquisition system
Suspension And Chassis
Reverse-L independent MacPherson strut w/34mm stabilizer bar
Ford Racing two-way adjustable
Ford Racing 14-inch Brembo FR500C brakes with four- piston calipers, racing pads, and Race ABS calibration
Ford Shelby GT500 18-inch
Three-link solid axle with coil springs, Panhard rod, and 24mm stabilizer bar
Ford Racing two-way adjustable
11.8-inch discs with TRW one-piston calipers
Ford Shelby GT500 18-inch