TOOELE COUNTY, UTAH (December 4, 2007) -- What began as a data-collection exercise for a pair of developmental prototypes of the Ford Mustang FR500S in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill at Thunderhill Park Raceway in Willows, Calif., this past weekend wound up with the best possible result as the two cars finished first and second in the ES class and fifth and sixth overall in America's longest road race.
The two cars, which were originally built by Miller Motorsports Park as Mustang Challenge cars to race in the track's Miller Park Racing Association and as a school car for the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School, included some of the mechanical components of the new Ford Mustang FR500S that will contest the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires in 2008. They were entered as a joint effort between Miller Motorsports Park and Keith Rossberg's Murray, Utah-based Competition Associates.
The No. 98 entry was co-driven by MMP Director of Racing Mitch Wright and two instructors from the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School, Cindi Lux and James Burke. The No. 99 entry was driven by car owner Rossberg, MPRA competitors Vesko Kozarov and Lara Tallman, and Ford Racing High Performance Driving School director Dan McKeever.
The initial intent for the two-car effort was just to log laps and collect data as a testing exercise in the ongoing development program for the FR500S. But as the race wore on the cars ran flawlessly around the 3.0-mile, 15-turn circuit, despite having to contend with rain, cold and 65 other cars. At the end of 25 hours of hard running, the No. 99 ended up fifth overall and first in class with 626 laps completed, with the No. 98 three laps behind in sixth overall and second in class.
"We ran the cars hard," said Lynda Randall, Series Director for the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, "and they never skipped a beat. We wanted to really put our systems and components to the toughest possible validation test, and we had no problems at all. The BFGoodrich R1 tires far exceeded our expectations for speed, durability and wear, and all of our driveline components supplied by Ford Racing were just flawless.
"You have to remember that these weren't new cars like the FR500Ss that will be racing next year," she continued. "These were well-used cars; the No. 99 car has been raced all throughout the 2007 season by Keith Rossberg, and the No. 98 car has been used as a training vehicle for the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School. To take these cars and run them as hard as we did for as long as we did should provide a lot of confidence to our competitors in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires. We can't wait to go racing next year, and if the 25 Hours of Thunderhill was any indication, the competition is going to be phenomenal!"
The Ford Mustang FR500S on display at the Ford Racing stand (Peninsula 3149 and 3348) at the 20th annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 6-8.
The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires will be an eight-round series utilizing the new Ford Mustang FR500S fitted with BFGoodrich g-Force R1 tires. The series, which will be sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association, will consist of eight races during the 2008 season. A schedule of events and television package will be announced in the near future.
-credit: miller cup