Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
June 24, 2015
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford

Ford’s been in the racing game a long time, and in 1993 it brought back a tradition of building race-ready R-model Mustangs designed for the track. The Fox-body era ended with the street-legal, yet track-capable, 1993 SVT Cobra R. SVT followed with the 1995 Cobra R, and then the modular-powered 2000 Cobra R with 385 hp. The 2005-2014 (S197 chassis) gave the Mustang a real edge, and Ford produced the wildly popular Ford Racing Cobra Jets, the championship-winning FR500C, as well as the FR500S, and the more recent Boss 302S, and Boss 302R variants. The game changed in 2015 as the Mustang leaped forward with the enhanced S550 chassis. Utilizing independent rear suspension and a new front suspension setup, Ford wasted little time producing hot rodded models.

In November 2014 Ford announced the 2015 Shelby GT350, and the GT350R Mustang in January 2015, and today we welcome the Shelby GT350R-C, Fords ultimate expression of a factory racer.

The Shelby GT350R-C makes its debut on June 26, 2015, at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Two 2015 Shelby GT350R-C Mustangs, campaigned by Multimatic Motrosports, No. 15 and 158, will replace the teams 2014 Boss 302R Mustangs that were used in the GS category.

Ford’s Shelby GT350R-C is a special-production model built for competition in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge—a premier series for production car racing. The global competition comes from the BMW M3, Chevrolet Z/28 Camaro, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Porsche 911, and the Nissan 370 Z.

The Shelby GT350R-C is based loosely around the production GT350R, which Ford revealed in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Ford later announced plans to get 100 GT350 models out the door by December, with production continuing into 2016 and beyond. According to Ford, the GT350R-C is one of 12 new vehicles Ford Performance will bring to market through 2020.

"Like so many Mustangs before it, the Shelby GT350R is a car born to race,” said Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance. “We’re taking it to the track as the GT350R-C and we’re ready to see what it can do against the best competition in the world.”

Powering the GT350R-C is the 5.2L Voodoo V8 that makes 526 hp in production trim—though it will be choked with a 58mm restrictor for IMSA competition. The V8 benefits from a flat-plane crankshaft that helps the engine produce maximum intake and exhaust flow through a specific firing order, which enhances cylinder filling and scavenging. It also gives the V8 and unique growl that enthusiasts will drool over, especially at the 8,000-plus rpm redline.

Longtime Ford partner Multimatic Motorsports, which manages the race team, returned the Boss 302R Ford Mustang to winning form in the Grand Sport (GS) division in 2014. The quartet of Billy Johnson, Scott Maxwell, Austin Cindric and Jade Buford will pilot the GT350R-C in its debut at Watkins Glen.

“The biggest change [from the Boss 302R] is the IRS," said Billy Johnson, co-driver of the No. 15 Mustang for Multimatic Motorsports. “Combined with all of the suspension and aero improvements over the base GT, let alone the impressive powertrain, the GT350 is better handling with improved platform stability, which allows the car to take corners flatter with more feel and control,” added Johnson, who with 11 wins, has scored more victories in a Mustang than any other GS driver.

The improved stiffness S550 Mustang chassis combined with the race setup, gives Ford drivers the most up-to-date suspension package. According to Ford, it features revised spring rates and antiroll bars, lower ride height, unique track-tuned alignment settings, revised bushings and cross-axis ball joints in the front. GS rules limit the Mustang to 15-inch front brakes and 18-inch wheels wrapped with sticky Continental 275/35/18-inch racing slicks. The Mustang will weigh 3,350 pounds dry and utilize a 3.31:1 final drive ratio.

“Ford is committed to the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and we’re very happy to be campaigning its product here,” said Larry Holt, team principal, Multimatic Motorsports. “We like the endurance format, and the racing is always intense. Strategy plays a big role; the cars must be fast and reliable, and there are always at least 10 contenders running door-to-door for two and a half hours. It is the perfect home for the GT350R-C.”

“American muscle cars have a storied history in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and we eagerly anticipate the start of a new chapter with introduction of the Shelby GT350R-C,” said Scott Atherton, president of IMSA. “Mustang has earned icon status through its racing heritage going back to the competition Mustangs of the 1960s, and this new race car will undoubtedly add to the legend.”

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