No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley DP (© Ford Racing)Click to enlarge picture

Ford's new EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 racing engine debuted at the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

The Ford Motor Company has a long history with racing, dating back to 1901 when founder Henry Ford entered and won his first and only race in a car he built. He organized the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and went on to set a world speed record for the mile in 1904, covering the distance in 39.40 seconds at just over 90 mph.

Since that time Ford Motor Company has been successful in nearly every form of auto racing around the world, including Henry Ford II's epic battle for endurance racing supremacy over Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1960s. In 1966, Ford finally won the daylong endurance race with the Ford GT40 Mark II, powered by a mighty 7-liter Ford V8 engine.

The GT40 was initially powered by the smaller Ford V8 engine, but when Carroll Shelby took over the racing program, he went big with the more powerful 7-liter engine, leading to victory at Le Mans and in numerous endurance races for years to come.

Today, Ford Racing's newest on-track venture takes the opposite tack. For 2014, Ford is going racing using its new 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine, which is smaller, more efficient and more high-tech than the larger V8 engines it competes against.

And unlike the past, when the racing arena developed new technology that might later find its way into a production car, the new racing engine is based on the same 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine that you can already buy today in the Ford F-150 and the Taurus SHO. The Ford 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost racing engine features direct injection and turbocharging, just like the production version. In fact, 70 percent of the production engine is retained in the racing version.

Reversal of engines
"Racing used to develop new technology for production cars," says Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. "Today you find the reverse is actually happening. Racing is being used as a proof point for new production technology."

Allison notes that race teams "are taking a production engine, doubling the horsepower yet retaining the production engine block, production cylinder heads and producing a race engine." He says Ford is "taking this opportunity to show that we can take a 300-horsepower production engine and produce a 600-horsepower race version that will withstand the rigors of the heat, the track conditions and the stress load in race conditions."

Ford is competing in the Prototype division of the new Tudor United Sports Car Championship (Tudor USCC), a new series that combines two competing sports car series — the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series — into a single U.S. sports car championship.

Michael Shank Racing (MSR), winner of the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, was the first team to sign on with the new EcoBoost racing engine program, committing to the 13-race series for the season. Ford also is teaming up with Chip Ganassi Racing / Felix Sabates (CGRFS) — seven-time and reigning champions of the predecessor Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and five-time winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Before the start of testing for the Tudor USCC, Ford and MSR debuted the EcoBoost racing engine with a series of speed-record runs in October 2013 at Daytona International Speedway. Without the limitation of the series rules, Ford was able to show the true potential of the production-based EcoBoost engine.

Driver Colin Braun drove a Riley Technologies Daytona Prototype race car — powered by the new 3.5-liter V6 Ford EcoBoost race engine — to a new 222.971-mph single-lap record on the Daytona tri-oval. Braun's new mark broke the 26-year-old record of 210.364 mph set by Bill Elliott in a Ford Thunderbird while qualifying for the 1987 Daytona 500.