Ford Shows Off Nationwide Mustang NASCAR Racer
America's pony starts turning left
The Ford Mustang is one of the longest-running models currently in production. The first pony rolled off the assembly line in 1964, and millions upon millions have found their way into driveways across the globe. It’s no surprise that the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform became a favorite among motor sports competitors everywhere. Drag racing, road racing -- even dirt track -- if it involved fender-to-fender action, the Ford Mustang could be counted on to show up and give its all in pursuit of the checkered flag. Except, oddly enough, in the case of NASCAR. The racing venue as American as the SUV never really embraced sports cars like the Mustang and the Camaro, opting instead for less-than-thrilling cars like the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Lumina.
That’s all changed.
A few months back, Ford announced it would throw its pony into the world of tri-ovals and restrictor plates. While the first renderings looked like they were worked up by a 12-year-old with an overactive imagination, the finished product isn’t hard on the eyes. Like most stock cars, the Ford Mustang isn’t a Mustang at all. In fact, it’s a tubular-steel chassis wrapped in a fiberglass shell exactly identical to every other car on the field. The only differences are the vinyl graphics and the name on the hood. Sure, each car runs an engine from its sponsored manufacturer, but they all have capped horsepower and run an identical carburetor. That’s right, a carburetor in 2009. Go figure.
So why bother bringing the Mustang to NASCAR at all? It mostly boils down to advertising. NASCAR has a huge fan base in the United States. And by huge we mean millions upon millions, most of whom are more than familiar with Ford’s muscle car. For those who aren’t, seeing a familiar name lap it up against the competition may be just what they need to push them out of the stands and into the showroom -- even if the fiberglass car on the track has nothing in common with the steel-bodied 2010 Mustang on the dealer’s lot. Who cares if the fuel-injected 4.6-liter V8 engine in the production car is nothing like the carbureted barbarian in the Nationwide car? Now we just have to wait and see if Dodge and Chevrolet respond with NASCAR Challengers and Camaros.
(Photo courtesy of Ford)
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