5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
Ford Boss 302 Track Attack - School Boss
Miller Motorsports park teaches Boss 302 owners on the track
After sneaking through the esses of Agony and Ecstasy, it’s time to squeeze on the power. The note of the quad exhaust swells from a growl to a buzzsaw as the RoadRunner sows its oats in Third gear. A tap on the brakes at the First Attitude and then the speed builds to triple digits before it’s time to throw out the anchor at the Tooele turn and get back on the power.
Power is plentiful and the grip is surprising for a street car, but what’s even more impressive than romping around Miller Motorsports Park in a ’12 Boss 302 is doing so for free.
That’s right. If you bought a Boss 302, this one’s on Ford. Welcome to the Boss Track attack.
“This is the first program of its kind from Ford. We’re so proud of the new Boss 302 that we wanted to offer owners the opportunity to stretch their legs—and carve corners—on one of the coolest tracks in America,” said Mickey Matus, marketing manager for Ford Racing. “The Boss 302 is a legendary nameplate, and our latest version is such a tremendous fun-to-drive car that we wanted to ensure this exclusive group of owners learn all they could about it, and experience its capabilities in the fun, controlled environment that Miller Motorsports Park can provide.”
That’s the kind of hype you might expect to find in the press release announcing the school. However, in this case, we’d have to say it’s a bit of an understatement. The Track Attack is the kind of opportunity that no Boss owner should turn down, and if you happen to be friends with a Boss owner, you can pay a little and go along for the ride.
For your author, the time to accept the invitation to attend this school was shorter than the time it takes to shift into Second. I don’t own a Boss, but I’ve logged significant seat time in a number of Bosses since first experiencing them at Laguna Seca. I know they were born to boogie on the track.
Of course, that’s the real draw of the Track Attack. Getting some track time with instruction. If you like driving on the road course, you can never get enough track time. That’s because driving rust will build up faster than it will on bare steel at the beach. When you own a Boss, it’s important to hone your skills to make the most of it.
Next to getting this experience as part of your car purchase, the coolest part of this school is honing those skills in a car just like yours. When you sign up, you provide the details on your car. From there, Miller will try to assign you a car as similar as possible to the one you own. You own a Laguna? They’ll put you in a Laguna. You have a Yellow Blaze Boss? You might just get to tear it up in a yellow one.
Of course, that makes the experience cooler, but the idea that you get to drive a car like yours on the track without the worry of any wear or tear is amazing. The latter makes the experience more relaxing, and the former opens up your mind about the true capabilities of the car.
Clearly my classmates had a good idea of what the car was all about. Some were lifelong Mustangers. Others had lots of experience in Euro or Pacific Rim hotness. All were drawn to Utah to expand their capabilities and learn a bit about their Bosses along the way.
Though many in your scribe’s class had on-track experience, there were a handful of rookies, and the program is crafted to succinctly bring up the level of its students in an action-packed day.
“We didn’t want to sacrifice any of the learnings of a traditional school, but wanted to make sure to highlight the features of the Boss,” said Dan McKeever, director of the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School. “(The) main focus is still on the driving. The better each student gets behind the wheel, the more Boss potential they get to see.”
Of course, the night before your school days begin, you get to ease into things with a welcome dinner inside the amazing museum at the track. The late Larry Miller was a true-blue Ford enthusiast who amassed an amazing collection of Blue Oval iron, from classic Mustangs and Shelby Cobras to GT40s and Daytona coupes.
After learning about Boss history amidst the historic iron, the next morning you hit the ground running. The class begins with a brief overview of performance-driving techniques and track rules. You’re sized up for a driving suit and helmet, and before you know it, you’re into the action.
It begins by learning about vehicle dynamics in a skid car. This vehicle can mechanically limit traction, and it helps you fine-tune your car control. Next we jumped in the Bosses to brush up on heel-toe downshifting. Each car has a different feel, so it was nice to get used to the Boss before hitting the track for real.
With the basics covered and a tasty lunch consumed, it’s time to strap into the Boss and hit the East Course at MMP.
Aside from the cage and Safecraft harnessbelts, it is a stock Boss 302. There are no extra suspension tricks or other upgrades. Sure it gets a Laguna splitter and some upgraded Performance Friction pads, and the Pirelli PZeros are supplanted by Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 rubber, but it’s still a street Boss—which is quite a capable machine. Of course, these Bosses have the quad exhaust uncorked and are engaged with the famed Track Key. In practice, this gives the car sharper throttle response in trade for tossing some low-speed manners out the window net.
Once strapped into the Boss, we hit the track for a few lead-and-follow laps behind an instructor. During these laps, half the class snakes along the track trying to mirror the instructors line. After a couple laps, the driver right behind the instructor falls to the back of the line and lets the next student get a front-row seat. This continues until everyone has learned at the bumper of the instructor.
After a debrief in the classroom, we hit the track again with an instructor in the passenger seat. My co-pilot during the heel-toe training and the first on-track session was John Capps, who has raced everything from USAC open-wheelers to NHRA funny cars. It was a bit intimidating for sure, but I got more comfortable as the laps piled up. He kept encouraging me to use less brake, which helped me come out of my shell sooner once I was driving solo.
In the following sessions, it was solo open-tracking with passing on the front straight. I got more and more comfortable with my modest skills and the impressive capabilities of the Boss. By the third session, I was hitting my stride and pushing harder. The session flew by, so you know I was really having a great time.
Of course, the big closer for the on-track portion of the school is a few hot laps with the instructor. Well, just as you were feeling like a hot shot, they let you know there’s more to learn than you can cram into one day. Not only was the experience humbling, but it further opened your eyes as to just how capable the modern Boss is on a road course.
With the on-track fun in the rear-view mirror, it was time to graduate. Each class member earns a certificate and a bag of swag. Boss owners score a special trophy built from a real Boss connecting rod and piston assembly.
And, special is just how you feel after completing the Boss Track Attack. Not only is the school a blast, but it makes you realize how special the Boss 302 Mustang is. It also reiterates the great things Ford is doing with and for our beloved cars these days.
The only question I have is, if I buy my own Boss 302, do I get to go back? 5.0
Horse Sense: If you’re a fan of all high-performance Fords, you’ll be excited to learn that Miller Motorsports Park is planning an off-road driving school for owners of SVT’s Raptor pickup.
Going For Seconds
Approximately half of the Boss Track Attack students opt to pay the extra tariff to stick around and continue their on-track education in the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School FR500s. Longtime 5.0&SF readers know that this wasn’t my first rodeo at MMP. Offered another chance in the FR500, I jumped at it.
I had previously run through the school’s cars back in the October 2007 issue (“Dream Park,” p. 44). Back then I drove the school car, the Challenge car, and the FR500. The school car and FR500 are the same now, and the Challenge car was betwixt the two and built for a track racing series. At that time, moving up the ladder to the FR500 felt like a big deal.
Fast-forward to 2012, and moving up from the powerful Boss 302 street car to the FR500 is a much easier transition. With less power, less torque, and tons more grip, the race car felt far easier to drive and safer to boot. Even standing on the throttle, there wasn’t enough torque to truly upset the car, but it still got around the track in big hurry.
After one day of track duty behind me, I was more comfortable in a hurry on the second day. Sure we were learning a new car and a new track, but it came along pretty quickly. And, the class is set up that way. After a lead and follow, it’s out on the track. There’s only one seat in the FR500s, so the instructors watch from the tricky corners and give you tips back in the garage. Midway through the program, you do ride with an instructor in the school car, which affords you the chance to ask questions about troublesome corners.
For me, the tough spots were Demon, Devil, and Diablo, but I was having blast ripping through Dreamboat, Workout, and Scream. I was really starting to feel good out on the track.
In the final session, I embarked with high expectations for even quicker laps, however a couple of my fellow students decided to venture off track right in front of me. One did so rather spectacularly. One of the great things about Miller is abundant run-off, so everyone was unharmed. However, it did encourage me to dial it back a bit for the rest of the session.
In the end, the second day kept the learning and the fun going. If you attend the Boss Track Attack, I can’t recommend the second day highly enough.
Part of the fun of attending the Boss Track Attack was getting to know my fellow classmates. It was interesting to learn why they bought their Bosses and what other cars they had before moving to the Boss. Like your scribe, all seemed to have a great time at the school.