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Ford Helps Kids with World Record Hot Wheels Loop
Ford is always after innovation. One look at the 2015 Mustang shows off capabilities in power, performance, economy, safety and connectivity. But Ford’s dedication to the enthusiast runs deeper—all the way back to young kids and toy cars. In fact, many Ford engineers are car enthusiasts who own Mustangs and also play with toys. And toys, namely Hot Wheels’ cars was the main engineering exercise when Ford had set a world record with a Hot Wheels track loop that exceeded 12 feet tall.
Ford dynamometer technician Matt West, created the idea after building a series of homebuilt Hot Wheels loops with his six-year-old son Blade at their home in Monroe, Michigan. The record attempt took place in the three story atrium of Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn in support of Ford’s participation in national Take Your Child to Work Day.
“It started as part fun, part physics lesson with my son at home,” said West. “We built one in our playroom, and then built a five-foot-tall loop in our backyard. When people at Ford heard what we were up to, everyone thought it would be a great way to get young people excited about science and engineering by trying to break the world record on Take Your Child to Work Day.” The old record stood at nine feet tall. West and his team made a Mustang Hot Wheels car complete a 12-foot, six-inch loop!
“On a track, a Hot Wheels car can only go so fast, so carrying the momentum of the vehicle through an entire loop is harder than you might think,” said West. “In a world where kids are inundated with televisions and tablets, I thought teaching my son with actual moving vehicle models would be so much more rewarding—and then it took on a life of its own.”
Ford stated engineers and some future engineers, including John Jaranson, technical expert in interior systems, and Grant Compton, computer-aided design engineer, used computer-aided design software called CATIA, which is often used for car design to design the actual loop and the plywood support frame.
The track loop was supported using 4x8-foot sheets of plywood, and the actual loop sections were bolted together. “Once designed, the team enlisted the help of Will Brick, general manager of TechShop Detroit, a membership-based, do-it- yourself workshop and fabrication studio, to bring the digital design files to life,” said Ford. A water jet cutter was used to precisely cut the plywood frame.
“At TechShop, we like to say, ‘Build your dreams here,’” said Brick. “It was great to help Matt and to work with the Ford team to bring his son’s idea to reality. It’s an honor for Hot Wheels to have inspired Matt West and the Ford team to embark on such an epic world record attempt,” said Chris Down, senior vice president and general manager, Hot Wheels.
“Ford and Mattel have a history going back more than four decades. We both have tremendous passion for pushing the limits of design, and we’re happy to be involved in trying to generate enthusiasm for science and technology for kids everywhere.” For your Mustang and Ford enthusiasts, Hot Wheels 1/64th scale cars are the perfect way to enjoy the car hobby. Hot Wheels cars and trucks still sell for less than a dollar in many stores and have created hundreds of Ford Motor Company vehicles. In fact, included in the original 16 Hot Wheels models released in 1968 was a custom Mustang, Thunderbird and Cougar.