Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
15 Minutes with Dave Pericak, Mustang Chief Engineer
Interview by MM&FF Editor, Evan J. Smith
ES: Dave, exactly how did you achieve 444 horsepower on the Boss and how many will be built?
DP: Evan, when it comes to the engine, the first thing was the intake. We developed one that was fitting of a track car. It has a "runner-in-a-box" design with optimized plenum and runners for increased rpm and power. It will allow for fast airflow that's evenly distributed and will allow the Boss to rev to 7,500 rpm. You'll see the intake is unique, it sits higher, like a bug with legs. Our intent was to knock it out of the park. We minimize the turns so you don't starve the engine. New redline is 7,500 rpm, up from 7,000
Internally, the valvetrain is upgraded and there are forged steel connecting rods, race-grade bearings, oil cooler, and a lightweight valvetrain. The cams are the same as the standard 5.0, but the Boss has totally different engine calibration--it is running optimal spark and fuel to get max power. There is nothing that's been left on the table.
ES: What other driveline enhancements are there?
DP: With Boss 302 we've upgraded with a steel-back, single-disc clutch unit and axle ratio is a 3.73 with carbon fiber plates in the diff. The Laguna comes with a Torsen differential, which is optional on standard Boss.
The suspension is completely redone. There are new stay bars, five-setting, adjustable dampers at each corner, and it sits lower by about 1/2-inch in the rear and front is about the same.
The wheels on the standard Boss are 9-inch in the front and 9.5 in the rear with Pirelli PZERO tires, 255s in the front and 285s out back. The Laguna has 9-inch front wheels and 10-inch wheels in the back with Pirelli Corsa R-compound 255/285 tires.
It also has 14-inch brembo brakes up front with an aggressive pad and cooling ducts standard on Laguna, and vented dust shields on the standard Boss. Also, we've added low expansion hoses on each corner and they make a huge difference. You can feel it with your foot. The exhaust is also unique. It's a quad-exhaust system with two ports exiting behind rear wheels and two out back.
ES: What is the MSRP?
DP: We've not announced pricing, but we expect it to fall between a GT and a GT500--it will be built in limited volume and it will be exclusive.
ES: Tell me about the special TracKey program?
DP: This will be extremely affordable. Track key is awesome, an industry first. One key has a black Boss another has a red. Both keys work the same at purchase. In the FRPP catalog [or we can assume on line] you can purchase a calibration for the PCM to totally change the personality of the vehicle. With Trackey you get a bunch more, over 200 tweaked parameters. It gives you more low-end torque, 10 lb-ft between 1500-2500 rpm, and the calibration is aggressive at tip in, it's going to hit and the car will go.
So now, if you're going into the corner you can engine brake, we've also included a fully controllable two-stage launch control. You set the rpm and launch at that rpm with your right foot to the floor! You're sitting still with clutch in, and use speed control button until the tach sweeps to the desired rpm, you push to set then you will turn off speed control, and you're ready to launch. Mash it to floor and dump clutch. It uses ignition kill to hold rpm, and you can set it from idle to redline.
Furthermore, it will turn skip shift off, and car will have a loppy idle. We bring Boss 302R calibration to the street. If you get sick of driving it like that, put the other key back and it's refined. But you can also have pure, raw absolute power for track driving or for all-out racing.
ES: Will the parts be available through FRPP?
DP: Select components will be offered, but not everything.
ES: Thanks you for you time.
DP: You're welcome, we can't wait to get you in one for a test.
More From Ford on the Boss 302 TracKey System and More
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 11, 2010 - You hold two keys: One has a black Boss logo, the other red: Either will start your 2012 Mustang Boss 302. Slide the all-black key into the lock cylinder, give it a twist and you're treated to 444 ponies worth of smooth, streetable driving joy. Or choose red - the TracKey - and you have a competition-ready track car.
A joint project between Mustang engineers and the Ford Dealerships, TracKey adds a second set of powertrain control module (PCM) software to a customer's Mustang Boss 302, activated by a specially programmed vehicle key. When invoked by TracKey, the new TracMode software alters more than 200 engine management parameters, increasing low-end torque and turning the potent but well-mannered stock Boss into a competition-ready track car. Remove TracKey and start Boss with the standard key, and all factory engine settings are restored for a comfortable drive home from the course.
"From an engine management standpoint, we've done just about everything possible to give TracKey users a full race car experience," explains Jeff Seaman, Mustang powertrain engineer. "It's not for use on the street - for example, the deceleration is set up to preserve the brakes, and the throttle response is very aggressive. A skilled driver on a closed course will really appreciate the benefits."
As part of the TracKey software package, Ford engineers also devised a two-stage launch control feature similar to that used on the Cobra Jet race car. Using a combination of steering wheel buttons, drivers can set the tach needle to a desired launch rpm. Floor the throttle and the engine will rev to the preset rpm until the clutch is released, helping aid acceleration and vehicle control from a standing start.
One Key, Hundreds Of Changes
Devised during an all-night garage brainstorming session among core Mustang team members, TracKey introduces the concept known as the dual-path powertrain control module. The industry-first, patent-pending innovation allows two separate sets of engine management software to exist on a single PCM, selected through the existing SecuriLock(R) Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS) transceiver found in current production keys.
The TracKey PCM software, installed by an authorized Ford Dealerships after a customer takes delivery of the car, adjusts variable cam timing, spark maps, engine braking, fuel control and other engine parameters - more than 200 in total - to provide a complete race car calibration. The result is an aggressive, race-bred driving experience all the way down to the lopey idle rumbling through the Boss quad exhaust.
"Anything that could possibly affect all-out performance is deleted from the TracKey calibration," said Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer. "Throttle limiting and torque management - any daily driveability enhancements are removed and replaced with a pure Ford Racing competition calibration."
When TracKey is removed and the vehicle is started with the standard key, the PCM settings are automatically drawn from the factory Boss 302 instruction set again without any additional modifications needed - a huge advantage over aftermarket tuning chips and ECU reprogramming. The convenience is useful for enthusiasts who want all-out performance at the racetrack but stock driveability for the journey there and back.
An After-Hours Obsession
In the early stages of TracKey development, a major challenge was the complexity of installing multiple PCM computers and switching between them. However, Ford controls engineers developed a method to choose between two unique sets of software in a single powertrain control module on the Boss 302: The dual-path PCM was born.
"We installed the 302R software on the same PCM that held the stock Boss software," says Seaman. "Then the controls engineers developed a software system to activate one or the other, depending upon which key was used to start the vehicle. Really, all the parts to make this work existed - the Ford MyKey(R) system was already using the PATS transceiver to perform specific actions based on the key used to start the car, and the PCM was flexible enough to handle multiple control modules. It was just putting everything together."
As the project unfolded, the team was driven by the uniqueness of what they were trying to accomplish, and TracKey became an obsession. Considering the compressed time frame in which the technology was developed, motivation was essential to the creation of the finished product.
"We've all been really excited about TracKey, so it came together quickly," explained Pericak. "The concept was first discussed in spring 2009, and here we are 18 months later with a finished, tested, verified product. It's a perfect example of what can happen when you get a core, cross-functional team willing to contribute 24/7 to bring a great idea to life."
Buyers of Ford's highly anticipated Mustang Boss 302 will now get a hands-on track driving experience to learn just what their car is capable of as part of a new complimentary program being announced today.
"The Mustang Boss 302 is a very special vehicle, tuned to perform on a racetrack," said Mickey Matus, marketing manager, Ford Racing. "It's an absolute blast to drive on the street but we want owners to be able to experience all the incredible balance, power and performance engineered into this machine, and the only safe way to do that is to push the car to the limit on a closed course. This is only natural, since the Boss grew up on the racetrack."
The Boss Track Attack program, offered through Team Mustang and Ford Racing, will feature a full Boss immersion, driving instruction and plenty of track time with engineers and racers. The experience is designed to give Boss owners a comprehensive, hands-on look at exactly what their cars are capable of - and just how much fun they can be.
Boss Track Attack will take place at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, outside of Salt Lake City. Boss owners will need to make their own travel and lodging arrangements, but once in Utah, the full track experience - including cars for the event - is courtesy of Ford.
The evening before the track day, owners will be treated to a welcome reception followed by an in-depth immersion into both the non-product and product stories of the Boss 302, focusing on how the program came to be and the underlying engineering and design philosophy. The next morning, participants will convene at the track for a full day of driving instruction and course time.
"Practice makes perfect, and in this case it's going to be a ton of fun, too," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "There's nothing like the experience of being behind the wheel of a high-performance car on a dedicated track. It's the environment that breeds incredible machines like Mustang Boss, and for owners who want to experience all these cars are capable of, we can promise an unforgettable event."