At October’s SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) convention in Las Vegas, Ford kicked off a string of announcements with news that it is now offering customers an affordable, factory-built racecar for those seeking to make inroads to professional racing.
The Mustang FR500S, co-developed by Ford Racing Technology and Miller Motorsports Park, is based on a production-line Mustang and built on a special assembly line at AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, MI, without the seats, carpet, noise insulation, and other interior fitments normally included in a street car.
The car is then fitted with a full roll cage, and other interior work is completed at Watson Engineering in Taylor, MI. It is then shipped to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele Valley, UT, where final assembly is completed, including safety equipment and competition power and suspension upgrades.
“This marks the first time at Ford Motor Co. that we have built a racecar at the production facility and made the car available for sale through our dealers to our customers,” said Jamie Allison, Manager of the Ford Racing Performance Group. “Effectively, our customers can just now order a racecar through the Ford racing program.”
For 2008, a limited production run of 77 cars have been built, and more will be built as demand dictates.
The 325-hp (242-kW) FR500S is priced at $75,000, race-ready with Sparco racing seat, steering wheel, and safety harnesses. It represents the first rung on the Mustang racing ladder, which also includes the $129,900, 400-hp (298-kW) FR500C raced in the Grand Am Koni Challenge Series and the $250,000, 525-hp (392-kW) FR500GT used in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
“There aren’t very many manufacturers that can say they build racecars right off the production line, and we are very proud of this achievement,” said Dan Davis, Director of Ford Racing Technology. “This new pony car gives customers and racers a chance to get into a high-performing vehicle that is durable, reliable, and competitive.”
Powered by a production 4.6-L fuel-injected V8 engine, the FR500S includes a cold-air intake, six-speed transmission with upgraded clutch, and a sport-throw shifter. The engine was produced by Ford in Romeo, MI, and sealed and dynamometer-tested at Roush Industries in Livonia, MI.
The FR500S includes the same braking as the FR500C, along with two-way adjustable front dampers with coil springs and an adjustable antiroll bar in both the front and rear suspension. On the exterior, a front spoiler and rear wing are added.
Ford also announced the formation of what it describes as the first and only Mustang spec series, the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup. The series will be owned and operated by Miller Motorsports Park, and Ford Racing will serve as the co-founding sponsor. BFGoodrich will serve as presenting sponsor, and its g-Force R1 will be the official tire of the series.
The Mustang Challenge will be sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association, and the inaugural season will consist of eight races at venues across the U.S. and Canada. Drivers will compete for purses and prizes totaling $300,000.