Bobby Byrd's FR500C
To anyone with such interests, a first view of the specs for the 2005 Mustang immediately suggested that this was going to be a far better handling car than its predecessor. The six-inch gain in wheelbase promised an end, or at least a significant reduction, to the car's nose-heavy affliction. Coupled with a two-inch increase in front and rear track, visions of sugar plums were dancing in the heads of any open track racers with a Mustang bias.
Doubtless, one of those was Dan Davis, the director of Ford Racing Technology, who revealed plans for a factory-built Mustang race car in November, 2004. "The Mustang is synonymous with performance modifications and competitive racing," Davis said at the time. "It has an unparalleled pedigree in many forms of racing, and the all-new 2005 Mustang makes a terrific platform to continue that history of racing competition and victories."
It wasn't long before Davis was walking the walk. In the 2005 season-opening Grand-Am Cup 200 race, co-drivers Ian James and Tom Nastasi drove the Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT to victory at Daytona International Speedway. It was the debut race for the car, and it was the first Grand-Am Cup Series overall victory for a Mustang of any generation. "When we started this program our goal was to build and sell identical Mustangs that people could win with and I think we proved that today," added Davis.
The Grand Am Cup cars were built by Multimatic Motorsports, near Toronto, under the guidance of resident Ford engineers. Multimatic had previously been enlisted to help develop a Daytona Prototype car that went on to win its class in the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race, in 2003. One of the Ford people helping out on that project was Jay O'Connell. After the success of the Daytona Prototype, Ford Racing awarded Multimatic the task of developing the FR500C Competition Mustang. O'Connell was key in developing chassis and suspension upgrades for Ford's effort in the Grand-Am Cup Series. Jay O'Connell subsequently returned to vehicle development as Ford SVT's Chief Vehicle Engineer.
The FR500C 'Boy Racer' Mustang continued to dominate the Grand Am Cup races until series officials began issuing technical restrictions. The car's original 4.10 ratio rear axle gears were outlawed and 3.55 gears became mandatory. An air intake restrictor was mandated and the car's regulated minimum weight was changed a couple of times.
Based on the car's success by mid-season, Ford Racing decided to authorize production of 'up to 25' additional cars through Multimatic. By the season ending race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), a total of seven Mustang FR500C's appeared in Virginia, including two new entries from Blackforest Motorsports, bringing their team stable to a total of three cars. The FR500C 'customer cars', such as the one you see here, were made available through Ford Racing Performance Parts dealers, at a cost of $125,000 each. By the 2006 Grand Am Cup season opener in Daytona, a total of 12 FR500C's were on the entry list (plus another three SVT Cobras). The new Mustang racer represented almost one-quarter of the 51-car field.
Bobby Byrd likes to go fast and he's got the Mustang affliction ... bad. Before picking up this FR500C, Bobby campaigned a 1993 Mustang in open track events, including the inaugural American V8 Supercar Series event at VIR. The 1993 car featured a 347 stroker engine and evolved as Bobby's skills grew. The Charlotte-area landscaping contractor jumped at the opportunity to pick up a new FR500C when it came out. From there, he's never looked back.