-- Ford, International Engine Group Join Forces for Off-Road Racing Effort

April 6, 2001 - Created as both a long-term product development test bed and a unique brand awareness campaign, Ford, International Engine Group and SMD Motorsports have joined forces in a unique off-road racing campaign. Using a recently completed fully race-prepared Ford Excursion equipped with a Power Stroke Diesel race vehicle as its centerpiece, the program is set to kick off this weekend at the Best-in-the-Desert "Terrible Town 250" event in the rugged Nevada desert.

SMD's Ford Excursion. Photo: Ford Truck Motorsports

Built in just five months by veteran off-road racer Steve Scaroni and his SMD Motorsports crew headed by Rod Goodsell and Brent Mann, the new race vehicle will bring a highly unique engine into desert competition - an experimental turbocharged diesel engine designed and built by International. Expected to produce in excess of 400 horsepower and a whopping 850 ft. lb. of torque, the 7.3-liter Navistar diesel is a racing version of the popular Power Stroke@ units built by the company for Ford light-duty trucks and recently introduced diesel Ford SUVs.

The program is designed to provide Ford, Navistar International and a top- quality group of additional project partners with both promotional and engineering benefits. The new Ford Excursion will see action at six major off-road races in the 2001 racing season, including June's SCORE Baja 500, the BITD Las Vegas to Reno event in September, and the most famous off-road race in the world, the November's SCORE Baja 1000. Ford vehicle and International power train engineers are set to use their participation in these grueling events to test engine, chassis, suspension and transmission components.

"Our participation as a truly production-based off-road racing program provides an incredibly efficient method of real-world testing and product development, "said Bob Rath, vice president, quality and reliability, for International Truck and Engine Corporation. "Together with our colleagues at Ford, we can jointly use this project to not only test new ideas, but also demonstrate and communicate the high performance of the Power Stroke@ diesel engines to a very enthusiastic and influential group of truck buyers."

The SMD Motorsports Excursion will be driven in competition by Matt Scaroni and Tom Watson, with the team's familiar Ford F-150 Protruck piloted by Steve Scaroni. The new Excursion was built primarily at the team's 10,000 square-foot facility located in Heber, Calif., with the support of Power Stroke@ engineers assisting in the installation of the prototype diesel engine. The full-size SUV incorporates such features as a 137" wheelbase, a 60 gallon fuel cell, over 16" of rear wheel travel (11" in front) and special Ford 4R1000 transmission, all wrapped in a full roll cage. A truly massive vehicle in size, the SMD Power Stroke@ Excursion weighs in at nearly 6,000 lbs.

Additionally, the effort has garnered the additional corporate support of a host of top-quality companies including BFGoodrich, American Racing Wheels, Nextel, Fox Racing Shox, Mastercraft and aFe Filters.

"We are just thrilled with the opportunity to have Ford involved and to bring the International Engine Group and the Power Stroke@ brand into professional off-road racing." said Scaroni, who owns a large fleet of Ford diesel trucks. "I love the fact that we have the chance to race what we use in our business everyday. All of us are just big Power Stroke@ fans."


-Editor's note: As with all new babies, teething problems occur. At the Terrible Town 250, SMD's Excursion suffered a broken torque converter and did not finish.