As part of today’s annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, Ford Racing unveiled the 2013 NASCAR Fusion that brings brand identity back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The car will make its competitive debut at the 2013 Daytona 500.
JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford Racing
“It is a special day for Ford. It’s a special day for NASCAR. It’s a special day for all the fans. You just watched a brief video about Ford’s history in NASCAR. What a blessed company we are at Ford. We’re blessed for having great team owners who have fielded these great Fords and I’d like to recognize these team owners here today. Richard Petty, Jack Roush and the Wood Brothers. Thank you for coming and being with Ford for so many years.
We, along with NASCAR and the manufacturers, wanted to go further in the Sprint Cup Series.
“These great cars were driven by NASCAR’s greatest drivers and I was there down at the Hall of Fame where a couple more got inducted and I think the Hall of Fame is gonna be filled with a lot of great drivers over the years, but today the sun is going to shine a little brighter on these iconic cars. Fairlanes, Galaxies, Torinos, Thunderbirds, Fusion and Mustang in Nationwide. What was so evident back then is our identity. The fans could tell a Ford from other makes. Along the way in this sport today we still have a fantastic sport, it is the best sport in the world, and last year was one of the best racing seasons. The competition could never be better, so we wanted to reach out to NASCAR and maintain the great competition that goes on the track and bring back a little bit of that lust, the fun, the excitement that fans have for cars and watching those cars race.
“I’d like to recognize the leadership of NASCAR under which Mike Helton, Robin Pemberton, John Darby, Steve O’Donnell, everybody who made this possible. I know we’re talking about Cup cars, but, really, the project at Ford started when we introduced Mustang in Nationwide. That was a tipping point for the sport. The reaction we got for Mustang was tremendous from the media, the fans and inside the company. But we always said that was the very first step. We, along with NASCAR and the manufacturers, wanted to go further in the Sprint Cup Series. All along, we had planned to bring Mustang into Cup because that’s our iconic car, until we saw this at the studio (pointing to the 2013 production Fusion). You now see what we saw, a streamlined, sleek, sport roof line that is unique in the midsize segment. A lightness of design, something that’s about aerodynamics and efficient and belongs on the track; a dynamic car that looks fun to drive. The production car is going to be laden with technology inside and under the hood. Talking about under the hood, the car is going to come with an Ecoboost powerplant and with hybrids. We are going to reach out to our NASCAR audience and talk a lot more about Ecoboost. That will become more prominent because the majority of Ford’s lineup will come with Ecoboost, which offers the best of all worlds – performance as well as fuel economy.
“The Ford Racing team is going to walk you through the transformation, the tools and the collaboration that’s required to transform a production car into a race car. I’d like to close by affirming why we are in this sport. There are two reasons. One, it’s in our DNA. We are a car company and this is exciting car racing and the fans love to see our cars. Two, it’s good business. I’ve always said that the research continues to show that one-third of all new car buyers are race fans and when we ask them what form of motorsport they follow, number one is NASCAR at 84 percent. So our Ford fans buy more Fords and have more loyalty than the general market. Our fans have asked for one thing and that is to bring back the identity so the cars that are raced are like the cars in their driveways.”
MIKE HELTON, President, NASCAR
“We’ve always understood but we get today, more than ever, loud and clearly that the NASCAR Nation is made up of car enthusiasts and NASCAR fans certainly love to pull for a brand or make of car second only to being able to pull for their favorite driver. Today, I think, is a very significant landmark for us to point to as we go down the road and look back 50 years from now on the evolution of NASCAR as we get the opportunity, along with Ford and the other manufacturers involved in the Sprint Cup Series, to introduce and kind of look around the corner to 2013 at what the 2013 Sprint Cup cars will look like and we’re excited about that because it just didn’t happen overnight. As Jamie mentioned, it started in the Nationwide Series and the synergy between the OEM’s involved in our sport, and NASCAR with Mike Fisher, Robin Pemberton, John Darby, Joe Balish and everybody at the R&D Center, that synergy began to build and we see today the first exhibit of the results of that synergy as we look into 2013. Jamie, to you and your folks at Ford, and to all the OEM’s, we’re very thankful and excited about what we think the fans will get excited about, that brings back the relevancy of NASCAR on the race track to what the fans have in their homes and in their parking spots at work. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of today.”
ANDY SLANKARD, Operations Manager, Ford Racing
“As the operations manager I’ve got the duties of leading a great team of engineers that their mission everyday is to help our race teams win on Sunday. This year has been extraordinary as we’ve gotten the opportunity to work on the 2013 Fusion. As Jamie said, it did start in 2010 as we ran with the Mustang and in 2011 we ran full-time. Jack and Ricky, thank you for a great season. The other relevance last year was Ethanol, it was relevant to environment and we support all those activities. Finally, this year hard work is being done by our powertrain guys and I’d like to thank Doug Yates and our engineer, Dave Simon, we’re going to bring EFI to Daytona this year. We’re so excited to go back racing.
“When we had our first meeting it was around this time last year. That’s when NASCAR brought the OEM’s together and said it’s time to bring brand identity back to Cup. There were a couple of key attributes that we wanted to maintain. First and foremost, the competition has been second to none. Now you have to admit, we’ve had five first-time winners and three of them were Fords. We tied for the championship and we’re going to find that one extra point next year, so the last thing we wanted to do was mess up the performance. The drag and downforce of the new car should be at similar levels they are today. Second, and most importantly, was safety. NASCAR did a great job with the Car of Tomorrow in safety and what’s happened over the last few years are evident. We did not want to change the chassis and we did not want to change the wheelbase, so we needed to work around those parameters.
“The profile of the 2012 and 2013 cars is the main thing that grabs you. The windshield is at a sharper angle and the decklid is a little bit shorter. There’s more detail in the front and more detail in the rear (of the 2013 Fusion). We’ve had a great time working with this team and there’s a lot of people to thank. I want to thank NASCAR and thank the other OEM’s who have worked real hard to get to this point. I’d like to explain a little further with my team how we got here.
“A few other people I’d like to thank are at Roush Fenway. Both Robbie Reiser and Tommy Wheeler and their teams have spent endless hours to get a car here to show you a little later on in the show. I’d also like to thank my team. Bernie Marcus is our lead aerodynamicist and he’s been very strong with where we’ve gotten today. Our leader is Pat DiMarco, the lead engineer for Cup and the lead engineer on this project. Finally, the unique thing that probably hasn’t happened since the 1970s is we engaged our design community. These are the artists and graphics people that made this beautiful car. We got so lucky to have one of the best designers in our group who is really passionate about performance. So when the aero guy argued with the stylist guy, they both knew where they wanted to get.”
GAREN NICOGHOSIAN, Design Manager for Specialty Vehicles, Ford Motor Co.
“It was truly a team effort. I’ve got to tell you that this has been one of the highlights of my career at Ford. It’s been unbelievable to be able to be a part of such a monumental effort to put more identity into something as iconic as a NASCAR stock car. It’s not just me who shared this feeling – everybody at work, including all the sculptors, clay modelers and digital modelers, they were all very excited about this project. Everybody went above and beyond and they made sure they delivered something we were all proud of. This was the kind of project that didn’t know time. We got done when we finished and that was pretty much the recipe for the entire project.
“Having said that, it’s not exactly an easy thing to take the proportions and the design DNA of this (production) Fusion and put it square on the NASCAR chassis. They are totally different animals. One is wide and low and longer with a rear-wheel drive proportion ,whereas our production car, though nice and sleek and sexy, it’s also a front-wheel drive proportion, which poses some challenges.
“From day one our identity project revolved around making sure that the new face of Ford translates nicely into the stock car. If you look at the vehicle it looks sleek, elegant, very efficient and it’s got a perceived notion of being aerodynamic and, most of all, it exudes fun to drive. That’s something we take very seriously at Ford in our designs and we want to make sure that translates directly onto the race car. There are a few elements in the design of this car that allows us to get there.
The drag on the cars is very similar from the old car to the new car, so now we know we have an overall envelope we can work in.
“For example, you start with a prominent upper grille. This is an anchor for the front-end of our car and our entire design identity that revolves around it. We have a supplementary lower opening which supports it and allows it to establish the basis on which we build the rest of the car. We’re very proud of our technology that goes into Fusion worldwide and to do that we relied on very techy headlights. They look laser like and slim. The whole idea behind this is that it was not possible many years ago. There’s a ton of technology packed into this and the shapes that we use to communicate that have to reflect the same. All of it results in a very sleek car. We wanted aggressiveness as well, but not too much – just enough to get your attention, like a sprinter – so you look at the outboard corner and they plant the corner and give it the agility and the stance that we look for. There are other features like the hood lines and the body lines and so on and so forth that do a good job of communicating all of this throughout the entire car bumper to bumper.
“In doing this NASCAR race car we treated it no different than any design project at Ford. We did the same exact process as we would do for the production Fusion or any other car for that matter. We started with sketches and renderings and progressed onto 3D CAD development and then started cutting models, the full-sized CNC-milled clay models, which we dress up and have the pleasure of taking out to our courtyard.
“It is an honor to have been able to participate in a program like this and to have the blessing of entire design crew. We all really supported this project from day one and it got us to the point we’re at. It was a nice project. We were very, very fortunate to have other executives look at the car as well, much like they do the real production car, but let me not kid you guys, this was not a styling exercise, this was a complete cohesive team effort.”
PAT DIMARCO, NASCAR Program Manager, Ford Racing
“Thank you NASCAR. Mike, Robin, John, in my 16 years at Ford Racing this has been the most rewarding and historic project I’ve ever worked on. As you can see, what has transformed is unbelievable. The amount of cooperation between NASCAR, Ford, Dodge, GM, and Toyota has been unbelievable. We used to fight for a quarter-inch of spoiler. We’d walk into the trailer and say, ‘We’re not competitive. They’re cheating.’ Well, that’s gone. How did we get here? Back in Daytona I walked into a room with the other three OEM’s and the four of us sat there. It was very uncomfortable. What do you say to three other people you’re competing with? How do you design a car where they’re not going to get the upperhand. We’re not going to get the upperhand. My good friend Jack Roush likes to remind me on a daily basis that when it’s all said and done, I’m going to be the one held responsible if we lose on the race track because we’re designing it. Don’t worry, Jack. We’ll get there.
“How do you take all of the designs (from all the OEM’s) and come up with a car that is as competitive as it is today and has the same performance. We started with the greenhouse of the car. This was in Daytona. A couple of months later we finally got to it, so we came up with a design that everybody was comfortable with from the A-Pillar all the way back to the spoiler down to the door tops. That’s what we started with as a common area so that we don’t give up anything or gain anything compared to the other OEM’s. Then we worked on the tail. The tail has a band around it. You’ll see a lot of brand identity in the tail, but performance-wise they’re all the same. Rocker panels, wheel arches, moving our way forward, we got to the front end and the lower air dam. Those are all the same. It’s a jigsaw puzzle. We started with the outer perimeter and filled in the blanks as we went with the design studio.
“How did we get there? We didn’t go out and build a car like the old days and say, ‘Okay, put it in the tunnel. We don’t like that. Start over.’ We shortened the decklid four inches on the car. The nose is two inches longer. The A-Post is four inches further forward. We did all that with the other OEM’s together, with our CFD analysis that we use at Ford and the same tool used on the production car here to make it the most fuel-efficient car in its segment were used on the race car.
“The drag on the cars is very similar from the old car to the new car, so now we know we have an overall envelope we can work in. We used the design studio to produce a 40-percent clay model, turned that clay model into a carbon fiber body and worked on it at a 40-percent rolling road wind tunnel to develop the DNA and the character that is the Ford Fusion.
“Now we knew we had a car that was competitive just like today, so being competitive from a performance standpoint, we’re good. The next thing we did was build a full size car. Thanks to Tommy (Wheeler), Chip (Bolin), Bob (Osborne), all the guys at Roush Fenway Racing that helped us, we got a car now and put it in the wind tunnel. We even used our Ford corporate-approved peanut camouflage on the car because our car hadn’t been introduced yet. So a lot of challenges went in between the other OEM’s of not knowing what everybody had because the production cars weren’t released. Kudos to them. We’ve done a great job collectively and now we can sit in a room together after a year and discuss and hopefully move forward with other projects with NASCAR that we can make the sport better.
“Coming to you soon, on track, the second quarter of this year we’re gonna have the car on track and from there it’s history.”
The coolest thing about it to me is that the Fusion looks like you just took that production version and put a race kit on it.
JAMIE ALLISON Q&A
“The teams are thrilled. Earlier today the cars were shown to a broader set of teams at Roush Fenway and they’re ecstatic because the teams are just like all of us. We’re all fans and when you look at a car and you want it to look like the cars you see in the driveways and the streets it just gets you excited. The team is excited and the development that was asked earlier, that will happen at the hands of the teams because we’re taking a design envelope and an exercise that was done in computer simulation and wind tunnel testing and transitioning that to on-track performance, so the teams will literally touch it with their fingertips.”
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE MUSTANG WOULD NOT RUN CUP? “The minute we laid eyes on this car at the studio. I’d say early in 2011 when we were contemplating, but when our team saw this car, we knew it belonged on the track because it’s a sporty-looking car and it belongs on the track.”
WAS THERE ANY PRESSURE FROM NASCAR TO RUN TWO DIFFERENT MAKES? “No pressure. The decision was strictly ours and they were going to support us either way.”
WAS ANY CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO THE FRONT BUMPER OF THE CAR AND HOW IT WAS AFFECT TANDEM RACING? “I don’t know that we went to that specific of a consideration on drafting. It was outlined to defining a design envelope, the areas of common templates and then the areas of unique brand identity.”
WILL THE STOCK CAR HAVE ECOBOOST? “The short answer is the car says Ecoboost because the production car comes with Ecoboost technology. The car that is raced will not have Ecoboost, so it’s really just a marketing platform to inform and make NASCAR fans aware that the production car is powered by Ecoboost, so Ecoboost is not coming to NASCAR.”
DOUG YATES SAID ECOBOOST TECHNOLOGY FOR FUTURE APPLICATIONS. “Yes, Doug Yates is working on Ecoboost technology for other production-based series and other forms of racing where Ecoboost is in our vehicles.”
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE DEGREE OF BRAND IDENTITY YOU HAVE IN THIS CAR OR DO YOU WANT IT TO BE AN EVOLUTION THAT CAN TAKE YOU FURTHER? “I think everything in life is an evolution. I describe it as a pendulum. At one end, this series started as a stock car, production-based, pick-them-up-from-the-showroom-floor, modify them and go racing, and it swung all the way after fifty-some years to basically the car of tomorrow – common, common, common. And now we’ve brought it back around the middle, so a balance of unique yet performance. We would like to see an incremental increase in more brand identity yet making great competition.”
IS THE MUSTANG GOING TO REMAIN IN NATIONWIDE AND FUSION IN SPRINT CUP? “Mustang in Nationwide, Fusion in Cup – two great brands, two great series, reaching different fans.”
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO FORD TO BE THE FIRST ONE TO SHOW THEIR 2013 CAR? “That wasn’t our priority or a consideration. It just happened through timing that we unveiled the car at the auto show two weeks ago and it was time to unveil it to our NASCAR family.”
TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion
WHERE DO YOU COME DOWN ON THE BOSS 302 MUSTANG OR ECOBOOST FUSION? “I like the 302. Those things are sweet, but this car on the race track looks every bit as good as that Mustang. The coolest thing about it to me is that the Fusion looks like you just took that production version and put a race kit on it. It seems like you put a Roush package on it or something like that and that’s what is so awesome about what they’ve done here. I’ve heard about the Win on Sunday and Buy on Monday, and I think that could come back. I’ve been excited to tell my friends about this. I’m 20 years old so this is more of my generation here, but I’m just happy that now I can show them pictures and I think they’ll be excited about it.”